Are Marketers the New Sales Force?

by Wes Lieser

I can already see the hate-mail piling up from all the sales reps reading the title of this blog so before I start, I want to clarify that I don’t feel sales reps will ever be fully replaced. The title simply implies that in an ever-evolving sales process, marketers need to start thinking more like sales reps.

Whew…crisis averted. Please delete your hate-mail and continue reading.

In my last blog on the relationship between sales and marketing, I discussed a number of common challenges that the two divisions run into during collaboration. As I thought more about that connection, I realized how much empathy plays a role in successfully working together. Without the ability to understand one another’s goals and priorities, both sales and marketing will find it difficult to work together. As marketers, it’s important to try to put ourselves into the shoes of a sales rep, and use our expertise to provide our prospects with a solution even before an issue has a chance to surface.

If you’re a marketer, when was the last time you went to your sales department and asked them what objections they face during the average meeting? For instance, one of the most common responses a salesperson might hear from their prospects is, “You caught me at a bad time, send me some information and I’ll take a look at it when I have a chance.”

Think about how much differently that conversation would go if the prospect had already been exposed to the brand the salesperson is representing!

If a prospect already has the basic information, the sales rep is free to listen to the buyer, answer any questions they may have, and move them further along in the sales process without hitting that initial roadblock.

In the past, buyers relied upon the knowledge of sales reps to provide them with relevant and factual information that had to be taken at face value because they were not able to obtain such information on their own. Now, due to unprecedented access to information through the Internet and other channels, marketers play a bigger role in selling than ever before.

It’s important for marketers to shift their mindset and understand that selling is no longer selling. In this constantly changing marketplace, marketers provide the information that customers need in order to make an educated purchasing decision.

We’ve all heard the statistic…according to Forbes, “Customers reported to being nearly 60 percent through the sales process before engaging a sales rep, regardless of price point.”

So how will your marketing department affect the buying process before your prospective buyer meets with a sales rep?

Step one is identifying who your buyer is. What does your buyer do at work and in their free time? Where do they get their information? Why should they come to you?

Empower your buyers – provide them with valuable information…on their terms! Educate them on your product, process, and value proposition long before they come into contact with your sales department. In the end, it will drive your company’s ROI and make your sales reps’ jobs that much easier!

It’s less of a sales vs. marketing approach, and more of a sales and marketing approach that helps the customer more, and provides a greater return for your company.

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