The setting: a conference room somewhere in Manufacturingland, 9:00 AM on a Monday morning.
Sales Type 1 to Sales Type 2:“You’re new to the Company. So sit and listen. And whatever you do, don’t ask Bob from Engineering what time it is. He’ll just build you a clock.”
Sales Type 2 to Sales Type 1: “Bob seems like a good guy. What do you mean?”
Sales Type 1 to Sales Type 2: “Look, what I want is a simple explanation. What Bob gives me is a convoluted discussion without reaching a conclusion. He’ll play ‘what if’ forever and get you nowhere.”
Sales Type 2 to Sales Type 1: “Oh, gee, I didn’t realize this. I was thinking about using Bob as a resource for my sales strategy.”
Sales Type 1 to Sales Type 2: “You don’t have enough hours in the day to start working with Bob. He just wants to be told what to do and then take his time doing it. He’s not looking at the big picture.”
Sales Type 2 to Sales Type 1: “If I don’t understand the possibilities of what can be done from Bob, how can we have a big picture?”
Sales Type 1 starts to look confused….
The meeting progresses. Bob is called on, lectures for a bit, Sales Type 1 rolls his eyes at Sales Type 2. A few Marketing folks lean in to listen to what Bob is saying while the rest of the Marketing folks’ eyes glaze over. The Owner pays attention to what Bob’s saying and so does the CFO.A new project is formed, with Bob heading the team. Sales Type 2 is selected to work on the new product development team with Bob and folks from other departments.
This is pretty much the eternal dialectic between engineering / technical types trying to communicate with marketing or sales types. Left brain vs. right brain. Deductive vs. inductive. Objective vs. subjective. Brainiac vs. maniac?
OK, so maybe Engineers like Bob CAN AND DO understand when, where and why to use a quadratic equation. Or calculate the area under a curve on a graph. Engineers take pride in their capacity for analytical reasoning. And finding a solution to a problem. THAT’S WHAT ENGINEERS ARE TRAINED TO DO. THAT’S WHAT ENGINEERS WANT TO DO. IT’S THEIR CALLING.
Most Sales and Marketing folks – not very technically oriented perhaps – feel like Engineers hold their cards close to their chest, using their unique vocabulary and technical terms like the keys to the kingdom to create an effective barrier to communication. This behavior pretty much communicates to the non-techy folks that they are not “worthy” … or smart enough …. to “get it.” As dense as they seem, the non-techy folks really do get that singular message loud and clear.
Technical folks should keep in mind that the non-techy folks are charged with dollarizing (marketing and selling) the value the Engineers provide to their Company. Why let sales and marketing types target the Next Greatest Thing when engineering has something even better, more functional, and even sexier to offer? Why should ignorance – and perhaps even intimidation – of engineering be a barrier to the longevity of your Company in today’s market place? That’s what’s at stake.
What if I told you sales folks that Bob The Engineer probably never would have signed up to become an Engineer if he thought he had to become involved in the sales process. That’s not what Engineers do. However, that’s just what Engineers need to think about doing before they are downsized and thrust into that role. And with small to mid-sized industrial manufacturers, they already serve that function. Some better than others.
Yes, I know. The Engineering folks complain that the marketing and sales folks REALLY DO NEED TO BECOME A LOT SMARTER ABOUT ENGINEERING THAN THEY ARE. But until they do…….
Isn’t it time for folks on both sides of the table to recalibrate? Regardless of whether you are an Engineer or a Sales or Marketing person?
YOU DON’T WORK IN A VACUUM.
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT IS A TEAM SPORT.
WITH A GOAL.
ESPECIALLY IN THIS ECONOMY.
Everyone in your Company needs to get that message. Perhaps that message should start with you. Be an innovator instead of an order-taker.
It’s about time.
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo and business- and revenue-producing collaboration and communication tools to small and mid-sized businesses and startups. Download her newest White Paper at her Free Resources Page. She was named one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers 2013. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? focuses on technical / non-technical collaboration strategies and tools.