Aretha Franklin and the Sales and Marketing Gap

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What does Aretha Franklin know about the sales and marketing gap in B2B companies?

A study recently published in the Journal of Consumer Research (Porath, MacInnis, and Folkes, 2010) on incivility between employees and its effect on customers reports that 40% of consumers witness acts of incivility between employees at least once a month.  The authors found that witnessing employees behaving badly toward each other has a severe impact on consumers and is very detrimental to companies.  “It induces consumer anger and causes consumers to make broad and negative conclusions (generalizations) about the firm as a whole, other employees who work there, and expectations about future encounters with the firm; conclusions that go well beyond the uncivil incident.” (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/651565)

While this observation pertains to B2C companies, I expect that it also applies to B2B companies.  Behaving rudely has a strong demotivating effect, especially in conversations between sales and marketing.  The effect may not extend immediately to clients and customers, but often extends to fellow employees in other disciplines.  Small things spill over into the rest of the organization and can negatively affect morale.

Not listening to another person is a primary trait of rudeness and incivility.  When people feel that their position or argument is not being heard, they tend to disengage.  Just as disrespectful is disengaging when you have a strong position and are not being listened to.  These kinds of situations occur all the time between sales and marketing.  It doesn’t mean that you have to support love and world peace, or keep a dish of M&Ms on your desk.  It does mean that politeness goes a long way.  It means listening to another point of view.  Think about colleagues that you respect. 

Aretha Franklin said it, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”

Find out what it means to me
I got to have (just a little bit)
A little respect (just a little bit)
Or you might walk in (respect, just a little bit)
And find out I’m gone (just a little bit)

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