If your marketing department is going to be spending tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, or more, on marketing, shouldn’t they be able to actually sell your product?
I frequently ride along with sales people and make customer calls. I do this to learn more about the customer and how they perceive the company and products. This enables me to learn first-hand how to improve the sales and marketing messages to grow the sales of my client’s building products.
After the fifth or sixth call, I will ask the rep if I can lead the sales call. My goal is not to close the sale, as that is the job of the rep. My goal, just like marketing, is to create a strong interest in the product, in the mind of the customer.
I have completed most of my diagnosis and research before I ride along with the salespeople. At this point I have a solution that I am very confident, will work. It would be easy to present my findings and recommendations to my client so they execute the changes to their sales and marketing.
By leading a customer sales call myself, I am able to validate my findings and recommendations. If the sales call goes well, I know I am on the right path. If the customer is still not interested, I have missed something and have more work to do.
I see too many marketing solutions that are not effective because the people who developed the idea, don’t know how to successfully sell your product. Whether the ideas come from your marketing department or an outside agency, they are frequently dreamed up in a vacuum.
I hear marketing people and agencies tell me that they know what is needed. Sometimes it is backed up by some research that has been authored by a company who is trying to sell you something. For example, “More people read our magazine. 70% of contractors use Twitter.”
Most of the time the ideas are based on not much more than a gut feeling or a past experience. When I question the validity of the idea, either sales team or the customer is blamed.
I hear, “If the sales people would just support our marketing programs, everything would be good. If our customers knew what was good for them, they would listen to us.”
“It’s not our fault that the sales people don’t support and the customers aren’t convinced by our marketing programs.” REALLY!!!
If your marketing and agency people had to make sales calls on your customers, and try to sell your product themselves, they would make better recommendations.
I am not trying to turn marketing people into sales people; I am trying to help them bring you better marketing that has a better chance of growing your sales.
The other benefit is that whoever makes these sales calls is now better equipped to provide direction, ask better questions and evaluate creative recommendations.
Once a year your marketing people should spend a few days riding with your sales people. People from your agency should also spend some time with your customers.
If you are evaluating a new agency, part of the process should be for them to sell your product to you. Assume the part of a customer such as a contractor or an architect or dealer and have them sell you your product.
You’ll quickly see how well they really understand the customer the reasons why the customer should want to buy your product. You should use this same process anytime you are reviewing the marketing recommendations for a major marketing program.
Stop wasting money on ineffective marketing by letting your marketing people test their selling skills out on your customers.
Or send them to my next workshop!