It can be a little confusing. If you ask a small business owner about the company’s marketing efforts, he’ll frequently respond with an answer that points to sales. “We’re running a great special,” says Eddie the owner, “and we made up some flyers for our salespeople to distribute.” That’s not marketing. It’s an answer from a bygone era.
Without disparaging the importance of a good sales effort, the whole concept of a “sales-driven company” just doesn’t fit very well into a 21st century business model. Not so many years ago, it was a reasonable assumption that salespeople would generate the leads, qualify the prospects, close the transaction, and maintain the relationships. Cold calling was and still is the basic business generation technique for many companies. It’s just not working so well any more.
If this rings true for you, the problem probably isn’t with your sales force. It’s with the customers. They just aren’t as receptive to cold calls as they once were. Think about your own behavior. What do you do when you’re considering a purchase? You research online. The internet is ubiquitous and customers go to Google first. They collect information about the product or service that they’re considering and salespeople aren’t a mandatory component of the process. Can they buy it on Amazon? Your company misses the deal.
This scenario doesn’t mean that your company can’t compete. It just means that you need to compete differently. You need to know three simple facts:
- Customers pre-select the companies they’d like to do business with.
- In order to be selected, your company must be visible.
- If you’re not visible, you won’t be selected, and you’ll never have the opportunity to sell.
Defining Sales and Marketing
Here’s a definition to keep it simple: Marketing is one-to-many. Sales is one-to-one. For most businesses, both disciplines are required. Your marketing program is what makes your company visible. Even small businesses can create local brand awareness using a combination of traditional and digital strategies. In today’s environment, selling frequently doesn’t come into play until the end of the process. At the decision point, there’s no replacement for one-on-one to provide a prospective customer with the details and confidence he needs to select your company.
Cold calls can still work, but they are an annoying disruption to those who aren’t in buying mode. The “one-to-many” function of marketing is to elicit a response from those who are or might be interested. Interested responses are warm leads that increase the efficiency of your selling efforts. To keep it simple, your salespeople will be more successful if they spend more time with people who are interested in your products and services and less time with those who aren’t.
The goal is to get sales and marketing efforts to work together. That’s called Sales and Marketing Alignment, and it’s a task that requires a system. It’s possible to spend a ton of money on sophisticated marketing automation and customer relationship management (CRM) programs that can accomplish the task, but your organization may not have the budget or the staff for this kind of effort. Never fear. A solid marketing plan, good communications with the sales force, and a simple tracking program can go a long way towards integrating sales and marketing programs in even the smallest business.
DP Marketing can help with analysis of your current system, development of marketing programs that generate leads for the sales force, and implementation of cost effective systems to track and measure the marketing and sales process. Do you need to learn more about how sales and marketing can work together? Let’s talk . . .