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“Dissonance” is a term used to describe the annoying feeling you get in your ears when two sounds clash instead of harmonize. From a marketing strategist standpoint, it’s what happens when marketing promises one thing and salespeople deliver something different.

For example: a large hardware chain in my area advertises how friendly and helpful their smiling employees are. But when you actually go visit the store the salespeople are exactly the opposite. If this has happened to you then you can appreciate how annoying it is. That’s sales and marketing dissonance.

The sales clerks in these stores are so bad we started making jokes about it:

“How many of their employees does it take to help a customer?”

“Twenty-one: One to say, ‘I’ll be with you in a minute’ and twenty to turn away and look like they’re too busy to help.”

Now imagine our reaction when we watch television commercials that show smiling, friendly, helpful employees who go out of their way to help you find every little flibbityjibit you may need. Our reaction is to laugh hysterically. Believe me, that is not the kind of response you want your marketing campaign and advertising dollars to generate.

This kind of problem is simple to solve: get your sales people to start acting the way marketing describes. Lowering marketing’s expectations is unacceptable. Sales has to figure out how to carry out the marketing mission. Hire, fire, or re-train people until they can do it right.

We were forced to visit this store today and found something encouraging – no less than half a dozen different employees smiled, greeted us, and asked if we needed any help. The difference was shocking. It will take a long time to undue their reputation but they are making steps in the right direction. Perhaps someone is reading my blog.


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