[tweetmeme]There is a strange but all too common phenomenon in corporate America –– the marketing department and the sales department are at odds with one another. They don’t like each other. They don’t talk to each other. And they certainly don’t listen to each other.
Sales grumbles, “Why can’t marketing give us something useful?”
Marketing paces the floor and says, “I just don’t get it. We give the sales department great stuff… beautiful stuff. They just don’t use it.”
Now, I’m not pointing fingers nor placing blame because as I see it, the problem is universal and epidemic. Simply stated, the problem is that marketing is not in tune with the sales process… nor does it adequately support the sales process.
As a result, I’ve come to realize that in businesses of all sizes and industries, there’s nearly a 100 percent probability that their marketing is not adequately and directly supporting their sales process.
By the way, the phenomenon I’m describing is true across the board. Even if you operate a small business and you personally serve as both marketing and sales managers, you move between wearing your marketing hat one day and your sales hat the next. Business owners typically don’t see them as interrelated activities… and so they don’t strive to make sure that their marketing is directly supporting their sales process. They hold onto old marketing strategies and programs because… well, because they’ve always done it that way, or because they’re too busy doing other things to take the time to make a change.
Let’s put a stop to this because the struggle between sales and marketing is not helping the cash register ring (nor bringing prospects any closer to saying “Yes”). And this is, of course, the single most important focal point in any business.
Let’s call a truce. Let’s get these two departments to sit at the same table and keep them calm by serving decaf coffee and fruit instead of donuts loaded with sugar. And let’s agree to a new definition of good marketing. One that goes like this: “Good marketing is any activity that speeds, shortens, streamlines, or favorably influences the outcome of their sales process.”
In order to help speed, shorten, streamline, or favorably influence the outcome of the sales process, the marketing department needs to understand the sales process fully and in considerable detail.
That means that sales department needs to walk the marketing department through what they experience as their typical transaction. Starting with the client attraction process, sales needs to take marketing through all the steps of that typical transaction: client attraction, information gathering, rapport building, education, most common objections, pricing, closing the sale, delivery or fulfillment, follow-up after the sale, and how to strengthen an assure clients remain clients for long time.
The sales department also needs to identify those major points of constraint within the sales process where things bog down and the sales process stalls, loses momentum, and ceases moving forward.
With this new insight, marketing can look at what’s happening at various and specific points within that sales process and use its creative skills and insights to recommend specific ideas that help speed, shorten, streamline, or otherwise favorably influence the outcome of the sales process.
For example, the sales department says, “When we get to pricing, things always seem to run into a brick wall. We know we’re competitive, but it takes us too long to get beyond this.”
Marketing could suggest a few things. “What if we provided you with some handouts that compared features and benefits with our top competitors and showed that although our price is about the same, the cost of maintenance over the next 10 to 15 years is minimal? Or, what if we provided an incentive or discount if they buy within the next 30 days? We could make an entire campaign out of this and actually use it to increase response to our lead generating campaign.”
Or, the sales department says, “We know we need to maximize the relationships we have, but we seem to have a hard time holding onto them and up-selling and cross-selling into our other products.”
Marketing could suggest a few things such as a customer/client loyalty program, a new email marketing campaign specifically targeted at existing clients, an automatic reorder program and campaign, creating a platinum membership program for top clients, and so on.
You get the idea. Once marketing truly understands the sales process and where those points of constraint seem to muddy the waters, they will be able to create and implement concepts and materials to speak directly to those issues. The result is that the sales department will have an easier time of closing the sale and retaining clients.
Together, sales and marketing have strengthened, shortened, and favorably influenced the outcome of the sales process. And sales and marketing are working as one.
This process also requires letting go of marketing that is old, outdated, and ineffective. Holding onto a campaign or marketing component that wasn’t isn’t working or isn’t working as well as it used to, could do more harm than good as the marketing and sales departments together focus on ways of improving the sales process.
Every business has a sales process. Every business has a sales process that can be improved. Every business has a sales process that can be shortened. It’s a matter of looking at where you are and what you have and analyzing how best to improve each and every step along the way.
About the Author:
Gil Effron is an experienced marketing strategist and advisor with more than 35 years of experience in building and running successful businesses. He is the author of a new book titled How to Give Your Business an Extreme Marketing Makeover, a precise blueprint to help businesses bring about significant improvements in sales and marketing effectiveness while increasing sales and profitability. As president and CEO of New York City-based Strategies For Growth and head of its 10-Day Marketing Makeover program, Effron has lent his expertise to a number of small to medium-sized businesses to help them bring about positive, effective and meaningful change that yields more sales, more profits, more clients, and more customers for life. Visit http://www.10dayMarketingMakeover.com.