Blindsided Marketing and The Viral Sales Enablement Emergency
I didn’t write the words of advice (or warning) today.
Nor yesterday. Not last month, nor last year.
But well over a year ago, and then some.
And I’ve been preaching them for as long as I can remember.
Prepare your sales, marketing, and executive teams for all forms of market interaction. Public speaking and presentations, in all their modern forms, across all media channels. Audio, video, streaming media; web, mobile, broadcast radio and television. Demos. Conference calls.
For whatever voice-enabled devices you can think of…
In addition to in-person boardroom sales meetings. Sales pursuits. Client visits. Partner activities. Trade shows, conferences, and industry events. In exhibit hall booths and on the ballroom stage. Media interviews. Analyst briefings. Co-presentations, and small group presentations.
Panel Discussions. Ugh.
One-on-one, face-to-face sales meetings.
But what do you do when your audience doesn’t want to see you in person?
Or can’t see you in person?
You may want to see them, but they may not want to see you.
Or vice versa.
And what happens when your channels of market interaction become limited and restricted to remote lines of communication? To virtual channels of market interaction?
When genuine and immediate sales enablement is needed… far beyond the empty promises of SaaS-delivered sales enablement software, which doesn’t enable anybody to speak to any piece of customized content.
No matter what those vendors say.
What happens when your sales and marketing security blanket of a ‘What good did that do us?’ trade show is taken away?
(As if you could tell anybody what was gained from that event anyway.)
What will you do when there are no more smiling pictures from your trade show booth to post on social media? To clog my LinkedIn feed?
And that cozy panel discussion you thought you had is now put on an indefinite hold…
The story in the Chicago Tribune caught my attention.
The Chicago housewares show, canceled.
Expected to draw 60,000 attendees and 2,200 exhibitors to Chicago.
Canceled due to ‘Coronavirus concerns.’
And that’s just one show.
The events industry is taking a global hit due to Coronavirus concerns. Asia and Europe feeling the impact. The global travel industry is taking precautions, and heavy losses.
Better Call Marketing
Because sales, and marketing, and the executive team are increasingly being relegated to home base for the foreseeable future. And Marketing will be needed for its award-winning KPIs, gripping tales of MQLs, self-serving analytical theories, and upside-down lead generation funnels.
So next, let’s call…Sales Enablement
Because more content is needed. More and more and even more SaaS-delivered customized content on mobile devices will be needed to support all that remote sales and marketing and executive effort.
And we’ll need training after that.
So let’s call…
Training. And Human Resources!
So we can train our people to speak to that content. All of that ‘edge-of-my-seat’ content.
(As if ‘training’ had anything to do with anything…)
But wait. That generic, two-day public speaking course that Training hosts in some Big City, USA doesn’t happen until the Fall.
And did I say non-essential travel?
Travel? To that non-essential course that has nothing to do with speaking to content in remote environments? When some people don’t want to travel?
So we’d better go back and just call Marketing.
Or should we call Sales Enablement?
Or how about Training?
Which department will pick up the phone when sales needs immediate help to deliver a pitch, a competitive punch, and a breakthrough message when the only forms of communication are now remote forms of communication?
Which department will help the sales person — be an effective sales person across virtual communication channels — and provide an immediate service, without a reference to an outdated piece of content, siloed martech, or a redirected request?
Who the hell has time for any of that?
In far too many cases, Marketing is oblivious. Sales Enablement will point to its software, and its content. The C-Suite has no answers. Training is confused, and HR is, well, HR.
Meanwhile, March 31 is weeks away.
And revenue targets remain.
I’ve watched as Marketing has belched hot air and hypocrisy for years.
I’ve seen and heard the proclamations of how Storytelling! is now critical to sales and marketing success.
As 95% of the public speakers I see can’t hold an audience for more than 60 seconds.
I’ve listened as Podcasting! is taking over the marketing and audio universe.
As most podcasts are hosted by people with no interest in how they actually sound.
And I’ve seen how marketing has abandoned its responsibility of ensuring that colleagues and partners are equipped with the skills and content they need for competitive public speaking and presentation success, across all channels of communication.
And how irrelevant approaches to marketing theory and process and analysis now override the immediate ability to talk to any audience. In any format.
How sad to be caught flatfooted in this moment.
With the increase in the ranks of inside sales, just ask any of those business developers fighting for revenue how important that analyst’s theory to optimizing the ideal customer lifecycle is when their jobs are on the line over the next 30 days.
When they can’t travel to see their customers. Or prospects.
When sales and marketing alternatives are becoming virtual forms of communication.
And the help they need breaking through in those channels is nowhere to be found.
Yet I’m sure you call yourself a marketing and sales enablement leader.
Or you’re the Chief Executive who waves off every attempt to emphasize communication skills.
Again, March 31 is just weeks away. That’s one thing that hasn’t been canceled. Time to learn how to use that webcam, and that microphone. Better yet, time to learn how to effectively use that webcam, and that microphone.
And be a genuine marketer, and a sales enablement leader, for your business development team.
Tony Compton holds two degrees from Loyola University Chicago: a 1987 B.A. in Communication and a 1995 MBA. He has held a number of marketing and business leadership positions over the past three decades.