Sam Mallikarjunan’s entry into digital marketing was anything but typical: Selling health insurance from the VIP lounge of a cigar bar.
“Paying for coffee and cigars is cheaper than renting an office,” he explains.
When the bar’s owner asked for help with e-commerce and digital marketing, Mallikarjunan rose to the challenge.
“I was generally familiar with the technology,” he says. “I was a digital native, and I was building websites on my own. So I ended up helping that store, and then a bunch of other cigar manufacturers and retailers with their digital marketing.”
Now, Mallikarjunan is an executive strategist at the inbound marketing firm Hubspot, marketing instructor at Harvard University’s Division of Continuing Education, and author of the book, “How to Sell Better Than Amazon.”
“The world is changing a lot faster than it used to thanks to advances in technology, but also thanks to stronger connections between people,” he says. “Competition is stiffer, and it’s happening at a faster pace now than it did 30 or 40 years ago. So I spend a lot of my time studying the market and then turning that into theories and frameworks people can use to help themselves stay ahead of the curve.”
The old “Glengarry Glen Ross” approach to sales is no longer effective, says, Mallikarjunan, who in a past life was one of those “really annoying people in malls who try to sell you cell phones.”
And marketers shouldn’t “just sit in the corner with crayons making brochures," he adds. “We have a marketing team that’s directly responsible for teeing up good conversations between a sales rep and a prospect. That’s the best way to do it.”
In this episode of the CUNA News Podcast, Mallikarjunan describes new digital marketing approaches that excite him, explains why many marketers and salespeople bad-mouth each other, and shows how marketers can prove the value they provide to their organizations.
Bill Merrick is deputy editor of Credit Union Magazine. Follow him on Twitter via @CUMagazine.