The CMO Show:
The CMO Show: Ian Lowe...

It’s the divide that every marketer knows about, but is so rarely broached in the workforce. So what is it that has polarised sales and marketing for so long? And why does this dynamic continue to exist when the outcomes of sales and marketing are actually the same? 

It’s all about sales versus marketing. Or is it? This week on The CMO Show, Mark and JV dive straight into the deep end in an attempt to work out how these two historically divided fields are colliding and changing. Ian Lowe, founder and CEO at eccoh drops by to chat about why the marketing department should listen to the sales department (and vice versa).

With more than 20 years experience in sales, Lowe’s vision to pioneer a customer-centric sales revolution is reframing the sales and marketing space.

“There’s definitely a bit of tension between sales and marketing and I think part of that tension is because of the internal competitive nature of sales organisations,” Lowe said. “The client wants value from their provider. But is that being measured at all? Is there a KPI that is shared amongst sales and marketing that says, here’s how much value we’ve created for our clients, and here’s how we’re going to create value for our clients.”

Lowe’s vision that the customer and their experience should be pivotal to the entire sales and marketing process is pioneering a new way of thinking in the Australian marketing industry. “Sales and marketing aren’t working together to create value or to amplify value,” Lowe told Jones and Douglas. “People have the wrong mindset, and we have to change that. I mean culturally, organisationally, structurally, it’s all got to change. In today’s world the customer experience is generated by everybody.”

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Mark Jones (MJ)
Jeanne-Vida Douglas (JVD)
Ian Lowe (Ian)

Mark: Ah, hey JV!

JV: Hey there Mark, how’s it going?

Mark: I am well. We are back for CMO Show episode something for the year…

JV: Third for the year.

Mark: Yes, it’s the third for the year. We’re cranking on. Ian Lowe is our guest this week and this is an interesting dynamic, sales versus marketing.

JV: Or not.

Mark: Yes, or – or are they the same?

JV: Or do they have the same goals and outcomes? So why can’t we find a way to measure them and get people working together.

Mark: No, but there’s been this historic dynamic between marketing and sales and so we’re going to dig into that this week.

JV: I mean what you’re actually focussed on is – is sales and getting people to become customers and to be happy customers and to be customers that will go out and – and promote your company for you to other customers. And, you know, there’s – and if you can create these sort of circles of – of sort of positive mutually reinforcing benefits it’s great. But – but companies aren’t set up to do that because sales guys are paid to be sort of rugged individuals and go out and be go-getters of course.

Mark: The interesting thing for Ian in his journey is having that awakening. You’ve been thinking a certain way for a period of time, quite a long period of time and then you realise, hang on a minute, the opposite is actually true.

JV: Yeah.

Mark: That’s one of those sort of seminal epiphanies as it were.

JV: So let’s hear about Ian’s epiphany.


Mark: Ian Lowe Thank you so much for joining us. Now, you have a very interesting perspective on changing the way the world thinks about sales but before we get into all of that, tell us your story.

Ian: Wow. So I suppose my journey to where we are now started, goodness me, probably around about six – six years ago. I was working for a global consulting firm at the time, a US based firm. We were – I was over in – over in Washington I think it was at a sales conference and on the way back, I had to come back through Los Angeles International Airport and I was wandering around the airport.

I wandered into a newsagency without really looking for anything in particular just sort of browsing the shelves see if I could find anything to read for the plane and I – I found a book on the – on the shelf called “Go-givers sell more”. I’d never heard of these guys before, I’d never heard of – what’s a go-giver and why are they selling more. So I bought that book.

Mark: I like selling more, could I do that.

Ian: Yes. Yeah, so I just – I bought it. But I didn’t really have any expectation or any kind of – you know, thinking anything big about it, so it’ll be an interesting book to read.

You know, my whole life from being a young – a young tacker and knocking on people’s doors, asking if they wanted their cars washed to – to present day, has always been about sales.

