Our last blog talked about some of the reasons why it is important for outbound marketing people to think like salespeople. In this installment, we are going to provide a quiz to measure your “sales empathy quotient.” While this may sound too “touchy-feely,” the rationale is to help demonstrate how different things are important to salespeople than to marketing people. After the quiz, we will talk a little about how you can improve your sales empathy quotient.

One quick note – this is not a quiz on sales techniques or anything like that – we are not attempting to turn marketing people into salespeople. So take a couple of minutes (it is short), and approach it with an open mind. Here are the questions (total point value is 50 points):

  1. How is the commission for your company’s sales team calculated (revenue-based, margin-based, design win-based, MBO-based, or a combination of these)?
    (5 points)
  2. What is your company’s sales (revenue) quota for this quarter?
    (5 points)
  3. What is your sales group’s attainment so far this quarter against their revenue quota?
    (5 points)
  4. What are the top five accounts that your sales team needs to win this quarter?
    (2 points each, with a maximum of 10 points)
  5. How many sales calls have you been on in the last 3 months?
    (2 points for each one, with a maximum of 6 points)
  6. Which sales region/geography showed the greatest growth in the last fiscal year?
    (5 points)
  7. How many salespeople have you exchanged emails with this week?
    (1 point for each one, with a maximum of 4 points)
  8. How many salespeople have you talked to on the phone or met with this week (don’t count sales calls that were counted for question #5)?
    (2 points for each one, with a maximum of 10 points)

If you had to look up the answers, you don’t get the points for those questions. Now total up your points, and see where you fit on the scale below:

43-50 points You are very in touch with your “inner salesperson.”
30-42 points You are not terribly off, but you need to do some work – you either don’t communicate with your sales team much, or you don’t know how they are paid.
20-30 points You are on the edge of failure – tell your VP that you would like to spend the next three months in the field with the sales team.
Less Than 20 points If sales/marketing “interlock” is at all important in your company, you might want to start looking for a new job…

For executives (SVPs, VPs, and directors) in sales-centric companies, you are probably a third wheel if you scored less than 35-40 points. Even if you did well, how would your people do on this quiz? You are not doing them any favors by taking all of the sales calls and chances to work with the sales team yourself. If you think your marketing team would do poorly on this (less than 40 points), you are in danger of having marketing seen as being unimportant and/or irrelevant by your sales team – you need to turn things around.

So how do you fix this situation? Here are some ideas you might consider to improve your “sales empathy quotient:”

  1. Spend time with the salesforce more often than at the annual sales kickoff. More importantly, when you are at events (tradeshows, sales calls, etc.) with the salesforce, spend non-working time with them. You would be surprised what a dinner or a few drinks together can do to create the kind of bond you need to be successful in a sales-oriented company.
  2. Sit in on revenue calls, and take notes. You don’t need to go to every weekly call that happens, but you should try to be on one a month. If you have questions during the sales call (“how can marketing help you win that deal,” “did that last piece of collateral make a difference,” etc.), don’t hesitate to ask. Ignorance is no excuse when the next layoff comes around.
  3. If your company has a field sales function, get out in the field and spend some time with them. They should be closer to the sales team, and can help you to understand the ropes.
  4. If your company has an inside sales function, spend time with them – sit in with them when they do call-outs, and see what works/doesn’t work.
  5. Pick a salesperson, and be his “swim buddy” (if you are an executive, pick a sales management person at a similar level to you). Have a call with your sales swim buddy weekly to understand what he is seeing, and what is working for him. You need to create a bond that will allow you to ask frank questions (like “what does the salesforce think about marketing and about me?”).
  6. Take a sales training course that people in your salesforce recommend. Again, the point is not to become a salesperson, but to learn to look at things like a salesperson does.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but hopefully it will help you improve your “sales empathy quotient” and make a greater contribution in your company. Happy hunting!