Questions? Feedback? powered by Olark live chat software

How to Get Sales and Marketing On the Same Page

The title of today’s post became one of the major sub themes of my upcoming book Duct Tape Selling. It didn’t start out that way, but in working with more and more sales departments it became clear that the move to inbound and social selling occurs much more effectively when there’s a culture of cooperation and integration within sales and marketing departments.

Sadly, this is rarely the case. In fact, I’ll be presenting my view of the sales and marketing divide – and what to do about it – in an upcoming MarketingProfs Pro Seminar.

My take is that for organizations to take full advantage of the dramatic shift in the way people and organizations buy today they must intentionally blend inbound marketing, outbound marketing and inbound selling a way that mirrors today’s customer journey.

And, it’s not enough to simply pass white papers to the sales team and say “go be social.”

inbound selling

Sales and marketing must come together at the point where awareness and messaging and the very definition of what an ideal client actually looks like initiates.

Below are five activities that I believe should be at the forefront of any attempt to more closely align sales and marketing.

Shared planning

Quite often marketing creates a plan and calls on others to deploy it. The challenge is that in most cases the marketing folks are isolated from the actual customer. Sales and marketing must come together to define the customer, create marketing strategy and map a customer journey that puts the customer first. Invite sales into the planning phase!

Shared editorial

Marketing is now in full content production mode. But I wonder if more is really better? I believe that even if sales people aren’t asked to write blog posts they can both inform the editorial make up and personalize what content is produced in ways that will make it more useful to individual prospects and clients. Marketing must take the access they generally have to data and filter content to help sales professionals spend less time researching.

Shared social

Here’s an idea that is causing loads of angst in marketing departments around the world – turns out that social media is more effective in the hands of some sales professionals than it is in the hands of some marketing professionals. While far too many marketing departments view social media as another broadcast channel, smart sales folks are finding better ways to connect, network, prospect and engage very small numbers of the right people via social media. This is a huge training opportunity.

Shared engagement

To me the item that would really bring a sales and marketing group together would be the act of jointly engaging a client or prospect. This could start with working on a proposal together, making calls together, blending lead nurturing activities and, with the inclusion of a service or account manager, might just round out the perfect way to engage today’s buyer.

Shared measurement

Here’s the real problem. Many marketing departments are measured by the number of leads they generate – no matter the relative quality. Sales is measured by the number of those leads they convert – no matter the relative quantity and quality. Suffice it to say neither is too happy.

If you want to get sales and marketing really working together set up a way to measure the true impact of effective inbound marketing and selling as a team and reward each for the vital role they play in actually creating a profitable customer.

A Bevy of Educational Opportunities

To celebrate the launch of my next book Duct Tape Selling I am presenting a series of webinar across the universe. Below you can find the list and register away if any pique your interest!

Think Like a Marketer, Sell Like a Superstar

Duct Tape SellingAs some of you may have heard I have a new book coming out May 15th.

The title is Duct Tape Selling – Think Like a Marketer, Sell Like a Superstar and I’m conducting a free webinar for my readers on April 16th to kick off some of the content.

While the title definitely rings of selling, the book is being heralded by reviewers as a more personal way to market and sell. In fact, some have noted that this is the book that might get sales and marketing working together.

Either way, I hope you’ll join me for this content rich session where I’ll talk about how to:

  • Find and attract ideal clients
  • Communicate a core message of difference
  • Build a reputation for delivering value
  • Create an inbound attraction platform
  • Use social media to build authority and trust
  • Create a marketing and sales process that will allow you to stand out from the crowd

As with all of my webinars you can expect lots of content and lots of takeaways. I won’t be pitching the book too much, but there will be some prizes and special stuff.

Reserve your spot here

Are You Building a Job or an Asset?

Many of the business owners I’ve worked with and spoken with over the years have deluded themselves into believing they actually have a business.

building an asset

photo credit: Ian Sane via photopin cc

True, their business card and tax return might say business owner, but far too often what they’ve created is a job – and is some cases, not a very attractive job.

A business will never truly serve until you view what you are building as an asset. Now, I’m no accountant, but an asset is something that has lasting value – the kind people will pay to acquire. An asset is something that can retain its value even if you move on and pursue other interests, like taking a month to trek across Australia.

A job on the other just stops being a job when you decide to quit doing it.

Building an asset is much harder than building a job. It’s actually not that hard to get people to pay you for doing something they don’t know how to or don’t want to do.

Building an asset takes investing in you, in others, in creating things that didn’t exist before, in following through on audacious ideas. Building an asset almost always means letting go of your current thinking, finding ways to think bigger and surrounding yourself with people that lift you rather than hold you back.

Community as Asset

Brian Clark of Copyblogger realized early on that his path to building an asset was to first build a rabid community of people eager to hear from him. As any Copyblogger reader knows he did this by creating and giving incredible value through educational content.

As the community grew he added more resources and writers to increase the content output. As the community continued to grow he responded to the needs and requests of the community and built product after product that matched the needs of his community.

