Eric Strautman

Abilene Christian University (Texas)
Abilene Christian University (Texas) (Photo credit: riddlerstudios)

Thank you for your interest in ME!

I grew up in Overland Park and have lived on the Missouri side of the state line for the past 20 years. I went to KU  (Go Jayhawks!) for two-and-a-half years before completing my degree in Mass Communications at Abilene Christian University (Go Wildcats!).

My first job out of college was as Communications Manager for Du Pont, at their largest North American manufacturing plant in Richmond, Virginia. The Spruance Fibers Plant produces Kevlar, Tyvek, Nylon, Mylar, and Nomex, all brand-names that you probably recognize for their high-performance applications. It was a contracted position, so it only lasted a year, before I took a job with benefits, as Public Relations Manager for the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. I was there for more than five years, learning all about the interconnections of business, economic development, tourism, public policy, federal procurement and labor laws. I consider this my first MBA.

Prior to returning to the Kansas City area, I got some sales training by Sanders Consulting, a firm that specializes in helping advertising agencies get new clients. It was here that I began to understand how to optimize the sales process and how to begin, with the end in mind. Upon returning to Kansas City, I took a job with Marketing Resources of America in Overland Park. They were primarily a marketing firm, but had developed some measure of advertising agency capabilities. They asked me to help get them new advertising clients. I established a list of prospects and guided the creative department to create dimensional and memorable mailers and leave-behind materials. Next, I implemented the Sanders Consulting approach of 100 mailers per week with phone follow-up. This generated weekly appointments to showcase MRA’s capabilities. But the appointment was structured more to uncover a client’s needs and the motivation to address those needs. Sanders Consulting had trained me in profiling clients and operating these appointments. Soon we were generating proposals to service clients needs.

Unfortunately, MRA had an identity-crisis and disbanded the effort after just one year. Later, MRA changed their name to Marketing.comm then to Weyforth-Haas. I’m not sure what they are called these days. But I am sure that they are more focused now on providing their marketing expertise in the area of dealer network communications. At MRA I learned the valuable lesson that there is often a significant disconnect between sales and marketing. They don’t speak the same language and they don’t have the same motivations.

With no job, my wife in law school, and a new mortgage, I took a job with Sprint in a sales role, to round out my understanding of how big company marketing translates into the efforts of front-line salespeople. What a lesson I learned! Even big companies can fall victim to the disconnect between marketing and sales. Prime Example: Sprint launched a program called Fridays Free, which gave businesses free long distance calling and data transmissions on Fridays, anywhere in the world. Marketing had determined that Fridays were a traditionally low-volume long-distance calling day for business and thought that they could use the promotion as a carrot to secure one-year, two-year and three-year contracts with business customers. Sprint’s salesforce, under pressure to make quota, very quickly abused the promotion, signing up small, foreign-owned (primarily Indian and Pakistani) businesses that actually did very little “business” long-distance calling. But, with the promotion, these businesses ended up on the phone for hours to friends and family in their native country, while producing little to no revenue for Sprint, but obligating Sprint to pay out commissions and bonuses to Sprint salespeople. Hundreds of salespeople qualified for an expensive President’s Club trip, despite the promotion actually being bad business for Sprint.

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