FlipMyFunnel Post, Other

Why Every Leader Should Have Lunch With Their Sales Team

Today, on the #FlipMyFunnel podcast we’re joined by Erik Smith

And as much as I want to dive into ABM with Erik, he has such an interesting perspective to offer on career growth, leadership, and personalization that I felt discussing those topics would be a super valuable experience for you all.

So, here’s what we’re unpacking today:

  • How Erik achieved such a unique career path
  • Why all marketers should at least be able to demo a product
  • Why you should be having lunch with millennials

This post is based on a podcast with Erik Smith. If you’d like to listen to the full episode, you can check it out here and below.

A little about Erik:

Erik has been in a variety of roles over the course of his career. He has been a Senior Manager for business operations, he’s been in growth marketing and ABM, and now he’s the Marketing Director of Data. It’s a really interesting growth trajectory.

So, on the show I asked Erik…

How did you make so many different career moves?

Erik: Well, for one, I had my own startup. I built a social media platform back in the early 2000s. And the philosophy behind that is all about being very customer centric. And that’s part of what helped me navigate these various roles. 

Second, after I sold my startup, I decided that I wanted to go into sales. I had realized, or at least I believed, that, had I been better at sales, and had I understood the fundamentals of sales, we probably would have been able to scale that startup a little bit better.

So, I credit my time with that startup and in sales being customer-facing with my ability today to jump into content or jump into operations or any other role.

What can marketers do to, well, be better marketers?

Erik: If you could only do one thing, it would be to take six weeks to go and actually try to sit in a chair and pick up a phone and actually try to sell your own product. 

You will learn more in that six weeks than you would learn probably in two years of market research. That’s my opinion. Not everyone has that opportunity, though.

And if you don’t have the opportunity to sit in a hot seat in sales, go into the field and actually commit yourself to pitching and giving people a tour of the product at your booth. 

So, if you can get in sales, do it. If not, commit to learning a 15-minute product pitch, record it, and do it at a field event.

What do boomers and millennials think about personalization?

Erik: So, Salesforce did a study back in October of 2018. They asked baby boomers, Gen X, and millennials questions like: “Do you understand how data works?” “Do you want things personalized and do you expect things personalized?”

And the boomers, by and large, were about 64% against personalization. They don’t understand how it works, they’re not really comfortable with it, and they don’t expect it.

Millennials were the mirror image of that. So, something like 66 or 67% were in favor of personalization. They understand how it works, they’re comfortable with it, and they actually expect it. 

And that’s interesting to understand because guess who’s in charge of a lot of large enterprise companies? Not millennials, right? CEOs are, by and large, of the boomer generation. 

So, they’re making decisions regarding the future of these companies and there’s this whole digital revolution going on and the data shows that they don’t get it — they’re not comfortable with it. And obviously, there are exceptions, but that’s the big picture. So, that’s a big problem.

Sangram’s summary:

So, I’m going to summarize my three biggest takeaways here. 

One, if you’re in marketing and that’s all you have done all your career, go and spend two, three, four weeks within your sales team or actually be in that role and you will learn more than what you might learn in two years. And make sure everybody on your team can do a demo of the product.

Two, in a few years there’s going to be a big shift in power. And if you’re not getting behind that and understanding what that means, I think you’re going to have a problem. So, if you’re a boomer listening to this, maybe go have lunch with a millennial and find out what they care about.

Finally, you mentioned three things that you look for when you try to hire. You said you need to be coachable, you need to be an expert in something, and you should have passion.

Erik’s challenge:

Erik: So, I mentioned learning to demo. But if you can do nothing else, listen to sales call recordings. You can do that, right?

And two, think about learning data literacy. Take a basic data science class or digital marketing class — just up that skill set.

And finally, have lunch with your team. Especially if you’re a boomer, go have lunch with your team.