Why you need to Create Marketing Materials With Your Salespeople in Mind

Hi readers,

My marketing professor, Stephen Hurley, a solutions marketing expert and a great teacher shocked me by sharing that the average life of a CMO in the US is just a tad better than 2 years!

That stressed me out and set me thinking on the WHY part of this revelation!

I have had a big skew in my career towards sales management, as opposed to marketing. In my 18 years career, sales figures in ALL 18 years, whereas marketing figures for ONLY 7!

So when I started to analyse the reasons why CMOs have a short shelf life, I figured that disconnect between the marketing and sales functions in an organization is the biggest culprit for this looming disaster.

You can attribute numerous reasons for this disconnect, BUT the biggest reason for this disconnect is when marketing produces marketing and sales collateral materials WITHOUT taking sales into confidence or working with them as partners!!

As the CMO of your organization you need to ask yourself these key questions- 

Why do you need you sales reps to succeed? Because when they succeed, get their bonus, get their incentives, achieve their quotas, NOT only do your sales reps shine, more important, YOU DO TOO!!

What do your salespeople need to succeed?  Give them a toolkit that helps them out during every step of the sale. SIMPLE!

Whether you have one salesperson or 10, outfitting your front line with the right tools is critical to your company’s success. Production of collateral materials often falls to marketing staffs that design in a vacuum, without true insight into the day-to-day operational requirements–and just plain hands-on, grab-and-run nature–of salespeople. The result? Some recent studies suggest that as much as 80 percent of materials created by marketing staffs for the use of salespeople go unused, while salespeople often create their own less-than-stellar tools on the fly. Meanwhile, important branding and selling messages can fall by the wayside, and sales may decline or stagnate.

So how can you create tools your salespeople will love–and actually want to use? It all comes down to these three essential steps.

1. Get frontline input. Eliminate the disconnect between your marketing and sales teams by getting them talking. Salespeople can offer tremendous insight into customers’ needs and objections as well as your company’s competitive challenges. Ask your salespeople to brief the marketing staff on the product or service elements that are most critical to the customers or clients they meet. Listen to them recount the objections they face most often during the selling process so you can create marketing tools and materials that support their efforts to overcome them. Salespeople should also tell your marketing team about any changes in customer demographics or hot buttons so that old tools can be revised to coincide with the current needs of your customer base.

Salespeople are continually butting heads with competing products and services. Ask them for insight into new, emerging competition to help you create marketing materials that are a step ahead.

2. Add up all the touch points. Your sales force requires a full family of tools that carries a consistent look and message. Each time salespeople make contact with customers or clients, these tools must work to reinforce your company image and support the sales process. Many business owners fail to take into account the true number of touch points throughout the sales cycle–intersections between the sales staff and customers or clients–where collateral materials are needed.

For example, your salespeople may use sales letters, business cards and notecards, company brochures, presentation tools, proposals, contracts, sell sheets, e-mails, printed and online forms, catalogs and other materials. It’s essential that all of them have a consistent company message and use your logo or company identity properly. Take the time to investigate and make a comprehensive list of the day-to-day touch points between your salespeople and customers, then supply your people with every item they need to be successful.

3. Enroll salespeople in your mission. Once you’ve gained all the input you need from your frontline sales force and have created new collateral tools and materials, make a presentation to your sales staff that highlights how all the tools will work to help them win more sales. Rather than merely handing over boxes of tools, share the strategies behind the key marketing messages to get everyone onboard with your campaigns and materials. If they reflect the input the sales force shared with you and your marketing team, your salespeople will be enthusiastic about using the tools you’ve created.

Schedule ongoing joint meetings with your sales and marketing staffs to obtain evolving customer information and preview upcoming promotions and specials. Let your salespeople know where and when your advertising will run so they can be ready to respond. And include them in any changes in future creative materials and strategies. This will guarantee that the tools you create are positively embraced by your sales staff and successfully support the sales effort.

The Essential Sales Proposal Checklist- key to sales super stardom!

Hi readers,

I did not mention this key, actually critical ingredient which should be in the armory of every sales rep who aspires for sales super stardom!

I have been writing proposals for the last 18 years; proposals to my CEO, to my boss, to the investors, to my clients when I worked in B2B assignments.