Today, the Copyblogger community snaps up every new solid offering and has allowed Clark to create a rather profitable asset rather than a job.

Building as Asset

A client of mine, Sam Beckford, runs an incredibly successful group of music and dance studios in British Columbia. Sam was not from the industry so when he and his wife started the business he poured most of his efforts in to building a business that didn’t require him to be there to run it.

He’d also been a successful real estate investor over the years so it was quite natural for him include a building purchase in his plans. As his studio grew and expanded he started getting requests from other studios to teach them his approach.

He turned his method into a coaching program and began to encourage every studio client to buy or build their studio in an effort to guarantee that no matter what happened to the actual business, they would own an asset that allowed them to gain some return on their investment in the building of a business.

Now, of course, most of his coaching clients also happen to run terrifically successful studios, but they also own an asset that will multiply their ability to cash out rather than simply retire.

Work as Asset

I’ve been speaking with lots of sales groups lately due to the upcoming release of my sales oriented book Duct Tape Selling.

One of the things I’ve been imploring sales folks to do is to look at their work in building authority, a content platform and expertise as an asset vs. a chore.

Think about all the people you know that decide to get an MBA or some other type of training to advance their careers. Often they do this a night and around their family’s schedule.

Writing blog posts, learning how to navigate social media, deeply exploring a prospect’s community, providing value through content curation and volunteering to speak at industry events all take time.

Done correctly, however, each will allow you to build an asset that you can use to serve your customer and your company in deeper ways.

And, one of the greatest values of an asset of this nature is that it’s mostly portable. Your reputation, expertise and authority can move with you in the service of even greater opportunities.

Asset mindset is the only way to build a business or career that allows you to live the life you choose more fully.

Duct Tape Selling Site and Blog

I’ve launch a new website and blog to coincide with the launch of my upcoming book Duct Tape Selling – Think Like a Marketer, Sell Like a Superstar. (May 15th)

Duct Tape Selling

Like many book related sites I feature comments, news and reviews. There is a growing collection of blog posts related to sales and marketing and you can even download and read the 1st Chapter and Introduction if you like.

But, the page that you’ll find most useful whether you ever acquire the book or not is the resource page. This is where I list and link to every person, company and tool that I talk about in the book on a chapter by chapter basis. You won’t have the context without the book, but you’ll have a lot of fun clicking on and discovering some new resources.

Jump over and start exploring and let me know if you would like to contribute to the Duct Tape Selling blog!

The Greatest Opportunity In Social Media Marketing Today

In my forthcoming book Duct Tape Selling (Portfolio May 15th) I make the case that sales professionals must think and act more like marketers. In doing so, I lay out the systems and tools I believe they need to employ in order to make this shift.

inbound selling

The fact that selling must take on many of the attributes of inbound marketing is inevitable and is already being embraced by a growing number of firms.

One of the things that I’ve encountered as I’ve begun to evangelize this evolution is the fact that cultural resistance to this change is huge.

By that I mean that many sales leaders see the idea that sales teams would be asked to create content and participate in social media engagement as a waste of valuable “selling time.” Many sales people, often measured and compensated on closed deals, see inbound selling tactics as more work for less pay. Many marketing leaders shudder at the idea that sales teams might be turned loose to do things that might impact the brand in ways that cannot be controlled.

But here’s the problem. The market doesn’t care that you’ve got a dysfunctional cultural attachment to the way it’s always been. The market has changed, the way people want to buy has changed and you’ve got to change with it.

I believe that facilitating this change and teaching organizations how to integrate inbound marketing, outbound marketing and inbound selling is one of the most exciting opportunities that exists today for leaders, trainers, consultants and coaches alike.

Marketing will never be an integrated function until sales is using inbound strategies and tactics as an extension of and in conjunction with marketing.

I do see some sales teams becoming a little more inbound right now in one of three ways. Rogue sales people are creating content, employing social media and building authority on their own out of desperation. Sales departments are beginning to offer crude versions of “social selling” training, which often begins and ends with how to mine LinkedIn for leads. Marketing departments are reaching out to their sales teams asking them to provide blog posts for the company blog.

I suppose any of the above is better than “always be closing,” but they miss the potential of this shift in business by miles.

In my opinion an inbound selling plan, along with the strategies, tactics and training to implement this plan, should flow directly from the inbound marketing strategies, tactics and training already in place. (Of course I realize this makes some assumptions.) This is not to suggest that marketing should dictate what inbound selling looks like, but it certainly should have a hand in orchestrating the integrated efforts.

This is the only way to create an overall experience that meets the customer on the journey they want to take.

The shape this plan takes will depend largely on the size of the task at hand. If an organization needs to overcome a long standing divided sales and marketing culture, the work required will be significant. In these instances, it might be wise to start small with a pilot program that might gain traction without causing so much initial disruption.

If your organization has already come to realize the need for this change, it might be as simple as creating several new processes that make it easier for sales to curate, personalize and share content.

