In the world of sales, connecting with a prospective buyer, establishing a relationship, building trust and then finally asking for the business is very much a 1-to-1 endeavor. It’s just the sales rep and the sales prospect.
But that doesn’t mean you can just send your reps out into the market and expect them to fend for themselves. Sadly, that’s the strategy used by far too many firms in our industry.
The prevailing mind-set among business owners seems to be, “You’ve got some sales experience and you’re the one responsible for revenue growth… now go out and sell something.” With that as their marching orders, the sales reps will FAIL every time. I guarantee it.
- How can a sales rep sell if the buyers they’re going after don’t know they exist?
- What’s their message to the marketplace, other than “I represent XYZ, wanna buy something?”
- Who are they supposed to reach out to with no sales leads coming in?
The Answer: Team Up with Marketing
If you want to maximize the ROI from your sales reps, you MUST provide a reasonable level of marketing support to help answer those critical questions:
> How can a sales rep sell if the buyers they’re going after don’t know they exist?
We’re talking about building awareness for your firm and its services and products. Consider email marketing (not cold email selling, but enewsletters), being active on social media (posting good content and engaging with other posts), Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Google AdWords to drive buyers to your website, digital advertising, exhibiting at conferences (when live events return) and so on.
But remember, building awareness is a two-step process. First, you have to get to that top-of-mind position with potential buyers. Then you have to stay there. So, whatever you start, don’t stop… stay on it. You may be able to back-off on the throttle a little, but you need to keep it going. ‘Consistency’ over time is the key to success.
> What’s their message to the marketplace, other than “I represent XYZ, wanna buy something?
Awareness building helps you become known. But you need to become known for something!
It’s that ‘something’ that helps to drive the messaging your sales rep takes to the marketplace. Call it your position, your Unique Value Proposition (UVP) or your brand… it’s what you want buyers to think of when they hear your name. And your sales rep’s communication has to be consistent with that… in his/her emails, phone calls, capabilities presentations, proposals, etc. And it needs to be crystal clear on your website.
Lack of clear messaging will lump your firm in with all the other ‘vanilla’ firms. Lack of consistency in that messaging will just confuse the buyers. Both of which make your rep’s job that much harder.
> Who are they supposed to reach out to with no sales leads coming in?
This is where most business owners, unfortunately, expect their sales reps to send out cold emails and make cold calls… the least productive use of a salesperson’s time. Period. And if my experience of being on the receiving end of those emails and phone calls is any indicator – virtually everyone in our industry is lousy at this! If they have any success at all, it’s dumb luck!
Instead, the marketing side of your business needs to help with lead generation: creating gated content (e.g., eBooks, White Papers) for downloading, hosting webinars, developing drip campaigns around products, exhibiting at conferences (when they return), making it easy to request more information from your website, encouraging people to subscribe to your enewsletter, and so on.
The added benefit of these inbound leads is that, in many cases, they’re telling you something about themselves. For example, if a prospective buyer gives up an hour of her time to sit in on a webinar about mobile surveys, then guess what? She’s interested in mobile surveys! Not a bad place to start a buying-selling conversation.
It Works Both Ways
So, marketing’s job is to provide the support to help make the sales reps successful… and then the sales reps have to follow-up with the opportunities and close deals. Right?
Yes, but it’s not just a one-way street.
Sales reps have their finger on the pulse of the market… and can relay that feedback to the marketing team to help with future planning. The sales reps are talking to clients and prospective clients every day… getting first-person accounts of the challenges that buyers face, the sorts of products and services that interest them, feedback on your competitors and so on. Again, this data needs to get back to the marketing team.
Further, the sales reps shouldn’t just sit around waiting for the marketing team to provide some help… they can get active on their own: connecting and engaging with prospective buyers on LinkedIn, staying top-of-mind with existing clients, connecting with former clients and prospects and much more.
Bottom line: To get the maximum ROI from your sales team – whether they’re full-time sales reps or part-time seller-doers – you need equal part sales and marketing. Proof that 1 + 1 = 3!
Good luck and good selling (& marketing).