Many companies spend marketing dollars creating awareness and growing brand. While these are key activities, shifting gears to the equipping of the sales force and creating high-impact campaigns/programs will provide a greater return on marketing investment. As you market with more impact, don’t fall into the following traps:
A. Failing to Involve the Sales Force. Many marketing groups develop tools without any input from their ‘customers’ – the sales force. The outcome? Disconnected and underutilized tools. The fact is, to develop effective sales tools, marketing and the business must understand how the customer buys and sales people sell. Create a cross-functional team to evaluate existing and new sales tools. Take candid feedback and integrate new knowledge into updated and readily accepted tools – propelling the business forward.
B. Providing Inadequate Competitive Information. Selling guides must point out actual, monetizable points of differentiation and advantage. All too often, though, selling guides are full of rosy, fluffy information that hasn’t been compared to the competition. See it from the sales team’s point of view. The sales team wants tools that drive to closure and put the competition on the defense. They want to know how to win. Study your competitors and their offerings – and don’t be shy pointing out their weaknesses and how your solutions are better, much better.
C. Failing to Motivate. Salespeople are under tremendous pressure to deliver. Every quarter or year their jobs are on the line – so they tend to look for the fastest and surest route to achieving quota. Often, the fastest route may be what is familiar and easy. Your challenge is to motivate the sales team to sell your new offering, along with the old. An effective sales guide/tool ‘sells’ the sales team on the new offering, illustrating who, what, when, where, and why they should spend their time selling the newest and not just focusing on what they already know.
D. Not Respecting Time. Salespeople’s time is not their own. They juggle a myriad of time demands as they work to achieve quota and satisfy customers. Bombarding the sales team with information about products, changes, upgrades, special offers, process changes, etc doesn’t help them do their jobs well. Look to provide concise, clear, and easy-to-use sales tools. Be ruthless in what you include and organize the content such that it provides a natural flow of information. Make learning easy and fun for the salesperson.
E. Using “Generic” Marketing Messages. Messaging is the difference between standing out and being considered a ‘me-too.’ Generic messages cripple the sales team and confuse the customer. Make sure that you have clear, concise definition, value propositions, elevator pitch, and tools – all developed in collaboration with the product and sales teams. Where possible, tailor the messages for specific market/customer types. Make sure the sales team never struggles to communicate your competitive advantages.
F. Choosing the Wrong Writer. Often the difference between a good and a great sales tool is the writer. Some include too little and others too much information. Some will tend toward technical details while others take a more ‘marketing’ approach. Know your targeted audience and use the writer most appropriate for that audience. Communicate clearly, use diagrams and images liberally, and make it easy to get to the salient and most important details fast. Don’t fall into the trap of using product or engineering to write sales or marketing guides. And, don’t be shy in using outside resources if your internal personnel can’t do the job.
G. Creating Campaigns or Programs in Isolation. All too often, marketing will dream up and roll-out marketing and sales campaigns without involving the sales team. Unfortunately, this tends to lower impact and increase the cost of the campaign. Your sales team knows what the customer hot buttons are and what customers are looking for, right now. Use this information to impact the type, frequency, and targeting of your campaigns for greater effectiveness and revenue.
H. Disconnecting “Lead” Workflows. A natural tension between marketing and sales is the sourcing and qualification of incoming leads. Marketing will assume that these responsibilities lay within sales, while sales will indicate the opposite. Instead of trying to work out who has responsibility, work together to identify the best and most effective responsibility split and accompanying ‘hand-off’ and follow-up workflow. Work together to capture, qualify, and close opportunity as quickly as possible.
I. Losing Sight of the “Main Thing”. Marketing can, at times, isolate itself from sales. And, in doing so, forget that the main purpose of marketing is to stimulate interest and accelerate revenue capture. Marketing, by design, is a support function to sales and not the other way around. In your marketing efforts, work hard to bring out tools, programs, and campaigns that drive sales as the primary and ‘main thing.’
Stand out and be better than your competition. Integrate your marketing and sales efforts as a ‘double edge’ sword in the battle for revenue and marketshare. Become your sales team’s most trusted and sought-after ally. Lead your organization like never before to more qualified leads, better campaigns/tools, and revenue success.
The Afterburner Group has been integrating marketing and sales for companies in the technology, energy, services, manufacturing and non-profit industries for over 25 years.
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