Switching from Sales to Marketing?
In our earlier blog titled ‘How are Sales and Marketing functions different?’ we talked about the error of placing people who are good at sales in charge of marketing. In a rush to scale up their marketing, growing companies sometimes switch their own sales people to handle marketing because they are already familiar with the company’s business.
But being good at sales does not qualify the person to be equally good at marketing. The two functions require different kinds of skills and knowledge. A sudden shift from sales to marketing can be a problem in the short run, not a solution. (link to previous blog).
However, if the situation in the organization necessitates making this switch, here are three areas new marketers should prepare themselves for: Mindset, Communications, Systems.
Sales and Marketing are equally important to bring revenue for the company. But the manner in which sales and marketing people think and act are different.
Sales people help ‘hooked’ prospects get all the final information or incentives they need to make the purchase or sign the contract. They are “on-the-ground” people who provide the final ‘push’ to bring the sale to a close.
Marketing is all about informing the target market about your company and creating the desire to buy your products and services. Marketing people have less contact with end customers. They operate indirectly in the background to ‘pull’ prospects towards the business with strategies designed to work over a longer period of time. Marketers think analytically with a holistic approach to everything. They have the ability to 1) Interpret data, understand consumer behavior, recognize trends and make calculated predictions to steer market their way. 2) They have to make several components work together such as media, research, distribution channels, vendors, agencies and even sales and customer service.
Sales people who switch to marketing must change their ‘fast closure’ approach to a slower, long term strategy approach. They have to move from deal closer to deal influencer; from narrow identified market operator to wide market expander; from one-to-one personal communicator to one-to-many indirect communicator.
Marketing is about reaching out to customers in different ways so they find you, like you and buy from you. This requires a good understanding of the platforms of communication (media), and knowing how to communicate effectively. There are two types of audience marketers actually communicate with – external and internal. (link to index page)
These are your prospective customers, influencers, investors and vendors. The company speaks to them through various communication channels such as advertising (print, radio, TV, outdoor), public relations, social media, direct mail, e-mails, webinars, trade etc. Some of these are one-way communication (like a TV advertisement), or some are fast, two-way dialogue platforms such as social media where customers can interact and share public opinion. But broadly the communication is indirect and not face-to-face with the end consumer It is also a consistent conversation to build a loyal relationship with the customer.
Therefore, the “message” you communicate to the market is most critical. Nothing compensates for a weak message that does not attract the attention and interest of customers. Sales people must realize that the messages they use to convince customers at the point of sale are not always the same messages they can use in marketing campaigns. Message clarity and placing of the right message in the right place at the right time is very important. Therefore, marketers must be well versed with the nature of marketing communication. Invariably new marketers fall into these two traps.
Trap 1: Randomertising. A sales conversation is one-on-one oriented allowing for rapid message adjustments on the spot. Marketing is about smart messaging. Messages are customized for dissemination over different channels at select intervals. New marketers who are not familiar with this process fall into the trap of ‘Randomertising’ which is, “random adverting and posting, trying to say everything to everyone wherever possible in the shortest time.” This approach may not give them the results they desire.
Trap 2: Peer Comparison. When marketers are not confident of their own efforts or not sure what they want to communicate, they start comparing their work to what others are doing in the market. They try to copy the same ideas, not realizing that what works for others may not work for them. Every business has different markets, strategies and budgets. Some brands have been building their equity in the market steadily for years and will have huge budgets to sustain that position. Marketers must build a marketing strategy that is best suited for the size and nature of their own business.
a) Communication Partners: These are the experts who work with you to build the marketing communication. They include your Communication Consultants/Agencies in Public Relations, Advertising, Digital Marketing etc. The communication campaign they recommend will be based on the ‘brief’ you give them. This will be a detailed written brief you will present with all the data and insights they ask for. You must be able to clearly outline what you have in mind so they can develop the communication. The root cause of many campaigns not ‘turning out’ as expected is because marketers do not provide a clear brief. If the company prefers to handle the marketing communication on its own, marketers must get trained to be good communicators.
Also, marketers must become familiar with the different types of media —how they work, when and where to use them most effectively. This will make it easier to take informed decisions on the campaign strategy. Some knowledge of digital communication platforms is important in today’s complex marketing world. But knowing how to use some of these platforms for personal social networking is not the same as how you may need to use it for business promotion.
b) Stakeholders: These are all the parties in the marketing chain who must be informed about the communication that will be rolled out in the market. These parties include distribution, customer service and even field/direct marketing partners. The sales department who will already know the price points and technical details of what they must sell, must also know about the market communication that will support their It does happen that sometimes sales and marketing teams hardly know much about what each other are doing. Sales and marketing must work hand in hand. For example, sales people can give excellent feedback about customer response so the marketing department can make adjustments to the communication if required.
So it really comes down to the ability of a marketer to know how to be a good communicator. What you say and how you say it influences action in people, helping you achieve your KRA (Key Result Area) faster. Great communicators stand out. Prepare yourself to communicate clearly and confidently to your internal and external audiences. (link to MM training page)
When sales people are brought into marketing, they have to adopt the mindset of building an entire system for marketing because so many things have to be tied in carefully. One of the reasons many companies struggle with their marketing is they do not build a marketing system to communicate consistently with customers in a manner that can lead them to buy. Building a Structured Marketing System will help them better results from marketing. A template to help marketers build a Structured Marketing System from Planning through Implementation is available here for free. (link to SMS main page. Link to SMS download page).
Read the first part of this series: ‘How are Sales and Marketing functions different? Avoid the mistake of trying to make sales people do your marketing.’