The Tie that Binds – Marketing is Key to Sales Success
In our work with clients, we sometimes find that Marketing doesn’t just take a back seat to Sales—it’s not even in the car! It may be that Marketing wasn’t emphasized in founding the firm or that culturally it’s seen as too “amorphous”. It may be that it’s the first thing that gets jettisoned when times get tough or when there simply is not enough money in the budget. Regardless of the reason, the result is always the same—less presence in the marketplace, less ability for the firm to define and differentiate itself, and ultimately—less sales.
In an increasingly crowded marketplace, where every buyer is bombarded through every conceivable medium, a robust marketing effort provides the “air and artillery cover” that make the buyer more receptive to the sales “infantry”. Foundational to any successful marketing (and sales) effort is the firm’s ability to cogently answer these questions:
- What is the product or service “story”?
- Is it integrated with the firm’s story?
- Does the organization live the story (e.g. does everyone agree and promote the same messages)?
Having successfully defined your story, the range of marketing tools and tactics is quite broad, and it affords even the most “budgetary challenged” firm a variety of avenues for effective marketing. These include:
- Referrals—both personal network and client
- Public relations and related publicity
- Advertising—both electronic and paper-based
- Seminar selling
- Direct marketing (mail campaigns, etc.)
- Internet/web site
- Sales collateral
The choice of which tool or media to employ is not simply a budgetary matter however, as even some of the least expensive options may not be right for your unique situation. We recommend that you start by soliciting feedback from all client-facing functions and personnel to determine, based on your sales and client service model, what marketing options are in highest demand and what’s missing. You may even want to survey customers to learn what media they are exposed to and pay attention to the most, and why.
Draw a flow-chart or write an outline of all sales and client service activities and the purpose of each prospect or client interaction. For each step, ask these employees what the prospect/client is requesting, if they feel they have the tools they need, is the activity necessary and aligned with the purpose, and what’s the expected or optimal payoff from the marketing tool.
It is very important that a firm aligns its marketing strategy with its sales and business strategy. Often times these efforts are working at odds with one another, instead of hand-in-glove. Marketing can both drive new business to your organization and enhance the effectiveness of your sales force.
Finally, with your marketing activities and which tools/media to use prioritized, experienced marketing professionals or external resources can help reconcile your needs with the budget. Once implemented, many CRM systems will allow you to track the effectiveness of marketing tools and campaigns.
With Marketing out of the back seat—and into the copilot’s seat—you’re on your way to hitting the sales target with much higher frequency.