Apart from developing the essential skills to help you CLOSE your sale, you need to possess above average proposal writing skills that hook your customer and get you to the final deal!

From my experience the following check list always works, till it became assimilated within me and I did not have to refer to it to send across proposals…but it takes effort and lots of focus to get this right , so please do not take short cuts. Believe me when I say this- that will be a short cut to a serious berating from your boss or worse!!

First things first- 

Examine the current draft of your sales proposal carefully. Then answer the following questions as honestly as you can:

  • Does the customer know who we are? ( Brief about the company, short, to the point always works)
  • Is the customer expecting us to bid on this? (Dont use the proposal as a shot in the dark, you must have generated traction to be able to send a proposal!!)
  • Does the executive summary address customer needs? ( Analyse customer’s need and then write the executive summary , customized to THAT SPECIFIC NEED…be strategic in your thinking big guy!!)
  • Is the executive summary one page or less? (It better be targeted at 1 page pal)
  • Have we replaced all the jargon that’s meaningful only to us? (Please dont assume that the client speaks your jargon and lingo!! assumption is professional sales hara kiri!!)
  • Are we sure that another vendor doesn’t have the inside track? ( Get inside the grapevine to get a hook around this one)
  • Does the proposal follow the customer’s specified format and outline? (Ask the client his preferred format- it not only gets you an opportunity to engage with the client, and develop a working relationship with him, but also puts you in a favorable light with your client, who will probably have higher regard for your professionalism than you competitor!! strategic eh…)
  • Have we removed all the meaningless marketing fluff (e.g. “state-of-the-art”)? (Again…please NO JARGON)
  • Has someone edited out other customer names from boilerplate material? ( There is no tearing hurry folks…dont assume and do a poor cut and paste job….it will be the end of you)
  • Is the writing clear and forceful rather than flat and technical? (Dispense with the tech jargon, and use lucid, clear prose and descriptions..always works)
  • Has the proposal been edited so that it contains no glaring grammatical errors? (Brush up your Grammar guys!!)
    Can the proposal convince the customer that we can actually deliver? (Use factual information, discussion points already mentioned in minuted of meeting and simple to understand graphs and charts…always works !!)
  • Does the proposal define how we’ll measure customer satisfaction? (Sales metrics, sales analytics, tools and dashboards HAVE to be a part of ANY proposal !! thats the real winner )
  • Is the proposal being submitted on time and to the right people? (Keep to the deadlines!!)

If the answer to ANY of these question is “NO” then you’ll lose the sale. It’s as simple as that.

Turn Corporate Weaknesses into YOUR Selling Strengths!!

Hi readers,

These times are tough, and especially for those of us in Sales, more so.

Many of my friends have fallen victim to the reality of a tough market and when opportunity presented itself have joined start ups, newbie firms that perhaps do not have the brand strength of their former employers.

Well thats the reality you have to live with folks!

So what do you do? Do you wallow in self pity and let the situation get the better of you when you go out there to get your volume and revenue targets?

My take…use a weak corporate brand to your advantage and generate success!! here is how…

  • Weakness: Nobody has ever heard of my firm.
  • Strength: They can’t have negative pre-conceptions.

 

  • Weakness: We’ve only been in business a short time.
  • Strength: We’ve got something new and different to offer.

 

  • Weakness: We’re bloated with bureaucracy.
  • Strength: We have many people willing to help.

 

  • Weakness: We’re tiny, with only a handful of people.
  • Strength: We don’t have a bureaucracy to weigh us down.

 

  • Weakness: Our product is untested in the market.
  • Strength: In today’s world, innovation is priceless.

 

  • Weakness: Our product cost more than the competition’s.
  • Strength: We’re the best so we cost the most.

Break These 5 Habits! ..if you wanna sell more

Hi readers,

We are all creatures of habit….thats a given.

Problem is that some of our habits get in the way of our success and thats what we are talking about today.

I have always maintained that being cautiously optimistic and having a realistic expectation of the business outcome is key to ensure that you are respected in the sales reps fraternity and in your clientele club.

