In business, sometimes we think about sales and marketing together and sometimes we separate them.
In theory, sales and marketing should work together hand in hand, but the reality is that, oftentimes, they don’t. Oftentimes we find a missed step between the two.
I’m going to help bridge that with the following six steps for aligning sales and marketing.
In my book “How to Win Clients and Influence People” we talk about how important it is to align your sales and marketing efforts so that they are consistent with the customer experience. If you don’t have alignment between sales and marketing, you may lose trust, credibility, and/or momentum with your clientele.
We even go so far as to say that the early stages of sales are still contained in marketing. In fact, I refer to sales as the third pillar of marketing (next to the other pillars of digital and print).
These are the six steps that I’ve found most effective for aligning your sales and marketing efforts to create cohesion and increase sales.
Step #1 – Know the Message You Want to Put Out There
One of the best pieces of marketing advice I’ve ever received came from my mother when I was four years old. She said, “Andy, if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all.”
The same thing holds true in marketing. Sometimes, if you don’t have anything of value to say, it’s best to not say anything. By this I mean that any message you put into your marketing efforts should be of value to your potential clients. Don’t put out a message solely for the purpose of marketing.
If you’re putting out content or information, be absolutely certain that it is going to hold value for your intended audience. Otherwise, you’re just wasting their time, which usually results in a loss of credibility, let alone a waste of your precious resources.
So, first and foremost, you need to know the message that you want to send to your audience and have the tools to transmit it clearly.
Think about the structure of your advertisement by examining the heading and content. What is the best structure for the medium of promotion you are using (i.e. digital or print)? How can you utilize structure to draw attention to your message?
Digital platforms are better for quick hits on shorter messages. If your product or service requires a lot of explanation or a need for building credibility, consider some form of print marketing.
Step #2 – Share Your Marketing Message
Once you know the message that you want to put out in your print or digital marketing, you need to share the message with your sales team. This may seem like an elementary concept, but it is an integral part of achieving alignment between marketing and sales that is often missed.
If your sales team understands the message that you are sending to your target market, they can adapt their methods to relay the same message, effectively, when they are speaking with prospects.
When a message hasn’t been shared with a business’ sales team, a potential client who was drawn to the message in the marketing campaign may receive a completely different message from the sales team upon approaching the business. The business then loses credibility as a result.
Aligning your sales and marketing team with your digital and print marketing strategy is a critical component of your marketing campaign and is one of the six steps for aligning sales and marketing.
Step #3 – Train Your Team to Spread the Message
After you’ve shared the message with your team, don’t just let them wing it with the delivery of the message to your clients – train them. Train them how to talk to people and the words they should use to control the flow of the conversation.
Too many times I’ve seen businesses design a stellar marketing campaign based around a great message, only to deliver the message to their sales team via an email memo without any real training on how to effectively deliver the message. Realistically, some of your sales team may not go out of their way to read the company blog, so it is important to relay the message and components of delivery to them directly.
Step #4 – Engage in Role Practice
Again, this may sound like an elementary concept, but engaging in role practice with your salespeople will give them hands on experience delivering the marketing message before approaching any real customers. This gives you both an opportunity to improve on delivery so that when the message reaches the client via interactive marketing, it is completely aligned with the message sent via digital and print advertisements.
Could you imagine if football teams only went over plays verbally without any real practice before playing a game against another team? Absolutely not. Role practice is an integral part of winning football championships just as it is an integral part of winning clients.
To do this, break your team into groups of three. Let one act as the salesperson, one as the prospect, and one as the observer. Do five to ten minutes of practice in each position for each team member. Setting aside just thirty minutes for your team to this on a regular (ideally daily) basis will be invaluable for interactive delivery.
Don’t forget to practice engaging with different types of customers. Your customers range from moderate to challenging – know the signs for different types of customers and train your sales team to relay your marketing message to each effectively.
Step #5 – Model the Masters
Modeling the masters means observing and mimicking those who are better than you in a certain skill set in order to foster improvement.
Have junior salespeople work alongside senior members of your sales team whom have mastered the art of delivery. This will give less experienced team members an opportunity to watch seasoned salespeople model their craft and share in their techniques.
Enable the junior salespeople to have a mentor that they can go to for advice on how to get better at delivering to clients.
Step #6 – Recognize that You’re Never Done Learning
There is no six-week course, no amount of advice that is going to make you perpetually perfect when it comes to selling. The final of the six steps for aligning sales and marketing efforts is recognizing that you are never done learning.
There will always be new opportunities for growth and the development of new, more effective selling techniques. Your salespeople need to understand that they should always want to ask questions, always want to get feedback, always want to get better.
If your salespeople become engaged in a conversation that is getting derailed or where the client is not showing interest in pursuing the sale, prepare them to try a number of new techniques that might bring the client back to a point of potential purchase. If the sale is already going downhill, then it can’t hurt to try new techniques on these prospects and/or receive feedback as to why they are no longer interested. It’s your salespeople’s opportunity to experiment with a live prospect that has already been deemed as not having much value for a potential sale. I’ve used this technique often, and found it to be extremely effective.
Sales and marketing are not two different departments, with two different sets of goals that are mutually exclusive. As a leader, you need to ensure that they work together toward one collaborative goal, as both play a fundamental role in your business development.
Diligently follow these six steps for aligning sales and marketing in your company and you will start to see incremental changes that will have a profound impact on your growth for years to come.