Bridging the Gap

When I arrived at Merck Animal Health, I donned the mantle as the bridge between the marketing and sales teams. Historically these two departments had a knack for working together in a spotty fashion. At times seemed to be stuck in an adult version of the telephone game, with 300 people hearing the same message but slightly different words.

Sales reps were happy to include marketers on sales calls, where to their horror, they would watch as the salesman handed a detailer printed on copy paper with low resolution. When you ordered collateral from the central warehouse, odds were high that it would have a logo from a previously acquired company or outdated information. But this was all about to change.

A really bad game of ‘telephone

Throughout two years, it became my fervent mission to tackle the telephone game once and for all. Alongside the product managers, we conducted an audit of the digital and in-person marketing repositories. Following this, collateral was updated or removed from the customer funnel. The Hub’s central sales enablement platform replaced various delivery methods to serve as the singular source for over 2,000 unique marketing communications.

Alongside the Hub, a weekly e-newsletter replaced previous separate product manager and sales manager communications. This newsletter was built on an email marketing server rather than a traditional email client; this provided analytics opportunities. By connecting the content in the newsletter to the Hub, marketing managers could follow the journey of collateral from sales to customer. The messages saw above-average engagement with an 80% open rate. Even more impactful than that was a consistent 15% click-through rate.

Finding cohesive communication

Over time, a game of telephone transitioned to team text messages, consistent, comprehensive communications, and the right tools at the right time to provide customers with solutions. Even more extensive than the vehicle was the opportunity to learn from our analytics to develop new content. As data offered insight into the holes in our marketing strategy, I created FAQs, in-house detailers, training videos, and a myriad of smaller pieces to empower the team.

But most impactful of all was anecdotal evidence that our colleagues had the tools for success. During one post-event happy hour seasoned cattle rep with more tenure than my current age remarked, your email used to be the first I delete; now it’s the first I open.