There, I said it. In my opinion, as a marketing ‘purist’, the sales function of a business starts when a person enquires about a business’s service or product. It stands to reason then, if you do not have a strong sales function in your business, your marketing will not be effective.
Do Not Neglect your Business’s Sales Function.
With the explosion of information about marketing and social media, you would be forgiven for thinking that if you get your marketing right, that’s all you need to do.
Well, marketing is only one aspect of the business. Just as sales, finance and administration are other aspects. All aspects of a business are connected and need to be in balance. It’s no use spending all your time and money on marketing if you don’t have a sales system that works.
What is Marketing’s Job?
The role of marketing is to present the business in way that encourages people to make a sales enquiry. (Note I said ‘people’ – people do business with people, not businesses). When a person makes a sales enquiry, they turn into a ‘Prospect’ (in sales terms) and that’s when the sales function starts with that person. Marketing has done its job for that person at that time.
However, other marketing aimed at the Prospect continues. The social media posts still go out, the website is still being updated and continuous improvement using research and sales information etc is still done. While the marketing is all still happening, the prospect is being moved through the sales cycle (in the nicest possible way).
The Flow between Marketing and Sales
Marketing and sales need to work together and share information about the Prospect.
Marketing could tell sales how the prospect connected with the business before the sales enquiry, the web pages they are interested in, and if the prospect has commented on the businesses social media channels. Sales can use this information to present the best option for the prospect.
Sales could tell marketing which services/products the prospect is interested in, when they may be ready to buy and any objections they may have. Marketing can use this information to write and time blogs, newsletters or social media posts. If the product is a low cost product, this information flow can be done for a number of similar prospects.
When Does Your Sales Cycle Start?
It can be tricky to determine when the sales cycle starts. Think about your definition of a sales enquiry.
Some sales enquiries will be obvious, but others may be subtle. For example you may get an email or phone call enquiring about your opening hours. It up to you whether you treat this as an opportunity and identify the person as a potential customer. If they’re asking about opening hours, they are interested in your business and are likely in a position to buy.
Another person may be interested in attending one of your webinars or events. They are wanting to learn more so it’s likely they may want to buy from you, if not now, then sometime in the future.
Having your own set of indicators of when your sales cycle starts is important so that potential customers don’t slip through.
Touchpoints Before a Sales Enquiry
There may be many touchpoints between a person and business before they make a sales enquiry. The business may not know about the prospect until they are virtually ready to buy. The person may have:
1) viewed the businesses website
2) viewed their social media channels to see how active they are online
3) read their social media posts
4) followed or connected with the business or the business owner or staff on social media
5) joined the business’s mailing list
6) Googled the business and business owner to find out information that’s not on the website or social media
7) looked at review sites about the business and its services or products
8) scanned through the blog articles written by the business
9) asked colleagues about the business
11) checked out the qualifications of the business owner and staff
12) looked at ways to pay for services or products
13) checked pricing of services or products online
14) asked for quotes from competitors businesses
15) received a marketing email/newsletter from the business.
So when a person makes an enquiry about your services or products, you need to have a sales process that will guide them through the sales cycle.
They may not be ready to buy but they need to be nurtured along the way. If they are not the right fit for your business (at that time) they will drop out of the sales cycle. They may pop back in at a future time.
After the Prospect has enquired, marketing continues and is, ideally, continuously improved with information from sales.
With a strong sales function and a balanced information flow between marketing and sales, your marketing efforts won’t be lost and your sales will grow.
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