Are You Known for Your Hustle?

I’m a baseball fanatic!  I love watching it, reading about it, and talking about it.  I love going to games – major league, minor league and my kids’ games.  I check scores and stats on a daily basis. I read blogs, follow tweets and watch the MLB Network.  And I LOVE cheering on my beloved New York Yankees.  Simply put, I love the game. I have ever since I was a kid.

There are so many great things about baseball. But one of the things I absolutely hate is when players don’t hustle.  In today’s game, this is most often seen when a batter hits a routine grounder to second.  Assuming the second baseman will field it cleanly, they hang their head and half-heartedly trot down to first base.  Unfortunately, you’ll see this in the Majors more often than you do at the Little League level.  In fact it is so prominent at the professional level that when a player does the exact opposite, writers take notice – see this article on Nick Swisher by ESPN writer Buster Olney.  Those players that hustle, who give the proverbial 110%, are labeled as the exception rather than the rule.

This article got me thinking about marketers.  To what degree are we marketers known for our “hustle”?  Too often I speak with marketers who act like a batter who just hit a weak grounder to second.   They say things like, “Nobody here seems to get it”, or “My sales team will never go for that!”, or “Our culture is not a marketing culture.”  Statements like these indicate someone who has given up, instead of someone who seeking to initiate and drive the necessary change in their organization.  In short, they’ve stopped hustling.

If you are in the group that has stopped running out the “routine plays”, let me provide a few thoughts on what you can do to re-ignite the fire.

1.    Educate:  Be seen in your organization as the one who knows your space and your buyer. Be the domain expert on demand generation, marketing automation and sales enablement. There is a wealth of information to be had from blogs and trusted sources online that will give you what you need.  If you can, go the extra mile and take some online courses that will better educate and equip you in your role.  If you can get your company to pay for this education, so much the better. As you acquire this information, share it with your colleagues and with sales.  One of the best ways to do this is by holding monthly educational “Lunch & Learns” where you provide information that not only educates, but helps them see how marketing can be of benefit to sales.

2.    Go for One:  Sometimes it only takes one success story to get the momentum going.  So find one sales person in your organization that you can tell how marketing successfully enabled them by providing quality leads that led to increased conversion rates and more closed sales.  You’ll have a champion on the sales side and a great advocate to helping initiate the change that’s needed.  I’ve done this in previous roles and it works!

3.    Be a Bit Self-Promotional:  During my tenure at BMC Software we made a habit of sending our monthly marketing updates to others in the organization.  The goal was to highlight our progress.  We focused on key areas such as the contribution to pipeline and marketing generated leads that closed. Per point #2, we used testimonials from our most successful reps to help promote the work we were doing.  Over time, sales saw a consistency in what we were achieving.  This consistent communication helped us align with sales.

4.    Don’t Be Defensive:  It’s a given that mistakes will be made along the way. It’s okay to make mistakes.  What’s NOT okay is to be defensive about making them.  Instead, own up to the mistakes, learn from them and move on.  At times it is even healthy to disclose your mistakes before anyone else notices.  Being transparent to the organization will go a long way in earning the credibility needed.

5.    Be Patient:  In 2011, Curtis Granderson, the Yankees centerfielder, was hitting an abysmal .213 against left-handed pitching.  Frustrated with his lack of performance, Granderson sat out of the line-up for three days (a significant amount of time in baseball terms) to re-build his swing with the Yankees hitting coach.  Since then his numbers against lefties have been off the charts.  Why the change? Because he was patient, he learned and he did what was necessary to change.   As marketers, we need to remember that change will not happen overnight. However, if you dedicate yourself to make the right adjustments,  and you add in some patience, you’ll eventually be able to look back and see the substantial progress you have made.

6.    Relish the Opportunity:  Never before has marketing been so relevant in B2B organizations.  The need for marketing to step up and help drive revenue, enable sales and engage customers is at an all time high.  What a great opportunity it is for all of us in this space.  Take advantage of it and enjoy the ride.

The best compliment I ever received as a marketer came from a VP of Sales who, when speaking at the annual sales kick-off, directed his comments to my team when he said, “Marketing team, you have won my heart.  You are making our sales teams better!”  We did not bat 1.000, but we did what we could with all of our effort and saw great improvement in the results.  In short, we hustled.

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