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

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