Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Monday, February 13, 2017

"Why your sales and marketing departments hate each other"/ Stop outsourcing customer service

Jan. 7, 2017 "Why your sales and marketing departments hate each other": Today I found this article by Ben Firman in the Globe and Mail:

The term “Smarketing” emerged at the turn of this century to describe sales and marketing groups that are fully aligned and integrated. Even though this is needed more than ever in 2017, Smarketing remains a concept and not a reality for most businesses. It is common for sales and marketing groups to exist in a state of co-operative competition that readily descends into finger-pointing and arguments about strategy, budget and resource allocation. When the contribution of each group is questioned and ideologies challenged, sparks fly to the detriment of the bottom line.

Many marketers have spent considerable time studying the art and science of their profession as part of a university degree, and concluded that a great marketing strategy trumps the importance of a salesperson’s role in a customer’s buying journey. This leads marketers to wonder why a bunch of glorified order takers, who have not been academically trained in their chosen profession, get paid much more than them, enjoy more perks and freedoms, and take the lion’s share of the credit when revenue targets are achieved. The most frustrating thing for marketers is when the sales team attributes poor sales numbers to the quality of the leads generated by the marketing group.

Unfortunately, the prevailing sentiment within many sales groups is that the marketing team is superfluous, spending too much money on events, advertising and brochures for little return. They are out of touch with what is really driving customers and their lack of frontline exposure leads them to get stuck in the weeds, championing initiatives that will have negligible effect on sales results. Their superiority complex is particularly galling because they are insulated from the pressure of having to hit measurable financial targets. Oh, and don’t forget, the leads they generate are weak.

While these perspectives are undoubtedly extreme, versions thereof bubble beneath the surface of most organizations that have grown sufficiently to have separate sales and marketing groups. The strategy of having two separate teams, led by autonomous executives with separate budgets and different performance targets, is inherently divisive.

The concept that marketing owns the top of the sales funnel with sole responsibility for creating customer interest, while the sales team waits to be passed leads from marketing, taking sole responsibility for influencing the outcome of the sales process from that point on, represents a deeply flawed strategy.

It should be unacceptable to have a culture where salespeople feel empowered to suggest underperformance is a consequence of poor marketing leads and equally unacceptable for marketing to ring-fence the leadgeneration process, focusing entirely on strategies that will generate inbound leads. Every business should have a highly targeted outbound strategy that involves co-ordinated outreach from members of both the sales and marketing teams.

That outreach should focus on mutually agreed target accounts or industry segments, using a variety of tools including digital advertising, video, e-mail, phone and social media. This practice is widely referred to as accountbased marketing or accountbased sales development.

The best sales and marketing professionals today are worldclass educators: They understand the importance of sharing valuable content that drives action and they aren’t afraid to reach out to targeted prospects to share that content and challenge the status quo.

The starting point is to reach organizational alignment around the industry segments, accounts and the profile of the stakeholders that should be targeted. Both teams must contribute data during this decision-making process and agree on an outcome. The most effective way to earn a prospective customer’s attention is to immediately deliver valuable insights that challenge their perception of the status quo and help them see a way to save or make money.

Those insights, including compelling third-party data and relevant customer stories, should be amassed as part of a joint marketing and sales initiative. The messaging must be consistent across both teams, and both teams should work together so those insights can be disseminated and reinforced at all stages of the customers’ buying journey.

The notion that sales and marketing people have widely different skill sets should be debunked. As the barriers between sales and marketing groups crumble, and these teams join forces to work on targeted account-based strategies, it will become increasingly important for members of both teams to develop skills and take on activities that were traditionally considered the purview of the other. This should be reflected in training programs and opportunities for individuals to shadow their colleagues in different teams and even job-rotation programs. As the lines between traditional sales and marketing teams become blurred, there must be a laser focus on collecting and sharing data across the entire sales and marketing organization, and holding all parties accountable for the activities and results that they must deliver.

