Who does the CEO trust for market information?

When CEOs want a briefing on the market they often turn to the VP of Sales to get the information they’re looking for. Why don’t they turn to the VP of Marketing? Afterall it is the marketing department, right?

Your marketing team is too internally focused

It’s not because the VP of Sales is smarter, or has more experience, or is better at politics. It’s because the VP of Marketing doesn’t have a pulse on the market and is too consumed with the day-to-day tactics of marketing stuff. She may be a brilliant manager and her team may execute with stunning precision on marketing tactics, but her team is so internally focused they have become disconnected with what’s really going on in the market.

The CEO knows this and therefore realizes the fastest way to get an answer is to consult with the VP of Sales. The rationale is that since the sales team is regularly engaged in the market, they should have a real-time perspective of what’s happening.  And the VP of Sales knows having the CEO’s ear means greater influence and power.

The CEO is getting the wrong picture

Unfortunately the CEO isn’t getting a true picture of the market. Why? Because the picture the sales team paints is a reflection of their most recent interactions with prospects. This isn’t a status of the market, it’s situational awareness based on a snapshot in time and a function of the limited number of eyes and ears engaged in selling.

It’s not that I’m bashing salespeople. Far from it. My livelihood is dependent on my salespeople’s success. However, we shouldn’t expect salespeople to be experts at markets. We expect them to be good a developing relationships that lead to a sale. Their focus is tactical by definition, which is a good thing if we find revenue and profit important.

Change the game

To be an equal player at the table the VP of Marketing needs a new approach. Stop wasting time, resources and energy on tactical activities that aren’t moving the ball down the field and start becoming more strategic in your approach.

  1. Don’t rely solely on secondary research to support your most important decisions. Real breakthroughs are made by understanding your market in the first person.
  2. Require each of your team members to get out into the market on a regular basis, write up what they learn, and share it with the rest of the team. Make the activity an important part of their compensation.
  3. Become the experts on buyers, buying criteria and the buying process. Require each person on your marketing team to own and evolve 1 buyer persona profile.
  4. Conduct sales enablement training based on buyers not on product features
  5. Do not rely solely on salespeople to give you the pulse of the market. Their last interaction will likely be their perception of the entire market.

On a weekly basis, how much time does your team dedicate to tactical marketing activities (status quo) versus getting an understanding of the market (game changer)?

You can start small and still be effective. What can you do today to free up a few hours a week to get out into the market?

David Daniels

David Daniels


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