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Align Sales with Marketing to Maximize ROI
By Linda Bishop

“I don’t understand it. We’re spending more on marketing, but not getting real growth in sales.” Dick Jerrod, president of the company, frowned as he addressed his management team. They were gathered in the conference room.

Sherry Martin the CFO spoke up first. “We should look for ways to improve productivity. How can we spend less and get more?”

Bud Shipp, Vice President of Sales, answered. “It’s just like Joseph Wanamaker said a hundred years ago. Half the money we spend on advertising is wasted, but the trouble is we don’t know which half.”

“In this down economy, we better figure it out.” Dick let his demeanor speak for his determination.

Troy Watkins, Vice President of Production, said “I have an idea. Let’s look at the buyer’s thought process when they make purchasing decisions. Armed with that information, we can be sure our sales and marketing efforts fit.”

Troy had the right idea. Understanding how customers decide to buy and what they need to know to make the decision helps you spend marketing dollars wisely and increases the odds of closing sales. Inside your company, the goal of marketing is to match people with products, to acquire customers and keep them. The goal of sales is to persuade someone to buy today.

Marketing activities are one-way conversations with prospects and customers. Standard offers are crafted to appeal to profitable segments of the marketplace and brand building enhances competitive advantage.

Selling makes use of two-way conversations, often taking place in real time. Salespeople speak to potential customers, answer questions and address concerns. They provide information on the fly and adjust messages in the moment so customers are persuaded to buy.

When marketing aligns with sales, it's a match made in money-making heaven where dollars bring happy returns and your company is in complete synch with the buying process. Deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time, and sales increase.

To create alignment, the starting point is the buying process because it offers a framework to provide buyers with the information they need in order to say, “Sold!”

Step One: Awareness
Before buyers can fall in love with your product or service, they must know it exists. Companies create awareness by advertising, sending out direct mail and email blasts, connecting through social media, and by hiring salespeople to cold call. Mix and match any or all of these awareness-builders to get the word out to potential customers. Align marketing with sales by taking these steps.

• If you run a radio, TV or Internet advertising campaign, fill the sales force in on the details. Who is it targeting? Why will the message appeal to prospects?

• When you send out direct mail or email blasts, have the sales team make follow-up calls.

• Have sales and marketing personnel meet regularly to discuss campaign results and better ways to create powerful messages to hit the target.

Step Two: Information
When buyers hear about your product and want to learn more, you’ve jumped one hurdle. Now the potential buyer asks, “Do I really need this?” and “What do I know about the company selling it?”

• Marketing creates printed marketing literature to support sales efforts and offer tangible evidence of benefits.

• The sales force has a finger on the customer’s pulse so eliciting their input helps make marketing messages and materials relevant.

Step Three: Evaluation
Now the buyer gets serious.

• They consider the risks and rewards of doing business with you.

• They compare you to the competition. At this stage personal selling is powerful because face-to-face dialogues uncovers objections and answers them.

• Marketing helps sales close deals by arming the sales team with testimonials, case studies and guarantees.
In the evaluation stage, buyers want details because they’re close to making a decision.

Step Four: Purchase
The buyer buys because you provided them with the right information in the right way at the right time. At this point, the salesperson pens a personal thank you, or marketing mails a standard welcome kit. The goal at the purchase stage is to insure the purchaser feels happy about their decision.

Step Five: Re-Purchase Evaluation
The customer bought from you once. Will they buy again? Yes, if the product performed as promised, service was good, and the customer felt good about the experience. Now it’s time to guard against complacency and continue to provide value. Make customers glad they chose you and you’ll reap the benefits of good word-of-mouth advertising and future sales.

Align sales with marketing to stop wasting money and spend every penny smarter. The process begins by understanding how purchasers make buying decisions. Have sales and marketing work as a team to provide the right information at the right time and watch the top line grow.
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About the Author:
Linda Bishop is author of “Selling in Tough Times” and President of Thought Transformation. Offering training in all industries, Thought Transformation focuses on the tools and marketing tactics for individuals and enterprises looking for strategic resources to increase their sales. Linda had a 20-year career in the printing industry culminating in a promotion to Vice President of Marketing. Linda Bishop can be reached at 770-846-3510 or lindabishop@thoughttransformation.com


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