There was no denying that the collateral materials were absolutely stunning. They were a visual masterpiece of style and design.
However, the collateral was rarely used by the sales team. And Marketing simply could not understand why.
Did they not see how well designed the pieces were?
Could they not appreciate the expensive photography that was used?
Could they not feel the quality of the stock on which the collateral was printed?
Perhaps their unwillingness to use the provided collateral was the reason that sales were flat. Certainly there had been multiple conversations, conference calls, and meetings to discuss why the sales team needed to get their act together and use the sales materials they were given. Terms like “brand integrity” and “consistency” were used to beat up on the sales team.
But in spite of all this talk, it wasn’t until someone asked a sales person, and in an exasperated tone no less, “Well, what do you think our sales collateral should look like?”
That’s when the scales began to fall from the marketing team’s eyes.
The sales person replied, “The collateral looks really good – in fact, it’s the best looking material we’ve ever had. The problem is that it doesn’t speak to what our customers find important. It simply doesn’t work.”
Another member of the sales team spoke up and added, “To be honest, when we show these pieces to our customers, they wonder why we would go to the trouble of creating marketing pieces that speak to these topics. It makes us look like we don’t understand their business and what their concerns are.”
The root problem, it turns out, was hubris. The marketing team thought they already knew the answers to all the questions, before they were even asked. They thought they were on the leading edge of the company and therefore knew more about everything than any other department. They thought they had the best understanding of the company’s customers, and didn’t need anyone’s input when creating sales materials.
They were wrong.
The marketing team should be your organization’s leading edge. But Marketing only gets to be that when we ask questions. And when we confirm what we believe to be true instead of just assuming that it’s true. And when we realize that things change and we don’t know as much as those manning the front lines of our company.
Yes, Marketing should lead. But we must also serve. And we can only do both when we put our arrogance and assumptions aside, and ask questions.