Five Steps to Better Sales Support

Five Steps to Better Sales Support:
Brand Marketing Shouldn’t Get in the Way of Sales

Although we write and talk a lot about the idea that long term marketing objectives are important and often overlooked, we have to point out an exception to this philosophy: Sales support materials should be about what’s happening here and now, with a single minded focus on sales.

Our marketing colleagues may not want to hear that, but all too often sales people, who are front and center with customers, are not equipped to represent and sell the brand. Marketing doesn’t give them the tools they need.

This doesn’t have to happen. We’ve identified five steps to make sure your sales support material actually does the job of supporting sales.

1.    Start with what matters to your customers.

Remember your audience. Sales-focused marketing messages need to have two things: Relevance and the right emphasis. Important ideas that matter to the brand and its marketers–for example, a global presence–are often irrelevant to customers. Sales support materials can give customers confidence, but what they absolutely have to do is get customers to push the “buy” button.

2.    Confirm your messaging is sales-focused.

Before you check this off your list, ask this question: Where did your messaging originate? These are typical answers: 1) Nobody knows, but at some point in the past someone felt very strongly about it, and 2) In the vacuum of a marketing office or conference room.

Fix this. At the very least, have your sales force evaluate your key messages. Even better, ask your customers. You may not have to start over with your marketing messages, but it’s important that the messages are structured so that they relate to your customers.

3.    Present a consistent message across all platforms.

This can be a challenge. Synchronize your messaging across all the channels your brand utilizes. Depending on the size of your organization this may be a daunting task, but it is nonetheless important.

This doesn’t mean all the content has to be identical across all platforms, but it does need to reflect the messages that your sales force is using to communicate with customers. Because your customers aren’t just on the receiving end of sales materials–they read, watch television, and use Facebook and Twitter, too.

4.    With communication, don’t overdo it.

Since most of our work involves brands that sell through dealer networks, we have had a front row seat to brand’s barrage of communications. Email is the most common channel, and it’s not uncommon for dealers to receive dozens of emails a day from multiple people within the brand. Multiply that by the number of brands a dealer represents and it becomes white noise.

The key to overcoming the issue of communication overload is to carefully prioritize your use of messaging, especially email, and consolidate messages where possible.

5.    Adapt and adjust.

Like any sales and marketing effort, this is not a task you can check off your list and ignore. You will get feedback, which requires adjustments and analysis. As you develop your materials, be sure that you have communication channels in place to allow for feedback and you take time to review it. And be sure your sales group is involved in the process.

Revolutionary ideas? No. But systematically implementing and following these steps will clarify your brand’s value to dealers, and make you stand out among the crowd of competing brands.