Recently, a discussion topic was posted in my LinkedIn group, PM Forum titled: “Marketers spending insufficient time on the things that matter to their MPs”
Here is what was posted by Richard Chaplin of PM Forum: “The latest PM Forum Snapshot monthly survey (www.pmforum.co.uk/snapshot) indicated that marketers are not spending nearly as much time as managing partners would like them to spend on the business development and client service activities that both marketers and managing partners see as vital to the commercial success of the firm. Any insights as to why this should be the case?”
I couldn’t resist adding my perspective to the discussion. You see, I’ve been on just about every side of the management and marketing professional relationship, and have the ability to empathize with all of those sides. I thought I might be able to help. Here’s what I shared. Let me know what you think.
“Richard, you pose a very important question. In many cases, marketers are hired to manage a department of people, of projects, and of the needs of attorneys, whose needs are many (as they should be). What then happens is that marketers get bogged down in the day-to-day management function of all of the above, which leaves them unavailable for the amount of time it takes to be as strategic as most of them would love to be. Some firms hire their marketers as traditional marketers, then expect them to shift to the sales/business development role without taking in to consideration these are very different roles, and take very different skills. Some marketers might not have time, as I suggested above, but some might not be sure where to start. It is imperative that those to whom marketers report take the time to analyze the situation, perhaps with outside help, in order to determine what is needed to get their people from point A to point B. Marketers might need skills training in BD, they might need to staff differently than they are to free up their time, or a host of other reasons they might not be contributing to the BD effort the Management Committee wishes they would.
Our job and responsibility as managers is to provide the support and the tools necessary for them to be successful on our behalf, rather than wonder what’s wrong with them, being unhappy with their priorities, then forcing them out to make room for the next marketer. Investment in people and the tools they need to be successful is much less expensive than churning through one after another hoping you find the right one.” My advice to both marketers and managers:
1) Marketers-Be assertive about what you need to re-tool, or tool, to perform the BD functions your firms expect today. If you don’t know where to start, ask for help. Be honest and let firm management know you are embarking upon a plan to take the firm where it needs to go, and you need their endorsement. Who can deny your request for help when you have the best strategic interest of the firm at heart? 2) Managers-Don’t get frustrated before you’ve had the necessary discussions and performed the thoughtful analysis necessary to determine where your marketers are in their careers, where the firm has placed them, what the firm needs to do to help them get to where you want them to be, and to be willing and supportive. These discussions take time and thought, but they are necessary. There is a lot brewing in law and other professional services firms regarding sales/business development, so reach out and ask for help if you need to. Your firm needs these skills, so take the bull by the horns and help perfect them. Time is of the essence.