Leadership Puzzler: Is it a Marketing Problem or a Sales Problem?

leadership puzzler marketingMarketing means so many things to so many different people that it’s hard to pin it down. In many ways, it’s a misunderstood discipline, so when one of my clients kept saying, “we need more marketing,” I finally sat him down and asked, “what does that mean to you?” His answer was, more sales.

This is the common misconception regarding the distinction between the two. Marketing is research, design, solving a need, and telling the story. Sales is closing the deal. So I asked him, “which is the problem?” He said that in fact it was marketing because he needed leads and needed to know how to position the company more effectively. He was intent on hiring “a person” to do the marketing, which in his mind meant cold calling. I explained that this was not necessarily marketing and may or may not be what he needed.

I asked if he had previous success with outbound cold calling before and the answer was no. So again, I asked, “what do you need?” Long story short, when we finished the conversation he agreed that indeed he needed marketing, but not the kind he thought. What he needed was someone to come in and manage the brand, create a great story, and offer several ways to start making the phone ring. He already had good sales people, but they needed leads to augment what they were already doing.

Most smaller companies, (like the one in this story), are not able to afford a talented marketing professional full-time, nor is it what they need. What we ended up doing to solve his problem is find an outside resource as an interim marketing director for 2 days a week. She came in, assessed the problem and the need, and put together a marketing strategy in a matter of days that was executable and that started working by the end of the first month. She had multiple resources to call upon to get the various tasks done. For a small business, her level of expertise and knowledge was a huge win and he would never have been able to afford her full-time. He now has her one day per week and the sales team has never been happier with all the incoming leads.

The moral of the story is make sure you walk through the need or problem you are solving in depth. Because it can be complex, and hard to see from an insider’s perspective, it can be very helpful to have someone like a coach to work with. The solution is out there, it may just be in a different package then you first envisioned.

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