Many people don’t want to do the marketing for their business. They REALLY don’t want to. They just plain don’t like it. So they turn to a marketing/ad agency for what they deem to be drudgery.
But when a company with faltering sales and shaky numbers seeks out marketing/ad agencies with the request to “fix it and make it go,” a marketing specialist can start to feel like a doctor trying to help a diabetic who insists on eating fudge during every office visit.
Not to say that marketers are doctors. (I’ll dispense of the spin doctors jokes here.)
Even with the expertise of a marketing firm developing the full-scale broad-based creative strategies for the brand - not to mention all of the blogging, tweeting, YouTubing and whatnot - business owners and salespeople would do well to think like marketers too.
See, these days customers can find out all about a product or service without ever having to talk to a salesperson. Ever. And from the comfort of their home. So if sales reps are to stay relevant, they have to change up their game a bit.
“The sales person has to get involved earlier in the buyer’s journey,” says Jantsch, author of the book Duct Tape Selling: Think Like a Marketer – Sell Like a Superstar. “They need to become an authority so they’re looked at as an expert. They’re not going to get invited to the party otherwise, because the buyer is now making a great deal of decisions even before marketing hands the lead over to sales.” As Jantsh says, “That’s where the current disconnect is. We’ve got all this information and we’re drowning in it, and we need someone to make it valuable to me and my situation [as a buyer].”
So does that mean salespeople should ditch Willy Loman and strive for Don Draper? Absolutely not.
It simply means that salespeople and business owners would do well to adopt a marketing mindset.
So what does a marketing mindset entail exactly? It starts by simply asking yourself how you can build awareness among customers regarding your products and services. And there are more than a few ways to do this:
This should be obvious, yet how many times have you, as a customer, walked away from a purchase because the person helping couldn’t answer a few basic questions about the product or service?
Though Willy Loman lacked the necessary attributes to be a great salesman, he did the know the product inside and out. The marketing playbook places tremendous value on building reputation as an authority. Salespeople would be wise to learn this play.
2. Know your prospects.
There’s a ton of information out there. And we all have access to it. ALL of us.
“But the person who tells me 10 things I should be reading is the one I’m going to listen to,” Jantsh says. “If you can produce, share, or curate content that will make my life easier and give me a leg up on being more effective or efficient, I’m going to look at you as somebody of value.”
Be sure to do the extra reading on their industry. Check out the trade journals and their community papers. Clip out articles you think would be interesting to a prospect.
3. Show up and start speaking.
This doesn’t mean just chatting up those prospects. We’re talking on a broader scale here. Giving talks at conventions, expos, seminars or being on a panel gives you street cred as an authority in your field. Hone your speaking skills and observe speakers who stand out in your field.
Plus, if you’re given the opportunity to speak alongside someone who is already well known, grab it. There will already be a bigger audience, and you may be able to offer a different perspective on whatever the topic.
4. Know your competition.
Of course you want to see what they’re doing well. That’s valuable information. But what’s equally valuable, if not more, is to observe what the competition is doing poorly. If you can begin to see the competition’s weak spot as the place where a client’s needs are not being met, then you can ask yourself what you can do to step in and meet those needs?
This doesn’t mean you have to go into every client meeting (or even basic human interaction) seething to close the deal Glengarry Glen Ross style. It’s more a reminder that every conversation you have is an effort to build new relationships or strengthen current ones.
The bottom line? In business, pretty much everything is marketing - right down to what pair of shoes you wear. It all affects to the profitability of your company. So why not ensure your company’s longevity by thinking like a marketer?