There are some organizations that have well-developed sales departments, and then there are others that are stronger in marketing. The former boast effective and efficient sales teams that bring in lots of new customers, while the later have effective marketing programs that grow their business steadily over the years by attracting more sales.
Technically speaking, sales and business development are entirely marketing functions. For the purposes of this article though, we’ll discuss the two (sales & business development, and marketing) as separate business units. And by “marketing”, we’re actually referring more to the “promotions” element of the marketing mix.
Having said that, here are some of the benefits your organization will reap by making sure you focus on both functions equally.
Generating new business
Your most effective strategy to generate new business is through your sales and business development team. These are your “Hunters” who relentlessly pursue new leads and prospects. They write proposals, schedule meetings and presentations, and work the phones and email to follow-up on current opportunities. They get their kick from the challenge of recruiting new customers, and nothing makes them happier than getting a contract signed by that lead they’ve been working on for months.
Related: Are you a Hunter or a Farmer?
No business that’s selling anything can grow without these wonderful people, especially during the early startup phases. The brand isn’t known yet, there are no references, and potential customers are full of doubt about whether they should take a chance with a company they’ve never heard of. Hence, your most important asset at this stage is your charismatic and knowledgable sales rep or business developer who is gifted in convincing even the strongest doubter that he/she will be making the best choice by working with the company.
Growing your business from repeat customers
As your organization matures and establishes a solid market share, your sales team will eventually start to run out of fresh leads and prospects they can identify and pursue. This is particularly the case in B2B, where the pool of potential clients will at one point in time start to run thin and sales people are forced to re-open previously lost opportunities over and over, with the hope that a few will materialize after all.
This doesn’t mean though that sales have to stagnate. On the contrary, you are in a great position to grow and nurture your sales not only from new customers, but repeat business that is generated from current clients. In fact, those are much easier (and less costly) to sell to as they’ve already experienced your brand and products, and provided they were satisfied will be more inclined to purchase again from your brand than from a competitor.
Generating repeat business is not restricted to selling the same product or service over and over. You now have lots of opportunities to increase each sale by cross and/ or up-selling. By that, we refer to the approach of offering your customers other products/ services that are related to what they are already purchasing, or selling other product/ service lines your brand carries and that may be of interest to them. These sales tactics are typically performed by your “farmers”, the team that focuses on nurturing and growing relationships with existing customers.
Related: Maximizing your Sales
Another compelling reason to grow your business from customers is that recruiting new ones is quite costly and exhausting. It takes a lot of preparations, meetings, and convincing to sign up a new client. Therefore, many organizations rightfully consider client acquisition as a major investment which often cannot even be recuperated from the first sale. It therefore only pays off to protect that investment by making sure sales are maximized over time, the investment is recuperated, and profits are eventually generated and maintained.
The role of marketing
Effective marketing (tactical communication and promotions) are important during both phases; hunters will find less resistance from potential customers who are (because of marketing) more familiar and comfortable with the brand and its products/ services, and are therefore more inclined to make a purchase.
At the same time, your ongoing marketing programs – and farmers – will remind the customer constantly about your brand, it’s products/ services, and most importantly – its values. They will push promotions, specials, incentives, and so forth to the people (or companies) that already have a relationship with your brand, thereby capitalizing on the level of trust that has been established.
How they integrate
Each lost sales opportunity provides your organization with valuable business intelligence about a lead. Keep in mind, just because someone didn’t make a purchase today doesn’t mean he/she may not be convinced otherwise in a month or another year. What is critical to succeed in this however is keeping accurate data about all your previous interactions with the lead.
So for example, let’s assume that we’ve been trying to convince a lead to commission our firm to design a strategic marketing plan for them. The CEO sees the value in our proposed service, but can’t afford it yet or is otherwise not totally convinced. Perhaps because she’s never heard of us. Regardless of the reasons, our CRM solution must reflect the fact that she has a need for this service but hasn’t reached the level of comfort yet where she’d be willing to make a purchase.
Knowing this, the business developer will tag her CRM record accordingly and add it to a special segment (or group) to whom our marketing people frequently send knowledge articles about strategic marketing and other relevant publications. Once the marketing team sees a reasonable level of engagement by the lead (click-throughs, comments, likes, inquiries, etc.), a note is sent back to business development alerting them that it has become time to schedule a follow-up meeting and pursue the opportunity again.
As we stated at the beginning of this article, sales and business development are integral functions of marketing. Yet, because they require different skill sets and teams, they are often dealt with as separate business units with management’s preferences and support leaning toward one or the other. Based on your experience in your particular industry, you may see more value in either, but what’s of importance is not to neglect one aspect for another, and the necessity to nurture both functions within your organization so your sales and profits keep growing stronger and stronger.
About the Author
Pinnacle Business & Marketing Consulting is a results-driven boutique consulting firm that specializes in providing clients with practical and pragmatic solutions to their business and marketing challenges.
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