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Why Asking Sales What They Want Is NOT Sales Enablement

by Jennifer Robinson  |  
June 27, 2013

In this article, you'll learn...

  • Why Sales can't tell you what marketing materials they need
  • How to avoid the marketing wild goose chase

If you are part of a B2B marketing department that has a dedicated salesforce, you probably feel the pain and frustration of trying to do your best to give Sales what materials it needs. In return, you probably hear that they are creating their own materials anyway. Sometimes you even directly ask what they want and follow their direction to the letter—and they still don't use what you create.


They Don't Know What They Need

In theory it seems simple: You ask Sales what it wants, you do it, and the salespeople use what you create. However, in practice, this approach can actually have the opposite effect. What research experts have discovered is that people in general just don't know what they need and certainly can't articulate it. The part of the brain that has the most impact on decision-making and the drive for what is "needed"—the old brain—has no language center. So... it's not that they don't want to tell you, they physically can't due to the way the brain processes information.

1. Frame of Reference

People in general are bound by their own frame of reference; they can explain things only in terms of what they're familiar with. Which is why Henry Ford famously said, "If I'd asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse."

2. They Don't Know What You Can Create

Sales reps are not marketing experts. They have no idea of the scope of creativity that you can produce. And since they are bound by their own frame of reference, they will never be able to tell you anything more than to make a change to something they already know. This leads marketing on a wild goose chase to make every conceivable version of a material, only to find it still not hitting the mark or not being used.

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Jennifer Robinson is writer and marketer specializing in sales enablement, complex selling situations, and out-of-the-box ideas. She publishes her own blog at

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  • by Sarah Thu Jun 27, 2013 via web

    Jennifer --- this is RIGHT on the money. After three years of creating materials sales folks (and I'm one of them!) HAD to have to convert/generate business and then finding huge disappointment in their lack of using the materials, I'm spending this month interviewing each rep to determine what their specific needs are. It's been a mind-blowing experience. When we have sales meetings, everyone is always clamoring to brag on what they're doing right but sales folks never want to admit what they're actual challenge is. I now have a mini-strategic plan for each rep and will work through the summer to get each one of them what will help them convert in some cases or generate in other cases. Nice article!

  • by Gracious store Thu Jun 27, 2013 via web

    If the sales department have no idea what the marketing department does and can do, how then can the two department work simultaneously for the progress of their company?

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