When I notice a new marketing campaign from a building materials company I really admire, I always wonder whether the sales team is in line with it.
One of the ways I check this is by stopping by the company’s trade show booth. I play the role of a builder or an architect so I can see how their salespeople approach the sale.
I always start these conversations by mentioning the new marketing message that made me more interested in the product.
I’ll never cease to be amazed at how quickly those salespeople will move away from the new marketing message and fall back to the way they sold the product in the past.
That goes against common sense. If the new marketing message is what got me interested in the product, the salesperson should follow that path. The old sales message didn’t interest me in the past, so why keep using it?
Clearly, there’s a big disconnect between marketing and sales, and it must be costing these companies a lot of potential growth.
When that disconnect exists, salespeople will fall back on what I call The Usual Sales Approach:
- In a not very subtle manner, they’ll establish how big I am and decide if I’m worth their time. If I’m not, they’ll get rid of me as soon as possible.
- They’ll find out what product I’m using so they can tell me why their product is better, inferring that I must not be very smart if I use the other product.
- When I’m not immediately moved by this, they become desperate and start offering rebates, lower prices and other incentives
- Then I do what every other customer does at this point – I leave, disappointed that their new marketing message was just another empty promise.
When sales is on the same page as the marketing team, however, they can take what I call The Smarter Sales Approach:
- Marketing sells the campaign to the sales team. They go over how they came up with it and how they know it will work. They know that if sales doesn’t get the campaign and believe in it, it’s nothing more than an attention grabber.
- The company trains the sales team on how to effectively use the new campaign to grow their sales.
- Sales gains support from senior management. Their sales discussion shifts from how many dollars or truckloads they sold this week to how many customers they’ve converted with their new message.
- The sales team realizes that the largest volume customers are not the best target for new ideas. The more things stay the same, the more it helps those bigger purchasers. Up and coming companies are more likely to accept new ideas. If they’re successful with the new idea, those bigger customers will be forced to follow.
Few things frustrate me like companies wasting money – and developing a new marketing campaign that isn’t used or supported by sales is a big waste of money.
Make sure your sales team buys into the new marketing message and uses it. It’s the only smart way to sell.
What Others Are Saying
“You are always dead on. You left out one thing about sales guys. Many have lost faith in companies ability to create a marketing plan that works in construction. Their failures in the past and present are due to those directing the marketing campaign – not understanding the market they sell into.
On top of that the old style sales guy still talks about new handouts to give to distributors, and little about investing time in influencers. Last the real customer is the end user (contractor) and many of these sales people do not understand the designer – dist – contractor pull through.
The manufacturer and their marketing department really do not have a handle on it. To conclude – I am 37 years in as a mfg agent who has evolved into digital sales/marketing, the manufacturers of building products are truly lost.”
E.R. Long Associates Inc