In my farewell note that I sent to Gartner colleagues yesterday, I copied a whole bunch of sales execs in addition to all my friends in research. I said that I'd miss my friends in Sales because Sales is part of my DNA (in addition to marketing, I was a District Manager of Sales at Xerox).
After moving from Upstate NY to California in the second half of 2008, I got to know the whole Gartner Sales Office in San Jose, because I took the time to do so. The Managing VP, Pat Hoey and his Region Manager Dennis O'Malley and I became friends. When I was in the San Jose office (and I was there a lot), I would walk around and greet people. We'd talk about client facing issues. I helped a few client teams with their strategy, mainly because they asked for help. We also grew the business because we helped clients (large and small) solve some of their problems.
In so many firms today, Sales is viewed as a necessary evil. Marketing is not well connected with Sales and many marketing people don't understand the sales process. It sounds strange, but it is true in so many cases. Many functional managers don't view it as their role to help sales. That is wrong. In the old days at firms like Xerox and IBM, everyone in the company participated in a blitz day.
When you look at many firms today, leadership starts at the top. Companies that are growing are doing so because they are focused on customers. They listen to their customers and take actions based on the feedback. Think about that the next time someone from sales asks for your help.