Last month, the New York Times printed an article in collaboration with the Chronicle of Higher Education, entitled “The Default Major: Skating Through B-School.” In the article, Times writer David Glenn reported on the concern that business spend less time preparing for class than students in any other broad field, and mentioned that generally, the areas of management and marketing were considered to be “soft” fields of study.
As sales and marketing professionals, our credibility is under attack. The article suggests that we are less prepared, less focused, less disciplined and less hard working than any other area of the business. Are they right? And if they are, what do we do about it?
At DemandCon, a sales and marketing show for which I’m a co-organizer, we’re focusing making sure that the people involved in the marketing process are well prepared for the challenges in demand generation today. With ever more fractionalization of customers into new communities of interest, plus the addition of mega-channels like Facebook and LinkedIn, it’s more important than ever to be aware of how we can make ourselves more available to our customers in ways that help them learn, and eventually, buy from us.
At many marketing shows, you hear the old chestnut about the three-legged stool — people, process and technology. While it’s easy to find information on the Web today about technology, and consultants who focus on process are rampant, there is less information available on how to attract, hire, train and retain the best people to make your demand generation efforts successful. And there is no standardized certification for demand generation professionals that assure you that who you are hiring have the skills and abilities necessary for today’s hyper competitive business environment.
One of the goals of DemandCon is to explicitly recognize that demand generation is a discipline and as such needs a set of common language, activities, processes and measurements so that companies can benchmark themselves and align their sales and marketing metrics with the rest of business. Just like there is a set of Generally Accepted Accounting Principals (GAAP) which businesses adopt, there should also be a set of Generally Accepted Marketing Principals (GAAMP) that companies should follow, and these skills should be transferrable across organizations. Through educational events like DemandCon and also more focused institutions of learning, demand generation must transform into the vanguard of the GAAMP approach.
By focusing on the People part of the equation we can reframe the discipline of marketing and sales from a “soft” field of inquiry to a discipline as rigorous and credentialed as law, medicine or accounting.