Perhaps the ultimate sign a business has put the concept of Smarketing into practice will be that the sales and marketing groups are jointly held accountable to a shared revenue target, while in many instances sharing budgets and incentives. This will be a leap too far for many businesses in 2017, but this should be the year where a concerted effort is made to align both groups behind a strategy in which the value and contribution of each group is felt throughout the entire sales process.

Jan. 18, 2017 "Why my company stopped outsourcing customer service": Today I found this article by Brian Scudamore in the Globe and Mail:

There comes a time when most entrepreneurs will consider outsourcing a portion of their business. On the surface, it seems like a smart move: you don’t have to recruit, hire, and train new staff. Instead, you leave the heavy lifting to your outside experts, saving time and money in return.

Outsourcing can be a solid option, but in my experience there is one thing no business owner should ever send overseas: customer service. People do business with brands they love – how can you be sure that someone who answers the phone in a far-flung country is giving clients the experience you expect?

A few years ago, we outsourced our overflow call volume for our Vancouver-based call centre to a company in Atlantic Canada. We trained them on our systems, initiated them into our corporate culture, and started sending 4,000 daily calls their way.

But even though they painted their walls the 1-800-GOT-JUNK? colours and wore blue wigs to work, something was missing. They just weren’t us. Conversion dropped over time and eventually the home office culture we tried so hard to recreate on the East Coast started to falter.

We’ve since reverted to keeping customer service 100 per cent in-house and have seen the benefits first-hand. Here’s why we won’t be outsourcing customer service again.

Outsourcing puts up a wall between you and your customer

It’s funny: businesses will spend big bucks on sales and marketing to find new customers only to turn around and outsource the critical one-on-one first contact. Why are so many entrepreneurs giving up the chance for a direct conversation with the people who matter the most to their business’ success? It’s a huge mistake to leave these valuable customer interactions to strangers – especially when a poor experience can affect your opportunity for referrals and repeat business, too.

Zappos takes the complete opposite approach, making customer interactions its top priority – even if that means talking to someone for 10 hours on the phone. But this hyper-focus pays off with loyal customers who keep coming back (not to mention PR better than money could ever buy).

Outsourcing makes it hard to build awesome culture

Outsiders will never have the same level of commitment to your vision – they’re hired guns who may not see the world the same way you do. If they’re in a distant call centre, maintaining the same level of engagement that your in-house teams develop by being together every day is impossible. Outsourcing creates a sense of isolation and disconnect.

That kind of disconnection has consequences outside the company, too. After all, great customer experience starts with creating a great employee experience. The more engaged your team is with its company and its co-workers, the more passionate it’s going to be, and that will shine through when they’re talking to customers.

Outsourcing robs you of a chance to find your next all-stars

The biggest risk of outsourcing is often overlooked: it robs you of the chance to train, develop and promote talent from within. Our goal, for instance, is to double our business every four years. But the reality is that you can only do that with exceptionally motivated people. When we’re hiring, we interview people for the job that’s open and the job they could develop into. We want people we can invest in, and who, in turn, will invest their time and energy into us. It’s simply not possible to identify or cultivate that talent when you’re working with contractors thousands of miles away.

Just look at Gwen D’Arcy, who started in 1-800-GOT-JUNK?’s call centre and is now the brand leader for our newest business, Shack Shine, and Rhys Green who is now director of field operations for You Move Me, our moving company. The people we hire for customer sales and support become an invaluable source of talent for all of our brands. In the trenches, they get to know the company inside and out, giving them a platform to quickly launch into other, more senior roles in the business.

Obviously, outsourcing can work for some things. We get our trucks made by another company because calling in the experts was our best option there. But if customer service and interaction is the backbone of your business, outsourcing is a bad call. You might save a few bucks – but ultimately, you’ll get what you pay for.

Brian Scudamore is the founder and CEO of O2E Brands, which includes home-service companies including 1-800-GOT-JUNK?.


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