How to Give Your Sales Team Something to Smile About
by Adam Luckeroth, on Dec, 9, 2015
Business strategies are typically fast-paced thrill rides that blast past competitors, bounce over pricing obstacles, and screech to a halt beside happy, satisfied customers. The issue many companies face with this is getting people to agree who rides in the vehicle to success.
If sales doesn't appreciate and find value in the resources that marketing provides, and if marketing believes that sales ignores branding and the company's voice, the ride is no longer fun, and goals go unmet. Unfortunately, in this case, the customer is the one who suffers from a less than stellar experience.
So what can smart businesses do to empower marketing and enable salespeople to reach their full potential? Hint: the answer is NOT "work in silos" or "pretend nothing is wrong."
The goal of marketing and sales not only co-existing but creating a mutually beneficial, positive relationship is absolutely attainable. It just takes knowing how to proceed, and committing time to understand each side's viewpoints.
Here are six and a half actions that you can employ to help your salespeople happily embrace new tools and materials that propel them to the next level of performance.
#1: Communicate by relating to common goals.
It's human nature to bond together to work toward a common cause, but it's also common to resist change. Unfortunately, marketing and sales teams frequently focus on their particular piece of the puzzle and don't see how they fit together overall.
Marketing can gain traction with sales by attending sales meetings and talking to people on the sales team about their goals and how marketing fits in on the journey to reach them.
Sometimes, marketing sees this outreach as pandering to sales as support staff, when it's, in fact, the opposite. Open communication can help marketing drive sales objectives and see real results. By becoming a part of sales' short and long-term plans, the marketing department can identify concrete initiatives that serve to further the objectives of both departments.
Sales and marketing teams that fail to communicate with each other and recognize shared goals will be fragmented and lack cohesion. Only by adopting the mindset that they are on the same side and working towards the same results, can the two function as an effective team.
#2: Feel your salespeople's pain.
"Listen with the intent to understand, not the intent to reply." - Steven Covey
Marketing may claim that sales won't embrace the new branding message while sales complains that marketing is out of touch and doesn't understand life in the field. Ditch these sentiments by riding in sales' vehicle for awhile.
Instead of showing them materials you think they want, talk to them about what they need BEFORE creating marketing collateral. Are they facing stiff competition? Is pricing an issue? Are they dealing with customer service issues? Get aligned. By gaining a better understanding of the problems that sales teams encounter, marketing can allocate resources toward relevant tools that enable sales to successfully overcome those obstacles.
#3: Roll new tools out in sales language.
Marketing focused descriptions like "marketing thinks this change will really help strengthen our branding" will usually generate blank, bored stares and eye rolls. While sales knows branding is important, it doesn't get them fired up. What does? Leads, money, recognition, and less administrative busy work!
Speaking in "salesisms" (yes, it's probably not a real word) offers marketing a chance to convey a compelling message that sales will hear loud and clear. Wondering what words to use? That's why you need to TALK TO YOUR SALESPEOPLE.
[Tweet "You need to talk to your salespeople!"]
Evoking change takes forethought to get your point of view across and create an actionable, emotional response. The key component of broaching any new change is to make sure that sales understands how it either increases their business or decreases their workload.
Once marketing understands sales' pain points and pinpoints a solution, they must...
#4: Capitalize on the domino effect.
Getting sales buy-in on new tools and processes doesn't take winning them all over, just one. You have got to wow the key person who will act as your cheerleader, your champion. If you can build credibility with the sales person who has the best relationships with the other members of the team, they will leverage your message and move it forward faster than marketing alone ever could.
Accomplishing this is a bit tricky. It's crucial to talk to the sales person in an informative way that shows them that you understand the needs of the position, and directly relate the new tool to the change they seek. If they get on board, they are the catalyst for everyone else to be less resistant. Once the individual sales person experiences a successful outcome, they become a walking testimonial to the rest of the sales team. This helps the entire process gain steam and reduce adoption time.
#5: Follow up in a "partner" capacity.
In her presentation "Content is for Closers: How to Leverage Content for Sales Enablement" Uberflip's VP of Marketing Hana Abaza states "don't lead with the pitch, lead with the prospect's interest. " The same is true in persuading sales to evolve, give up their comfort zone, and adopt new ways of accomplishing their key goals. Negative language such as "well, they just didn't try to use it," or "they were never going to give it a chance" creates a combative atmosphere that works against both departments.
In this situation, empathy and patience are your friends. When new processes hit a bump in the road, instead of assigning blame, both teams should work together to determine why this happened. Did sales have enough time to adjust? Was proper training provided? Did marketing adequately communicate the value, from a sales point of view? Once marketing diagnoses the stumbling blocks, activate those big, creative marketing brains and figure out the way to get the initiative back on track.
#6: Don't be afraid to admit failure.
Nobody can win every race, and not every idea that marketing puts in motion will be a winner. Occasionally, we are sold on a tactic or tool that promises fantastic results, but, for one reason or another, just doesn't pan out the way we expected. I'm not saying that you should give up, but there comes a time when, after your best efforts, you realize a process or tool just wasn't right for you company. Once this happens, cut fast and move on. Business failings are a painful but valuable chance to learn how to gauge future opportunity, or land mines, more intelligently.
If a recent change you blessed and implemented failed to hit the mark with sales, take the blame. Talk with sales about why it happened, and figure out why it didn't meet the desired expectations.
Openly discussing an initiative's shortcomings helps marketing maintain their credibility with sales, which you need for future marketing-driven endeavors to succeed. Once you have the full information, from the sales and marketing side, decide how to move forward.
And the 1/2: Never give up.
"Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith." - Steve Jobs
Even if marketing hits snags in moving sales to new, fresh, more productive ways of accomplishing the company's goals, don't stop in your pursuit of success.
Closing the gap between sales and marketing empowers your company to create a harmonious relationship that increases bottom-line results. Smart professionals eventually see the advantages of building a mutually respectful relationship. Committing to harmony with sales benefits marketing, helps trump the competition, and creates a stronger, more enduring customer experience.
How have you made a salesperson smile lately? We want to hear from you! Comment or Tweet us at @modusengagement.