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When You Get Punched in the Face

I’ve had marketing and sales management jobs where success came easy, we made our numbers, marketers basked in glory, and salespeople took the accolades they earned.  

The opposite has also been true.  I’ve been with companies that struggled, fought, clawed and wrestled with the marketplace.  These were times of declining sales, missed forecasts and finger pointing.   In most of these “hard cases,” salespeople and marketers inched back and eventually surged ahead from the lessons they learned.

I was reminded of these wins and losses when I heard Matt Heinz, on one of his Sales Pipe Line Radio programs.  A quote from Mike Tyson, the boxer:

Yes, we all have a plan until we get punched, but what Tyson’s implying is that plans will fail but fierce determination and the will to fight on is what wins the contest.  Boxing fans may or may not agree, but boxing is as much about being able to take a punch and keep on fighting skill as it is about skill. 

Coping with these occurrences is primarily what we’re hired to do. This is a reminder for marketers and salespeople that our careers will not always go as planned.  There will be conflict, plans will fall apart as competitors introduce new products, economies slump, and management decisions fail to deliver.  This is the game of marketing and sales.

As I look back and remember the jobs I’ve had, both as an employee and a consultant, I remember most the difficult times that were turned around; the win that was snatched from defeat.  I remember being punched in the face by the marketplace, the government, or the economy, and finding a way to survive and win.  Those are the days to savor. 

This is what marketing and sales does; it wins in the face of adversity because every market by its nature is a game of adversity.  Few companies have an 80% market share, and those that do often don’t have it for long.

So, my advice  for the coming year to marketers is:  when your company gets punched, find a way to recover; that’s what Marketing does.  Marketing is the engine that creates demand and drives the success of the company. Listen to what the salespeople say and need. Go on sales calls until you know what’s going on in the marketplace.  Read the lost sales reports; call those who didn’t buy from you and ask why.  Skip months-long research projects and go listen to the customers.  If you have less money, use it better on cold, hard lead gen that delivers qualified potential buyers. 

Savor the successes as you fight back; learn from adversity.  If it were easy, more people would be in Marketing.

More from Matt Heinz on Sales Pipeline Radio

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