The Three Traits of the Sought-After Marketer

When we were asked by one of our long-term clients to help them bridge the often-dysfunctional gap between marketing and sales functions, we thought we already knew the recipe.  We didn’t expect that our discoveries would change much of what we thought about marketing.  But they did.

One of our fundamental premises is that sales reps like to work with marketers that help them differentiate their company from competitors.  So, our approach to the project consisted of informally asking our client base “what are the things that the marketers who are most sought after by your sales teams do differently?”  Based on the surprising answers from a “who’s who” list of Fortune 500 companies, we are transforming our approach to fostering contemporary marketing skills to create what we are now calling “Market Shapers”.  Here is a summary of our findings:

Market Shaping Trait #1:  They Long Ago Stopped Focusing on What Customers Want

Make no mistake – great commercial business people always care about what customers want.  But our clients told us that the most sought-after marketers understand a fundamental truth:  customers are overwhelmed by the pace of change. Most of them can’t tell you what they want beyond very basic needs.

Sales teams want to work with marketing colleagues that can help sales reps fashion new dialogue “angles” with customers – areas of inquiry and discussion that sales reps can use to help customers anticipate trends and begin to make sense of the future.

Sought-after marketers help their sales colleagues to confidently conduct this type of customer dialogue by providing topics, relevant support materials and useful insights.  These individuals always have one foot in the future, helping customers anticipate the next big technological, demographic or economic change and how it is going to effect their markets.

Market Shaping Trait #2:  If Anything, They Are in Danger of Being Thought of as “Too Entrepreneurial.”

But what good is a new dialogue angle if it doesn’t connect to a profitable value proposition that your company can offer?  Sought-after marketers are looked at by the sales team as creative “thought partners” and “solution architects” that help them solve customer problems. This is because these marketers are skilled at connecting emerging customer needs to unique capabilities that the company has or can easily acquire.  They aren’t constrained by “the way things are done in this industry.”

On a day-to-day basis, these marketers are great at helping the sales team brainstorm unique solutions for specific, bespoke customer problems.  Even more importantly, these marketers craft scalable “stories” that sales reps can use across a broad array of selling situations.  These stories help the sales team position the company as industry leaders, helping their customers stay ahead of seismic market shifts.

 Market Shaping Trait #3:  They Are Brave Enough to NOT Be a Company “Cheerleader”

While traits #1 and #2 are especially helpful with existing clients, sales teams also covet marketers that can help them find new selling opportunities.  Ironically, the path to great lead generation in today’s world is through refraining from selling too soon.

Specifically, sought-after marketers design and/or author thought leadership campaigns that prospective customers TRUST because they make the customer smarter.  Sales people love having a steady stream of these neutral, thought-provoking presentations, articles, etc. about industry issues to provide to customers on a “drip-irrigation” type basis.

Why?  Because content that enriches potential customers whether they do business with your company or not has the effect of creating a fertile ground to discuss solutions – at the appropriate time.  Sought-after marketers are invaluable in creating this productive selling environment.

 Can Your Commercial Team Shape Markets?

Struck by the proactive nature of these three traits, we have dubbed these sought-after marketers “Market Shapers.”  As a company, we are re-creating our curriculum and approaches to emphasize these skills and traits.

How well-positioned are your marketers to help customers, their sales colleagues and your company in these ways?  Do you have Market Shapers on your team or in your network of partners?

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