My blog posts and articles mostly deal with marketing issues. But we don’t conduct marketing in a vacuum, and even if you stay strictly on the marketing side of the fence, it is a good idea to understand what your colleagues in sales are experiencing. After all, our main purpose is to create the foundation to enable our colleagues in sales to make their target numbers—or even exceed them! In B2B marketing, the sales department is usually your most important customer, and if they fail, you fail.
The goal is to have a well-oiled, end-to-end marketing and sales machine that will accomplish corporate objectives. To do this, practice the first key to creating an unstoppable sales machine: Make sure there is complete alignment between the marketing and sales departments. A service level agreement (as discussed in other blog posts) will help keep the alignment on track.
Woody Allen once said, “There are worse things in life than death. Have you ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman?” And even though I find the quote amusing, I don’t agree with it. In fact, one of my closest friends is an insurance salesman, and he never talks business at our parties. Nonetheless, the quote illustrates the negative context in which many view salespeople in general. The perception is that salespeople will do anything to sell you stuff you don’t really need.
This brings me to the second key in creating an unstoppable sales machine: Concentrate your efforts on finding the companies and individuals that have a genuine need for what you offer. Isn’t this a much easier and less stressful way of doing things—for both you and your prospects? Response rates will be higher, close rates will be higher, and you will not have to manipulate anyone.
The next key is one that truly separates the world-class sales organizations from the also-rans: Never lose a deal alone. Selling at its best is a team effort and it is a serious error to lose a possible deal because the sales rep neglected to bring in the rest of his or her teammates. You need to be very aggressive about letting your reps know about all the resources they have available to help them at every stage of the sales process. And one of the most important resources you can provide is a fresh perspective.
A good way to kill the productivity of a sales force is to throw too much at them. Too many products, too many offers, and too many messages equate to too many chances for the sales team to mess things up and lose sales. One of my clients had great technology, but had a very bad habit of changing its product offerings and value proposition every six months or so. The sales team was encouraged to spend their time on the newest offerings instead of what had worked for them in the past. This required extensive retraining of the team, and they never found their rhythm. To avoid this problem, my next important sales key is: Keep things simple and focused on as few priorities as possible.
I hope you find these keys useful in creating your own unstoppable B2B sales machine. Stay tuned next week for Part 2.