Tracy Moore knows what it’s like to be a “one-man band”. Moore’s experience as a franchise owner put her in a role of both a salesperson and marketer while developing her branch of Young Rembrandts, an after-school art program.
In her time pushing her territory and talking with other franchise owners, Moore has seen entrepreneurs become either very savvy marketers or exceptional salespeople. Folks who excel in one area and lack in another, however, rarely become successful business owners. Knowing the concepts of both marketing and sales and being able to employ them at the right times can be the difference between growth, stagnation and failure.
Push and Pull
In a way, marketing and sales can be seen as two opposite forces acting on the same object. Picture an electric motor as an example. By utilizing magnetic fields, electric motors can use the push of the north pole and pull of the south pole (and vice versa) to create rotation. The concept behind sales and marketing alignment is similar. While marketing provides the pull, sales provides the push. You won’t create movement without both. And like an electric motor, the trick lies in knowing which force to provide at the right time – sales or marketing.
How does this apply to sales and marketing alignment? As exemplified in the motor example, it’s all about the switch over. Both sales and marketing have certain tactics that excel in different situations. Those boundaries are easy. Need top-of-the-funnel engagement? Create pull. That’s obviously marketing’s job. What about info on the final decision? Again. That’s easy. It’s sales’ job because that prospect needs one (or a few) final pushes to close the deal.
The trick is the middle of the funnel when both pull and push can be effective – that overlapping section. In that overlap, the different tactics become less important, and the timing of the different messaging becomes imperative.
A great example of this overlap and the importance of timing is networking. Creating networked relationships is a great marketing tactic to identify quality prospects. Sales, however, will use networking events or social media to land more sales. Both of these tactics work well. The trick, however, is knowing when to pull and when to push. Success lies in when an individual applies the switch.
Marketing by Default
Moore recommends small business owners who fulfill both roles wear their marketing hat by default. When entrepreneurs are not mired in the day-to-day operations of running their business, they should answer audience needs through blogs or other content, engage in conversations about audience-centric topics and plan times in their schedules – at least once a week — for utilizing marketing tactics and techniques.
At the same time, any sales messaging – value props, brochures and/or other pertinent sales info – should be holstered yet close at hand. When someone starts showing any sort of interest, a business owner should employ the sales speak. It may even be helpful to use some sort of lead scoring program to define a warm lead, which will help identify potential prospects. The most important thing is being prepared at all times to use sales messaging and knowing the best times to use it.
Although every industry is slightly different in how sales and marketing are managed, there are some underlying practical tips that most small business owners can still employ when defining the best times to use sales or marketing. In general, longer sales cycles – such as those in financial or contract-based industries – have more room for sales tactics. In those businesses, the relationship between the buyer and the sales professional is often one of the most important factors influencing a sale. Marketing will play more of a support role. In these industries, marketing may define the messaging that sales utilizes, or they may provide sales materials like brochures or product sheets. Marketing may also be able to identify early leads if sales is having a hard time setting up a solid referral system.
In shorter sales cycles, however, marketing becomes more important. Due to digital tools and content marketing, inbound marketing may be able to pull in more sales through engaging content and other marketing techniques. Sales may become less important in these cases.
Moore rightly pointed out that sales and marketing aren’t enemies. While it may be difficult to identify which tactic should be used in all circumstances, both disciplines work toward the same goal – business success. By understanding how sales and marketing interact, their boundaries and their overlap, small business owners can better align sales and marketing efforts to secure more profit.