Sales and Marketing is a huge catch-all phrase used all too often in business. But what does it really mean? Is everyone on the same page when it comes to defining sales and marketing?
Earlier this month, I wrote an introductory article on Market Your Business—Planning is Critical, which served as a general introduction to components and phases of marketing planning. The natural progression is to now provide insight into the complete picture of sales and marketing.
In my 25+ years of experience, I’ve seen too many misinterpretations of “sales and marketing” and a myriad of missed opportunities for businesses and entrepreneurs alike. Usually one common thread does come to surface when sales and marketing comes up—it occurs when sales are down or there is a focus on improving sales for an organization. I’ve seen it time and time again—sales staff have no problem (usually that’s the case, but not always…) “selling.” They can engage a prospect, develop rapport, present, handle objections and close the deal. That’s the loop of activity that surrounds sales, but one missing key component is the input, or flow, of prospects to sell to! I’ve even heard sales professionals say “if they could just give me a steady flow of willing buyers, I could sell them all day long!” Furthermore, there is often some mud-slinging, typically relating to marketing, market perception, “if our company would only…”—you get the picture.
Now I do get it, these are just some of the symptoms of sales challenges, or perhaps they are simply every-day businesses challenges. Either way, they are not the “problem,” they are simply symptoms of not having a plan, having an ill-conceived plan, or the result of an incomplete sales and marketing plan. This article is about setting the framework for the essentials of a successful sales and marketing plan.
The 5 Essentials
1 → A Sound Marketing Plan
A sound marketing plan involves analysis, process development and content creation planning. The approach I like to use, and have implemented several times over, is to divide the marketing plan into 3 key areas:
Each of these areas contains the elements needed to define a well thought out plan. Now at this point I am not going to go into details of plan-writing, rather the purpose here is to provide a framework:
Strategy – this is the part of the marketing plan that needs to be aligned with your business plan. It’s all about the opportunity you are capitalizing on and ensures your analysis has taken into account the important pieces of the landscape so that you can monetize your business. The key factors for your strategy are:
- Target Market
- Market Trends
System – successful businesses need to systematize. Creating systems helps with quality, efficiency and scaling (growing your business). Sales and marketing success is greatly improved when your plan includes:
- Lead Generation
- Lead Conversion (sales)
- Client Value (creating value for them)
Tactics – are elements of execution. They do not stay fixed over time, rather they should evolve to tackle the marketplace, promotions and opportunities. Technology implementation can facilitate your tactics too. These key pieces are:
- Website, SEO
- Blog, Newsletters
- Trade Shows
- Email Campaigns
- Telemarketing (if needed)
2 → Target Market
This will always be a sound fundamental of success—know who your customer is! Your target market influences how you will market your business. Too often businesses will come up with great ideas, or so they think, to increase sales, only to find out that they haven’t considered their target market. Don’t make these types of costly mistakes.
Do you have a profile for your ideal customer? Does your ideal customer know that you exist?
3 → Technology
Today, essential technology for sales and marketing must include the use of modern online tools. Having a website (CMS-based of course) with a sound design is the cornerstone of successful sales and marketing. Having a website that is fully optimized, linked to social media platforms and is faithfully (ie. consistently) updated with new relevant content will enable your business to deploy tactics that can greatly improve sales results.
It is vital to know that success with technology does not come with needing to pay for the “latest and greatest.” Today’s technology can allow you to take steps so that you can phase in newer pieces as your business grows and moves forward. The key here is proper planning!
4 → A Proven Sales Cycle
Every business has a sales cycle, but not all businesses know what their sales cycle looks like! That being the case, how can a business improve sales if they don’t have a clear understanding of where they are at?
I am a huge fan of building systems and any sales cycle can be built with the model of the “Pattern for Success.” Regardless of the vertical market, organization size or sales team make-up—this pattern can form the basis of any sales cycle. I have found that the best success in a sales team comes when the core training and sales metrics are tied into the sales cycle. This puts everyone in the organization on the same page and constantly keeps the business focused on its sales cycle. Always remember “anything that can be measured can be controlled.”
5 → A Working Sales Funnel
Like the sales cycle, the sales funnel is a key element for ongoing success. Sales is all about filling the funnel and generating results! This is where my opening comments regarding faltering sales and what I’ve heard sales professionals say when this occurs, fits in. The sales funnel can always measure success and future success of an organization’s sales efforts.
Sales and marketing is all about filling the sales funnel. Today there are several methods for even automating many portions of a business’s sales funnel. Can you image what your business would be like if your sales team had a never ending lineup of prospects that were already qualified as buyers? Sound too good to be true? There is inbound marketing technology and tactics available today that can be deployed by your organization now! Now, as before, a proper plan for implementation and scaling may be needed (and budget too), but knowing this is possible is something that your sales and marketing planning should include.
Putting it All Together
So here it is, putting the 5 essential elements together—this, to me, is what sales and marketing is! An organization, regardless of its size, that deploys this process and structure will have sound fundamentals for its sales and marketing.
Demystifying sales and marketing and distilling it down to 5 elements makes “getting results” more achievable and easier to understand. The benefits to businesses is that this strategy can be done in phases and deployed in a logic sequence that matches the business plan, budget and expectations.
Does your business have a plan? Is it working? Is sales and marketing well-defined in your organization? Is everyone on the same page when it comes to deploying tactics that are designed to accomplish the company’s objectives?
These are a handful of the important questions that can shed light on whether or not “sales and marketing” is working for you.