Owning Sales Role in Customer Engagement
In recent years, automated marketing tools have expanded the role of marketing in engaging customers and prospects— further blurring that functional line between sales and marketing. In many regards, this is a good thing because it reflects increased synergy between the two functions and fosters a more seamless transition in customer interface versus the “handing off” of leads practiced in the past.
With marketing tools that greatly expand our opportunities to engage customers and prospects, and even do so in a personalized fashion, we also run the risk of abdicating too much of the sales effort to marketing. It is important to understand the limitations of marketing in the sales process, and more importantly, understand where our time and touch as sales professionals can and should be leveraged for the greatest benefit:
Cultivate the brand and your brand. It is marketing’s role to develop and communicate your company’s brand – on the company website, in marketing materials and in the very products and services your company offers. It is our job as sales professionals to proliferate that brand in every customer interface and also define our own brand/role with the customer. Marketing cannot create a brand of high quality or innovation if our individual behavior doesn’t reinforce it. Marketing cannot elevate us from “seller” to “strategic asset;” we have to drive that progression with our individual engagement and contribution to customers.
Create relevance. Marketing can provide promotional materials and email blasts, but only the sales professional can (or should) understand, on an individual basis, which customers or prospects will have particular interest in a given topic, and why. Only we can deliver the information in a truly personalized way that speaks to our customers’ unique gaps.
Amplify. Marketing can generate content and even amplify it to a broad audience. We must leverage this content’s full potential by sharing with the appropriate customers (see above) and also with target groups in social media. Marketing can’t monitor and engage key groups on LinkedIn and other social media platforms on our behalf. Sales professionals need to be engaged and have our ear to the ground to capitalize on opportunities when they occur.
Provide insight. Beyond repurposing content provided by marketing, each of us should be a source of insight in our own right. What are you, individually, reading to cultivate your expertise and value to your prospects, customers, industry and employer? Sharing insights adds value. Generating insights adds value and tremendous credibility and elevates us to a whole new level.
The opportunities for synergy between marketing and sales have never been better. We need to be sure we are fully leveraging the marketing content and tools provided, and then using our professional selling skills and actively engaging in the process to supplement with our individualized contribution – for the greatest benefit for our customers, and, ultimately, for our own business development efforts.
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