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!


Are You a Product Marketing Hero?

Marketing HeroNot too long ago at a major mass retailer, we presented a new product that we thought would make a lot of sense to stock. Not so fast, said our buyer…prove to me this is the right product…and the right time…for it to be on the shelf.

Maybe you come into your new product presentations prepared. We certainly thought we were. We had consumer insights around the product, a price point that we knew was right in line and the opportunity for this retailer to be first in the market.

Your buyer expects you to know the market backwards and forwards

Prepping for a major meeting or line review goes without saying. But are you ready for the phone call from the buyer straight into marketing? The buyer expects you to know their business, their competitors and the market backwards and forwards all the time, especially when it’s a phone call on the fly. This goes for any touch point the buyer has with your company.

How can you control what happens outside of marketing? Maybe try a few of these approaches:

  • Brief executive team. Make sure they aware of who’s winning and losing in the market – and why.
  • Ensure that trends are collected and distributed to the sales and marketing team regularly. Create top line reports that ensure you can view key metrics by key channel or customers.
  • Take the time to bring the cross functional teams up to speed on market dynamics. Lots of contact happens between your customer with shipping, customer service and quality. Make sure they all know the big picture.

“What problem is this solving for my shopper?”

shopperOur buyer was all set to pounce. He thought we had a product that we couldn’t defend. And for a moment, he had us in his sights…except when we recommend a new item, we bring the consumer reasoning behind the recommendation.

To get and keep the attention of your buyer, bring along with you these facts for every new product you bring to the table:

  • What issue it solves – the need
  • Your recommendation on how it fits the customer’s assortment
  • Financial impact – size of the prize
  • Consumer insights – in-depth insights as to why this is the right item for their customers. Get this data even if you have to go and use a third-party. It’s the sale clincher.

The bottom-line? We made the sale and put a product on the shelf that exceeded everyone’s initial expectations. The buyer looked like a hero, we sounded credible and then proved that we were when the product started flying off the shelf.

For other Channel Instincts posts on product marketing, see What Drives Your Product Marketing? or Are You a Marketer Or Just a Product Expert?