The Cranky Sales Engineer and responsiveness from Marketing

image I just finished reading the third installment of blog posts by the Cranky Sales Engineer who is guest blogging at the Cranky Product Manager. He’s written three posts that I recommend you read. Having spent time in the SE ranks I can relate to what the CSE is saying.

In the CSE’s most recent post - Guest Post: The Cranky Sales Engineer on how to get R-E-S-P-E-C-T – I can relate to what it feels like to attempt to get answers from Marketing or Product Management, only to find I couldn’t get an answer.  The prospect wants it today. If you’re in the field you know that it’s incredibly important to get fast turnaround when you’re trying to win the business.

I’m a big proponent of an approach where Marketing and Product Management should equip sales channels to close deals with markets of buyers.  They shouldn’t be helping individual sales guys work individual deals.  Stop and think about that for a moment. Some of you will jump for joy. Some of you will shriek. The phrase “everyone is in Sales” is a load of crap. We’re all in the revenue game and we each have a contribution in achieving revenue goals, but we’re not in Sales.

Marketing managers and product marketing managers the rest of this post is for you. If you are spending more than 20% of your time responding to deal-specific requests from Sales you have a problem. Put another way, 20% is equal to 1 day per week. When you are helping individual salespeople work deals you are doing sales support, not marketing.

There are three primary causes for this:

  1. Your organization doesn’t have sales engineers and you’re left filling the gap. Sales engineers perform a vital function in the sales process and their role in the revenue game is often misunderstood. When Marketing fills the sales engineer gap that helps close a deal, do they get credit? Rarely.
  2. You haven’t done an adequate job in sales readiness. Requests for information is caused when there are gaps in the sales engineer’s knowledge that shows up in the reality of the field. Pay attention to this and fill the gaps quickly. Assume everyone has the same question and make sure you answer it for everyone once. Make it easy for the field to find answers and they’ll do it on their own.  BTW a sales presentation, a product demo, a brochure and a web page is not sales readiness.
  3. Your organization doesn’t have a culture of accountability. Even when you do a great job of sales readiness and are responsive to legitimate field requests, and you still get the same stupid questions over and over again you might have an accountability problem. The answers are available if the field would take the time to look, but they don’t. Push back. Be firm. Say no and point them to the resources.

Some of these causes you can fix.  If your organization doesn’t have sales engineers you could track the amount of time you’re providing for sales support (and not marketing) and make a case for sales engineers. If you’re not doing a good job of sales readiness, shame on you. You’re digging your own grave. That’s completely your control and no one in the organization should impede your sales readiness efforts. If your organization doesn’t have a culture of accountability you may have a bigger challenge.  Start by pushing back.  Don’t be an enabler of bad behavior.

David Daniels

David Daniels


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