Sales & Marketing Must Connect

Filed Under (OP News & Views) by Don on 28-08-2008

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Many office products dealers are finally learning they have a need for a marketing person in addition to their traditional sales staff to drive business growth and help create a recognizable brand. This is great news because it means that dealers are beginning to realize they need to embrace technology and marketing concepts to have a better understanding of today’s marketplace and how to best reach out to their customers and prospects.As a former business owner I have successfully performed the functions of sales manager, delivery guy, marketing, warehouse and logistics, accounting and collections, purchasing and various other administration duties including chief cook and janitor. Obviously some of these jobs are less than exciting! I said I successfully performed all these functions but I didn’t say I was especially great at all of them. I hated the accounting piece and did not enjoy being “Guido” the past due bill collector. I can wear the black hat/suit and be intimidating when necessary, at least my son says I do it well, but I don’t enjoy that. My skills and talents are in sales, sales management and marketing/advertising. I love creating marketing materials, custom catalogs, writing scripts and ads and I used those skills to market myself and sell my products. I read many books on both topics, attended seminars and training camps and had a great business mentor that didn’t mind giving me a kick in the pants when I needed one. So here is my kick in your pants, you need a marketing person to help your sales team drive new business and account penetration if you want to succeed on today’s marketplace!

A marketing person can be a great asset to your growing business but there is a potential dilemma to your new position. The problem with many marketing people is the lack of understanding of sales. The skill set of the professional sales person and those of a marketing person are completely different, however, the successes of both are completely dependent upon each other. This doesn’t mean that a successful sales person can’t become a successful marketing person or vice versa. A successful sales person understands very well how to market themselves and their products but may not have a full grasp of things such as e-mail marketing, web development, catalog programs, advertising mediums, ad copy etc. On the other hand a marketing person may not fully grasp the processes the sales rep goes through, what the market can bear on price or market demands for specific products and their local popularity. Therein is the potential for disconnection between marketing and sales.

Don’t make the fateful mistake of considering these two functions as separate entities. They are joined at the proverbial hip and need to be closely integrated with one another. Sales must understand the relationship they need with marketing and marketing must understand the need for information from sales. When properly aligned these two groups can be a powerful force for your business. They must perform as a close knit team with the same goals and objectives. Marketing can provide valid, qualified leads, great prospecting tools and materials to aid in account development and penetration. All this is accomplished with the help and guidance of sales. Sales can provide market information back to marketing regarding product needs of the marketplace, information regarding competitors, customer perceptions of new products and future growth. How well these two teams work together to accomplish their goals can result in great success or failure depending on the nature of their relationship. Like all relationships they must be nurtured and encouraged. Empower them but hold them accountable equally. One last word of advice let your marketing person do the task they are responsible for. They are not your fill-in for your other office personnel such as showroom sales person, receptionist or receiving clerk. I’m not saying they are too good for those duties but they deserve the same respect as do your sales and accounting people.

The last word: “Be careful the environment you choose for it will shape you; be careful the friends you choose for you will become like them.” – W. Clement Stone

The Purpose Driven Sales Rep

Filed Under (OP Sales Training) by Don on 12-08-2008

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Recently I was participating in an interesting discussion about purpose. The definition of purpose is to be determined, or resolved to accomplish. Purpose involves making a commitment, which is the act of binding yourself (intellectually or emotionally) to a course of action. A sales person in any industry cannot and will not succeed without a clearly defined ‘purpose’. Purpose is the driving force behind your success and will be the foundation of your goals. Purpose is used as the synonym of goal and objective. If you lack any of these in your sales plan then you are doomed to failure.It is easy to say your goal is to ‘make a lot of money’. That, my friend, is a foolish goal. It is foolish because it is empty and without a plan of how you will accomplish that. Sure we all want to make a lot of money but that is only the end result. It does not tell me or you how you will make that happen. One sale won’t get you there and neither will one client. You must clearly define your daily, weekly and monthly goals. Your goals should reach farther than that but for now you should start with your daily and weekly sales activities. But before you get to the goal making part of your sales plan what is your purpose? Is it to provide a service or product to your clients in such a manner as to meet or exceed their expectations? Or is it to provide a comfortable home and a lifestyle that suits your needs and the needs of your family? Perhaps it is a combination of these or something more.

Without purpose you can’t define your goals. Without goals you cannot fulfill your purpose and without commitment you will not meet any of these objectives. So let’s assume you have a purpose and you have written down your goals. You should read your goals every day without fail! In order to meet your goals have you identified your strengths and weaknesses? Do you have sufficient product or technical knowledge to sell your product? Have you defined your prospecting goals as to how many calls it will take to open an adequate amount of new business to keep your sales funnel primed?

I have discussed prospecting several times. Effective prospecting is a blend of selling and marketing. The best prospectors are the best sales people and 60% of the highest sales producers say the phone is ESSENTIAL to their prospecting efforts. Effective prospecting is the life blood of your overall success. Purpose, goals, commitment are all pieces of your sales plan. Your purpose is the glue that binds all these essentials together into a cohesive plan. Plan your work and work your plan and you will achieve success in all your endeavors!

The last word: “For an athlete to function properly, he must be intent. There has to be a definite purpose and goal if you are to progress. If you are not intent about what you are doing, you aren’t able to resist the temptation to do something else that might be more fun at the moment.” — John Wooden

Relationships, What Are They?

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Don on 01-08-2008

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In today’s sales world you will hear and read a lot about building relationships. This consultative style of selling doesn’t just happen on the first call and building a solid relationship with a prospect takes time. Many years ago sales people would do the old razzle-dazzle on the prospect and make the quick sale before the prospect had time to realize they had said yes. That isn’t the case any longer, though I’m certain there are still a few of these morons around who think they can ‘wow’ themselves into a sale.What is the definition of a ‘relationship’? Webster’s defines a relationship as; a state involving mutual dealings between people or parties, or a connectedness between people. Well who am I to argue with Webster’s? Let me suggest my simplified definition of a sales rep-to-prospect relationship as “a state of trust and respect between parties that results in meeting the needs of one another in a professional and personal manner.”  In the business products industry this relationship can and will overcome many hurdles as time goes on. You will earn the trust and respect of your customer because you will demonstrate over time that you sincerely care about them as individuals, and customers.

The consultative selling process involves asking questions, questions, and more questions. Who are the greatest sales people on earth? Your children are! Think about it. They pepper you with questions, they are very effective about making a case for the new toy they want and they get you to make an emotional decision. They are persistent and don’t easily take ‘no’ for an answer. Take some lessons from your kids who know how to get what they want! They effectively take down all the negative barriers you have and present a strong case for themselves.  If you used all these strategies on your last sales call how effective do you think the call would have been? 

The last word: “A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows you are slightly cracked.”– Bernard Meltzer