In the first of this three-part blog series we introduced the notion of starting with your sales and marketing departments as places where you can innovate new aligned, value-based best practices and processes. In this blog we’ll look at WHY these practices/processes are important to your company, some examples of WHAT some of them are and what they have to offer.
Let's look at the WHY first.
Most businesses have sales and marketing practices/processes that have grown and developed out of the experience of the Founder, President or first few salespeople that worked for the company. In other words, what did and didn’t work as a result of different lead generation campaigns, won and lost sales and other activities that helped the company get to where you are today. These kind of organic sales and marketing systems are great at launching the company into their primary target markets; however, they sometimes fall short of establishing and positioning their brand and gaining the market share they would like. Advancing the business to the next level typically requires implementing proven, predictable marketing and sales processes.
Another important reason to implement new processes is that they typically include the ability to track, measure and forecast the results of your efforts. As your company grows your sales and marketing expense budgets tend to grow. Both can be expensive and it's easy to spend a lot of money on unproven and tested initiatives.
It’s been proven that having predictive systems in place can:
- Save you time and money when creating and implementing new lead generation campaigns
- Provide your sales people sufficient qualified leads to achieve their and the companies sales and revenue goals
A third reason for aligned practice/processes is for the efficient and effective on-boarding of new employees. As you grow your business you’ll need to hire new sales and marketing people to fill key positions. When you have established and documented practices/processes that are taught as part of an orientation and training program the new hires start-up quicker and are productive sooner. For example, research shows that sales people who are trained on their companies established sales process will ramp-up to a productive sales level 2-3 times faster than those without it.
When it comes to marketing, new hires can use your established principles and procedures to guide their content development, creative work, data and analytics compilations as well as establishing standard reporting of marketing campaign results.
As a leader, this means fewer questions that interrupt your time and productivity, fewer edits of their work, and less errors and oversights that can affect your brand, reputation, and image as marketing communication pieces go out accurately and on time.
Now let's look at the WHAT.
What are some examples of aligned sales and marketing best practices/processes?
A good example of alignment is when your marketing and sales activities are sequenced to feed and report on each other. For example, your president may ask either the Marketing or Sales Director which lead source produces the most qualified leads that lead to the highest margin sales. If you’ve implemented a closed-loop inquiry-to-close marketing and sales process, supported with the right technology, you can create a report that will tell you this with little effort. This allows you to direct your marketing spend toward the most optimal lead source that contributes the best leads for your sales team to follow-up on.
Another example would be establishing a thorough qualification process where all prospect inquiries are vetted so your salespeople are not wasting their valuable selling time on prospects that cannot, or will not, be purchasing your product.
A complete qualification process should include training your salespeople to discover each of their buying influence's “buying style” so they can adapt their “selling style" to match it in order to develop more trust and confidence in themselves, your company and your product.
There are four primary buying influence buying. They each have their own set of “value needs”. If a salesperson can identify these value needs, then match your product's "value givens" to them, they will have an advantage over your competition. Good qualifying also includes knowing how to ask the right questions, in the right way, at the right time to discover a prospect's core value needs. When you combine personality adaptation skills, with matching value givens to value needs, your salespeople can present your product/service in a relevant and personalized way.
And lastly, the development and use of aligned messaging by both marketing and sales is essential to establishing brand clarity and consistency. You will want everybody in the company saying the same things in the same ways. This not only strengthens your product/service positioning and differentiation, it can minimize misunderstanding and confusion within your target markets. It can also reduce customer complaints that result from customers feeling as though their expectations were not met due to receiving different messaging from the marketing material, sales person's presentation and then what they experienced receiving different results from what they expected. We call this misaligned messaging which can lead to expensive legal and/or liability issues.
So those are just a few of the reasons WHY you want aligned, value-based practices/processes and examples of WHAT some of them are and what they will produce.
In the third and last blog of this series we’ll look at the WHEN and the HOW of deploying and integrating sales and marketing practices/processes with your existing people, processes and corporate culture.
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