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Unite Your Sales and Marketing Work Forces and Double Your Potential

Let’s face it, sales and marketing departments are two sides of the same coin – they’re both put in place by businesses to essentially create more awareness, build relationships and boost revenues.

So what’s unquestionably puzzling in this current economic downturn is the question on every marketer’s lips – why aren’t these two teams talking to each other? What has led to this breakdown of communication and what can be done to solve it?

Well, let’s look at this logically and go back to basics. You wouldn’t expect a relay team to rely on one person to win a race, so why rely on a single area of your company to sell your product or service?

Of course, sales and marketing positions have independent roles – yet, they’re each striving towards the same goal. A sales department cannot afford to spend their time getting to know their customers inside out, just as marketers shy away from one-on-one meetings.

Indeed, the problem is not the two departments individual operations, yet the fact that they’re not melding their skills into a double act that could potentially see their business grow with twice the power and dominance at a time of shaky financial stability.

The irony is that the technique businesses need to focus on during a recession is precisely the one that most sales and marketing departments are weakest at – lead generation. In order for this dark art to deliver results, both divisions must pull together seamlessly.

So how do you send this sinking ship back afloat? Well, primarily there needs to be little, or if possible, no slashes through marketing budgets – whatsoever – not even a nip.

Consistency must make up the base of this business model – continuing to push your product, service and brand boldly, whilst retaining the highest level of contact between sales and marketing departments.

Once the communication barrier has been battered and the team is functioning productively as a whole, you’ll start to review the results and realise that those non-existent networks of communication between the sales and marketing departments have actually been detrimental to company performance and crucially affected customer loyalty.

Yet it’ll all be a learning curve to look back on, since your sales and marketing team is now a united force – with more insight, focus and passion than ever, and equally more capable of delivering effective lead generation campaigns in today’s wavering economic climate.

Sales and Marketing – A Foray Into the Market

The terms, “Sales” and “Marketing” appear to be similar in functionality and have similar objectives, yet they are two separate entities. There is certainly a strong interspersing relationship between Sales and Marketing, since each complements the other to achieve a common objective of achieving higher sales and maximum profits for the business organization. As far as Sales are concerned, it is purely an act of selling a product or services to customers for profit. Marketing improves the impact of selling and therefore plays a very significant role in the sales of a product.

Marketing essentially is to comprehend the precise requirement of the prospective customer in relation to the product that is offered to the customer. The concept of marketing lies in the fact that the gamut of marketing activities should emphasize on the needs of the consumer while focusing on achieving the expected target of profits. Marketing is defined as the overall activities that are conducted in a systematic manner that would provide an impetus to increase sales and so far as the activities pertaining to product or services fall in line with the prevalent ethical norms.

However, the main objective in marketing stresses on maintaining a healthy relationship with the customer and creating a satisfied customer since a satisfied customer is an asset to the company supplying the products. The customer always comes first and the profits follow much later in priorities. In other words, a customer is entitled to total and undivided attention from the vending company and in case he is taken lightly and neglected, it often detrimental results, such as, failure to retain customers and no further repeat orders leading to depleted profits.

One of the facets of marketing is to ensure that the entire marketing activity is requires to be well-planned in a systematic manner to attain business objectives. A methodical effort in marketing is necessary to make sure that customers are induced to buy a particular product and services offered by the vending company which holds true for first time customers. A concerted marketing effort helps not only to boost business but also tend to increase sales by bringing in repeat orders. Marketing professionals play a pivotal role in assessing and analyzing the market conditions and trends for placement of the product. The marketing team joins hands with the R&D, Finance and other departments in the company to help in appraising the requirements of customers to the R&D department, who design and develop a product that is well accepted in the market.

The pricing and the commercial terms are defined in consultation with the Finance Department keeping in view the market trends, the costs involved in the development of the product and the costs of overheads. The delivery schedules are planned to expedite delivery of products in a manner that benefits the customer considering the prioritization of deliveries on a first come and first served basis. The Marketing professionals essentially provide the ammunition to the sales force such as promotional literature, advertising, publicity material to enable them to spearhead with an aggressiveness that would thwart competition.

Aligning Your Sales and Marketing With Your Customers’ Decision Making Process

In the heart of every business is the desire to convert more sales. In the competitive race to win more clients, many organisations focus on advancing the customer through the stages in the sales cycle. It is important to ensure your prospect is progressing through the sales process. However, it is critical that you do not to lose sight of your customers’ decision making process. Orientating your sales and marketing towards the customers decision making process ensures that your prospect naturally moves through the necessary steps in the sales process.

In the typical sales cycle, the sales person will prospect for opportunities. Once a reasonable opportunity is uncovered, the sales person will seek to establish a meeting with the prospect to perform a needs analysis and pitch the company products, services or solutions. Upon a successful meeting the sales person will develop a proposal. The objective is then to close the proposal to win another paying customer.

The danger of being too orientated towards the sales cycle is that it does not focus on the customer, their needs, motivations and decision making progressions. Obstacles in their decision making process will prevent the customer from moving forward in the sales cycle.

For this reason it is important for organisations to align their sales and marketing with their potential customers’ decision making process.

The decision making process can vary from customer to customer or from product to product.

Here is a description of the key ingredients in a buying decision:

Need Arousal: Understand how your customer develops a need for your product or service and ensure that you have marketing efforts in place to stimulate the interest of your target audience. Customers can develop a need for your products by trying them out in stores, product trials or simply by viewing product demonstrations. These are just a few examples. What is important is to ensure that your product or service has a presence at the time and place that your customer would typically develop a need.

Information Search: The customer will then seek information about the product. The customer needs to feel certain that the product or service can fulfil their need. The customer will seek to eliminate the risk that the product or service will not do what they want it to do. It is important that your marketing collateral is thorough and builds the purchasing confidence of your potential customer. Ensure that your marketing information builds desire and confidence. Ensure that your and communications demonstrate how the product or service is aligned with the customers needs.

Evaluation of Alternatives: The customer will arrive at a small range of choices. Each may have their own positive or negative aspects. The customer is looking to determine which product or service is best suited to their needs. At this point it is important to understand what competing products or substitutes you are up against. Ensure that your product or service has the closest match with your customers needs. You may need to offer better value or renegotiate price at this point. Communication with your prospect at this point is critical.

The Decision: This may be made on product benefits and positive attributes that will benefit the customer. There may be numerous stakeholders in the decision. Make sure you do not exclude them. Negative aspects may also play a role. Make sure that you have no deal breakers. The key to success at this point is to ensure that the previous steps are done correctly.

Post Purchase Response: After the sale, the customer will evaluate the purchase decision to ensure that they made the right choice. After sales support and courtesy calls are important to ensure that the customer does not develop buyers remorse. There is no sense in selling a product if the customer returns it the next day. Furthermore, good after sales support will lead to repeat business and ongoing referrals.

Orientating your sales approach towards your customers decision making process is about empathise with your customer and helping to make the buying decision easy for them.