Tag Archives: sales

A Brutally Honest Discussion About the Responsibilities of Sales and Marketing

sales and marketing

How integrated are sales and marketing? They should be tightly integrated because marketing should tee up sales – right? What are the performance objectives for sales executives? Marketing executives? Well for sales executives, that is pretty easy – sales and margin. For marketing executives, that is not quite an easy answer. We could say brand awareness, lead generation, loyalty, and advocacy. But at the end of the day (or quarter) most CEOs judge their marketing executives’ performance on sales.

Now on one hand this makes sense. A company survives on profit from sales. All marketing efforts, if successful, should result in sales. But here is the rub … the functions of marketing are different than sales. And more importantly, customers and clients do not want to be blatantly sold to. They want to develop trust and relationships with the brands they purchase.

So let’s go back to sales objectives and marketing objectives. The sales executive has one simple job function – close the sale. Marketers’ job functions are different. They need to build awareness, interest, buzz, reputation, and overall an awesome customer/client experience with the brand. If we agree that marketers need to build trust and win over customers to build solid relationships, can’t that relationship be hurt if the target audience feels like they are being sold to? And if at the end of the day the marketer’s success and future with their company is going to be judged by sales, are we not creating a dilemma? Not just a dilemma for the marketer, but a potential problem for the customer as well?

As I said, this is an honest discussion with no simple answer. But I suggest that we need to change the objectives of marketers. My suggestion is not driven by a desire to ease the responsibilities of marketers, but is driven by the target audience behavior that marketers serve. The audience does not want to be sold to and at the same time they want to believe in the brands they purchase. And from the company perspective they need sales to survive.

If we look at the sales marketing funnel, most consumers traverse from awareness to consideration to sale to post-sale loyalty and then advocacy. Can we agree that the four phases besides sales (awareness, consideration, loyalty, and advocacy) tee up sales? If so, let a marketer’s function and responsibility be teeing up sales and a sales executive be responsible for closing the sale. Measure marketers on awareness consideration, loyalty, and advocacy and not hold them responsible for sales. Is this distinction possible?

I believe the digital world has put much power in the hands of consumers and clients. They can get more information then ever before. They can share their opinion to a large audience and their news travels fast. Behaviors as a result of digital technologies create the case for truly separating marketing and sales objectives.

Here is an interesting analog … For a long time, The New York Yankees were blessed with having Mariano Rivera as the relief pitcher that would be put in at the end of a game to seal a win for the team. It did not matter if the starting pitcher was having an amazing outing. If the starting pitcher had a big lead. The Yankees’ manager would put Rivera in to close the deal. The Yankees had great “tee-er-uppers” and a superb closer. Metaphorically speaking, marketers are starting pitchers. They get momentum and set up the win for the closer. Sales executives come in in the late innings and seal the deal/win.

Yes, I know sales/marketing objectives are a complicated issue, but I think I have rationalized the need for change now. Many have talked about this for many years. Social and digital technologies have really created the customer/client behavior to drive a need for change now. Please add your voice and opinion to this vital topic.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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Why You Need a Chief Engagement Officer

Who is the most important person in your business? I hope you answered the customer or client? That’s right … you can take anyone out of your company and you will survive, but if the customer(s) is not there, you have a hobby, not a business.

So if the customer is the most important person, why aren’t you forming an organization around their wants, needs, and desires? Why don’t you have a point person responsible for all interactions with that imperative individual(s)? A person who is responsible for attracting them, building trust with them, selling to them, developing brand loyalty, and building a relation so rich that your customers will both rally for and defend your brand.

That is the role of the Chief Engagement Officer. Think of all the touch points that potential and existing customers have with your company. If we look at your organization today, the role and the responsibility of a Chief Engagement Officer is part marketing, sales, billing, and customer service.

Time for Chief Engagement OfficerNow you can say all the touch points I have defined and all the areas of responsibility I have listed have been in place for 100 years. So why do we need a Chief Engagement Officer now? The answer is simple. There has been one dramatic aspect that has changed the way business is done. That is the evolution and now ubiquitous nature of our digital world.

