Why Pay For Lousy Marketing?

Last Updated Sep 25, 2009 9:54 AM EDT

Last week's post "Top 10 Reasons Sales Hates Marketing" documented the complaints that I've heard from sales reps about their marketing groups. As I expected, I got some email flak complaining that I wasn't being fair to marketing. Here's a typical comment:
All of it, really. The existence of this entire series of nit-picking, to me, is more indicative of a poorly run sales/marketing operation than it is a useful exchange of feedback. It's nothing but pointing fingers with baseless accusations and generalizations.
Well, I hear you, but I disagree. It's not nit-picking to defend sales groups against the encroachments of marketing.

The conflicts between Sales and Marketing are not a conflict between equals. In most cases, the source of the conflict is that the group the creates the revenue (i.e. Sales) is trying to remain productive and profitable. And sometimes the only way to do this is to downsize, disempower or downright ignore the marketing group.

Sales teams that don't sell put companies out of business. And sales reps that can't sell lose their jobs, usually quite quickly. That FORCES both sales teams and sales reps to perform, a motivation that's generally lacking inside marketing groups.

Furthermore, there's plenty of objective evidence that marketing groups, in general, aren't doing a very good job. According to CSO Insights, on average, marketing groups generate less than one third of the usable sales leads. And according to IDC, around 90% of the collateral materials produced by marketing groups never get used by a sales team.

Considering that many marketing groups command hefty budgets, that's not much positive impact. But it is a lot of wasted resources.

Of course, there are some marketing groups that really do generate leads and come up with useful sales tools. In fact, every day I run into more marketers who "get it." They've figured out that marketing is a TACTICAL function whose sole purpose is to help the sales team to sell.

But a lot of marketing groups - the traditional guys with their unmeasured ads, pie-in-the-sky strategies, dumb-as-dirt product designs, and jerry-rigged faked-up market research - they're just a waste of office space.

Frankly, I blame the business schools. For the past three decades, they've focused on Marketing as the be-all and end-all of dealing with customers. You have academic pinheads saying that marketing should replace sales (yeah, right!) with very few dissenting voices.

Hundreds of these business schools have thousands of marketing courses. But most of those schools COMPLETELY IGNORE sales. They don't teach it. They don't even talk about it, except as some kind of automatic process that's a tactical element of marketing. Dumb, dumb, dumb!

I realize that I've ranted about this before, but hardly a day goes by that I don't see yet another example of some marketing group wasting money -- and thereby screwing investors -- with traditional, unmeasurable, by-the-book B-school-style marketing.

There comes a time when we have to stop talking about "aligning sales and marketing" and start talking about firing marketing groups that aren't willing to get on board with what's happening in today's sales-driven business world.

That's what I think, anyway. You're free to disagree, of course.