How Does Marketing Impact Closing the Sale?
First, we need to lay down some assumptions about your sales staff. We will assume they are gregarious, relationship builders who’ve already been through a number of training classes to hone their people skills and bring home the bacon. In short, you should be starting with professionals. The newbie sales people should be surrounded by enough experienced rainmakers to keep them on the right way or show them the highway.
When these talented salespeople go into a company to sell their solution, is the contact warm or cold? Is he well-informed, uninformed, or misinformed? How much time does a salesperson spend warming up a cold contact? How difficult is it to create an accurate impression of the company if the prospect has heard nothing, or worse, has a total misconception about the nature of the business? Too often, sales people spend all their time trying to build an image of the company and never get to the close. The deals they do close are few and far between.
What if a salesperson didn’t have to explain what their company did? What if the prospect and the salesperson were already on the same page at their first meeting? When salespeople start with well-informed leads, leads that are already warm to hot, they shorten the sales cycle dramatically.
Salespeople with short sales cycles have time to sell more.
So how do you go about warming and informing prospects?
Did you just think the word Marketing? Go ahead, say it out loud – Marketing. It’s what salespeople clamor for and then complain about. They beg and plead with the CEO to bring a marketing staff on board and then whine like little kids when the candy they swore they wanted leaves a sour taste in their mouth. But why do they complain. Isn’t marketing the goose that laid the golden egg? Isn’t it the power behind such companies as Proctor & Gamble, Nike, and Coca Cola? How can salespeople want marketing and then be so disappointed when they get it?
The disappointed salesperson has discovered the marketing disconnect. Before marketing came on board, the salesperson had to inform a buyer who knew nothing. Now the salesperson, in their mind, has to correct a buyer who has been misinformed. Do you like being corrected? This is not to say that the marketing department has the wrong information. Given their due diligence to research and analysis. Chances are marketing is right. Unfortunately, marketing’s message is different from the salesperson’s message, and the prospect becomes first confused, then annoyed, then unavailable.
A 2005 seminar by the American Marketing Association issued the following plea:
Attention Marketers - Your field salespeople or channel partners may be your last bastion of competitive differentiation in today’s rapidly commoditizing markets. As a result, they also are Marketing’s number one – and most under-utilized – branding and positioning tool. Did you know:
- 90% of what we produce as marketers goes unused in the field
- 70% of marketers give themselves a failing grade in providing useful sales support
- Only 25% of marketers believe sales is effectively selling the value of the brand
- Only 10% of salespeople are intuitive and efficient enough to do this on their own
What are you doing to ensure your organization’s salespeople can consistently create and deliver differentiated customer messaging as part of a consultative sales cycle that sets your company apart from same-same competition?
Enter the marketing strategy. The marketing strategy represents the combined efforts of both the sales and marketing staff. They are co-authors and co-owners.
A note on politics and egos:
Entire books have been written about getting marketing and sales to work together. The truth is they have to work together as equal cooperative partners. Marketing professionals that are relegated to be the salespeople’s art lackeys will produce mediocre, under-developed creative materials. On the other hand, sales professionals who are forced to be puppets, mouthing the words of marketing executives, will fail to thrive, or worse, depart from the company message creating more confused customers. Whatever it takes, create a marketing-sales culture that breeds cooperation and ownership. Your business depends on it.
Only when marketing and sales work together can you start to arrive at a winning strategy. By winning strategy, I mean one that closes sales. The winning marketing strategy will warm prospects, guide sales calls, and create new and profitable customers. It will become a living document within the organization that drives the top-line while keeping a watchful eye on the bottom line. If you have previously developed a marketing strategy and a sales strategy, throw them out. These organizations must function together. The marketing strategy will bring together all aspects of both sales and marketing activities into one cohesive, aligned effort.