It’s hardly a shocking revelation to say that sales people are an independent-minded lot. Being able to determine your own income directly through your own efforts is one reason people gravitate to sales as a profession, but self-determination requires self-reliance, and self-reliance, as observation of any 2-year-old will demonstrate, can sometimes be taken a little too far. We can all use a bit of help now and again. Now, if those artsy types over in marketing would skip the fancy stuff and just bring in better leads, we’d be fine, right?—We’d make our sales calls and that would be that.
Meanwhile, over in the Marketing Department, people are scratching their heads wondering how it is that their latest campaign brought in more leads than ever before, but the complaints from the Sales Department are as loud as ever. Sales doesn’t talk to Marketing and Marketing isn’t talking to Sales other than the occasional meeting to brief them on the latest campaign.
Sound familiar? You bet it does. We find some variation of this scenario every time we’re called in to turn around a low closing ratio or boost a company’s bottom line. It’s a damaging state of affairs for any business, because Marketing and Sales are not independent departments, they are both part of a single process whose only purpose is to persuade more people buy from you than from the competition. Marketing grew from advertising, and advertising is a direct descendant of salesmanship; all three are different views of the same subject.
Marketing Collateral and Sales
The seminal book on advertising, Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins, was published in 1923. It’s not in print any more, but you can find it online in various places such as <a href=”http://scientificadvertising.blogspot.com”/>this website. It’s worth your time to read, whether you’re in marketing or in sales. Advertising legend David Oglivy has this to say:
“Nobody should be allowed to have anything to do with advertising until he has read this book seven times. It changed the course of my life.”
Chapter Two of Scientific Advertising is called “Just Salesmanship.” It opens with: “To properly understand advertising or to learn even its rudiments one must start with the right conception. Advertising is salesmanship. Its principles are the principles of salesmanship.”
So here’s a radically new, old idea: why not have printed marketing collateral that directly aids the sales person and guides the prospect through the sales process for that product or service? Pipe dream? Not at all. One of the key pieces of the sales puzzle is the marketing collateral we create for the sales force, and the training we provide in its effective use. Properly done collateral makes an immediate emotional impact on the prospect, engages their attention, and keeps both the prospect and the sales person focused on the essential steps of the sales process. It “amplifies” the sales presentation, making it more effective and making it harder to be lured into interesting conversation that doesn’t move toward a close. (Admit it; we all let ourselves get side-tracked, so something that gently guides us in the right direction is a Good Thing.)
Sales Feeds Back to Marketing
One of the biggest things that Marketing people need to know is how the public react. They sweat over a new campaign, they survey and re-survey, they run focus groups and they test-market and then they survey some more. All that surveying is expensive, but surveys are essential if you want to be effective in your advertising. “Advertising is salesmanship.”—That is a clue. What marketing departments the world over constantly overlook is that they have an army of surveyors constantly in contact with new and existing customers: the sales force. Nobody knows how customers and prospects react better than sales people. Nobody knows what customers are vitally interested in better than sales people. A bit of quality time spent with each member of the sales team can give a marketing manager live, up-to-the-minute intelligence on his or her public. Marketing based on good feedback from the sales team is more productive because it addresses the exact things that the sales team needs.
The Bottom Line
When Marketing and Sales realize their kinship and start to work more closely together, the inevitable results are higher closing ratios, smoother sales presentations, better leads created by more on-point advertising, and happier (and wealthier!) sales people. If you’re not talking to your marketing people, start today. You never know how good things can get until you try.