… or how to slowly lose $150,000, one bad month at a time
I’ve spent almost 30 years in the sales AND marketing trenches, and I believe that one of the things that gives me a unique perspective as a sales AND marketing consultant is that I have actually made a living as a successful salesperson.
I have sold everything from small hardware, software, and services contracts for a few thousand dollars, all the way to merger and acquisition transactions that are worth tens of millions of dollars. Added to this, I’ve also had the privilege of running a highly successful sales AND marketing team.
Because I’ve sold for a living, I know that there is a very real difference between sales AND marketing.
Many people tend to use the words interchangeably and to illustrate the difference I use the analogy of a volleyball game. Marketing can be seen as the set of the ball, while sales is the spike. Both are dependent on each other to score a point! A poor set will result in an awkward spike, with a low probability of a resulting point. But a great set will give even a poor spiker a higher ability to score. If you properly set the ball first, the points will follow.
When revenues are down, many businesses conclude that what they need is a salesman to drive new sales in the door. They do a search, find someone who seems to fit, hire them, and then turn them loose on an unsuspecting public to “go get some sales.”
In the past year, I’ve seen three situations that followed the pattern above. Here’s what happened in each:
- Scenario 1: Information Technology Company. Salesperson lasted two years. Some small, but insignificant contracts were brought in (although he was always on the verge of closing that next BIG deal … ), but not enough to justify the salary. Result: Salesperson fired. Total cost to the company: $150,000
- Scenario 2: Building Services Company. Salesperson lasted ten months. One little contract was brought in during the term. Result: Salesperson quit in frustration as he couldn’t see a way to get traction. Total cost to the company: $75,000
- Scenario 3: Multi-media firm. Salesperson lasted four months. No new sales were generated. Result: Salesperson quit (just before she was going to be fired). Total cost to the company: $25,000
In each case above there were no existing sales AND marketing systems in the company, and the owners believed that hiring a salesperson on its own would solve their declining revenue problem.
What went wrong? Simply this. Hiring a salesperson without a marketing system to back them up is equivalent to having a volleyball team completely made of people who can only spike the ball. Without a marketing system to set the sale, the salespeople will always flounder.
So, here’s the frightening truth
The vast majority of salespeople are VERY POOR at this …
In a sales context, the purpose of marketing is LEAD GENERATION – filling a sales funnel with prospects that are qualified and primed to buy (i.e. “the set”)! The vast majority of salespeople are VERY POOR at this MARKETING ACTIVITY unless given the tools and resources to accomplish it.
Business owners must recognize that the fundamental purpose of a salesperson is to do just three things:
- Maximize the potential of the sales transaction
- Minimize the transaction time
- Close the sale
Everything else is outside the scope of these primary functions!
Once again, LEAD GENERATION IS A MARKETING ACTIVITY, and prospecting for leads to fill the sales funnel will not be easily achieved if the salesperson does not have some basic tools.
Here are some bare minimums for the toolset:
- Qualified, segmented, lists of prospects
- Clear definitions of your customer’s pain
- Clear value propositions, within great collaterals, for each segment
- Clear points of differentiation between you and your competitors
- A lead generation system. E.g. advertising, promotion, communication, etc., within a systematic marketing funnel
- A methodical sales process, with clear stages and milestones
- A CRM system to manage their customers and prospects
If you currently do not have a sales team, do not hire any salespeople until you put this toolset in place. If you already have a sales team but do not have this toolset, put it into place and watch your sales soar.
Like this post? Then you will love these:
- It’s Incredible What Your Customers Won’t Tell You
- Why Sales Teams Fail … lessons from the Vietnam war
- In Sales & Marketing, Zero Dark Thirty is 30 Minutes Too Late