Does Marketing “Sell Dreams” and Sales Need to Make that “Dream” Happen, No Matter How Crazy the Dream?

Marketing DreamsIt’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

Looking at Marketing Through the Sales LensA 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.

Sales Need to Make that Dream HappenSo, 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!
  7. 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

knowing your competition better than they know themselves

So I have a few questions about how this new product will affect my metrics.

  1. What’s my plan? Are you giving me an unrealistic goal simply because you think this is a great product?
  2. 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?
  3. 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.

Is the Perfect Product Enough to Make the Sale?

marketing and sales work togetherTougher competition and more demanding customers require a sales and marketing synergy unheard of in the past.  These two entities can no longer work apart.

Both groups must work together using all tactics available to make sure they are working towards the same customer focus goals.

Marketing and sales must understand the customer’s business as though it were its own.  The aligned organization develops long-term relationships that look more like teams than vendor customer relationships.

Marketing helps differentiate your business by understanding your customer’s business better

Sales+Marketing=GrowthMost sales organizations are finding out there is nothing new under the sun in terms of products and promotional campaigns.  Now companies must differentiate based on their ability to understand their customer’s business.

Marketing has the tools to acquire the strategic information essential to understanding customer’s needs; such as providing detailed shopper information and insights through POS and shopper analysis.

A typical example − a new product is designed and presented by marketing to sales in a product brochure, sales person is trained to present the product to the customer highlighting its features.  The problem is, the perfect product isn’t enough.

Address the problems and the business of your customers

Sales-and-Marketing AlignementOrganizations need to address the problems and the business of their customers.  Next, you need to bring value to your customer that goes beyond product offerings, leveraging technology, data and content for the following:

  • Faster communication between departments
  • Instant access to information − using the web and intranet sites or flash drives that contain the entire company’s literature on your company’s products, market statistics, profiles, case studies and other information
  • Help make more effective presentations tailored to your customers
  • Creating videoes to deliver rich content like product training, torture testing, plant tours, testimonials, etc. to educate your cusotmer and teams
  • Providing responsive customer analysis

Provide a framework for marketing and sales to work together based on a common goal

Sales and Marketing TeamworkYou need to develop integrated teams that combine people from sales, marketing, technical support and customer service to develop innovative programs.  This structure promotes communication between all parties and results in promotions becoming better organized with greater results.

You have to offer a framework for marketing and sales to work together based on a common goal.  Not the mission of a functional area or business.

Marketing can develop products that might be very popular, but if they can’t be supported by other divisions of the company, particularly the operational divisions, they won’t succeed.  If you segment sales and marketing, you will lose the opportunity to manage projects effectively.

Use this 4 point checklist to put the customer first through sales & marketing alignment

  1. smarketingOnly sales people should be talking to the customer, they have to be the point person.  If the sales reps understand the customer’s needs, this information can be given back to marketing or the strategy team to develop a particular marketing approach.  Clarity of roles is paramount for success.
  2. Develop a joint sales and marketing plan for each account.  Move from selling lots of material to establishing value with a relationship reference and reputation orientation.  Marketing needs to offer essential relationship marketing information through content marketing, rich customer data and insights that allow for consultative selling.  You also have to get the senior business leaders out of their office to help sales people with high level contacts.
  3. Expand marketing’s role to using facts to build customer focused programs.  While marketing must deeply understand the user, it must also be customer focused by tracking, managing information, and providing targeted programs based on data.  It has to move from a one-size-fit-all mentality to developing programs for individual customers. Achieving balance in your focus between the consumer and customer is critical for success.
  4. Marketing needs to build the bridge to the sales department.  In other words, make sales the first customer of your project.  Top management must support this collaboration between marketing and sales.

Putting the customer first gives sales and marketing a common goal.  One which removes the inherent tension that the two functions.  By always returning to the question of “what’s best for the customer,” everyone wins.

Good Selling!