Mark: And what’s always fascinated me is some – somebody like that, so like yourself, who – it’s almost like an intuitive thing, it’s native to you, it’s, you know, the entrepreneur from a young age, the classic lemonade stall or whatever it might be, right? What was it about sales for you that really was the appeal?

Ian: Where I came from was from a council estate in Yorkshire in Sheffield and we didn’t have anything. We didn’t have any money, we didn’t have a – you know, we came from a very poor family.

So if I wanted to have some money to do something I had to make that money somehow so I remember my early – in fact I wrote a post about this – one of my earliest recollections of me being in sales was when I picked up my mum’s bucket that she used to, you know, wash the windows with her sponge and stuff and I took that bucket and sponge and started knocking on neighbours doors who had cars and asking them if they’re wanted their car washing for 50p.

JV: And how old were you?

Ian: I must have been 12.

Mark: And what went through your head when they said “Yes”.

Ian: Amazement!

So – and the funny thing was, plenty of people did say yes, and funny although I only asked for 50p, people would come out and actually see the car afterwards and give me more than 50p, which amazed me even more. They gave me like 2 pounds.

Mark: Yeah, right.

Ian: Or, you know, I…

Mark: I was going to say it sounded a bit cheap!

Ian: Yeah, it was cheap right? I mean to me though, 50 – when you’ve got no… 50p…

Mark: Of course, nothing. When you’re 12 – yeah, exactly when you’re both right?

JV: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Ian: Yeah, because it was 2p to get the bus to the town. So 50p is a lot of…

Mark: Yeah, right, that’s a lot of bus rides!

JV: So you were like a millionaire, that’s amazing!

Ian: But that was my first recollection of being in sales and I think over the – over – as I grew up, I just seemed to gravitate towards those types of opportunities until eventually I started in – in professional sales. Well, originally in retail working in – in retail land in stores and then when I got my driver’s licence I then wanted a company car and sales jobs came with a company car.

So my first proper sales job was working for Canon.

Selling photocopiers and fax machines, or capital equipment which is the more professional way of describing that. This is back when fax machines were the new tech.

JV: The revered boxes in the hallway!

Ian: Oh, this was – this was the latest thing. Everybody wanted a fax machine and this was even when the fax machines used ink paper…

JV: And remember we used to fax each other jokes, like you would receive jokes via fax, which is the like the – the old fashioned form of memes I guess.

Mark: Yeah, that was before you could photocopy your bum, it was sort of…

JV: I can’t – you went there, I can’t believe you went there!

Mark: Well it was there. But then on a more serious note, you used to get newsletter via fax. Like it was a – it was a big deal.

Ian: It was yeah, it was the thing at the time. Yeah, in fact I remember we used to get phone calls from people who had a service on their fax saying it’s not working. You know, and they – the technician would go out there and they’d say, so what’s happening? And they’d say “I’m putting my document in here, and look it’s coming out the other side”!

Because they were kind of expecting that it would digitise somehow and disappear down the phone line.

JV: So What does Eccoh do?

Ian: So – so Eccoh is a sales transformation company. You know, we – we’re out on a mission to change the way the world thinks about sales and we bring together a combination of a unique mindset and philosophy around sales, with some enabling technologies to help people activate the right type of internal sales culture and also to manage different stages of the sales process appropriately when they’re working outside of the office with clients.

Mark: And it’s worth saying that this is a huge challenge for a lot of companies because as a quick anecdote, I was just recently the MC of an event, it was a sales kick-off. A very large organisation a room full of 400 sales people right? And one of the things that people care about, or sales people care at a kick-off, right? Remuneration, whether the systems are working that track my remuneration, and then broadly speaking if I really wanted – you know, where’s the company going and where should I be sort of focussing my efforts if – if we really must, right?

So how do you make sure that you’re managing your sales force in a way that they’re – they’re focussed in the right areas, where you need to be focussed, that they’re saying the right things, they’re not competing with each other. I mean there’s a whole kind of ecosystem of thinking that goes around large structured sales forces.

Ian: Absolutely.

Mark: And I think it must be also said in terms of a setup for our show, marketers, where do they fit in right?

Ian: Yeah.

