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Marketing Is Sales Support --Sherburne

January 2009
HAVE written a great deal about marketing strategies in this space, including everything from marketing basics to self-promotion and integrated communications strategies. One area of marketing that is often overlooked is the role of providing support to the sales force.

This can range widely from development of brochures and lead generation campaigns, to advertising, events and presentation development. Marketing should also play a role in sales training. This is often a function that is relegated to sales management or ignored entirely.

In fact, if marketing performs its sales support functions well, a sales rep should never have to make another cold call. That idea is music to the ears of almost any sales professional I have ever known. Few enjoy cold calling, and it is expensive, to boot. In today’s world of voice mail and automated phone systems, it can be extremely difficult to even reach a prospect live, let alone get them to schedule an appointment.

Pipeline of Good Leads

Thus, with good lead generation and qualification programs implemented by marketing, sales professionals can be presented with a pipeline of qualified leads. But what then? How do you make the most of those leads, remembering that you only have one chance to make a good first impression? 

Arriving on the doorstep with your book of samples and a “stop me when you see something you like” talk track simply does not cut it any more. People are busy; they want, expect and deserve to get value out of every moment they spend with a supplier or supplier candidate. By being the organizational champion for sales training, marketing can contribute toward the success of these sales efforts and not waste the investment in generating those qualified leads.

We hear a lot about print as a commodity. In many ways, we, as an industry, have brought that on ourselves. We are often too focused on filling the cylinders and not focused enough on what the customer is doing with the printed piece.

I still remember a discussion I had with NAPL’s Joe Truncale a couple of years ago, where he said, “I am still waiting for the day that a print salesperson will call me the day after a conference or meeting, and ask how we did. They know when the event is; the date is on the piece of printing I bought from them. Imagine if a sales person made that call. It has never happened to me. The sad fact is that too many companies have been doing the same type of work the same way for so long, we fear they are not going to figure this out in time.”

 

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