Whither, the Sales & Marketing Department?

We all know where the sales and marketing department reside in an organization, when viewed from the lens of a company’s official organization chart. So, if anyone thinks that there is a certain element of the obvious in this may very well be mistaken.

When a new company has been started, either as a partnership, or as a one person show, then the founder/s are the secretary, marketing department, sales department, accounts department, product development all rolled into one. There is a certain headiness in this, and a certain excitement in this. When young people start an organization, or a new company, they are not weighed down by the weight of a large organization’s structure. There is a lot of informality, and a lot of cross over that takes place in roles.

As the company grows, things change. Organization roles become more rigidly defined, and roles are crystallized. New recruits ask for, and are offered, job descriptions. These are meant to be guidelines, and rigid boundary lines, yet this is what they often become.

The sales and marketing department focus on selling products, and marketing brands. There is enough literature that talks about the effect of poor/ good marketing campaigns that affect the name of the brand, or the effect of excessive discounting by the sales department, with often the same effect ( adverse effects on the brand reputation).  So, this is not about sales and marketing practices.

Now, what happens when the bored telephone receptionist answers the phone and is rude to a prospective client?

What happens when an accountant decides to delay a vendor’s payment?

I personally believe that when these things happen, then there may not be an immediate effect on the brands that the company markets, but there is an effect on the company brand image. 

Now, I have dealt with some large companies, where they would delay payments by more than 30 days. These same companies would call us, and ask us to arrange the import of their goods, when the contract specifically stated that import was their responsibility. In these cases, the company would tell us that there many companies willing to sell to them, so we should toe the line.

While I swallowed my pride, I assiduously ensured that, while I did not lose business with this company, I focussed on developing business with others, and so reduced my earlier dependence on this big one.

And, no one in our organization liked to deal with this company. For all we cared, the glossy advertisements that they would blast on television hid the truth that this was an arrogant company that did not care for its stakeholders.

Oddly, my marketing team, the ones who dealt with this company, actually reduced their purchases of products marketed by this company. The advertisements, they told me, were meant for the mass, and they did not like the company itself because of it’s arrogance.

The behavior of a few people in that company’s purchase and logistics department did a lot to damage the company’s brand image in the eyes of these people.

The question then is, is the sales and marketing role the exclusive preserve of the sales and marketing department?

Methinks not.

Everyone employed by a company has a role to play in marketing their company and it’s brands.

This goes beyond simply beating your chest about the superiority of your products and brands.

It extends to simple things like courtesy to your stakeholders!

What happens when a senior manager becomes an entrepreneur? A separate question for another time!

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