There is no longer an option to choose between sales or marketing 2021. Sales remains key but we shall definitely add sales marketing to support generating new leads, nurse leads and support relationship building.
Travelling and sitting down with customers and targeted prospects is how we all are used to sell complexed products. This has become very difficult in 2020 and seems to remain a challenge for a large part of 2021.
How shall we prospect and sell to new customers when we can’t travel like we’re used to?
Most great technology entrepreneurs I know are really good at sales to grow their business. They don’t do marketing, however. At least not beyond the corporate web page, participating in industry fairs and maybe some LinkedIn marketing posts.
Complexed systems are not like selling food or a fancy t-shirt. We need to sit down with prospects engineering team, purchasers and decision makers. We need to understand their pain points, build a relationship and be able to sell a solution for them. Face to face meetings are important.
I am one of those that is a strong advocate for in-person sales and prospecting.
All that is still true, but I have also learned to understand that marketing is not consumer adds only. Branding is not about color and logos. Made consistently, with a bit of structure and intent, sales marketing can actually be a very powerful sales support tool. Not least with complexed and prolonged sales processes.
So, let’s dive into how sales marketing can support lead generation, nursing target customers and prospecting new customers. Maybe I can inspire you that it’s not about sales or marketing 2021. It’s a little bit of both.
What is the sales process, what is sales marketing and what is branding?
The sales process is the face-to-face process where you meet with prospects, learn their pain points, present solutions, negotiate and close deals. The sales marketing process is the passive sales supporting influence process. You nurse industry authority, relevance, trust and stress call to action, usually by posting in channels like LinkedIn. Branding is you nursing the opinions of other people about your brand, i.e. your business.
Make no doubt: Delivering customer success and customer satisfaction is the key target when we have identified their pain points and present solutions. Proving that we can deliver with existing customers indicates that we are trustworthy, and maybe even relevant.
Selling complexed solutions with a face-to-face sales process only is time consuming and resource intense. Seasoned entrepreneurs know how that sales can be leverage with supportive sales marketing. It’s not about sales or marketing 2021, successful companies use both processes to speed up sales.
How can marketing support sales when we travel less?
Sales is how we close deals but there are certainly supportive sales marketing activities we can and should do. Here are 5 sales marketing activities that will support lead generation and help build relationships when we travel less:
- Make ourselves known, in a broader context. Post industry insights and showcase references.
- Underpin industry authority to make as a relevant potential supplier (trends, statistics, insights).
- Increase awareness to act showing what customer peers do, showcase appealing use cases, etc.
- Support call to action by continue to expose your prospects with best practices etc.
- Support relationship building being personal in marketing by using corporate representatives LinkedIn accounts, not corporate accounts.
If you talk to highly successful companies, they have all transformed from one-on-one sales to be warming up their prospects with sales marketing. They also use sales marketing to feed and nurse their relationship building with industry insights that are valuable to prospects.
Avoiding insight-out sales messages and product presentations but focusing on outside-in industry insights, statistics and trends create value for prospects. That is of very high value nursing leads and positioning your business as an industry leader and authority.
Successful companies know it’s not a question of sales or marketing 2021. Sales marketing is a powerful tool when you leave your early stage early adopter sales phase. It is a tool to support lead generation, relationship building and to prepare for one-on-one sales. Sales marketing is how you brand yourself as an industry leader for those decision makers you’re not going to meet.
The relationship journey is not about sales or marketing 2021 (it’s about doing both).
As you know very well, most customers decision making process is time consuming, complexed and somewhat unpredictable. That is why it’s not a question of sales or marketing 2021 but how to allocate resources most efficiently. How to use sales marketing to support the sales process for higher efficiency.
As a potential new supplier, you need to become relevant, trusted and seen as an industry authority. We all know that. It takes time. Often years with complexed products or business critical processes.
The relationship journey is the process for sales and marketing where you gradually transform from an early lead to a trusted supplier. Sales marketing supports your sales activities and makes sales more efficient.
Only using face-to-face sales meeting as the way to transition through the relationship journey, from an early lead to closing, is very resource intense. It’s not a very efficient way to manage sales to grow a business to the next level.
Adding passive influence with sales marketing supports the sales process and makes it possible to run multiple and simultainius sales processes.
Again, it’s not a question of sales or marketing 2021 but how to tactically combine passive influence with face-to-face sales meetings.
Conclusion – why complementing sales with marketing makes complexed sales more efficient
To make sales efficient we use sales marketing as a supportive process to underpin trust, our competence and our relevance. Sales or marketing 2021 is the wrong approach – both processes are used by highly successful companies.
In 2012 I was a senior executive with a major European bank. Following a management change I suddenly found my self being the one that the banks Chief Marketing Officer was reporting to. I know nothing about marketing. Frankly, I was seriously sceptic. I learned to be proved wrong. Marketing turned out to be so much more than advertising and obscure non-financial targets.
The 2020 pandemic has made us make a giant leap in online video conferencing. With existing customers, we don’t need to travel as much as we have done before. We save tremendous amount of time with video meetinsg.
Still, physical face-to-face meetings will remain key in most complexed sales process, certainly with new leads. It is with physical meetings that we can understand the deeper thinking of our leads.
Using complementary video conference calls is a way to make sales a bit more efficient. Not every meeting needs to be physical. With video calls we are also forced to be better prepared than having physical meetings. Video calls are more direct and to the point and a bit less social than physical meetings.
However, as many highly successful businesses have shown, using sales marketing takes complex sales efficiency a step further.
Sales marketing is a powerful tool. Sales marketing support lead generation, relationship building and lay the ground for physical meetings. It is how you brand yourself as an industry leader and relevant supplier. With sales marketing you passivly influence your leads, those you meet and also decision makers you’re not meeting.