Hubert Joly became CEO of the electronics retailer Best Buy when the company was a mess. He tells the story of the turnaround in his book, The Heart of Business. Before he went to the corporate office he went to the stores. His goal was to get his finger on the pulse of what was happening with employees, managers, and customers. The knowledge he gained combined with his leadership skills led to one of the most notable turnarounds in American business history.
Similarly, marketing can support sales by getting out of the office and listening to what’s happening in the field. Tom Peters, author of the classic, In Search of Excellence, called this MBWA: Management by Wandering Around.
I think what we need is more MARKETING by Wandering Around.
One of the best things marketing can do is to get out of the office and in front of current customers. As marketing gets out of the office and into the field (or Zoom room) with prospects and clients, three things happen.
1. Escape the Trap of Generic Messaging
By wandering around, marketing discovers the specific issues going on in the field. They hear the specific outcomes. They feel the pain and frustration. They sense the nuance of the emotions involved. (After all, buyers buy on emotion.)
This is critical in a dynamic economy. Right now, generic marketing messages (“We can help you improve productivity while reducing overhead expenses!” are just static noise.
We must be current, relevant, and specific. When we talk directly with clients and prospects we discover the specific words and phrases they use. These become the x-factor in creating relevant and compelling content.
2. Align With Sales
The second thing that happens from MBWA is marketing begins to understand the challenges salespeople face in moving deals forward. This gives clues as to how marketing can move beyond lead generation to support the entire net-new sales process.
As marketing sees the obstacles and hears objections, content can be created to proactively address these issues earlier on the sales cycle.
3. Understand How to Position Cross-Sell Offers
The marketing doesn’t stop once a prospect becomes a customer. I believe that at least 50% of marketing should be directed to cross-selling additional products and services to current clients.
As marketing wanders around talking with current customers it becomes clearer as to how to position additional products and services in a way that compels action.
In many cases, cross-selling isn’t primarily a sales function. By understanding the outcomes and obstacles current clients face, marketing may be able position offers in a way that provides a frictionless path for the current customer to buy additional products. The knowledge on how to do this happens as marketing talks with current clients. What’s gained from MBWA can be turned into effective e-commerce strategies to drive additional revenue from current customers.
What does Marketing By Wandering Around look like? On a practical level, here are a few ideas:
- Set a goal to go on a minimum number of sales calls each month
- Set a goal to interview a minimum number of current clients each quarter. (As a side benefit, you’ll get to create incredibly valuable success stories.)
- Listen or read transcripts of sales calls.
- Attend the sessions at conferences that you attend. Don’t just sit in the tradeshow booth. Go to the education sessions and learn from the attendees.
As marketing wanders around the message will become more focused. Marketing will become more aligned with sales. All of this will drive more revenue.