Sales and marketing are essentially two sides of the same coin.
While sales professionals tend to sell on a one-to-one basis, marketers are focused on getting a message out to large numbers of people at a time.
That said, both departments have the same goals: to raise awareness of a product or service and, ultimately, sell it.
Although the two departments have very different day-to-day tasks that make this achievable, the snowball-like progress of technology over the past decade has seen the lines between two once entirely different jobs blur significantly.
Salespeople, for example, now send email and InMail campaigns out to the masses, while marketers are now interacting with customers and prospects on a one-to-one basis through social media.
On that note, what can the modern salesperson learn from their marketing cousins that will make them better at their own role? Here are some thoughts.
1. Attention to detail
Salespeople are famously busy. Often, seemingly small errors can creep into even the most professional of professional’s work.
Sadly, though, those minor mistakes can often grow to be huge cracks in the masterplan.
Whether it’s a wrong word, misquoted price or even something as trivial as a misspelled name, the devil is in the details as much for any salesperson as it is any marketer.
While also incredibly busy, the creative department down the hall know a thing or two about attention to detail, and it’s this lesson that all salespeople would benefit from taking note of.
The true way to pay attention to detail is through collaboration.
When I finish writing this piece, for example, I’ll send it over to my three marketing colleagues and have them read it for grammar and punctuation errors, as well as recommendations.
It will only take them a few minutes each, but will significantly add to the piece’s credibility if all of the creases are ironed out before I post it.
Now many salespeople like to keep their cards close to their chest, even with regards to their own team members, but it can often work wonders to share a few ideas and have someone else run their eye over your work.
Whether it’s the battle-hardened veteran in the team or the new, over-confident, young buck in the room, most of the time, someone will see a problem or opportunity within your script, email or LinkedIn message that you’d never have spotted.
The fact is that everyone knows something that you don’t.
Getting input from those around you is the greatest way to pay attention to detail, while also acting as a platform for some healthy debates to take place.
2. Deep understanding of the target audience
Understanding the target audience is the marketing department’s bread and butter.
Thorough research and discussion goes above and beyond the depth that salespeople don’t have time to go to when thinking about who they are selling to.
By looking at the market, splitting it into segments and identifying the core opportunities and problems shared within each one, the marketing department will specifically identify the best strategies that need to be used to sell to each type of prospect or company you’re targeting.
When selling on a one-to-one basis, it’s very easy to forget who the key target market is for your product or service.
In the eyes of the salesperson, it’s easy to think that the lady or gentleman on the phone is the audience and selling to them is the most important thing.
But it’s not.
The most important thing is keeping in mind the larger goal of your organization.
Do that and you’ll spend time on the right prospects while helping your company become a leader at what it does specifically.
What is the key problem you solve? Does the person on the end of the phone have that problem?
If no, don’t waste your time. Move on to a prospect whose problem you can solve.
Marketers don’t get offended when somebody unsubscribes, nor should you if somebody isn’t a fit for your product.
By keeping in mind exactly what you do and why you do it, you’ll find it far easier to realize on a company-by-company basis who you should be focusing on.
3. Preparation is part of success, not just a side-task.
As a wise man once said (according to Google, it was someone called Bobby Knight), “The key is not the will to win… everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.”
Nobody comes up with more in-depth plans than marketers.
On the other hand, salespeople – again, due to time restraints – can sometimes be guilty of the scatter-style, all guns blazing approach with the mantra that it’s better to just get on with it.
While that’s partly the case with sales because of the importance of getting to the sale first, it’s also true that taking the time to find quality leads rather than wasting your time with irrelevant ones is a much better way of going about things.
Sorry for all the quotes, but this just reminded me of a great Abraham Lincoln quote: “Give me 6 hours to chop down a tree and I’ll spend the first 4 sharpening the axe.”
This is something that the best marketers know and put into practice every day.
Rarely will a campaign be distributed or sent out without extensive research into market segmentation, messaging and tone of voice (see below).
While it’s very important to do the hard work, it’s important to realize that the amount of effort put in isn’t the only factor that determines success or failure; just because you’re not on the phone doesn’t mean you aren’t working.
Redefine what you consider to be ‘work’ and you’ll find a lot more success.
By taking the time to properly research prospect companies and their employees, you’ll not only find it easier to work out which prospects deserve the most of your time, you’ll also find it easier to know which benefits of your products you should lead with when pitching, both of which will lead to much greater success.
And, as mentioned before, your marketing team should have done a lot of research in the past before putting campaigns out there. Speak to them, see what they have for you, even reuse their ideas if applicable.
4. Tone of voice
One of the key focuses of any marketing team is to ensure that the company’s communications are in the right tone of voice.
Identifying the right tone of voice is pretty easy really: you want to speak the way that your target audience speaks (minus the swear words).
Some companies, as I’m sure you will have noticed, use turns of phrase such as ‘OMG’ and ‘WTF’ in their communications, while others simply wouldn’t dream of it.
It seems obvious to say it, but the reason is that, in order to endear themselves to their audience, they need to feel relatable, and speaking like them is a great way of doing so.
You need to do exactly the same in your sales writing.
I’m not suggesting that you should say ‘OMG’ or ‘WTF’ – please don’t – but you do need to write as though you’re having a conversation with your prospect or customer.
We learn in school to write in a very formal, machinelike way, and it’s not necessarily the best way of doing things in the professional world.
Putting your words together like some kind of emotionless robot will have the reader think you’re just that.
The best way to build rapport and connect with people is to get your personality across in your communications.