Dispatches from the Front Lines

by: Doug Michaelides

Good marketers are obsessed with metrics.  We spend a lot of time trying to figure out who we are reaching and what kind of impact we are having.  We use web analytics to track traffic on our websites.  We use marketing automation systems to monitor email campaign performance and lead generation.  Those of us with money commission brand awareness research.  Like satellites overhead we look down on the marketing battlefield to gain the intelligence we need to improve our campaigns.  In fact, we are so enamoured with our high-tech marketing metrics that sometimes we forget to monitor the old fashion “dispatches from the front lines” that our sales and customer service teams create every day.

Is your marketing team on the distribution list for the following market intelligence?

  • Win/Loss Reports (or “Notices of Sales”)
  • Sales Call Reports
  • Customer Service Reports

If you are not monitoring these important sources of information, you’re not getting a full picture of the market.  Worse still, you risk developing marketing plans that are disconnected from the daily experiences of the sales team.

Not all companies have implemented these reporting practices, but they should (I’ll let Joe Connelly, the head of Stratford Managers’ sales practice make the case for that).  These reports help marketing people monitor the customer experience, watch their value propositions and sales tools in action (or not!), track emerging competitive threats and get early warning of weaknesses in the product that need to be addressed.  This is actionable information that is highly relevant to near term revenue and the effectiveness of the sales team.  For any marketer, the chance to virtually walk in the shoes of the sales force and customer service team is the best market research you’ll ever get . . . and it’s free!

Marketers, like general staff in the armed forces, are sometimes accused of being out of touch with the action in the trenches.  This is particularly a concern in multi-national businesses.  They sit in their ergonomic chairs in their fancy headquarters offices, pouring over their web statistics, oblivious to the real needs of the field.  Yet the sales team is sending up flares and calling for air cover all the time.  You just need to pay attention.  So make sure you open the lines of communication by reading these reports and having a dialogue with the people who write them.  Not only will your relationship with the sales team improve, you will gain confidence in your marketing decisions.

After all, in the words of U.S. General George S. Patton:  No good decision was ever made in a swivel chair.

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