Sales and marketing go hand in hand. Without effective marketing, there are no prospects to sell your product to. Without sales people to convert those prospects into customers, marketing efforts are wasted.In a small company, sales and marketing functions are often the responsibility of one or two people with blended roles so the communication of goals and priorities is often simpler and clearer. But as an organization grows and teams begin to form, the lines of communication often begin to break down. It's not uncommon for marketing teams to have very little knowledge of the sales process, and for sales teams to be clueless about the effort required to generate the leads they are following up on.
Before you get started with creating a marketing strategy, it's important to involve your sales team. Among other things, you need to make sure your marketing activities are designed to:
- attract and educate prospects that are easier to sell to
- increase the efficiency of your sales process
- generate enough qualified leads to support your growth goals
- improve close rates
1. More educated prospectsQuestions for your sales team: What information do you find yourself repeating to prospects? What questions do you hear over and over?
Answers from your marketing team: Make a list of the questions and topics, then create a series of blog posts to answer each question. After you have a few written, start building an FAQ page that summarizes all of the questions in one place, and links to your blog posts for answers. Consider compiling them into a downloadable eBook or tip sheet that can be posted on your website and also be used by your sales team to educate potential customers. Before long, your sales team will be spending their valuable time nurturing relationships and closing sales instead of answering the same questions over and over.
2. More qualified prospectsQuestions for your sales team: What are the characteristics of our ideal customer? What makes one prospect more qualified than another?
Answers from your marketing team: Work together to create an ideal customer profile that clearly defines the types of people you are trying to attract. Use this profile as your "north star" any time you implement new strategies or create new content. Make sure your branding and messaging is designed to attract the right people to your business, and that you are giving them the information they need at each stage of the buying cycle. As you focus your marketing efforts more on education, your sales team will spend more time talking to sophisticated buyers who are ready to purchase.
3. Differentiation from your competition
Questions for your sales team: What factors cause us to lose customers to our competition? What makes our products and services better than those of our competitors?
Answers from your marketing team: Look at what your competitors are doing - is everyone talking about their low prices, great service, and high quality? Talk to your customers - why did they choose your company over a competitor? Create materials that specifically address your competitive advantage, and make sure your messaging is unique. Think about creating an eBook that addresses "The Acme Corporation Difference" or create a tip sheet that talks about the "Top 10 Reasons our Widgets Will Blow Your Mind". Your sales team can then use these materials to educate prospects about why they'll love doing business with you instead of your competition.
In the end, your marketing and sales teams have the same objective: to attract the right clients to use and purchase your services. It's up to these two teams to communicate with each other to address problems on either end. From the sales team's perspective, making the sale should be easy if the marketing team accurately represents the company and attracts the right types of clients, while maintaining a competitive edge in the market. If both teams are able to be successful, then your company, in turn, will be successful.
Next Steps for Creating an Integrated Sales & Marketing Strategy:
- Create an ideal customer profile for your business
- Learn to analyze your competition
- Learn to define the stages of your sales & marketing funnel
- Find out how inbound marketing can bring you more qualified prospects