Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.
That is the definition created by some of the best marketing professionals in the business and it does a good job of defining what marketing people believe their role to be.
However, ask a sales person what the role of marketing is and you may be surprised at the answer. The job description might include terms like qualified leads, increased sales, quotas and revenue goals. Those words are non-existent in the definition created by marketing professionals. Why is this? Shouldn't marketing and sales be intertwined and not only have a common understanding of their roles, but also common goals? Unfortunately, that is generally not the case.
Having been involved in both marketing and direct sales over the last 20 years, I believe the disconnect is often caused by the fact that marketing professionals usually don't understand the sales process well enough to effectively provide value for the sales team. While that may upset some marketing professionals, I would argue that if you haven't actually been a sales person, spent hours cold calling, been paid primarily on commission, closed a deal, or been held to a quota, then you really have no way of truly understanding sales or sales people.
This is why we use a term at Blue Frog called "Sales Focused Marketing". Sales Focused marketing is the execution of marketing related activities that are aligned with a company's sales philosophy and created with the intent to increase the frequency of qualified sales opportunities for the business.
So what does a marketing person need to do in order to have a more sales focused marketing approach?
1) Create a buyer profile - in order to effectively market your products, you need to understand who your buyer is. Create a profile that specifically defines your target audience. Some criteria may be, job title or company size in a B2B sale and perhaps income level or homeowner for a B2C product.
2) Understand the lead qualification process - All leads are not created equal. Ask a sales person if they would rather have 100 leads or 50 qualified leads and any experienced sales person will choose the qualified leads. By understanding how the sales people qualify a potential prospect, you have a better chance of providing leads that meet their criteria.
3) Learn the lead nurturing process - Talk to the sales team about how a lead moves through the sales funnel. What are the steps? What is the average length of sale? By understanding this process you can create marketing campaigns that coincide with the company's lead nurturing process.
4) Create a list of common objections - When trying to understand why people buy, it may be more important to find out why they don't. Sales people face objections all day long and thus understand how to answer most common objections. Understanding what these common objections are is a critical piece of information in determining the content of your sales materials.
5) Go on a sales call - If you really want to understand sales, you have to experience it. If you have the opportunity to ride along with a sales person, do it. Then simply listen to the interaction between your sales person and the potential customer. Marketing people don't often get to hear feedback directly from the customer. This is your chance.
6) Continuing education - as products change and industries change, so does the way your products are sold. Keep in close contact with the sales department. Realize that they understand why people are and aren't buying your products more than anyone else in the company. They are on the front lines and have incredibly useful information for a marketing team willing to listen.
By learning more about your sales process you can drastically improve your ability to market your company's products. Consider implementing an inbound marketing strategy to attract, convert, and close more business!