Digital technologies and cultural adoption uses have flipped the playing field completely whether you like it or not. The customer has far greater control of a brand position and reputation than the company behind the brand. There is no more making pretend this is not so and denying it. If you are, your business will soon be dead.

I recently read through an excellent presentation by David Meerman Scott titled, “The New Rules of Selling.” David details how buying behavior and actual purchasing has changed. Before they go into the car dealer, for example, they already have researched and have decided what they want to purchase. From my perspective, this means that engagement and proliferation of valuable information are paramount. The Chief Engagement Officer needs to manage all aspects of content, communication, customer service, and motivating loyal customers to advocate on behalf of the brand. I have come to the conclusion that marketing is the new sales. At bit confusing, yes, but think about it. You need to put valued information in front of your target audience to help them make buying decisions. This information and stories come from both your company and your existing audience.

As I mentioned in the beginning, “There has been one dramatic element that has changed the way business is done.” Similarly, Meerman Scott rightfully declares, “Now BUYERS are in charge of relationships they choose to do business with.” And given this reality, companies don’t require a head of sales, marketing, and customer support. They must have a Chief Engagement Officer that covers the entire gamut.

Now I know you can look me up on LinkedIn or see my bio here on my blog and see that I am the Chief Engagement Officer at Social Steve Consulting. Sure, you can easily say, “Oh Social Steve, that is so self serving to write an article covering Why You Need a Chief Engagement Officer.” But think about this … I have been a marketing executive for 20 years. I have my own consulting practice. I could have given myself any title. But I am a Chief Engagement Officer because the responsibilities that go with that title are driven by the needs of brands through out the world. Customer behavior and current business environment dictate needs to change organizational leadership structure. And organizations require a new type of leader if they really want to win customers and spawn word of mouth marketing. How much longer can brands continue to be stagnant and avoid organizational changes that must happen to drive success?

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

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Filed under behavior, brand communication, brands, change management, company organization, customer service, marketing, sales, Social Steve, SocialSteve

Social Media Highlights the Important Difference Between Marketing and Sales

Marketing is not sales and yet so many seem to forget that. If marketing is not sales, why would we measure marketing success by sales figures? And if marketing shouldn’t be measured by sales figures, does it have any importance in companies?

Marketing and SalesSome tough questions here, but let’s start with a definition. According to Wikipedia, “Marketing is the process of communicating the value of a product or service to customers. It is a critical business function for attracting customers.” But I would take this a bit further and add that marketing is the act of creating desire, want, and need of a brand and motivating the target market to act. This “act” can be a number of things. Yes, the act can be a purchase, but it can also be many other valuable dealings.

You see, a salesperson asks, “What can I do to get someone to purchase my product today?” A marketing person should ask, “What can I do to get someone to want my product for a lifetime and share my product value with others?”

When you look at these two different questions, you see how brands should utilize social platforms. Social media is best used to build trusted relationships. As brands build trusted relationships they continue to deliver value to a target audience. The relationships create awareness, brand consideration, loyalty, and advocacy. Continuous communication and delivery of valuable content is what reinforces these attributes. And by the way, these things can be measured, and they tee up sales. So while these “marketing efforts” may not result in direct sales, they absolutely have value for companies.

The difference between sales and marketing is short term survivability and long term sustainability – when done correctly. And this is a value of social marketing – it provides long term sustainability as opposed to short term sales when done correctly. Thus the term social marketing is emerging. Social marketing is a valuable business function. Social media is the technologies that make social marketing possible.

Not surprisingly, you do not hear the term “social sales.” Yes, social marketing can tee up sales, but is not typically successful when going at sales directly. We do hear of social commerce. And social commerce “involves using social media, online media that supports social interaction, and user contributions to assist in the online buying and selling of products and services.” Social commerce includes:

1. Loyalty and referral marketing
2. Social CRM
3. Mobile social commerce
4. Better location-based marketing
5. Group buying
6. Social shopping
7. Ratings and reviews
8. Recommendations and referrals
9. Forums and communities
10. Social ads and apps

In most cases of social commerce it is the audience that takes an action. The promotion of sales in social channels comes best from the target audience as opposed to the company itself. It is more authentic and trusted selling. But you can only expect your audience to come rally advocacy and word of mouth as you continually deliver value to them. Don’t push sales in social channels. Let your audience do it as you market to them.

