It’s been said to me that marketing writes the script but sales makes the movie. Conceptually both sales and marketing should complement each another. However, in reality both do not always meet eye to eye. In other words, bad script…bad movie. An organization with maverick salespeople all off doing their own thing being managed four different ways will ruin even an exceptional Marketing Plan.
Looking at Marketing Through the Sales Lens
A sales rep needs to know how to position a product, set and manage customer expectations and be motivated to sell the product. Sounds easy but does hard.
Why is this?
Most marketers, especially product managers, understand their products inside and out. What they don’t understand is how this interacts with the sale rep’s role in getting it sold.
So, here are the “Questions You Must Answer for Sales” (in no particular order) for you to be successful as a marketer working with your sales team. My thanks to David Shoaf for sharing these with me originally.
- What is the customer problem that your product is solving? Listen up PM’s, this is not the laundry list of technical whiz-bangers you built into the product. This is getting to the heart of the benefits (the value proposition) the product solves for the user.
- What are the critical qualifying questions I can use to confirm if my customer has this problem your product solves? If I don’t know how to identify my customers buying criteria, I can’t effectively sell your product.
- What assumptions are you making about my customer’s business situation? What would drive the customer to adopt and use this product over any other solution that’s available to them?
- Who are the key competitors in this product segment? Who’s got the low price? Who’s got a unique solution? It is important to understand how you will position yourself in the market – and just as critical to understand how you will de-position the competition.
- What are the assumed customer buying criteria for the product? You should be able to be able to articulate the customer’s reasons to be looking at the market.
- Can you prove your claims? Coming to the selling situation with references, testing and other data points about the market, competitors or users adds significant credibility to me a sales person. Kudos to many product managers for getting this one right more often than not!
- What drives the pricing in this segment? Which is likely to be the constraint – price, margin or inventory? What are the expected metrics: ROI, POS, etc.? Can my customer understand the pricing and ROI discussion in less than a minute?
Let’s be honest….I’m a sales person and I get measured on sales
So I have a few questions about how this new product will affect my metrics.
- What’s my plan? Are you giving me an unrealistic goal simply because you think this is a great product?
- What is the typical sales cycle for this product? How much time am I expected to spend selling it? Do I have exclusivity in my territory?
- Will this product cannibalize any products I sell now? If so, please explain to me how this is going to be handled.
The key here is alignment. Sales & marketing executives should sign off on each other’s plan. The sales plan and the marketing plan should roll up hand and glove. Then you have accountability for performance.
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Concise, brilliant food for thought, Greg!
Great article, Greg! Your points are spot-on. If I may add, I believe there’s one more “icing on the cake” consideration. That is: Measurement. It’s important of for marketing and sales to mutually agree on service levels for things like lead generation, qualification, follow-up and ultimate success / failure of any given campaign or sales initiative.
Without measurement, the endless game of, “He said, she said” continues.
Thank you for sharing!
Excellent article and I would also like to post a point which most sales/marketing/management leave out or choose to forget. The attrition rates as we now are more and more dependant on the web with cloud based programmes where clients are more and more paying subscription fees then content creating useage is parqamount to ensure high retention rates
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Thanks for all the great comments! Sales and marketing alignment is critical to success and too often overlooked.
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