If you’re going to be successful in sales, you need to be the kind of person that draws other people to want to work with them.  With the exception of a few, most people want to work with people who have an upbeat and positive attitude.

Unfortunately, many people have sloppy habits of thinking and speaking that drain the energy of the people around them.  With that in mind, here are five quick techniques that will immediately improve your attitude in ways that will increase your ability to influence others and help sales reps sell more!

  • Technique #1: Stop using negative phrases such as “It’s impossible,” or “This won’t work,” which  program you for negative results.  Instead, substitute phrases like “That might be challenging” or “We’ll need some alternatives” that leave the possibility of eventual success open and available.

 

  • Technique #2: Whenever somebody asks “How are you?”, don’t come out with the something depressing like “Hangin’ in there” or “Same old, same old.”  Instead, respond enthusiastically with “Terrific!” or “Fabulous!” or “I’ve never felt better!”  Then make that your reality, too.

 

  • Technique #3: Stop complaining about things over which you have no control, such as the economy, your company, the customers, etc.  Focus on what you can change, what you can accomplish, and what you can do for your firm, your customers, and your customers’ customers.

 

  • Technique #4: Stop griping about your personal problems and illnesses. What good does it do other than to depress you and everyone else? Remember: this, too, shall pass. Do what you can to deal with your problems and then use your energy to keep yourself on track and in high spirits.

 

  • Technique #5: Substitute neutral words for emotionally loaded ones. For example, rather than saying “I’m enraged!” say “I’m a bit annoyed…” or (better yet) “I’ve got a real challenge…”  Neutral words keep your mind from getting into emotional feedback loops that keep you miserable.

 

Your Best Response to Three Common Objections faced today!!

Hi Guys,

I can totally relate to the reality of the markets today…

Since 2008, its been an uphill task for us all in sales and more so for our wonderful marketers, and its sad to see so many good folks lose their dignity, their livelihoods and their reputations in the face of some real tough objections ( brickwalls) coming from their clients, some of whom probably swore to be by your side through thick n thin….but have gone away just and market sentiments tanked!!

So lets look at some very difficult objections that sales reps have been facing recently and what could probably be the best answer to address these client objections

  • Common Objection 1: “I can get it cheaper elsewhere.”Response: “In today’s world we can almost always get something cheaper.  I’ve found that when smart people invest their money they look for three things: the finest quality, the best service and lowest price. However, I’ve also noticed that no company can consistently offer all three-the finest quality and the best service at the lowest price.  Which two of the three is most important to you in the long term?”
  • Common Objection 2: “I have a friend in the business.”Response:“There’s an old saying – I don’t know how true it is – that sometimes friendship and business don’t mix.  If you bought from a friend you might not say anything if you weren’t happy with the purchase, but with me you can just get on my case until you get what you want.”
  • Common Objection 3: “I did business with your company in the past and they were unprofessional.”Response: “I can really appreciate that.  I really hate it when that kind of thing happens to me.  You know, though, suppose the shoe were on the other foot and it was your company that had acted unprofessionally.  You’d probably fire the person responsible. That’s probably what we had to do, and now it’s my job to make certain that you’re treated right.”

If you know of other common objections please do let me know and give me the opportunity to share some insights with you all.

Marketing pros…wake up call!

Hi readers,

As a hard core sales professional with 18 years of experience , I have had my fair share of run ins with my marketing team members and animated discussions with my CMO on more than one occasion. The theme of these discussions with my marketing team was just this-

Create Marketing Materials With Your Salespeople in Mind !!

During my stint as the P&L head for a CPG business in Africa, I kept marketing to myself and led that initiative, because I wanted my sales team to succeed from the word go..otherwise I knew that the KPIs that I had pledged to achieve would NOT be achieved, come what may.

I was in no mood to NOT learn from my years of experience working with my marketing teams; focused, clear approach to marketing would ensure success to the sales team ( driving them further with positive enforcement) and definitely help me achieve the business KPIs!! simple!!

Key job of marketing is to help sales achieve their KPIs- the numbers. Give them a toolkit that helps them out during every step of the sale.

Whether you have one salesperson or 10, outfitting your front line with the right tools is critical to your company’s success. Production of collateral materials often falls to marketing staffs that design in a vacuum, without true insight into the day-to-day operational requirements–and just plain hands-on, grab-and-run nature–of salespeople.

