Saturday, October 9, 2010

Technical Ability vs. Marketing Ability? It's Time to Graduate from this High School Mentality.

Back in high school, there was peer pressure to actually do poorly on tests. Why? Because getting straight A's and being cool were mutually exclusive. Cool vs. Smart. Pick one.

We knew, then, that this was stupid. Not simply because the dichotomy was imaginary, but also because acting on it would limit our future success.

Fast forward to our career lives and there is an equally stupid either/or proposition: Technical ability vs. Marketing ability.

And the syllogism is just as stupid as it was when we were fifteen.

1) He gets good grades.
2) Therefore: He must be uncool.

1) She can make it rain.
2) Therefore: She must have, at best, mediocre technical ability.

Back in high school, I heard good students called 'losers' by others who didn't even know them.

Now, I hear strong networkers and marketers dinged for having 'poor technical skills' by people who have zero insights into that person's work product.

Do we think we get so many points and have to assign them to one category or the other? Of course, we don't. But we do believe that if we are technically able and cannot market, then we have made a positive choice.

Let me rip off your blinders and give you a new syllogism:

1) You are unable to be good at both marketing and service.
2) Therefore: You are jealous at others who might actually be good at both.

And, though this news will make you really unhappy, you need to hear it: There are plenty of rainmakers who have far stronger technical ability than you.

We do not get a fixed number of points and the skill sets that make people good marketers do not conflict with the ones that make people good at their craft.

Life is unfair. You are jealous. << Let's admit to both of these RIGHT HERE and RIGHT NOW.

Done? Good.

Now you can stop assuming that people who can bring in business cannot also service that business or engineer innovative solutions. They can. And they do. And, very likely, they make far more money than you. And they deserve it.

So, why am I writing this? Because I am tired of companies rejecting strong marketers since they assume that these people cannot deliver on the technical side. And I am tired of the technical snobs rolling their eyes in marketing meetings, believing that marketing is for people without technical abilities.

All you are doing is limiting your own future and your company's future. Just like others tried to do to you back in high school. But now you are doing it to yourself and, worse, to others and to your organization.

It's not their fault you are bad at developing business; it's yours. And it's not because you have (or believe you have) superior technical ability. It's because you stupidly think that people only get so many points to assign.

It's time to graduate from high school. And, if you haven't noticed, the economy is weak right now. So, it's also time to improve your marketing skills.

The only thing holding you back is your belief that marketing ability and technical ability are on the same slider knob. They are on different controls and they can both go up to 10. (Or 11 for you Spinal Tap fans.)

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