Think about social marketing; ease up on social selling.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

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Social Media Conversion and the Social Media Marketing Funnel

The billion dollar question – define for me how social media converts sales. Now that social media is getting serious consideration and/or implementation by just about all companies, this is the number one question I am getting asked.

First, let’s get a couple of things straight: 1) Social media is not a sales tool. 2) It is a marketing tool, among other things. It can increase the probability of sale – just like a well planned marketing campaign. It takes a salesperson to complete a sale (usually), but a good social media program produces many qualified leads.

I choose to answer the social media conversion question in the context of the marketing funnel principle. In the simplest form, the marketing funnel looks like this:

Simple Marketing Funnel


There are variations for the marketing funnel, but generally, some “marketing endeavor” creates awareness and interest, and a “salesperson” completes the sale. Ultimate conversion is accomplished by sales, not marketing. The sales force relies on marketing to generate qualified leads.

So now let’s talk about social media and the conversion process. A winning social media plan and implementation delivers greater numbers throughout the marketing funnel AND provides a cyclic capability not experienced elsewhere.

SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING FUNNEL

In the diagram above, the marketing Funnel State is shown down the center. The first three states (awareness, consideration, and sale) are the same as in the simple marketing funnel, but social media is one of the best ways to generate awareness and motivate consideration. (I covered an execution scenario in the article “Executable Game Plan for Winning Ultimate Customers with Social Media”. The steps described to get Attention, Attraction, Affinity, and capture an Audience are an expansion of the funnel states of awareness and consideration.) The next state is the conversion. As mentioned above, conversion is a sales function, not a social media function, not a marketing function. Once again, a good marketing campaign and a good social media program generate awareness and increases qualified leads. They amplify the probability of conversion.

There are two very important additions to the social media marketing funnel – loyalty and advocacy. Social media has the power of making stickier (loyal) customers and turning them into your marketing engine (advocates, referrals). You can reinforce your customers’ purchase decision by engaging in appropriate social media activities. This is the power of social media – the ability to create advocates for your brand – advocates that produce the most compelling marketing of your brand. (See “Using the Social Media “A-path” to Capture Ultimate Customers .“)

The left side of the Social Media Marketing Funnel is labeled Group. This highlights the population before and after a specific funnel state. Yes, the population decreases as you move down the funnel, but social media endeavors produce a feedback loop where promoters spawn awareness, to a new target market population. This continues to be a cyclical program thus increasing the population in every funnel group. Social media is more than a campaign. It is continuous communication and conversations. If you continue to produce valuable information, you will continue to increase awareness, promote loyalty, and motivate advocacy.

The right side of the Social Media Marketing Funnel explains the Individual State or frame of mind of filtered group population after a specific Funnel State. For example, after a population gains some awareness of a brand, some individuals have interest. This is similar to the movement from Attention to Attraction in my A-Path model . There is an evaluation before sale. After a person purchases something and begins using the brand, they form a more complete assessment of the value potentially leading to brand loyalty and even a stronger satisfaction defined. Ultimately, some very happy, loyal customers will turn into advocates (see A-Path model ) and generate word of mouth referrals.

The Social Media Marketing Funnel model provides guidance for systematic implementations. There are two important takeaways here:

1) To begin, your product, service, and/or brand must have true value and differentiation for a target market. No offering will ever be successful unless this is true, independent of social media.
2) Your social media game plan should be designed such that Listening, Conversations, and Relationship building activities (see LCR Mentality) stimulate specific Funnel States (Awareness, Consideration, Loyalty, Advocacy). You can implement social media promotions to motivate conversion and sale, but as I always state, social media implementations aimed to sell most often have negative ramifications. It is best to have your sales team sell.

Bottom line – social media is an excellent vehicle to increase the probability of conversion. You can drive awareness and produce qualified leads. Think about the guidance provided here, listen to your target market, deliver them value, and build relationships. You will see an increase of prospects, customers, repeat customers, and customer promoters.

(Acknowledgement – The content above answers the question I have been asked hundreds of times – “How does social media convert?” The model I have defined here is a social media extension of what Adam H. Cohen termed “The New Marketing Funnel”)

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