The results of this 11th hour hurried work, with out clear comprehension of the consumer, the value prop and the market dynamics is poor to say the very least. Sales sees this effort by marketing as a patch work , they pay little or no attention to this input, and its back to business as usual….so it brings you back to square one…why did you have this done in the first place, AND worse, for senior executives to question, WHY DO WE NEED A MARKETING DEPARTMENT in the first place?????

This is dangerous territory!!

So the question is….how do you create quality marketing material that engages the sales team and generates quality results?

1. Get frontline input- 

Eliminate the disconnect between your marketing and sales teams by getting them talking. Salespeople can offer tremendous insight into customers’ needs and objections as well as your company’s competitive challenges. Ask your salespeople to brief the marketing staff on the product or service elements that are most critical to the customers or clients they meet. Listen to them recount the objections they face most often during the selling process so you can create marketing tools and materials that support their efforts to overcome them. Salespeople should also tell your marketing team about any changes in customer demographics or hot buttons so that old tools can be revised to coincide with the current needs of your customer base.

Salespeople are continually butting heads with competing products and services. Ask them for insight into new, emerging competition to help you create marketing materials that are a step ahead.

2. Add up all the touch points. Your sales force requires a full family of tools that carries a consistent look and message. Each time salespeople make contact with customers or clients, these tools must work to reinforce your company image and support the sales process. Many business owners fail to take into account the true number of touch points throughout the sales cycle–intersections between the sales staff and customers or clients–where collateral materials are needed.

For example, your salespeople may use sales letters, business cards and notecards, company brochures, presentation tools, proposals, contracts, sell sheets, e-mails, printed and online forms, catalogs and other materials. It’s essential that all of them have a consistent company message and use your logo or company identity properly. Take the time to investigate and make a comprehensive list of the day-to-day touch points between your salespeople and customers, then supply your people with every item they need to be successful.

3. Enroll salespeople in your mission. Once you’ve gained all the input you need from your frontline sales force and have created new collateral tools and materials, make a presentation to your sales staff that highlights how all the tools will work to help them win more sales. Rather than merely handing over boxes of tools, share the strategies behind the key marketing messages to get everyone onboard with your campaigns and materials. If they reflect the input the sales force shared with you and your marketing team, your salespeople will be enthusiastic about using the tools you’ve created.

Schedule ongoing joint meetings with your sales and marketing staffs to obtain evolving customer information and preview upcoming promotions and specials. Let your salespeople know where and when your advertising will run so they can be ready to respond. And include them in any changes in future creative materials and strategies. This will guarantee that the tools you create are positively embraced by your sales staff and successfully support the sales effort.

7 Ways to Make Cold Calling Easy

Hi guys,

As a follow up to my earlier post ” 7 steps to a perfect cold call”, I thought it prudent to share this bit of wisdom with sales reps and sales pros.

7 ways to make cold calling easy is to help ease the jitters of early life sales reps and those who want to quickly earn their pips as sales stars in their teams.

Here are 7 steps that you can take — to turn cold calling from a dreary hassle into an engine of sales success:

  1. Get a better list.  Tell your marketing group to winnow out your list of leads to those who are most likely to buy.  If they won’t do it, do it yourself.
  2. Get some referrals.  The absolute best lists of suspects are ALWAYS referrals from existing customers, because they’ve already vouched for you.
  3. Get some feedback.  If you’re not sure what you’re doing wrong, get a colleague or your sales manager to listen in on a few calls. They will be able to hear, better than you, what you’re doing wrong.
  4. Improve your attitude.  Your sales effectiveness is dependent upon whether you sound like somebody who can add value.
  5. Don’t call on Mondays.  Mondays are awful days to cold call because suspects are catching up on what happened over the weekend.  Find the time of the week that works best for you and your leads.
  6. Experiment with scripts.  Different approaches will get different results, so don’t be afraid to play around a bit.  Do a mental debriefing after each call to decide what you could do better next call.
  7. Track your close rate.  It seems obvious but unless you’re measuring your performance, you won’t know whether cold calling is getting easier.   Keep a record of what works best for you.