Mark: You know, and so this is one of the great tensions right? Historically they – we’ve got to be honest, they don’t like each other.

Ian: Yeah, there’s – there’s definitely a bit of tension there between sales and marketing and I think part of that tension is because of that internal sort of competitive nature of – of sales organisations a lot of the time, sales people typically you’re incentivised to bring in the business and the more they bring in, the more commission they make and they can be very sort of driven for what’s in it for them. Right, so it’s – it’s about me.

Mark: Yeah.

Ian: In fact I was one of those guys. You know, until I read that book Go-givers sell more, back – that I picked up in LA all those years ago. I was, what we might call a ‘go-taker’, you know, we talk about a go-giver.

The opposite of a go-giver is a go-taker. I was one of those people. I was successful in sales for a long time, I worked with some very big brands, big organisations in very competitive environments and I was in sales because I wanted to make a lot of money, I wanted the recognition, I wanted the best car. I wanted the accolades and all the appreciation came with me being the superstar sales guy. But you know, it was all about me.

JV: And you do have that stereotype about someone who’s really deeply driven to win the sale as well, to actually and to have that run on the board and that’s being a go-getter.

Ian: Yeah.

JV: You know, being someone who can really, really nail the customer.

Mark: So when they say a sales team, it’s actually ironic.

Ian: Yeah, that’s right, yeah. And, you know, and a lot of the cultures and systems and processes that have developed around that reward that type of behaviour. So organisations, this is a bit of contradiction, you know, they talk about, like you said ‘sales team’ and they talk about, ‘let’s work together, let’s collaborate and leverage the strengths of the organisation so that we can create more value for our clients’. But I’m going to reward you in a way that forces you to behave in a different way to the way I’m talking.

JV: Yeah, yeah.

Mark: That’s madness.

Ian: It is complete madness right, and everybody knows it, but it’s the way things work, even today, you know, still.

Mark: Yeah.

Ian: And I think from a sales and marketing point of view, one of the key issues there is I think we’re just not talking the same language. Typically sales people are taught sales skills and sales techniques to control the sales cycle to produce the results that they want to produce. Typically marketers aren’t part of that sort of training.

Mark: What’s their mindset?

Ian: You know, I think that’s – that’s – what should happen I suppose is to – maybe be part of cultivating the soil, cultivating the marketplace to generate leads and opportunities that sales people can then come in and qualify and turn into opportunities. But oftentimes that disconnect happens that marketing are doing things that aren’t coordinated with the sales team. You know, things – things catch the sales team by surprise, the sales team do things that catch marketers by surprise. But they just – there’s – there’s poor communication between them and between everybody else in the organisation.

Mark: Massive cultural differences.

Ian: Yeah, it’s a big breakdown right? You know, and I think even today we’re entering into sort of the more purpose-driven economy, a more purpose driven world.

Mark: What do you mean by that?

Ian: Well I think – there’s a – there’s a growing awareness in organisations that we need to have a purpose bigger than just making money.

Mark: Right.

Ian: It’s got to be bigger than just making profits.

JV: And certainly where people decide they want to work is – is very much informed by what that company can give them on a – on a workspace level. People will often go to work somewhere where they know they will be treated like a human being as opposed to somewhere where they know they’ll be remunerated very well.

Ian: One of the biggest issues that we see in corporate land is that people feel just like a number; they feel sort of invisible. They’re valued because of the work they do and because of the role they play and if you’re in sales you’re valued because of the revenue you bring in. But not really valued because of who they are as people.

People have to want to do it because they see the bigger purpose. Because who they are as people, resonates with who the organisation is. You know, and that overlap of purpose amplifies everybody’s effectiveness and you’re doing it because you want to do it, because you care genuinely. You know? When you’re doing something like that and it’s like me now, being coming out of big corporate for the first time and setting up this consulting company a little over 18 months ago, you know, I think one of the things you do in your brain, you have to recalibrate your brain.

And when I first started reading that book, I was – what it – you know, my – I was quite angered by it at first because they were talking about sales in a way that contradicted the way I’d been behaving for all my career and I’d been successful in sales, right?

