Sales and Marketing – 5 Essentials for Success!

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?

sales and marketing 3Earlier 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

Marketing PlanA 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:

  1. Strategy
  2. System
  3. Tactics

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
  • Competition
  • Market Trends
  • Monetization:

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

Prospects

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

Website schematic

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

Pattern For Success - greyscale

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

Sales Funnel - no text

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

MPS - Sales and Marketing Strategy - WITH STEPS and LOGO - Sep-26-13So 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.

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Market Your Business – Planning is Critical

The 2 Keys Every Business Owner Needs to Know

In my little more than 25 years of experience as a professional engineer (in numerous roles as an entrepreneur, corporate executive, sales & marketing strategist etc.) I constantly see one common element that always determines the success and longevity of a business—a solid working marketing plan. Now I realize that “marketing” is much more comprehensive that what I’m going to cover in this article (such as branding, product, etc.) but for the purposes of this writing I’m going to stay focused on a simple actionable plan.

sales funnel

So, that being said, the purpose of this article is to give business owners, entrepreneurs and CEOs alike, an overarching viewpoint for that solid marketing plan. The overall goal of a marketing plan is to fill your sales funnel so that your sales process can convert leads into sales.

To keep the plan simple, there are two key elements:

  1. Components – technology and tactics
  2. Phases – of deployment

COMPONENTS

puzzle 2The technology and tactics that can be used for marketing are numerous and constantly changing/evolving. Therefore, budgets and time-frames will play an important role in determining which elements make the best sense. These need to be carefully aligned with the business’s current situation and future goals. The following is the starter list for the key components:

1. Know Your Customer

If there is one thing every business needs, it’s knowledge of its ideal customer. What does your idea customer look like? What are their attributes and what exactly are they looking for? Do you know their questions? How about the competition? Develop a plan (usually in your business plan) for knowing your customer and any segmentation of vertical markets.

Why is this important? (notice this section is mostly questions…) Knowing your customer allows you to relate and connect with them. You can engage them using terms they know and topics they are interested in. Your customer wants to know “what’s in it for them?” and “why should they care?” You need to know the answer to these two vital questions.

2. Website

Your site should utilize a modern CMS (Content Management System) so that it can easily integrate with a blog, social media and mobile platforms. The effective use of landing pages, dedicated to offers, is a must—so that your clear CTAs (Calls To Action) are easily actionable by your prospects. Many businesses fail when they treat their website as a one-time project. It is vital to keep a website current and fresh with new content on a weekly basis. An effective SEO (Search Engine Optimization) plan is essential for an effective website, this is what impacts how you are found on the web

3. Social Media

Your website should feed fresh content out to your social media channels. Social media is a very effective marketing tool if used correctly and often. Properly configured business pages, attention to specific features of the various social media tools, and responsiveness to your audience are a must!

4. Modern Tools

Using the current tactics and tools that modern technology offers, is the easiest way. So staying somewhat familiar with technology (or having someone on your team who does) is another key for an effective marketing plan. Modern tools include elements such as:

  • blogging
  • using videos
  • communicating with social media
  • using inbound marketing (rather than antiquated outbound marketing)

PHASES

phasesDefining phases of deployment, as previously mentioned, are important when you consider both budget and time-frame constraints. A successful marketing plan will always be updated, kept current and evolve—as the business situation changes and technology advancements/tactics change. Phases usually means “budget-related.” What is your budget? Do you have the right resources/team? When do you need results? What metrics will you use to indicate success?

Keeping in mind that the phases should match each business’s unique needs, here is a starting point for the potential phases of deployment:

1.  Business Plan

For the sake of this article, we’ll assume that you have this in place, so you know your plan, budget and goals (if you don’t, this could be trouble…).

2. Website

Your website project is the first piece of the puzzle. It needs not only the correct technology (so you can easily maintain it) but a solid effort and strategy for proper design so that all the key elements are included (there is a science here—it’s not just about a pretty website…).

3. Socially Active

Get your presence on social media channels out there. Select the key channels—I recommend starting with Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

4.  Content Creation

Start creating regular content. If you can’t do this yourself, ensure you have a curator on your team that will do this at lease a couple times a week. Nurturing leads requires that you offer value to prospects.

5.  Sales Plan

Do you have a sales staff or is it you?  Define the regular tasks that are needed to keep the funnel of prospects full.

6.  Deploy Inbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing is an exciting technology that can begin the process of automating your sales funnel. It does have a cost and requires constant attention, but it’s a proven effective tool!

7.  Targeted Lead Generation Projects

These are customized, specifically targeted lead generation activities (email, telemarketing, trade show, etc.). If your inbound marketing program is giving you all the qualified customers you can handle, you may not need this one…

8.  Master Your System

Once “success” has been measured and achieved, now you want to master the system you’ve deployed. Whether you plan to scale your business, venture into new territories, or simply want to grow your existing business—mastering (sometimes the word “duplicate” works well here) your system will bring longevity to your business.

Conclusion

sales and marketing 2Having a marketing plan is vital for success and longevity of a business. If you can’t do this yourself, engage a professional or a team member who has the skills. Your business can have an effective marketing plan by knowing the key components and deploying them in phases that match your budget and goals.

Marketing your business is an on-going process, it’s not a one-shot project. However, when properly planned and executed, your success is predictable!

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