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Next Generation Sales Will Benefit from Marketing’s Support

October 27th, 2009 by Amanda Musto, Marketing Manager at Treeline, Inc

Treeline, being a sales recruiting firm known for building best in class sales organizations, is a leading indicator in today’s market and is quickly becoming a benchmark on the market.  Therefore, we have a window to the new world and over the past 12 months we have indicated that traditional sales methodologies are quickly becoming obsolete.  Thus, in order for your sales organization to be successful in today’s selling environment you need to adapt to the new landscape and change your selling techniques from the classic model.

One of the major changes in today’s market is that the line between sales and marketing is now more blurred than ever.  The classic business model that companies have used for decades typically separates sales and marketing as two independent entities.  The marketing team is usually tasked with understanding the company’s consumer and how/why they behave the way they do. From there they throw any leads over the wall to the sales team, who is then tasked with utilizing that information and evangelizing the company’s message to the market place, one cold call/email at a time. Not only does this model promote inefficiency, it also leads to the age old battle over recognized revenue.  Not only does this dichotomy cause a divide in the corporate structure, it wastes a company’s efficiency and the ability to qualify and act on leads.  The most effective sales organizations have already taken down the barrier between sales and marketing and the trend will soon sweep the nation.

First we must realize that in today’s market, brand and name recognition impacts the consumer market and increases the likelihood of a sale.  It is also recognized that a solid reputation and credibility as an industry expert makes it significantly easier to close a sale.  Therefore, despite the size of your company, you are at a huge advantage in the market if you have both.  So what is the most effective way to build brand equity?  The internet. 

As we have already noted, consumers are more educated than ever due to the fact that there is a plethora of information at their fingertips.  In an age where search technology is common place, consumers are taking to the web to research a potential purchase of a product or service.  Therefore, your company needs to take to the internet and build an internet presence that acts as the first sales call.  Why?  Because after gathering information and data about your company on the internet, a consumer’s mind is typically made up as to whether they will inquire further about your services or move on to others.  Thus, for your company to find true success, you need to further understand how to initially drive traffic to your company’s site.  From there, you need to provide enough data to engage your prospect, which then leads your prospect to a landing page that is created to capture their contact information.  The contact information captures the qualified lead and passes the leads to the sales team who is then tasked with tracking and identifying the KPI which should be consistently analyzed in order to create a more effective and efficient sales process.

In the new business model, all hands should be on deck with the same goal in mind: maximizing revenue.  Thus, it’s the marketing team’s responsibility to drive leads and activity in a world that is so dependent on finding information via the web.  They will be tasked with getting the company’s information on the internet and maximizing visibility as soon as possible.  In today’s market, they too have KPI, metrics and benchmarks that they will be held to.  They must understand how to build brand, maximize SEO and leverage the social networking tools to drive traffic and create brand equity. 

The sales team will also have a hand in building the companies brand and reputation but the days of delivering that message one email/phone call at a time has become an inefficient and disruptive method.  Therefore, the utilization of the marketing teams efforts will become extremely important, if not an all out necessity, to maximizing efficiency in the sales force.  If we know that a prospect first takes to the web in search of education on a product or service, we then know how incredibly important it is to entice that prospect to the point of capturing their information.  Obtaining that information acts as the first sales call, therefore you already know that they are an interested and engaged buyer, which thus enables the sales team to close deals more often and efficiently.

In a down economy, you need to adapt your selling techniques to the consumer’s behavior.  Now, more than ever, it is not about the sales itself, but the selling process.  Consumers have the ability to research companies more effectively than before, therefore it is no longer about coercing your customer to buy, but rather being an advocate for them in the buying process.  Hence, if you are pushing your team to drive more activity in the traditional method of cold calling consumers who may or may not have heard of your product or services before, you are doing your team a massive disservice and encouraging them to dig themselves into a never ending trench.  You will quickly find that an increase in this type of activity will not equate to an increase of revenue.  Rather, it will condition your team with poor selling habits, leading to down revenues and poor morale. 

This is precisely why sales and marketing must come together and break down the wall that has been built to divide the two.  Marketing must be held accountable for creating brand equity and consumer awareness.  They must be the ones to create qualified leads and therefore judged on the conversion rate of those leads.  The sales team’s function will then be to create value as thought leaders and become advisors in a buying decision.  Building partnerships between you and your consumer will lead to more success in your sales process and lead to a more satisfied customer base.  Therein turn, you create a stronger reputation in the marketplace which then leads to the creation of a better brand equity.  Thus, the sales process is no longer about a race to the finish, instead it is a cultivation of your companies ability to add value to the industry. 

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