Switching from Sales to Marketing?
Three areas you should prepare for to help you become a great marketer.
In our earlier blog titled ‘How are Sales and Marketing functions different?’ we talked about the error of placing people who are good at sales in charge of marketing. In a rush to scale up their marketing, growing companies sometimes switch their own sales people to handle marketing because they are familiar with the company’s business.
Being good at sales does not automatically qualify the person to be equally good at marketing. The two functions require different kinds of skills and knowledge. A sudden shift from sales to marketing can be a problem in the short run, not a solution.
However, if the situation in the organization necessitates making this switch, here are three areas new marketers should prepare themselves for: Mindset, Communications, Systems.
Sales and Marketing are equally important to bring revenue for the company. But the manner in which sales and marketing people think and act are different.
Sales people help ‘hooked’ prospects get all the final information or incentives they need to make the purchase or sign the contract. They are the on-ground people who provide the final ‘push’ to bring the sale to a close.
Marketing is about informing the target market about your company and creating the desire to buy your products and services. Marketing people have less contact with end customers. They operate indirectly in the background to ‘pull’ prospects towards the business with strategies designed to work over a period of time. Marketers think analytically with a holistic approach to everything. They have the ability to 1) Interpret data, understand consumer behavior, recognize trends and make calculated predictions to steer the market their way. 2) They have to coordinate several components to work together such as media, research, distribution channels, vendors and agencies.
Sales people who switch to marketing must change their ‘fast closure’ approach to a slower, long term strategy approach. They have to move from “deal closer” to “deal influencer,” and from one-to-one personal communicator to one-to-many indirect communicator.
Marketing is to reach out to customers in different ways so they find you, like you and buy from you. This requires a good understanding of the platforms of communication (media), and knowing how to use them to communicate effectively with your audience. There are two types of audience that marketers communicate with – external audience and internal audience.
These are your existing and potential customers, influencers, investors and vendors. The company speaks to them through various communication channels such as advertising (print, radio, TV, outdoor), public relations, social media, direct mail, e-mails, webinars, trade etc. Some of these are one-way communication (like a TV advertisement), or some are two-way dialogue platforms such as social media, where customers can share direct feedback or express their opinion publicly.
The “message” that you communicate to the market is most critical. Nothing compensates for a weak message that does not attract the attention and interest of your audience. Sales people must realize that the words they use to convince customers at the point of sale are not always the same words they can use in marketing campaigns. Message clarity and placing the right message in the right place at the right time is very important. Therefore, new marketers must be well versed with the nature of marketing communication and avoid falling into these two traps:
Trap 1: Randomertizing. A sales conversation is one-on-one oriented, allowing for rapid message adjustments on the spot. Marketing is about strategic messaging. Marketing messages are customized for consistent dissemination over relevant channels at predetermined intervals. New marketers who are not familiar with this process fall into the trap of ‘Randomertizing’ which is, “random advertising and marketing, trying to say everything to everyone wherever possible in the shortest time.” This approach may not give them the results they desire.
Trap 2: Peersurizing. When marketers are not confident of their own efforts, or not sure what they want to communicate, they start comparing their work to what others are doing in the market. They try to copy the same ideas, not realizing that what works for others may not work for them. This is called ‘Peersurizing’ which is, “trying to market your business by blindly copying your peers and applying a bunch of vague ideas from friends, relatives and colleagues which have zero relevance to your business.”
Every business has different markets, strategies and budgets. Some brands have been building their equity in the market steadily for years and may have huge budgets to sustain that position. Marketers must build a marketing strategy that is best suited for the size and nature of their own business.
a) Communication Partners: These are the experts who work with you to build the marketing communication. They include your Communication Consultants/Agencies in Public Relations, Advertising, Digital Marketing etc. The communication campaign they recommend will be based on what you brief them. Your brief will be a detailed document clearly outlying what you want the campaign to achieve, supported by appropriate data so they can develop the communication. The root cause of many campaigns not turning out as expected is because marketers do not provide a clear brief. (If the company prefers to handle the marketing communication on its own, their marketing team must be trained to become knowledgeable about marketing communication themselves.)
b) Stakeholders: These are all the parties in the marketing chain who must be informed about the communication that will be rolled out in the market. These parties include distribution channels, customer service and even field/direct marketing partners. The sales department who will already know the prices and product details of what they must sell, must also know about the marketing communication being sent out to the public to promote what they have to sell. It does happen that sometimes sales and marketing teams hardly know much about each other’s activities. Sales and marketing must work hand in hand. For example, sales people can give excellent feedback about customer responses so the marketing department can make adjustments to the communication as required.
So it really comes down to the ability of a marketer to also be a good communicator. What you say and how you say it influences how people respond. Great communicators stand out so prepare yourself to communicate clearly and confidently to your internal and external audiences.
When sales people are brought into marketing, they must recognize the need to build a marketing system for their business because so many things have to be tied in. One of the reasons many companies struggle with their marketing is they do not build a marketing system to communicate consistently with customers in a manner that can lead them to buy. Building a Structured Marketing System that is ideal for the size and nature of their business will help them get better results from their marketing. A free template to help marketers build a Structured Marketing System is available here.
Read the first part of this series: ‘Switching your sales people to marketing? Avoid the mistake of rushing your sales people into managing your marketing overnight.’