When Marketing Efforts Help, and When They Hurt
I’ve spent my career differentiating myself as a consultant, listener, and creative thinker. I have to break through preconceived notions of a pushy, interrupting salesperson, and sometimes, if the client has experienced trauma from a previous sales experience, this can be quite difficult to do.
Here’s another confession: In order to succeed, great salespeople NEED great marketers.
I have worked for enormous corporations, as well as smaller privately owned companies, and a few in the middle. I have experienced marketing departments that are well-oiled machines, and I have also done it all myself. I’d like to share how each end of the marketing spectrum can impact your sales department, and either help or hinder their efforts to hit their number.
Salespeople and Marketers alike are obsessed with one thing – Hitting the Number. We approach it in different ways, but ideally, you want the two departments to compliment each other and be in alignment with goals and strategies.
With a large internal corporate marketing department, the quarterly promotions flyer was shipped to the sales team over a month in advance. We had regular communication with marketing managers to drive our focus. We would discuss what new products were launching soon, what target clients we would contact first, where to access literature, case studies, product videos and other marketing materials. They had the testimonials ready to go, target customers loaded into the CRM under a campaign, and all we had to do was learn the product and GO SELL.
With a smaller local company, they didn’t have a marketing department. They relied on customer referrals, but I was hired to go gain NEW clients. I found low brand recognition in the community, and all I had was a boring business card. The website was unappealing. We were informed of new products AFTER they had launched, and there was no strategy communicated on how to market it. I had to be creative – start my own prospect lists, create flyers for key product segments, generate content for LinkedIn to educate the business community, and find creative “leave-behinds” to gain attention on cold calls.
Confession: This was all fun for me as a creative person, but it was HARD. It took SO much time away from sales activities, and it had a big impact on my ability to gain access to target prospects. It made the sales process much longer and prevented access to the largest prospective clients.
Studies show that salespeople only spend 1/3 of their time actually selling. It’s a terrible statistic, but I confess, I believe it!
We have studied and trained for hours, years, and decades to craft and curate our sales skills, so why do we spend only a few hours a day actually selling?
I believe that most often, salespeople are hindered because the marketing strategy is either non-existent, or simply not in alignment with sales goals. If the marketing department launches a campaign that generates poor leads, sales numbers will stagnate, and it’s back to the drawing board. If salespeople are spending their own time identifying target account and contacts, ranking them, tracking buyer engagement, and creating their own marketing materials, then you are robbing them of precious time to interact with the client and SELL. This also results in inconsistent messaging if many salespeople are just doing their own thing.
If you can find the right balance of consistent, professional marketing strategies to compliment your sales goals, then you can empower your sales team to do what they do best. We do like to be creative and put our own personal touch on our work, you can’t expect your sales team to do it all. You need consistent messaging, powerful branding, and clear communication of the plan. Maybe you can’t afford the enormous marketing department like the Fortune 500 companies, but you certainly can’t afford to have no plan at all. Work to find that balance, seek experts to help craft the story line and support the efforts of your sales team, and you will then confess, it’s totally worth the effort.
---Sarah Heath, Contributing Writer