Do you have that one friend who won’t pick up a phone to order a pizza? They’d have a pizza-less existence if it wasn’t for Uber Eats and online ordering? Well, that used to be me. Back in 2012 when I was a fresh lil Stryver, I thought telephones had cooties. I avoided them like…well, you know. Fast forward to 2020, and our main sales guy is off changing diapers and not sleeping, leaving me to cover inbound leads. My personal journey aside, I’ve come to realize that more marketers should be thrust into sales activities and more sales folks should try dabbling in marketing. In a short time, I’ve learned a lot more than how to pick up a phone.

Homer Simpson picking up the phone saying

Salespeople are your best source for inbound content

Before this trial-by-fire in sales, I thought it would be pretty easy and repetitive. Turns out, we do get asked a lot of the same questions from each inbound lead. But answering the same questions over and over again is by no means easy. It takes a lot of time and gets stale real fast, so I wanted to do something about it. I created blogs and small presentation decks to answer some of the most common questions. It has saved me so much time and stress to be able to send these off and quickly talk through them.

I think if we were to put these decks on our website with a simple email form, it would help potential leads get further down the funnel before requiring a conversation. That’d leave me with more time to spend learning about their business and its challenges. Without my recent involvement in sales, I wouldn’t have had any idea how valuable these pieces could be when left readily available to prospective clients.

You can’t (and shouldn’t) automate everything

As a confessed productivity junkie, it can be easy to look at sales and marketing tasks and find ways to automate as much as possible. Are you constantly asking leads all the same questions? Send them to a form and save yourself an hour-long phone call. Do you need to set reminders in your calendar to do follow-ups? Build some drip emails so you can set it and forget it. It’s certainly tempting, but it isn’t always the right move.

Finding the balance between a personal touch and automation is something I’ve been thinking about a lot during my brief sales stint. It has made me question if digital marketing has become too programmatic, too robotic. Sure, it might take you longer to have a conversation with someone, but how much does that impact the end result? You might close faster. You might build a relationship you can leverage in the future. I think modern marketers undervalue the personal touch because they’re so bogged down with showing data and managing 326 different tactics. Instead of scheduling a bunch of social posts, maybe take that time to have a conversation with someone who liked one of your tweets. Build those connections.

Sales and marketing could both use some more authenticity

We’ve debated in the past how much consumers actually value authenticity in the form of corporate social responsibility. But what about the simpler stuff, like even just the way you talk? I recently admitted that the biggest lesson I’ve learned since my phone-phobic days is it’s okay to be myself. I think both sides of the sales funnel could use this reminder, too.

I’d like to see brands embrace more variation and character in their voice by highlighting the personality of their team. It is one thing to be on-brand and consistent. It’s another to be consistently boring. Try pushing your people to the surface by actually involving a real salesperson in your website’s “live” chat. Consider shooting a quick video of your team talking through ideas instead of spending two months making a perfectly polished eBook. If COVID has taught us anything, it is that it’s not only okay to have a life outside of work, it’s okay if that life sometimes sneaks into the background of your Zoom calls. Maybe we can embrace that a bit more.

I’ve still got a few weeks of sales duties to go, and probably a bunch more lessons to learn. Wish me luck!