Mark: It was offensive.

Ian: was like what?

JV: I know this stuff!

Ian: You know, I’m the sales Jedi! You can’t tell me about sales, what?

Mark: Yeah, Obi-Wan has taught me well!

Ian: Yeah, that’s it. So I was at first quite affronted by it. But as I started to read it and read it and read it – I had to read the pages like two and three times over just to get it through my head. I started to come to this realisation, actually these guys were right. They had it right and I had it wrong. And I not only had it wrong now, I had it wrong throughout my entire career because my entire motivation was about me. I was in sales to make money for me and the – the principle of this book being a go-giver is that true success only happens when you focus on the needs of others.

You know, you’re not – you’re not giving with the intension of getting anything. You’re giving full stop. You know, you’re not – it’s not 50/50 win/win quid pro quo. I want to give to you, now you have to give back to me.

Mark: So how does that apply to marketing?

Ian: It’s a challenge to the – to the very structure, the very makeup, the operational processes of organisations that have been built probably way back in the industrial age but we’re not in that age anymore.

The client wants value from their provider. But is that being measured at all? Is there a KPI that is shared amongst sales and marketing that says, here’s how much value we’ve created for our clients, and here’s how we’re going to create value for our clients. There isn’t one is there? If you think about it, is there a KPI that measures value?

Mark: I think it’s very rare.

Ian: It’s very rare, right? I mean if I – if I asked a – if I asked a group of sales people how much did you sell last year?

Mark: Yeah.

Ian: [Clicks fingers] Instant…

JV: They can say it immediately, yeah.

Mark: Tell us and they’ll just come straight forward…

Ian: If I was to say how much value did you create for your clients as a result of them paying you that money, they would struggle to answer that question.

There’s no KPIs around it. Sales and marketing aren’t working together to create value or to amplify value.

But I think one of the things that – I mean the first principle of the philosophy that we share is this – this law of value, we call it the law of value. Your true worth determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment. That principle could equally be applied internally, how much more you give in value to your colleagues than you get paid in salary. You know, but typically people aren’t turning up for work thinking how much more value can I create for my colleagues in sales or marketing today than I did yesterday.

JV : Or how many people do you know have a KPI about cooperation?

Ian: That as well, right? People aren’t – it’s just – you know, their mindset is wrong, you know and we have to change that. I mean culturally, organisationally, structurally, you know, it’s all got to change.

You know, in today’s world, you know, the customer experience…

Mark: Yes.

Ian: Is generated by everybody.

Mark: JV, I’ve been wondering whether your design thinking brain has exploded?

JV: My – it is, it is, it’s bubbling away here and especially because that – that whole sort of idea of design thinking is that the – the client, the customer comes together with the organisation and together they create a new – a new innovative approach to the solution.

Ian: Yeah.

JV: And really that’s – that’s about deeply understanding the client. But the other thing that’s really bubbling away here is, is the fact that larger organisations are now not just trying to find out whether or not you’ve bought their product, they want to find out whether or not you’ve bought their product and you’re happy enough to go out and promote them even further and become a net promoter.

Ian: Yeah, I mean there are organisations out there that do that fantastically well, right? I mean Apple is one that springs to mind that do that fantastically well.

Mark: Presumably if you create enormous value you get enormous commissions or however it’s structured right?

Ian: Well that follows, right? You know, if you’re – the key is to stay open to that. You know, so many of us, so many people are comfortable with the idea of giving value to others but then are closed to the receiving part. You know, people like to give and then when someone tries to give back to them, some people go “ooh, no, I couldn’t possibly”.

You know, the key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving and so many people are closed to that part of this.

There was a book written by Professor Adam Grant from Wharton Business School in the US.

He was a big fan of – of our work and Bob’s work in the Go-Giver and he wanted to research whether or not giving actually did lead to success in the real world.

