Tag Archives: Mark Shaeffer

Curious Case of Experts vs. Managers

How do you react to this quote? This is Mark Shaeffer about social media experts, in this post. I quoted him in my post here yesterday:

How many have ever had a real sales job or have been actually accountable for delivering new value in a marketplace by creating, testing and distributing a product on a meaningful scale?   Very few.  Yet these are our marketing “gurus?”

Now wait a minute.

Who says marketing experts have to have sales experience? Why do they need to have been accountable for a new product?

I want my experts smart, experienced, and knowledgeable. I want them to listen. I want them open to new ideas. I want them to give good advice.

But I don’t care if they’ve had sales responsibility; or if they’ve launched a new product. Why should I?

Do I care if my doctor has built a house? Do I care if my accountant can sing? Why do I want experts to be managers?

What about you? Do you think a business expert has to have line management experience? Can a single-person expert really be an expert if he or she hasn’t run a company?

Do you think the best programmer makes the best manager?

“Line vs. staff” was a big deal to multinational executives and managers I consulted for in the 1970s and 1980s. As a consultant and newsletter generator, I was staff. Line managers had responsibility for sales numbers or profitability. And they were proud of it. It was important to their career.

Does that still matter? Or is it confusing makers and managers? And don’t the experts have to close some sales now and then to survive in business?

Not that the idea threatens me at all – I’m safe on this respect, since I’ve built a company, based on my own software, so whatever expertise I claim will pass that “sales or new product” test.

It’s just that experts and managers are like apples and oranges. Different skills. I want managers to be managers, and experts to be experts.


Late addition: I had the above post ready to go when I was dealing with comments from yesterday and picked up Chris Brogan’s defense, here. He picked up on the same underlying assumption:

Have I held a sales job in a big company? Hell no. I’m not a salesman. Instead, I’m someone who equips salespeople with new tools to drive to value. I’m a hell of an opener, and decent with the first 2/3 of the cycle, but if my kids had to eat on my ability to close complex sales? Hell no.

Interesting perspective. Can you trust me? Beats me. I’ll let my work stand for itself. : )

No argument from me there.

(Photo credit: karbunar/Shutterstock)