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What Marketing & Sales Can Learn From Seinfeld

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All of us have had the moment when we say to ourselves, “I am living a Seinfeld episode.”  No matter if we are stuck waiting for a table in a restaurant, trying to rent a car or dealing with friends or family. At one point and time, we’ve all been there.  This Seinfeld experience extends not just into our personal lives, but also professional lives and, believe it or not, there are some lessons we can take from it.

Take the scene from the fourth season where Jerry and George are discussing how popular salsa is becoming as a condiment.  George begins to opine about how difficult it must be for a person with an accent to order seltzer,  “They order seltzer, but get salsa.”  While this dialogue not only represents the nothingness of the show, it does paint a picture of what occurs in many B2B organizations today between marketing and sales in that the two groups are using different words, especially when it comes to managing leads.

Too often sales and marketing organizations struggle to clearly articulate and agree on the definition of a lead.  In essence, sales is asking marketing for seltzer and marketing is delivering salsa.  This is an exercise in frustration and not only widens the marketing and sales alignment gap, but also is a waste of marketing dollars as leads that are produced go largely ignored.

A great place for organizations to begin is for marketing and sales to develop a set of definitions on each stage of the buyers journey.  This begins with defining a response all the way through to a customer.  To be more precise, organizations should have a mutual understanding of the following:

  • Response

  • Valid Response

  • Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)

  • Sales Accepted Lead (SAL)

  • Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)

  • Closed Deal

  • Customer

By mutually defining these terms, marketing and sales will align around a common language, thus making communication between the two more fluid.  This is certainly not where the work stops, but it is a great starting point and foundation from which to build.

If sales and marketing are frustrated by lack of results, there is a good chance your saying two different things.  While it makes for good humor on television, it can be the cause for disaster in B2B organizations.

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Carlos Hidalgo is CEO of The Annuitas Group the leader in the development of marketing & sales lead management processes. He is a frequent speaker on the topic of lead management process, demand generation and marketing automation and is passionate about helping their clients improve the return on their marketing and sales investments.

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  • by Bill Gammell Wed Jul 7, 2010 via blog


    You point out some good things for marketing and sales departments. I love the Seinfeld tie in, I'm a huge fan. You might even say that I am a fanatic with my weekly posts about Seinfeld on Marketing - I even wrote an ebook about it. I really need help! (Not that there is anything wrong with it!)

    Check out the ebook if you'd like -

  • by Irene Crosby Wed Jul 7, 2010 via blog

    Good post, Carlos. As a marketing communications consultant, I see this quite a bit. Getting language sorted out early on is key to ensuring all parties are driving toward achieving the same to goals. Cheers, Irene.

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