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Why You Can’t Allow Marketing to Nurture Your Dream Clients (Alone)

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

You’re busy serving your clients and trying to make your number. Time is the one commodity you don’t have enough of. So you leave the nurturing of leads to your marketing department. That’s all fine and good—except when it comes to that list of dream clients for whom you can do breath-taking, jaw-dropping, earth-shattering work.

You simply can’t afford to allow marketing to nurture your dream clients.

You Are Not Your Company

It’s one thing to receive an email that marketing sent to their company’s entire database. It’s something else completely to receive a personal email from a salesperson sharing that same information.

An invitation from marketing to download your company’s latest white paper may generate some interest, and it may even warm up a few leads over time. But a personal email to your dream client contacts including the white paper and a note about why you believe it is useful generates something greater.

A personal email makes you known, and it shows that you are a value creator.

Your nurturing efforts aren’t about your dream client knowing your company’s name. Your nurture work is about your dream client knowing your name.

It Doesn’t Prove That You Care

Your dream clients don’t believe your marketing department cares about them. Your dream clients don’t trust your marketing department; we have all been trained to discount the claims one makes about oneself.

The goal of some marketing is name recognition, and that is certainly part of what marketing does to nurture dream clients. But as a professional salesperson, your nurturing efforts can provide an even bigger outcome. Your nurturing efforts can prove that you care. Taking time to send a personal note describing what your dream client might glean from your case study proves that you care. You took the time to apply your knowledge of your dream client and to apply it the ideas you shared with them.

Your personal effort means that you are thinking about your dream client, even when they are not thinking about you. It helps to show that you care.

When They Need You, They Won’t Call Marketing

Your dream clients need to know you. They need to know you have ideas and insight. They also need to know that you care.

When your dream client is confronted with a challenge that you can help them with, they won’t call your marketing department. What they will do instead is go through the little box of business cards that have stuffed in the drawer behind their desk. They’ll look for the card of the person that they believe has the ideas and insights to best help them.

At the moment of truth, you will be known, or you won’t be.

If you do the nurturing, it’s more likely that you will be known and that you get an opportunity. Your effort to follow up and ask for appointments after you have made the personal effort to nurture your dream clients is more likely to bear fruit. Play your cards right, and you’ll likely have already met contacts within your dream clients when an opportunity presents itself.


Who is ultimately responsible for developing the relationships you need within your dream client accounts?

How you do develop those relationships?

Does it mean something different when the messages you send to your dream clients come from you instead of marketing? Is it just as powerful that they come from marketing?

How do you use your nurturing efforts to prove you care about your dream client’s outcomes?

If your dream client needed something right now, who would they call?



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  • Robert Rose

    Anthony…. The first time I read this – it felt a bit wrong but upon a second and third reading – I think we would actually agree….I think your “(Alone)” is the key modifier there…. 

     If what you’re doing here is a “call to arms” of sorts for Sales professionals to take more responsibility for the nurturing process – then huzzah!  I’m with you.   I often chide marketing teams to do the same.  It’s no longer about finding the point in the sales funnel where there’s a “handoff”.  In fact I hate the whole concept of the “handoff” – as if the customer is a football.  That kind of thinking is what perpetuates the Us vs. Them mentality of many sales and marketing organizations.   True nurturing – even (and perhaps especially) to dream clients – is a partnership between all aspects of the business – and maybe most importantly marketing and sales.  If the dream client doesn’t trust the marketing – then you can be damn sure they don’t trust sales either.

    Good post for an introduction to a deeper and lengthier discussion on the new relationships between sales and marketing teams….

    Thanks for making me think on a Wednesday…


    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Hey Robert, 

      Gotcha! The word “alone” makes it different, doesn’t it? 

      The outcomes are different for sales and marketing. It’s a mistake for salespeople to wait for marketing to do this part of their work for them. And you are right to chide marketing to take more responsibility for nurturing relationships. In fact, when both sides treat the others as their stakeholders and work to serve each other in generating their individual outcomes, it’s easier for both to generate better results. 

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts here. Maybe we’ll riff on this more later?


  • AmyMccTobin

    I am emailing this to one of MY key clients as soon as I finish this comment.  They are a fine institution that JUST started implementing a marketing strategy just over a year ago when they hired my agency.  We’ve been successful to a degree, and they just signed on for another year with my agency.

    However, the “to a degree” is for this reason: They don’t put any effort into Sales.  One of my proposal pieces is that they hire a Business Development person; a “Sales” person to go after key clients.  They balked at what that would cost.  So they have a fine marketing plan, but no one to follow up on the key leads… it’s the first time in my career I’ve come across this.  

    In my old industry there were plenty of companies with a great Sales team and No Marketing… 1 great Salesperson is worth hundreds of thousands of marketing dollars.  This being said by a former Salesperson turned Marketer.

  • AdamLehman

    Amen! As the marketing world’s fascination with marketing automation continues to grow, the salesperson who is leaving remarkable, personal impressions and adding unique value is going to stand out more and more. 

  • Ted Rubin

    So on the mark Anthony. It is all about relationship and making a personal connection. Thanks for a great post!

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      I agree! Thanks, Ted!

  • Soumik0102

    I have gotten my sales guys to master their own marketing plans themselves. This provides a more enriched job role for them and also allows them to take full control of all communications – marketing prospecting, sales prospecting, etc for each of the accounts they have.

    Now they use their time wisely and build some of the most amazing marketing programs that fit best with their sales plans.

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