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How a Dead Fly Can Make Your Sales and Marketing Efforts Stick Out Like a Sore Thumb

I hope this doesn’t gross you out.

My goal is NOT to make you squirm in your seat or be paranoid whenever you go out to eat. It’s to illustrate a very powerful sales and marketing lesson any one of us can learn (and profit) from.

Anyway, here’s the story:

Couple days ago the Mrs. and I tried a new restaurant in town. We’d read a rave review about it in the local paper. And, since it is still new, we figured it was time to check out their cheeseburgers.

So we get home, open the carton and get ready to dig in.

Except… I see a black, scraggly looking thing next to my burger that turned out to be a dead (deep fried) fly.

Ugh.

Thank God I look before I eat, eh?

So my wife calls the place up and tells them what happened. I mean, there could be some punk working there who did it on purpose for all we knew. And we figured the owner would want to know either way.

The guy’s response?

“Hmm. That’s a first.”

No wanting to fix it. No trying to do something to keep our business (or keep us from telling other people about the fly). No caring whatsoever.

Frankly, his level of concern was as dead as the fly on my plate.

And yet… we would have probably given his “bistro” a second chance (in a few months) and probably told everyone how great the place is (thereby sending it more business) if they’d simply tried to make things cool.

Anyway, here’s the point:

If you want to increase your sales, get lots of repeat customers and have word of mouth marketing (one of the best kind there is) kicking in… all you have to do is CARE about your customers.

Treat them with some respect.

And, if something does go wrong, make it right.

It usually doesn’t take that much effort.

But when you have super happy customers roaming the streets practically proselytizing on your behalf… spreading the good news about how wonderful your business is… and even selling people on buying your stuff… success is a cake walk.

In fact, you almost can’t fail.

Sales and Marketing Strategy – What’s New?

New information is an essential part of your sales and marketing strategy. What new information are you looking for? You should be looking for new information: to improve your own marketing and sales skills, about your product or service, about what’s going on in the world, and information about what is going on with who. Your new sales and marketing strategies can be found in the “what’s new” that you know about.

If you want your sales and marketing strategies to get results you need to make a commitment to continual learning. Don’t associate this learning with the learning you did in school. This is real world learning. This is the kind of learning you can turn into dollars and cents. You should be learning something new each day to improve your marketing and sales skills. If you aren’t willing to invest in yourself you can’t hope to be a top producer. Plus you can never know everything no matter how long you’ve been in business. You’ll find that even when you re-read things you found value in before, you will find new value that is more pertinent for you today than it was the first time you saw it or heard it.

New is a time proven sales and marketing strategy. What is new about your product or service, or what can you make new about your product or service? Can you find a new use or perhaps a new target market? Can your product or service fulfill the wants for a new target market if you just change your packaging and message a little bit? For example, most people are time stressed and have time management issues in today’s world.

If you sell a day planning system there isn’t anything all that exciting about that. After all there are lots of day planning systems, so you’re just one choice among many. But if you sell a day planning system for architects and engineers you now go from being a mundane product with about the same appeal as your competition, to holding a very special position in the market place with a special group of people to market to.

Look outside your cave once in a while and find the opportunities to enhance your sales and marketing strategies. What’s going on in the news, and how can you tie it to your product or service and increase your sales. What are people talking about, what are they worried about, what’s the topic of the day? Can you somehow solve that problem with your solution? Look at the people who decided to package water in single serving bottles that cost as much as a soda. Who would have thought consumers would be willing to buy water? Now those same water folks are packaging their water in “green” containers. Another example of taking today’s issues and turning those issues into your sales and marketing strategy. Where’s your opportunity?

Riding on the coat tails of fame could be a sales and marketing strategy for your product or service. Who’s new or who’s big in your market place? Could they provide an endorsement or testimonial? If you use someone famous in your sales and marketing strategy as an attention getter, make sure they are someone your potential prospects know and respect. Being generally famous holds far less value and credibility than being famous in a way that relates. Using our example, an endorsement from Al Gore who’s known for his support of environmental issues would gain more credibility than using Bill Cosby just because he happens to be generally known and well liked.

Why Can’t Sales and Marketing Just Get Along?

The sales and marketing disconnect has been going on as long as they both exist – marketing creates targeted campaigns and complains that sales don’t follow up on leads. Sales complain that they aren’t getting “quality” leads (depending on the organization, quality seems to be a moving target). Marketing develops their interpretation of messaging for the collateral (brochures, videos, direct mail etc…) and sales presentations and sales creates their own sales presentations with different messaging. Different branding by the two departments for the same product confuses the customer. The dialog goes back and forth until management sits everyone down at the same table. Sound familiar?

At the end of the day, sales and marketing have to come together to deliver a clear and consistent value proposition that enables prospects to develop a coherent brand image of the company and its products. Forrester Research recently reported similar findings in “B2B Sales and Marketing Alignment Starts with the Customer.” Only six of the sixty-six marketing and sales leaders who responded to Forrester’s survey, reported that the two groups worked closely together. Now those are some alarming statistics. The study confirms that sales and marketing have been working to a great extent in different silos. In larger organizations and the government this might not be detrimental but in small to medium sized businesses this could be fatal.

So how can we get everyone on the same page? It starts with agreeing on the ideal customer profile or the different buying personas. Persona’s are extremely useful in determining the buying behaviour of market segments and help guide product development and branding decisions. Persona’s put a face on who’s buying your products and or services.

Then you have to decide on the best channels to reach your customers. If you were a bottling machinery manufacturer, your marketing resources would be put to better use if you ran a banner ad on Globalspec, an engineering search and industrial catalogs website, than designing a Facebook landing page.

In most cases, the corporate resource with the least amount of contact with the buyer, the CMO or Chief Marketing Officer, usually leads the process. In my opinion a truly representative alignment would include the buyer in some capacity (the personas developed through marketing research & research and development) and the Sales Director. And by this, I mean a stand-in from another department would give his/her opinion. It might take longer to develop consensus, but all parties have a vested interest that this works.

Whichever opinion that you may be of, bridging the divide will mean that sales and marketing will have to spend more time communicating with each other and not talking “at” one another. Who knows, maybe going to lunch with the marketing guy or going fishing with the sales guy isn’t such a bad thing after all.