Hey Marketers, Sales is Hard: Are You Aligned with the Sales Team?
As marketers we strategize, plan and implement programs focused on our prospects and customers. We review every detail and revise schedules for new product launches, company expansion, and communications.
Are you as methodical for your internal customers?
Do you understand the challenges sales people face on a daily basis?
What’s your plan to launch a new product and get buy-in across the company?
How do you continually communicate with sales, production and the mail room?
Often, we don’t formalize internal programs. You may have the most effective, innovative marketing plan, but unless you work with your sales team, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.
As you prepare your marketing plans for the company, include your internal staff. Today, we’ll review how to align with your sales team in these seven areas:
- Create Tools
- Train and Test
- Practice. Practice. Practice.
As you work through a messaging guide for your business, for a new product offering, the first group that you should get input from is your sales team. They have a wealth of knowledge and experience. They know your customer base, they are talking to customers and prospects every day. What you learn from this group can provide context for more effective questionnaires, planning focus and long term benefits.
Also, learn from your sales team. They can help you uncover issues, understand your prospect’s perspective and simplify your messaging. Good salespeople, listen and ask questions. You should do the same.
Attend sales meetings not only to provide updates to your programs, but also as an active observer and resource to the sales team. Is there an ongoing issue that you may be able to resolve? Such as, a customer might not understand the value of a multichannel program. In that case, since sales is trying to sell that type of high margin program, consider developing a well-planned multichannel program for your business.
Be proactive. Ask your salespeople what their top selling constraints are. Also ask where they see opportunity. What are the areas where the company can grow business?
Create tools that sales wants to use. You have access to print, web, social media, cross channel abilities and so much more. Use these tools. Create digital and printed information. Certain people prefer hard copy, others prefer digital material allowing for instant availability. You need to understand your customer (sales) and how they prefer to consume information.
Do your salespeople understand the needs of your customers? Most do but some may not. Create a playbook that describes the offering, the benefit, the prospect titles, their pain points and the competition. To get a fast start, provide reference guides (cheat sheets) that salespeople can quickly review to remind them of the appropriate questions to ask the CEO, IT manager or marketing VP at a customer site.
Train and Test
For every new offering, product launch or event review with and train your sales team. Provide kits, playbooks and reference materials that demonstrate, step by step from initial planning through the goal, how to how to achieve the objective. Also, share the results.
It’s your job to make sure that the team is aware of your plan, before you begin. Ask for feedback on the content throughout the development process. Confirm they understand why you and the company are doing what you’re doing. Are sales and marketing objectives aligned?
Practice. Practice. Practice.
As the management saying goes, inspect what you expect. Your sales manager is guiding, training and managing the sales team. Support the sales manager by role playing with the team. Have the salespeople prospect, meet with and try to close business with you as a marketer. Then role play as the CFO, the print buyer, the VP of programs and the decision maker. Each of these titles have different concerns and questions. Work through the questions with your sales reps so that they sell solutions and avoid competing on price.
Are there areas that need improvement? Do the salespeople need further training? Perhaps they need help with discovery questions and how to continue the discussion with their prospect. Work closely with sales management and the team. Listen to their feedback both critical and positive and make necessary changes. Keep communication open and continually engage.
Take what you’ve learned and revise messaging or the program. Rarely is the initial plan perfect. Also use this newfound process as a template for programs moving forward. There’s no need to start from scratch.
And of course repeat and monitor for success.
Don’t forget one of the key advocates of your customer base is your sales team.
How are you aligning with your sales team? Leave a comment, share the post, visit my website, KimberlyMeyers.com or call me direct 646.320.8854 for more information. Let’s connect.
Kimberly Meyers is the principal at Kimberly Meyers & Associates, a marketing consulting firm. Kimberly is a Marketing VP for hire. She develops marketing solutions based on strategic assessment of her client’s business, sales and marketing requirements. She lives by the philosophy of ensuring the appropriate message and content is delivered to the target audience – always, focusing on customer needs and satisfaction. Kimberly welcomes your connection at firstname.lastname@example.org.