Depending on who you to speak to in an organization, sales people are either revered or reviled. Their objective is to close deals. If they land that big one, they are placed on pedestals, treated like gods and receive handsome commission checks. Despite the fact that this adulation negates the contributions of others in the organization that assisted in closing a deal, it certainly reinforces the perception for all, that sales’ sole goal is close business. This is their corporate purpose, isn’t it?
Sales can play another significant role that will enhance a firm’s chances of winning in the marketplace. As a marketing intelligence function, sales has the ability to provide valuable market data—from where the rubber meets the road—about why deals are won, why deals are lost, what features and services prospects are searching for, what objections are presented to sales, and an assortment of other critical information. This information can be translated into enhancements to existing products and services, development of new products and services, tweaking of messaging in sales collateral and presentations, for example. The result could be a more refined and streamlined sales process which better addresses customer needs and shortens sales cycles.
So, why don’t companies take advantage of sales to do this? There are probably three main reasons: not all companies understand the value that sales can add to their marketing intelligence efforts; firms have not found an appropriate way to incent, demand or cajole sales into providing this information in a structured format, and; some companies do not have a simple and systematic way to capture much of this anecdotal data for further analysis.
In today’s intensely competitive landscape, organizations need to find a way to harness these underutilized resources. To facilitate this, a bridge, first, needs to be built across the chasm that currently exists between sales and marketing in most organizations. Next, an easy, simple system to capture this valuable market data must be developed, because if this can be established, it will be easier to find the right incentives to have sales populate it with the rich market data they collect daily. For the firms that undertake the opportunity to leverage sales for market intelligence, they will gain a competitive advantage that will be difficult to match.