Let’s be honest – especially in sales departments, marketing is often misunderstood and its importance understated. But once we break down the marketing machine it’s not only simple and understandable, it’s easy to see how it is the crucial foundation to any successful sales team.
Marketing’s first responsibility is to gain the trust of the customer base. We can do that in a simple and straightforward manner by just keeping a few points in mind.
The Big Picture
Predictably, the first step in the process of building a successful marketing machine is to make a plan. The specific goal of each of our marketing efforts will be the driver of all of the decisions we make next – messaging, timing, offer, etc. But where to start?
First, we’ll need to think about the company’s best customers – the type of customers you’d like to get more of. Who do sales people normally begin speaking with when engaging a new prospect of that type? Then we look for more people that fit as many of the criteria of that ideal prospect as possible and make sure they’re aware of the business, what we offer, and how to get in touch.
In order to build a strong and happy customer base, any business will need to strictly define the niche in which they can excel. Especially with small businesses, targeting leads outside of the ideal more often than not simply leads to problems for both the business and the customer. At the very least, the valuable time and effort of the sales team is wasted on conversations that will not lead to sales, and at worst, your company will gain customers that are not satisfied (and tell their colleagues about that dissatisfaction), or lose that trust that’s so important to build with the base.
Next, to craft the message we’re using to get in touch with those people, we’ll need to think about what makes the company stand out.
In a typical sales conversation that leads to a closed sale, what are the conversation turners, the hooks that cause the customer to engage with us, become interested in our product or service, and ultimately choose our company to meet a need? What makes customers decide to go with your company? What does your company do better than other companies in your niche?
Do you have any current special offers? You know your company is great and you work hard to satisfy your customers’ every need, but how do you get people to sign on with you so you can prove it? Free trials, discounts, coupons, etc. are a great way to gain their attention and a powerful foundation for a well-crafted marketing message.
We put those factors into simple, short, straightforward messaging so that the customer base is aware of exactly why we’re contacting them and making it easy to engage. That’s one way that we build trust. It begins as early as our first contact.
Customer testimonials can be the best source of this type of information. Why did the customer choose you over other companies that provide the same product or service at around the same price, maybe even less? If it was important enough to one person that they chose your company for that reason, chances are that it’s also important to someone else. You will also build more trust with prospects when they hear from someone like themselves who is working with you and happy doing so.
Customers that Trust, Refer
It’s obviously no secret in the business world that referrals from happy customers produce some of the most powerful leads available. That brings us back to trust. Marketing plays a large role in gaining happy customers, maintaining their trust, and therefore leading to referrals which have the highest conversion rates of any leads.
There is no better way to differentiate yourself from others marketing their businesses than through direct, personalized contact with the correct people. Rather than sending blanket campaigns with a generic message, we can craft the message down to the individual level where necessary.
Tried & True
You only get a few seconds to make a first impression, something sales has always known. So let’s look at what works – what’s the elevator pitch the sales team defaults to? Let’s start there to build a general introduction, and then dive deeper into each of the elements within that message that we use to get people intrigued, and craft individual messages around those and make sure the right people see them.
By focusing on quality rather than quantity, and by getting as specific as possible with the base, we quickly reach the correct people in an organization and bring their attention to the fact that we have exactly what they’ve been searching for.
Speak the Right Language
Some “traditional” marketing and advertising channels and methods such as print advertising, trade shows, and even cold calling, are becoming less effective with the increase of different channels available to customers. With all the choices of communication methods available, customers expect to have the ability to interact with a company by whatever method is most convenient for them.
The best way to begin a conversation with a prospect and eventually learn exactly what they’re looking for is through direct conversation. So how do we gain enough of the prospect’s trust that they will agree to take the time to engage with us in a meaningful conversation about their needs? Through a well-executed and thoughtful schedule of repeated and consistent contact.
Implementing marketing systems that follow these basic strategies will allow your business to dramatically reduce the amount of time wasted pursuing leads that don’t turn into sales, and at the same time to dramatically increase the number of closed deals, turning into increased revenue, which is, after all, the whole point.