Know this however; inbound selling is not the same as inbound marketing. Inbound selling is the act of taking the information and outreach created by inbound marketing efforts and tailoring it in ways that creates insight for the individual customer or prospect. Social selling is the act of discovering ways to go deeper into the network of individual clients in order to provide more useful connections and engagement on a case-by-case basis.

For example, marketing may create a series of blog posts detailing emerging trends in an industry and the individual sales person might access quotes and comments from those blogs posts to write individual email answers to prospects or provide individual updates to select prospects.

Marketing may turn these insights into a research study or white paper and the individual salesperson might take the ideas and curate additional content relevant to the industry and operation of an individual prospect.

Facilitating this change is the next social media gold rush.

Depth Is the Secret to Sales Success

Going deep inside an organization is how you discover the best way to deliver value.

network mining

photo credit: henry… via photopin cc

It’s an essential prospecting skill, it’s an essential survival skill and it’s how you get and stay ahead of every deal and every competitor.

How many accounts have been lost over the years because a salesperson had a great relationship with a buyer, only to see that buyer move on?

By mining social networks to get a bigger view of your “buyer’s world” you can start to build relationships around them and potentially uncover new opportunities. If you’ve built an advocate in your original relationship, you may find that this approach makes it easier for them to open doors for you rather than simply asking them to make a referral.

It may not make sense for you to build a relationship with your contact’s boss’s boss, but it may be a very smart play for you to connect your boss’s boss with that person.

Social networks, such as LinkedIn, are very good at revealing connections between individuals as well as highlighting the basis of the connection. This information can become very valuable as you begin to work on a targeted prospect or try to win more business inside an existing customer’s organization.

Another very important reason for going deeper into organizations is to understand how a deal really happens. Have you ever had one of those deals just grind to a halt and eventually fade away just when everything seemed to be going great – your client was all thumbs up and talking about getting the PO ready to go?

Chances are the deal was killed by stakeholders you were not aware of – and the bigger the organization, the more stakeholders involved.

If you’re selling a software solution to a purchasing department, there’s a really, really good chance that IT, Sales, Operations and maybe even Finance are going to have a say in the who, what, when and where of the deal.

Use social networks to construct company “stakeholder maps” and start connecting with and understanding those crazy guys in IT as part of your mining. This doesn’t mean you’re going to start pitching everyone in the organization, but there’s a good chance that you can actually help your “buyer” better understand the real buying process better when you take this kind research approach. (That sounds like adding value and insight doesn’t it?)

In fact, I believe sales organizations should start compensating sales folks for this skill and action alone – over and about closed deals.

And that in the end is the job of sales today – to go deep inside an organization to discover the best way to deliver value.

How to Blend Inbound Marketing with Inbound Selling

As I’ve outlined in previous posts and in recent presentation, I believe the most potent approach to marketing and sales involves inbound marketing blended with inbound selling.

customer teams

photo credit: Unhindered by Talent via photopin cc

The challenge in implementing such an approach is that it requires an environment of intense cooperation between marketing and sales. As anyone in business can attest, this doesn’t always exist.

But if marketing and sales simply adopt parallel inbound approaches, without total harmony, they can actually further the internal working gap and muddle the ultimate message heard by the market.

What if you adopted an approach that took your organization in a direction that not only put sales and marketing on the same team, but also did so in a way that truly put the customer first?

What if in place of giving this idea lip service, you broke your marketing, sales, support and service teams into small units and compelled them to go to work on individual client segments or specific accounts as self managed action teams.

Build self led teams

One potential way to set up such an arrangement would be to assign team leaders and rotate each member through the role of leader every 60 or 90 days. This would put accountability and autonomy directly on every member of the team. The result would be a shared result owned by all with no ability to point fingers and pass blame.

If you were to facilitate this approach you might be quite amazed by the culture of collaboration that forms. Certainly, in your role of coach, you’ll need to guide these teams in the most productive ways, but this is how your create the kind of communication that leads to real innovation and you just might find that this changes your entire business model.

Bring sales into marketing meetings

The way to ease into such an arrangement is to start bringing your sales team members into marketing meetings to share what they are hearing out there on the street. You might even go as far as requesting that the marketing department develop some questions to begin posing to clients and prospects as a way to collect meaningful data on the client’s real world.

Take marketing into the field

The next logical step is to ask members of the marketing, service and support teams to participate in routine “ride alongs” with sales reps to make calls on clients and prospects with an eye on better understanding the world of sales while engaging in valuable conversations with actual clients.

The first step in getting sales and marketing on the same page is to inject a bit of empathy. When team members gain a better understanding of each others objectives and challenges they are often more prepared to look for collaborative solutions to customer challenges.

This step alone may turn up some more customer friendly processes and touchpoints, but to make these new learning pay off you need to create cross functional teams charged with blending inbound marketing and inbound selling.

Gather best practices

Once your teams start blending objectives and collaborating on behalf of prospects and customer it’s time to go to work finding and documenting the best practices and successful processes that these teams inevitably develop and using this approach to build a truly personalized customer oriented marketing and sales methodology.