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Thoughts and ideas from SHAKE Marketing Group
Advice for Marketers: How To Drive Growth (By Talking To Your Sales Team)
August 1, 2016 at 12:00 AM
by Stacey Danheiser
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Over the past decade I’ve had the opportunity to work with Sales teams of all sizes. My formal degree and passion are in Marketing, but I learned early on that in order for any of my marketing programs to be successful, I needed to build relationships with the sales team – across all levels of the organization (field sales, sales leadership, inside sales, etc). After all, marketing’s job (should be) to help close more business. Yet many organizations still operate in complete silos, not yet in tune that they are both trying to achieve the same thing – happier customers, and more of them.

Earlier this year we conducted a survey amongst our marketing and sales peers. We found some interesting stats:

  • Over half said that they aren’t crystal clear why their customers choose to buy from them vs. the competition.
  • Only 22% of marketers said they have a clear idea of what content the sales team uses
  • Less than 50% of marketers involve their sales team in the creation of new content
  • 42% of sales people said their marketing team reaches out to them quarterly or less (and half of these said “never”!)

So marketers – here’s my advice: Talk to your sales team. But beware, the perception from sales is that you don’t do anything with the information they give you! And maybe, historically you haven’t done anything but compile the feedback and share it with a couple of co-workers or use it to solve short-term problems.

Imagine how frustrating it is for your sales team to provide loads of information on how you can help improve customer perceptions of your firm, only to see it go into a big black hole.

Ok, you say, but what should I talk to them about?

  • Their customers. Ask them about their customers, and more specifically about the conversations they are having with customers about the value your firm provides. What are the key customer pain points that they keep hearing over and over? What really motivates their customer to make a decision? What do they think the customer likes about your company’s offering? What does the customer say is missing from your offering (for example, product features, tailored offers and prompt customer service)?
  • The tools they need – 88% of our survey respondents have no idea what content their sales team needs! So what exactly are they creating? Bringing in customers at the top end of the funnel is certainly important, but if your sales team is ill-equipped to close the sale, it’s time to shift your focus to create more tools that will help.Ask your sales team:
    – What do they need to really wow the customer? (You may get some lofty responses here such as “Superbowl Tickets!” or “Radio ads!” Just be prepared to listen and evaluate the potential impact of their input).
    – What’s the #1 tool that would help enable them to sell more?
    – Do they feel like they know the value proposition? Can they tailor it and deliver it to multiple decision makers?
    – What content best captures the attention of their customers?
    – What valuable tools/ resources are being shared with the customer by your competition?
  • What’s getting in their way? Look, your sales team has a lot of pressure on their plate to close deals. They may work for months on one deal, only to lose out to a competitor. Do you understand why this is happening so you can help fix it? What objections do they face from customers? What competition are they up against? Why are they losing business? This is an opportunity for you to share insights too. For example – if you are noticing certain customer trends from website data or win-loss analysis. Oftentimes this information is not passed on to sales (in a meaningful way that leads to action), so think about how you can help improve where and how they spend their time.
  • How can we work together? Most salespeople are eager and willing to work with marketing IF they think it will help them close more business. If you work in an organization where Sales doesn’t interact with Marketing, it’s time to fix that. Start by involving them in the creation of new marketing content and campaign plans. I guarantee your sales team has great ideas – but you have to ask the right questions. For example – what content would make them proud to send to their customers? What do they think it takes to change/ influence a potential customer? What do they say when the customer asks about our competitors? Ask them to tell you about a recent sale that was “easy” and why they thought so.

By getting out and talking to your sales team, not only will you start to create a great working relationship, you will also learn valuable insights and information about the very same customers you are trying to reach!