Introduction by Dr. Lucy Green
Sales is continuously evolving. Not only are prospects doing their own research and getting as far as 70% down the sales funnel with little or no contact with a sales representative, but your competitors are fine-tuning their sales and marketing collateral to enable this to happen at pace. Regardless of the quality of your product or solution, the new landscape means that the businesses who invest in customer listening and appropriate content creation will win.
Are your salespeople marketing and are your marketing people selling? by Liam Weedon
Remember that the customer journey no longer looks like a simple sales funnel. Buyers are increasingly engaging with marketing material before and during the sales process. These two functions are intertwined, and you have no hope of delivering a “seamless” customer experience if they are not singing from the same hymn sheet. And that requires cross-functional development of your customer facing staff.
It goes further than that, though. All departments are customer facing. Even your accounting team has some level of contact with customers, partners, and suppliers. You need to think about how each company department represents your business from an outside view.
A firm today broadcasts its brand proposition every time it engages in a new interaction, be it an advertising campaign or a simple email. Business leaders need to create opportunities for this interplay to develop. The stronger the proposition, the stronger the brand. All staff should have the mindset that they are selling your business through every communication. Employee interconnectivity is becoming just as important as the software we all invest in to meet modern customer expectations.
Businesses are now multi-layered, multi-platform and increasingly operating in multiple markets. Contemporary business demands a new workflow approach to match the increasingly complex customer experience. Many leaders aren’t initially open to the idea of staff interoperability, but those that don’t are missing out on opportunities.
About Liam Weedon
Liam Weedon is a seasoned sales professional now growing his own agency that helps start-ups increase revenue. Having moved into fintech after years in commercial banking, he’s played a part in large digital transformation projects and now specialises in CRM automation for sales teams.
Focus on sales and marketing outcomes, not outputs by Liam Weedon
We all know how it goes when you sign off on a new campaign from the marketing budget. The proposal includes a series of advertisements and, based on market research, you’re confident that this campaign will reach your target market. You roll it out, and it’s a success; the adverts have attracted a sizeable number of enquiries from potential customers, and you feel satisfied the job is done. You, the marketing manager, can give yourself a pat on the back. Not only did the campaign work, you even exceeded your target!
But while it all looked good on paper, 3-6 months later, the revenue was never realised. The sales results turned out to be very disappointing, and by this point it’s a little too late to rectify. Marketing will rightly be on the defence here when their work comes into question – Sales increased their appointment numbers, so it’s their problem if they don’t know how to close a deal!
So, what went wrong? We could point the finger to several things in the marketing mix – product, price, place, or promotion. But this is missing the point entirely. We can trust that marketing knows how to do their job – but if they don’t have the full picture in the first place, their understanding of what will work will always be based on assumptions.
As leaders, we often get hung up on key performance indicators (KPIs) and forget the bigger picture. The whole point of sales and marketing is to ultimately drive revenue. Launching advertising campaigns based on # of leads or X amount of content is short-sighted. Likewise, salespeople focused on appointment setting or # of calls per day are not concerned about money made on a day-to-day basis.
Marketing teams will be disappointed to learn that our research shows 80% of ICT marketing collateral never gets used. Even worse, salespeople then spend an average of 40 hours per month creating their own. Both sides are blind-sided by their own KPIs.
The key takeaway here is to focus on outcomes rather than outputs. Quite simply you can start with two key questions:
● Sales: what do I need from marketing to increase revenue?
● Marketing: what do I need from sales to drive better leads?
Suddenly your teams are working towards the same goal. When they share accountability for each other’s performance, the outcomes will improve massively.
If you are not aligned to the buyer’s perspectives, you are wasting your time by Liam Weedon
It’s been ingrained in us that “the customer is always right”. While this might make sense in retail – a sure-fire way to de-escalate a situation with an angry customer – the concept doesn’t hold much ground in a technology or ICT setting. No, the customer is not always right; in fact, they often come into the sales conversation with very little knowledge of your solution at all.
But bombarding your customer with benefits and telling them everything they stand to gain from working with you is irrelevant. You need to appeal to their perceptions first. They have a preconceived idea of your business or product from the first time they interact with you. To get them to engage in a conversation, you need to appeal to these perspectives, or you are wasting your time.
Functional and fit-for-purpose is great. In fact, it’s essential to meet both requirements if you’re selling ICT. But if you don’t meet the perceived needs of potential customers, then you’ll never get the chance to educate them.
Keep in mind that buyers often don’t know what solution they need, they are only aware of the problem they are trying to solve. You need to get into the minds of your customers and appeal to their perspectives. If you don’t then your messaging will come across like a cold sales pitch. Like you’re trying to sell them something that they don’t need (or so they think). First impressions do count.
#Helpme Action Plan by Dr. Lucy Green
- Align sales and marketing. They can’t achieve the growth you need working in silos.
- Reflect on what differentiates your business and create a brand narrative. Human brains focus on stories.
- Use your customers to help you sell – collect case studies and testimonials which show the value you deliver.
- Just follow the crowd. Focus only on the sales and marketing activities which will drive the number.
- Make assumptions about your customers’ needs and challenges or assume that they remain constant.
- Expect your sales team to spend their time creating collateral or admin instead of selling