I have always been a big believer in utilizing your resources before hiring some outside experts to do the job.
Still that doesn’t mean that if a car breaks down in the organization that I believe someone should put their coveralls on and try to repair it.
However, if you are a successful sales and marketing organization, you probably should be able to do sales and marketing to your own customers without hiring “experts.”
The problem with some experts is that they are only experts in their own mind. They talk a good story, but you are often their practice case study. I have worked with external experts who can add value to an organization.
When I was director of federal sales for Apple Computer, we hired some experts who knew how to get appointments with high level federal people. The first thing they did was try to learn how we did our business.
They spent a lot of time learning how we sold our products before we ever got the first appointment. By the time we went on the sales call together, we were a team.
I have seen some some teams of experts swoop in and pretend to know what your customers are thinking. I have even had experts go out and quote material that I have written to teams thinking that “their research” won’t be recognized by others.
As is often the case in this world, if someone is promising you something that is too good to be true, it is likely just that, too good to be true. The shame is that management often falls for these easy solutions and spends a lot of money chasing a result that they could achieve on their own if they were just willing to give their own people the right support.
Some of the best organizations that I have ever been part of have come from sales and marketing teams which faced a crisis with innovation and hard work. Instead of expecting to be baled out of the crisis through the intervention of someone peddling miracles, they analyzed the situation and figured out how they could have the most impact as a team and went about fixing the problem.
In 1998 I was part of Apple team that looked across it territory and decided that customer seminars could have a huge impact. They went out and delivered nearly forty of those seminars and became an example for every other team in the company.
We didn’t hire an expensive firm to move our equipment around or a specialized marketing firm to bring people to the events. We had enough knowledge in the team to create a high quality event.
We had some events where over 300 people showed up. It made a true difference in our business. We mostly went after our own customers, but in doing the events we honed our skills and became experts in buying mailing lists, preparing brochures, and advertising.
I can still remember parts of the team utilizing those skills effectively six years later. It was good to proven to ourselves that we were the computer marketing experts, and that we could dig ourselves out of a hole by focusing on what we knew and using everyone’s skills.
We avoided one of the biggest mistakes made by managers because we effectively utilizied the skills of our own teams.