Vermont's Battle of the Winhall River...and Sales

Posted by Jack Derby, Head Coach on Fri, Sep 06, 2013

Here in Vermont today dealing with yet another contractor issue. Had to take the day off from work, deal with Vermonters (said he lovingly being a 7th  generation Vermonter), and drive 6 hours back and forth. It is what it is, but the trip up late last night did remind me of this summer's hotly debated "Battle of the Winhall River" in the town.  

The town of Winhall, called "Winhall" by the state government and "Bondville" by the federal government (go figure-only in Vermont) is all of 775 people.  "Downtown" is a don't-blink-blip-in-the-road of four real estate firms, one (excellent) property management company, a 7-11 gas station and the Winhall General Store on one side of the street directly facing the Bondville Post Office on the other side.  Quiet and Vermontish and, most importantly, sits at the base of the best skiing and riding in the East-the Stratton Mountain Resort.

Quiet, that is, until the Summer of 2013 "Battle of the Winhall River"

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- Local guy's dog dies

- Distraught, he erects stones in the meandering Winhall River to commemorate dog.

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 -Friends of guy come and fill the river with more stone cairns
-...and more and more stone cairns
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-Other local guy dislikes messing around with Mother Nature, comes and knocks down all of the stones.
-More Stone Builders show up to rebuild cairns.  More Stone Destroyers show up to knock them down.  And the battle rages.

Bottom line:  personal threats, sticks and brooms being raised in defiance, colliding cars and now the town is divided:  stones/no stones. But in a state where there are no guns laws and 95% of Vermonters own guns, having hotly contested arguments in Vermont is nothing to be laughed at.  
Driving in the dark last night, I couldn't see if the Cairns-Builders or the Cairns-Destroyers were winning the battle, but like most skirmishes, this one just didn't have to happen...assuming the boys could have sat down and worked things out.  Big assumption, considering us Vermonters are known for our long memories and quick tempers.
Somewhat sounds like the critical requirement today in our businesses-especially small and middle market businesses-to make absolutely sure that Marketing is in full agreement and totally aligned with the objectives, the tactics, the processes and the requirements of building the exact tools that Sales needs.  
  • Mostly gone are "the bad ol' days" of Marketing when new products and pricing were simply thrown over the wall and the memo writing immediately began blaming Sales for their inability to sell. 
  • Also mostly gone are the battle cries of "these leads suck; they're old, no good, and not in my territory" 
Today, it's a simpler and much more unified ecosystem in which Marketing's job is to do one simple task... Enable the Salespeople!
  • The best leads nurtured all the way thorough Marketing-land
  • The best tools such as Pitch decks, demos, & Value Props
  • Common vocabularies and metrics defining "leads", "MQLs", & "SQLs"
  • Marketing quotas that tie directly into the waterfall math of Sales quotas
  • Integrated CRM and CMS systems with consistently sync'd apps.
sales and marketing communication
In order to do this, it's the job of the senior leadership of the company to ensure that the culture of the Sales and Marketing organizations be totally focused not to "departmental views" or "sides", but to the real job of the business which is to focus everyone to enable the Sales organization so that it is translating customer value efficiently and effectively.

Sounds easy, and it long as we, as managers, rise about the fiefdoms and hold everyone accountable to the overall objectives of the company.  We as managers also need to take bold action to deal with any egos that get in the way of the company's primary objectives.

Today, in a world of increasingly competitive markets, in a still fragile economy, we all need to be focused on our ultimate goal which is creating more highly satisfied customers and not spending time arbitrating internal conflicts and stroking egos such that we dilute our management time and the impact of our salespeople.  Selling stuff is tough enough without having to worry about the battles over who owns the rocks in the river.
Good Selling...  

 Jack Derby 
 Head Coach

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