Winning the Sale Requires Marketing

winning

To win a sale requires a number of factors all aligning properly at the right moment.  The buyer’s need, a good story, the right product, and of course, an easy fulfillment (sales) process.

I’ve led marketing and sales teams for more than 20 years.  Neither could win without the other, yet each feel confident they reign supreme when it comes to closing the business.  However, there is an increasing body of work that suggests the role of the sales person, relative to closing the business, is decreasing.  Buyers are self-educating themselves all the way through fulfilling their own purchase.  Think Amazon.  You sign in, check out the product your interested in, perhaps read some reviews, and into your cart it goes straight through to check out.  If you’re Amazon Prime, 3 days later it’s in your hands and ready for use.  As the buyers journey continues to change, it’s up to the sales leader to adjust and learn new strategies that will increase their effectiveness; adding the right ingredients, at the right time, to achieve the desired outcome – a sale.

Nothing gets sold without a product, price, place or promotion.  I’ll add process in there as well as the 5th “P” of Marketing.  Combining these 5 P’s into a single offer that results in a sale is where the true beauty, art, and science all come together with marketing and sales.

Marketing is the lead function in any organization that is charged with providing an end-to-end view of the buying process.  Beginning with product development and ending with the sale, Marketing’s role is one focused entirely on creating a remarkable experience for the buyer on his journey to the cash register.  Much like a cardiologist confers with an anesthesiologist prior to surgery, a sales person should consult with Marketing.  No matter how great a heart surgeon is, she would never go into the operating room without the help of a strong and competent anesthesiologist.  If she did it would be disastrous.  If a sales person meets with a prospect without understanding the marketing behind the product the outcome can be quite disappointing.  And while I’m certain egos exist in the OR, I’m equally aware of the egos that exist within Marketing and Sales.

So here’s my challenge to Sales leaders interested in improving their team’s results…

Partner with Marketing to truly understand the offer.  I’m sure some heads are shaking right now and perhaps worse tempers are flaring.  Sales leaders by nature are confident with Texas-sized egos.  But the great sales leaders know it’s all about being a continuous learner.  Without learning you can’t be strategic, and without strong strategy skills

you’ll never improve your results.  You’ll simply go about doing things as you’ve always done, getting what you’ve always got.

Instead, I’d suggest sales leaders meet with their marketing peers.  Ask them questions surrounding the 5 P’s.

  1. What are the 3 most important features of this product and why?
  2. How did we arrive at those features?
  3. Tell me what went into our pricing for this product?
  4. What’s the impact to our brand if we discount the product?
  5. Are there any unintended needs that our product addresses? (think Post-It notes)
  6. Where in the process would my help and involvement, from a sales standpoint, yield the greatest end result?
  7. Where in the buying process do you feel there is room for improvement and can I help?

Questions like these will accomplish several things including: establishing trust between these two functions, educating each other by expanding insights and perspectives, fostering collaboration, and most importantly, if done right, this interaction will keep the conversation, efforts, and resources focused on the customer.

So to all the sales leaders out there, open your minds, focus on the customer, and be excited about the possibility of learning something new and connect with Marketing today.

Critical Insight When Making Tough Decisions

decision

If you need to make a difficult decision make sure you understand your surroundings as much as you understand the facts and details of what it is you’re trying to decide upon.

I recently had lunch with a colleague to discuss some key decisions that I need to make in our business surrounding strategy.  I presented my facts, beliefs, and experience with great passion.  My plan was both logical and well thought through.  I knew however that some of my decisions, while believed by the team the correct ones to make, would create some discomfort.  Why?  Because while we can all understand logic, and positive correlations, we are after all human beings, and human beings dislike change no matter how sound, logical, positive, or necessary that change is.

My colleague, who has years of experience and incredible wisdom said to me, “be aware of the issues that are not part of the issues.”  This statement perplexed me.  I didn’t understand.  When I asked her to explain she provided this wonderful story that provided the clarity to what she was saying.

For years she had her hair cut by the same stylist.  Through life’s many trials and tribulations, ups and downs, good times and bad, this stylist cut her hair and listened to her stories.  As times changed she wanted a new hair style but the stylist was unable to provide the cut she wanted.  She knew she had to make a change but her feelings and emotions of abandoning this stylist were strong.  She is an intensely loyal person and the thought of ending this long-standing relationship was quite troubling.  Her head told her it was the right thing to do but her heart was most certainly conflicted.  So while the issue at hand was achieving a new hair style, the emotional issue tied to her sense of loyalty came to the forefront of her making the decision to go elsewhere…hence the issue (emotional), not part of the issue (new hair style).

Bottom line:  It’s critical to understand emotions when making a decision. Your emotions as well as those of the key stakeholders involved in that decision are paramount to effective decision-making.  Emotional history, sometimes referred to as baggage, can play a major role in decision-making.  Being aware of these issues, that are not part of the actual issue being decided upon, can help you frame your approach.  Your decision is your decision.  It’s the “how” (the approach) you present your decision that can often times become the difference between effective decision-making and holding the status-quo.