They said I was going to be wrapped around their little finger. They said I didn’t stand a chance as soon as I heard them for the first time.
Of course I said “there is no possible way I’ll be that guy!”
They were right, because I am a father to two absolutely beautiful little girls.
But while it is true I am wrapped around their little fingers, and they are a cute eye bat away from each getting a new convertible (they are 4 and 1 respectively), my little girls aren’t the people about whom I’m talking.
I’m talking about sales.
If anything prepared me for a life with daughters, it’s my experience working with a sales staff. If this sounds overly dramatic it probably is, but give me a chance to explain.
You see, sales, like young daughters, can be misunderstood. The perception is others in the organization are there only to serve sales. If sales isn’t happy, nobody can be. They can be loud, obnoxious, bratty, inconsolable and obstinate. But they can also be appreciative, thankful, generous, and kind. It’s all about how they are set up to succeed.
Fathering daughters has been a wonderful experience. When I first found out my wife and I were to be blessed with a little girl, I, like a lot of dads, started packing away my dreams of a “mini-me” and started worrying about whether or not I was going to be able to fulfill my duties and keep them happy and safe. I immediately felt like I wasn’t going to be able to handle the job. There was so much I didn’t know and I immediately began to panic about how I was going to handle teenage girls who, much to my dismay, are going to want to drive…and DATE! I started thinking about how I was going to approach the first young man that walked in my front door. I started wondering how I was going to pay for college. I started wondering how I was going to pay for a wedding.
I started to hyperventilate.
A lot of marketers hyperventilate when you start tying their performance to sales revenue. I mean, sales is different than marketing. They have quotas. They are responsible for revenue. They have to interact with prospects and customers. But Modern Marketing says that WE should have a hand in all of this.
How can we possibly help close more business? Why do we have to have responsibility for revenue? Will we have a quota? How can I even prove my contribution? What happens if – gasp – we don’t make a number?
Someone give me a brown paper bag. I’m about to pass out.
Before the birth of my first daughter, all I could think about was the “what if’s” and the “how am I gonna’s.” The stress of the unknowns consumed me so that by the time the big day came around, I wasn’t entirely phased by the enormity of the day.* In an instant, I went from expectant father to a dad. All of the worrying, practice runs, and hypothetical were now gone and it was game time. I was now responsible for a life. But, for as much as I had to wing it, I learned a lot about parenting as I went. Some things are pretty self explanatory, some things surprised me. Four years later, I’m getting pretty good at it and am pleased to report that the hospital visits have been kept to a minimum and the girls still like to hug me…I think we’re good.
What I’ve found is that the similarities between how I’ve raised my kids and how I coach Modern Marketers run in parallel. When marketing started interjecting themselves into the revenue generation process, a lot of leaders felt the same apprehension a new dad feels. The questions, the lack of confidence, the stress; going in felt like an impossibly large venture. But following a few simple rules can make all the difference in the world towards building a fantastically aligned marketing and sales organization.
- Get a quick win or two. As a new dad, not dropping your newborn the first few times you hold her and changing what can only be described as disastrous diapers makes you feel good and builds confidence. Launching a couple of killer nurturing campaigns not only builds mutual confidence between marketing and sales, but it also allows you to dig in and learn more about your sales process and define metrics.
- Start with the basics. No self respecting college freshman shows up on campus without knowing how to use the potty. Somewhere during my kids’ preschool years I figured out that this is something I wanted to teach them. Marketing cannot effectively contribute to the revenue cycle without having effectively tackled data challenges, initiated lead nurturing, implemented lead scoring and other fundamental objectives.
- Get involved. I’m not talking helicopter parenting, but the older my girls get, the more I can have conversations with them about how their day went. I feel like I have a better understanding about what makes them tick which helps me make better parenting decisions. Interjecting yourself into sales conversations and meetings gives you the chance to build relationships and develop a better understanding of sales’ world and what they need to succeed.
- Discipline is critical. Probably the most important thing I’ve learned is that disciplining my girls is purely a love thing. It’s good for them, even when they are kicking, screaming, spitting exorcist children. With sales, it’s not about correcting them, but rather making sure that the leads you send to them are based in data and facts. That way, when they start screaming about their lack of leads, you can confidently demonstrate your process for sending the prospect over to them and continue to build their trust by providing them with quality leads over simple quantity.
- Share in their joy. As a parent, the most fun you have is when your kids discover some new proficiency and build confidence in themselves. The more they smile, the more you smile. When sales succeeds, it’s time, organizationally, to party! More revenue is, after all, the name of the game. When you can prove your contribution, you feel like you deserve a coffee mug with “Best dad in the World.”
How do you practice sales enablement?
*It’s true. I wasn’t overly concerned by the day. The emergency C-section due to complications during birth is what made me nearly pass out, not the birth itse
Rob is an expert in Lead Generation and has developed a great deal of acumen around marketing activities including SEM / SEO, Marketing & Sales Alignment, PR & Marketing Communications, Content Marketing, and more. Rob has successfully answered the question “How do I deliver more qualified leads to sales?” and has a proven track record of success doing this in various leadership roles across various industries and markets.
In all, Rob has 13 years of marketing experience, including nearly 8 years of experience using Eloqua. Rob is a certified Eloqua Product Master and was awarded the Eloqua Markie award for Lead Scoring in 2010. But Rob isn’t some sort of marketing cyborg. A 2002 graduate of Mount Vernon Nazarene University with a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration he lives in Columbus, OH with his wife Danielle and two daughters, Mia & Evelyn and is thoroughly fanatical about “his” Kansas Jayhawks.
Latest posts by Rob Barnhart (see all)
- They Said I Was Going To Be Wrapped Around Their Little Finger - November 7, 2013