The lifeline of any company is it's ability to sell. Everything else is a result of selling and the revenue it generates for the company. Without sales, the company doesn't exist.
There are different types of companies with different types of sales and sales strategies. One thing that remains consistent, however, is that Marketing supports sales. That's it. Bottom line. Everything marketing does is to promote the brand, increase brand awareness, create compelling stories about the brand and create a process that generates high propensity to close prospects to the sales team.
In follow-up to my article last month, "8 Things Sales People Need to Know About Marketing" let's now take a look at the flip side:
Sales people don't really sell. They don't "sell" in the traditional sense of "here's my product, you need to buy it so sign here." Great sales people approach an opportunity by asking questions and listening. Successful sales people know that by better understanding the prospect's business, goals, pain points and current situation (why they chose the current provider or why they are spending time talking to the sales person instead of running the business). Today's sales person understands that the goal isn't to just make a deal now but to be a consultant to that person so they can better understand how their product/service will help their soon-to-be-customer's business.
Cultivating sales is a result of the story that marketing creates. When a salesperson contacts a business for the first time, there may or may not have been exposure to the brand. If a prospect knows nothing about your brand, the chances of making a sale are going to be a lot harder than if that person knows who your company is and why you're in business. It's up to marketing to share the company's "why" to make it easier and quicker for sales to build a relationship and generate new business. The story making really is a key factor in creating sales.
Sales is really about building relationships. People do business with people they know and trust. And the best way to build trust and get to know someone is to share and communicate. That's why marketing plays such an important role in sales: they have the tools, information and experience to communicate in a way that will educate and engage the target audience. Here's Making a sales really is an involved process that takes time but pays dividends when the sales is made. Creating a great experience increases the chances of that customer buying from you again.
Repeat sales are contingent upon the experience. If a customer has a great experience not only will they buy from you again but they are likely to tell others. That's your best scenario! So when you're creating/updating your marketing plan, keep the total experience in mind with the end result of 1) repeat purchases, 2) raving fan 3) creates referrals. Here are 5 tips to get you started in creating a compelling user experience.
Maximum sales growth is completely reliant on telling the company's story. This is where marketing really holds the keys to sales success. When marketing knows the target customer, has a great story to tell, tells it and creates a path to act at the time the message resonates with the target customer, they have done a good job. On the contrary, if marketing is not in tune with the brand, messaging, value story and company's "why" it can actually hinder sales productivity. Having marketing on their "A game" ultimately helps everyone. So sales people know who helps and who hinders. Don't be the latter.
Spend time with your sales team. The best decision I ever made in marketing was to learn sales. This goes WAY back to the late 90's when I was in marketing and our 40+ team holistically supported sales. It was a great setup! And I realized that in order to be more effective in marketing, it would benefit sales if I actually UNDERSTOOD their role. What better way than to train and go be a salesperson for awhile?! So I obtained permission from my boss and went through a grueling 4-week sales training program. Then one week in the field with real accounts in an actual territory with my own objective. Applying my skills in a real-world experience provided such tremendous insight into what an actual sales person went through that I recommended others do it as well. It really was the best decision I ever made in business. And I nailed my objective - achieved 181%. Not bad for a rookie. Although this isn't an ideal situation for everyone, it is important to spend time with sales and better understand their day-to-day and what they need to be successful. And with one-on-one time, it's a great way to get to know your sales people better.
Most sales people are high energy and fast pace. I'm going to blanket stereotype here: sales people are "type A" personalities that are high energy and goal oriented. The fast pace is almost a requirement as there are goals to achieve. And the more you can prepare and make happen, the earlier they can achieve/exceed their goal. By the way, they aren't looking at just the current goal. A lot of sales people have an annual goal, trip and/or awards banquet that they want to be recognized at. So great sales people will continuously move at a fast pace to be the best. As marketers it's important to know how your sales team works so you can adjust your communication, pace and timing with theirs.
Rejection is inevitable. This is probably the hardest thing for most sales people - especially in the beginning of their sales career - is rejection. It's hard to not take it personally but really the prospect is saying "no" because they don't have the information yet they need to say "yes". And sales people typically don't start off like Tommy Boy (a favorite movie of mine). That's where marketing comes in! Keeping the brand's story current, on the platforms where the target audience spends their time and relevant to their pain points and needs will certainly help them get to "yes". Communicating with your sales team when new information is posted or available is a great way to engage with your internal team and better arm them with what they need to be successful. Information is knowledge. And knowledge will minimize the rejections - and help get a "no" to a "yes" quicker.
Share your successes - marketing or sales - and any tips you have that have worked for your teams.