Essentially what they found was there were three types of behaviours that lead to different types of results. There’s givers, there’s takers and there’s matchers. Matchers are the ones that, 50/50, you know, it’s win/win. Takers obviously it’s all about me and then there’s – and there’s givers. And they found that each one of those behaviours has different outcomes from being super-stratospherically successful, to being not successful at all.

JV: It’s fascinating because someone who’s sort of naturally a giver, is obviously more comfortable – more comfortable offering of themselves, and it takes a huge amount of trust to sit back and let somebody else play that role. Like and – but in actual fact if you’re trying to create a good relationship with anyone you need trust.

Ian: I think one of the major issues again in sales is this idea of control. You know, people learn sales skills in an attempt to try and control the sales process so that you will buy my product or service. You know? The idea that you can control the actions of somebody else is illusionary. We can’t control the things other people do. People will do what people will do.

Mark: That’s what my daughter tells me all the time.

Ian: And even if you did control them, right, and they bought something from you and it turns that actually they bought that because you pressured them to sell it, chances are, that – you’ve got an unhappy customer out there in the marketplace. So the results of that idea of controlling isn’t great anyway.

Mark: No.

Ian: Even if you do end up making a sale.

Mark: Right.

Ian: And I think sales is something that typically is fear based. You know, the client’s afraid that they’re going to get sold something that’s not going to help them and the sales person’s afraid they’re going to get – they’re not going to make the sale and they won’t succeed in their chosen career. Once we take away all that baggage and all that sort of negativity, people just are able to – to be themselves and be comfortable with who they are and flourish individually in their lives and in their businesses.

JV: So if you were speaking directly to, say, entrepreneurs, company leaders, what is it you’d be able to say to them to encourage them to adopt your ideas, to encourage them to, I guess, attempt to open up their internal communications and change the way they’re measuring success within their organisation?

Ian: There’s – there’s having a sales philosophy that resonates with everybody in the organisation, touching on your point that everybody’s in sales these days, but not everybody gets sales trainings, right. So giving everybody a set of principles that allows them to focus on creating value for others. Yeah, they’re creating a culture inside the organisation that allows those principles to be amplified every day and that often means significant change. We’re talking about organisational change, it’s not – this is one of the things that often comes up. People often are looking for a quick fix. They want to do a sales training day.

Mark: That’s exactly what I was thinking, this isn’t a quick fix.

Ian: No.

It takes time to change behaviour, right. And we’re talking about organisational cultural change at various different levels. You know, our – sharp end of the – sharp end of the wedge for us is, is certainly talking with organisations about sales. But the reality is the principles and the frameworks that we share are not in and of themselves sales.

JV: They go way beyond that.

Mark: And for marketers very challenging perspective to think about not just partnerships with sales but being part of a larger whole and a cultural perspective that you bring to it.

JV: Changing together.

Mark: Yeah. So Ian Lowe, thank you very much for joining us today.

Ian: It’s been an absolute pleasure. Thanks for having me.


JV: Don’t you love it when you’ve just been speaking to someone who says things that resonate so deeply with the way you already operate and – and it’s so reinforcing!

Mark: Absolutely. Our experience with clients – and it’s interesting as this year really gets underway. A lot of the conversations we’re having with clients are around what outcome will this give me or how can you help me to turn these, you know, activities into leads or something that actually I can give to sales people to say, look, here you go, that’s going to help you in some sort of material way. Very outcomes driven.

JV: And you know what occurred to me as – as we were speaking with Ian is that, content marketing and branded content is fundamentally about go-giving. It’s fundamentally about figuring out who your – who your stakeholders are, who your customer base is, and providing them with something that they want and need and something that inspires them and something that deeply resonates with them before you ask for anything from them, without even considering whether or not they’re going to become customers or become clients, it’s about creating a community and you can only create a community by giving. You can’t create a community by first thinking about what you’re going to take from them.

Mark: Very practical. and to have some time with a guy like this who’s so outcomes focussed in the sense of why am I doing this, was a really great thought starter for me.

Hey, thanks so much for joining us this week on the CMO Show.

JV: Absolutely, thank you for listening.

Mark: We will talk to you next time.

JV: See you later.


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