It was Autumn 2016. I was sat outside my CEO’s office awaiting the annual meeting to discuss next year’s targets.
All these thoughts were running through my head:
“Will we have new products?”
“Will I be able to hire the two new guys needed for my Sales team?”
“Have we achieved enough this financial year?”
I sat there cross-legged in my suit with anticipation. I didn’t know it at the time, but this meeting would be a life-changing one, to say the least.
As I entered the room, my slick rick of a CEO sat there in his leather chair, laptop open, sipping on Italy’s finest coffee.
He had a weird glimmer of excitement on his face, which made me feel kind of comfortable but slightly concerning as to why.
I prepared my presentation. We were up 6% on the previous year. I awaited confirmation of my annual bonus. The wife had been pushing me for that Mediterranean cruise.
During the next two hours, we discussed my achievements and struggles. We needed more Sales leads. Selling such a technical product meant my Sales team were on the road most days having to demonstrate our products face to face. This was something I had always done, and It was an essential part of the sales process.
I wanted two new sales members. I thought of utilising them as door openers, and the more experienced individual could hit the road and close the deals.
My plans seemed to come across well and he said he was happy with my 6% increase in Sales.
But that look was still on his face! Was it the coffee? I had to ask him.
His response left me speechless. I had known my CEO for a number of years and felt as if our relationship had gone beyond that of only a working one, but I had never seen him like this.
‘A Change is Gonna Come’
“Things are going to change!” he stood up and shouted.
It was said with the passion and excitement of the famous Malcolm X speech.
Where was this going? Change in what way? Was he retiring? Are we moving premises? Was I getting a promotion? I waited in anticipation for his next breath.
“Marketing”, he said…
“Huh, what?!?” I replied with raised eyebrows, whilst speculating whether his coffee had been laced with anything stronger.
“Your budget for next year has been halved; you will now share it with marketing.” My heart sank.
I didn’t even know we had a marketing team, but how could photo-shopping a handful of pictures of valves help me?
This must be a joke. This was not what I expected when I composed my notes the night before.
My budget had been halved, yet the pressure hadn’t changed. He wanted 15% the following year. 15% with half a budget and a team of photoshopping geeks stealing my extra team member. The sweat on my palms was glistening.
For the first time in my career, I was worried about delivery and for the next two hours, my CEO presented his case. It was strong; possibly stronger than my presentation. Statistically it looked great, so I withheld from expressing my scepticism.
My Traditional Tactics Were Challenged
Marketing would apparently generate more leads for my team. It would also increase client engagement. ‘These were my duties,’ I thought, and until now, cold calling and knocking down doors had always worked. Could these ‘professional colour inners’ really deliver results?
I’m a pretty old-school kind of guy. A hard-back diary combined with my outlook had always worked. Why break the mould if it’s not broken?
If having marketing taking half my budget was not enough, I was also being told that a new fancy CRM system was going to be installed across the business.
Grrrreeeaaattttt! A right Frosties moment. Streamline my processes, MY Processes, that I created and implemented!! This must have been how Sarah Connor felt when she first encountered The Terminator.
What I Learnt About The Role Of The Marketer
Over a twelve-month period, I slowly learnt that marketing wasn’t just comprised of a bunch of photoshopping geeks.
If someone had said “Inbound” to me before last year’s meeting I would have probably ducked. Especially if I was playing the back 9.
Digital Marketers are a bunch of well-educated and technically skilled wizards. I don’t admit to understanding how they do their thing, but did people question Houdini during his infancy? No, we just accepted his magic and stood in awe.
Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer.
Leads came by the dozen. We closed even more leads; 210% more net new customers.
It was fantastic. My sales team was buzzing.
After the in-depth training I had to endure some twelve months previously, I could hold my hands up and admit that my scepticism was misplaced.
My CEO must have had a visit from the Gods in his sleep.
The way Sales Enablement had changed within the organisation was fantastic.
My Sales team was now automating their prospecting; sales and marketing were almost one team.
That year we added 17.3% and I had half the budget
How Does Marketing Help Me?
The content they write has saved me an immense amount of time. I now have customers calling me; already educated; already knowing what they want, prior to me opening my mouth.
I came to realise that the hours of trying to communicate technical information via the phone and the endless nights in Holiday Inns was an unproductive use of my time. I wasn’t even selling; I was just educating on the hope I could then move it along the sales process.
How things have changed.
It felt like we were now helping people who had a need. The days of hardcore cold calling and slamming data and information down architects’ necks have gone.
My father would be rolling in his grave if he could see me set up my automated prospecting sequences once a week.
“Look at you now son,” he would be saying, “Oh baby, you have changed”.
Funny old man, my father; the kind of guy who took 10 years to discover the internet but eventually wore Facebook socks to bed.
He always said I needed to change my ways and keep up with the times. Well, maybe now I have.
I’m still no technical buff, but I’m learning. Now I understand search engines and how important it is to be on page 1 of Google.
The inbound enquiries we now have because of the marketing team has changed my perception forever.
I can’t wait till my next annual review. All the data and analytics will do the talking for me. I’ll be the one sat there with a cheeky smile while my CEO sits there looking speechless!
Embrace change, you never know what rewards it may bring you.
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