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Oct 1, 2012 12:00 AM
ASK A COMPANY’S CEO, MARKETING DIRECTOR AND SALES DIRECTOR THESE QUESTIONS:
1. What’s your business value?
2. What customer problem(s) are you solving?
3. How to do see your company growing in the next two to three years?
IF YOU POSE THESE QUESTIONS TO THREE KEY PEOPLE, five will get you ten that you’ll get three completely different answers. That’s a big problem.
That’s what we mean by Business Process Alignment. Simplified, it’s having all the various corporate departments pushing for the same goal. Singing from the same hymn sheet, if you will.
Of course, putting together clear, coherent marketing and sales strategies that everyone can buy into is one thing. Rolling them out is quite another. Many times, “how” your people sell your product or service and “what” your business wants to achieve are seen as polar opposites. Everyone thinks that they’re right.
Here are some tips in aligning marketing with sales:
KNOW THE EXTERNAL FACTORS
External factors that influence businesses include the industry that you compete in, the market segments that you choose to play in, and the nature of the customers who are in those segments. The value of pretty much any business that you care to mention is made (or broken) out there in the marketplace. It’s not decided in a conference room or at a sales meeting.
Based upon the factors that you’ve identified above, determine the appropriate sales tasks:
What do your salespeople need to be good at to be able to deliver value to your customers? If you’re like most companies, you turn to your salespeople and say, “This is what we make. This is what it does. Now get out there and sell a bunch of them.” Selling that way may have worked in the days of Mad Men or Glengarry Glen Ross. But you’d be hard-pushed to sell that way today.
GET C-SUITE BUY-IN
Unless the top brass are on board, your best intentions are going to fall down like a house of cards. Their support needs to be more than just pom-pom waving, however. They need to get their hands dirty. If your senior management haven’t spoken with customers face to face for some time, then get them out there. They need to learn firsthand who’s buying, why they’re buying, why they’re not buying, and so on.
Many a marketing strategy has failed because the plan is not based upon what salespeople are doing. Doesn’t it make more sense to develop a strategy based around what goes on in the field? Today, adopting a “spray-andpray” approach to anything in your business—whether it be sales, marketing, customer service, communications or whatever effectively spreads competencies too thinly. The company ends up being “pretty good” at a lot of things instead of “really good” at one thing. This is the precise opposite of what strategy should be, i.e., being excellent at things that your competitor can’t offer.
Gee Ranasinha is CEO and Founder of KEXINO, a business marketing services company serving startups and SMEs throughout North America and Europe. Talk to Gee at B2MeMag.com/GR3
UPDATE YOUR SALES TECHNIQUE
The reason that your customers aren’t buying from you isn’t because they no longer have money to spend. It’s because you’re trying to sell to them, rather than being seen as adding value to them. It’s because you’re talking at them and not listening to them. It’s because you’re beating your chest about how great your company is, how your products are better than anyone else’s, how you’ve been in business for 20 years, etc.
THEY’RE BUYING PERCEIVED VALUE
The problem is that today, the Internet has produced a newly empowered, enlightened customer, a customer who’s more knowledgeable, more discriminating and more demanding than at any other point in history. The sales relationship is no longer about you, your company, your products or your services. It’s about meeting your customer’s needs and adding value to the equation. If you want to grow revenues, increase customer satisfaction and drive brand’s visibility and awareness, then you need realize that “selling” has changed. Customers don’t buy what you sell; they buy what they see as your value to them.
Good business practices aren’t cast in stone—they need to change and adapt to the commercial environment. Outdated methodologies and disciplines simply wither on the vine, and the overwhelming majority of sales processes implemented by companies are exactly that: outdated.