My philosophy about marketing is, and always has been, that if I spend a dollar on marketing today, I should be able to directly point to a sale and tangible ROI from that investment as quickly and efficiently as possible. In my world, we don’t count hashtags, likes, friends, and followers as “success.” Only dollars generated in sales from new customers count, and every dollar you spend should directly support the goal of driving profitable customers in the door and additional revenue from existing clients.
However, the simple reality is that marketing CAN’T always get that job done on its own. At some point, a SALESPERSON needs to answer the call, book the appointment, conduct the demo or consultation, and ultimately, close the sale. Thinking that a great marketing plan will instantly produce more sales is asking it to do too much — a bridge too far.
In many cases, marketing is blamed for the failings of the sales team. “The leads were weak” is a very common complaint of crybaby sales reps who ONLY want leads who are “buyers in heat,” showing up with a check in hand and unbridled enthusiasm about buying TODAY.
And while marketing can certainly produce some leads that fit that criterion, it significantly limits the number of opportunities you’ll get, filtering out anyone who has a question, concern, or desire to talk to someone first before they buy. Candidly, if my marketing could produce those kinds of leads, I wouldn’t have a need for professional salespeople. I could hire administrative assistants to simply process the orders.
So, what CAN marketing do, and where are its limits? Here’s a short list of what you can and should expect from your marketing efforts.
Replace COLD Prospecting
Great marketing can drive inbound leads of people who have a serious interest in buying or are at least open to the idea of a conversation. Even with all the available marketing media and strategies today, some companies still stupidly rely on salespeople to sift, sort, and trudge through an ice-cold list of names in search of a gold needle in a haystack. This is the fastest way to lose a great sales professional through burnout. Salespeople don’t get burned out from selling — they get burned out, tired, and frustrated from prospecting. When you finally get a marketing plan producing AND you’ve built a great list of unconverted leads in the process of getting ready to buy, selling gets a lot more productive and easier because you let your marketing systems find, qualify, and cultivate buyers.
Make A Good Salesperson GREAT
Following on the previous, a good salesperson should spend the majority of their time talking to prospects who have some level of willingness and ability to buy what you’re selling. Really great marketing can presell and predispose a prospect to want to do business with your organization by answering frequently asked questions, building trust, demonstrating differential value and USP (unique selling proposition), and creating urgency to buy. Great marketing can provide client testimonials and case studies to demonstrate competence, introduce risk-reducing guarantees and proof, reduce or eliminate fee resistance, and EDUCATE the prospect on what “good” is and what to look for when buying what you’re selling, which makes you the OBVIOUS choice regardless of price. All of this makes the actual process of selling EASIER.
Recently, I hired a top salesperson from a very well-known and well-run organization local to Franklin, where we have our offices. I was delighted to actually recruit their rock star and had great expectations for his performance.
However, it quickly became apparent that he didn’t know how to sell at ALL. I was actually shocked at how abysmal he was in his ability to have a consultative conversation, ask good questions, and LISTEN. As you might imagine, he didn’t last long. So, what went wrong? To my estimation, the company he previously worked for was so well-known and great at marketing that he only had to take orders, not sell — and when he came to our team, we grilled him on good sales processes, which he was unable to grasp, so I never felt comfortable putting him on the phone with a prospect of ours.
This is a very common scenario to be aware of when hiring salespeople. Many can be great IF sufficient marketing props them up. If you don’t have strong name recognition and a powerful brand to support the sales effort, someone who was a rock star in another organization that has those marketing assets may turn out to be a terrible rep for you. Of course, if you build that level of marketing power, you have the advantage of hiring average people and getting them to perform brilliantly.
Repel Wrong-Fit Prospects
Most businesses don’t give much thought to who they DON’T want as a customer, often because they’re starved for business to the point where they’ll take almost anyone. Big mistake. If your target market is “anyone,” you don’t have a target market — and part of communicating who IS a right fit is communicating who the wrong fit is.
In my business, I make it abundantly clear that we aren’t selling instant rice. Success in marketing requires a commitment to doing the work and sticking with a strategy long enough to get it to work. That is the extreme opposite of what many other marketing “gurus” will tell you. They’re selling easy buttons and quick fixes because those have universal appeal. Who doesn’t want a four-hour workweek or seven-minute abs? It’s hard to sell “homework” that will produce results over time. However, I know our best client isn’t one created with quick fixes and shortcuts. They want a REAL business and marketing plan that will actually sustain them and deliver consistent success, not a Happy Meal with a cheap prize in the box.
Robin Robins is the IT industry’s most in-demand marketing consultant, sales trainer, and direct response marketing consultant who specializes in developing strategic marketing, sales and lead generation systems for MSPs, VARs and IT services companies.
Robin is the Founder of Technology Marketing Toolkit, MSP Success Magazine and Big Red Media. To date, her organization has coached, trained and consulted with over 10,000 IT business owners from all over the US and in 37 different countries. She currently runs the largest C-level peer group in the IT services channel for MSPs and her annual event, the IT Sales and Marketing Boot Camp, attracts over 1,600 attendees every year and is sponsored by the IT industry’s leading vendors.
This vast experience has given Robin a broad knowledge of hundreds of marketing and sales tactics used by some of the most successful, sales driven organizations in the world.