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Successful Prospecting Integrates Sales and Marketing

Who is responsible for prospecting? Sales or Marketing?

It is an age-old debate between these two disciplines, isn’t it? Sales claims that marketing hasn’t created enough leads to meet their goals. And, Marketing claims they have generated hundreds of leads that sales never follows up on.

And, who is right?

They both are! What I have found after working with many sales and marketing teams across many different industries, is that the issue really comes down to two easily addressed areas:

    1. The definition of a lead. Both teams must be VERY clear about what defines a lead. I like to define a lead as an opportunity where the buyer is actively shopping or open to shopping for what you have to sell. If the opportunity is more of a “possibility in the future” then they are still a prospect. Regardless of how you define a lead within your own sales process, the key is that you do so and that both sales and marketing agree and understand that definition. 2. The lack of integration between sales and marketing efforts. Defining what qualifies an opportunity as a “lead” is a great start to successful prospecting. Now you must also define the role of sales and marketing in the converting of prospects to leads. This is where many companies fall down-by either assigning this responsibility to marketing alone or assigning it fully to sales. In reality though, the most effective approach is assigning the responsibility to both and integrating the activities of each. This is not a relay race where one runner hands the baton off cleanly to the next. This is more like a baseball game, where catchers, pitchers, basemen, and outfielders all play their part in an integrated way to win the game.

So what does this mean for you?

Take a hard look at how you identify prospects and what defines a lead for your organization. NOT just from a marketing perspective, nor just from a sales perspective, but from both. Then, analyze your marketing programs for how well they integrate with sales.

An example of an integrated prospecting effort would be: Marketing generates a prospect through a web download from a promotion, Sales calls to further qualify, Marketing invites the highly qualified prospects from the sales call downs to a seminar, Sales meets each attendee at the seminar and sets an appointment for a product demo, etc.

From this example, you can see how integrating your efforts will allow you to more efficiently and effectively identify, qualify, and convert your best prospects. If your efforts aren’t well integrated now, it’s time to get busy reworking your sales and marketing plans.

Essentially, successful prospecting comes down to the powerful integration of the magic of marketing with the science of sales. And though it is not easy and does take discipline, it is well worth it.

3 Responsibilities of a Sales and Marketing Consultant

The first of 3 responsibilities of a sales and marketing consultant should be for them to be honest with you; simply having a website is not nearly enough to succeed, never mind prosper these days.

Although it is true that you are putting yourself out there into the “online ocean” and positioned ahead of most business owners in your marketplace, the truth at a higher level is that just having a 24 hour brochure type website, (one without the bells and whistles) will get you nowhere and fast in this “new age” era!

Each and every marketplace and industry is getting more and more competitive and when you add changes from the consumer behavior side of this formula, you NEED TO UNDERSTAND how to adapt to this transformation or you will severely suffer. Let’s review some rather interesting statistics about marketing online.

Did you realize that 46% of businesses still don’t have a website? Now you may be thinking that I read this statistic in January of 2000, but I discovered it while doing market research in 2011. According to an internet research company (The Kelsey Group), 31% of households PREFER USING THE INTERNET FIRST when gathering information about a product or service – and many of those searches are for local business name, zip code or town or city.

As we dive deeper, 67% of all of the local searches on major search engines (Google-Bing-Yahoo) will eventually lead to an offline transaction. And 86% of searches that reach a local website follow their search up with a phone call.

The second of 3 responsibilities of a sales and marketing consultant should be to make sure their clients web infrastructure is set up to maximize the 3 tiers of effective integration in this “new age” era. First, if you have a website or blog that not only is aesthetically pleasing – make its curb appeal more desirable.

To be honest, finding a serviceable web-designer is a not all that difficult, but finding an internet marketer that knows how to market websites is another story.

The second phase of our 3 steps to integration has to do with advertising your message more effectively. Don’t let people fool you; there absolutely is an art to being “socially savvy” online! The pivotal point in the “new age” success formula is learning how to most effectively use the science behind the ‘tools of technology’ in your endeavors that pays the largest dividends.

Now onto item number 3 of what a sales and marketing consultant should be doing for your business. If your website does not have an area to capture a prospective customer’s information – BUYER BEWARE!

This is the whole point of being online in the first place. Although driving traffic to your website is a big deal and critical, converting that traffic to sales is much more impactful on bettering your bottom line. Does a grocery store care more about how many customers walk through the door or how many good are in each cart?

As we come in for a landing, I can’t express enough how important using social media and video is when marketing to potential clients and customers. If you want to improve your marketing and sales efforts, you need to know how to maximize your presence in the forums where people are hanging around online.

The Sales and Marketing Dead Fly Discount

Few months ago I had a rather interesting sales and marketing adventure at a local restaurant.

The short version of the story is, I went to a new bistro in town for a takeout cheeseburger, opened it up, and found a scraggly “deep fried” fly sitting neatly next to it, as if it were but an innocent parsley leaf.

And, believe it or not, we recently went back there.

Actually, my wife did. (I’ll never go back. Ugh.)

Turns out her love for good fish (which they are known for) trumps even the fly incident.

Why am I telling you this?

Because when she called her order in, she made sure to speak with the owner and re-tell him the fly story from before (his reaction last time was, “Oh, that’s a first”, with no apology or so much as a gesture to make it right).

And this time, he DID apologize.

In fact, he said my fly story had gotten around town and he’d spent a bunch of money putting things in place to make sure it never happened again. And to try to make up for it, he even gave her a discount on her order that day (what I now call “the dead fly discount”) to boot.

Anyway, long story short… she tried the fish.

And she LOVED it.

And despite the owner falling FAR short of what he SHOULD have done to make the situation right (in my opinion), she’s gone back there every Friday since — 3 times in a row now. Even with that whole fly fiasco fresh in her mind. And even with me making obnoxious fly jokes with every bite.

OK, so what’s the moral of the story?

Probably there isn’t one.

Except that, maybe an excellent product really WILL cure a lot of business “sins” after all. Even the nasty ones that’d normally get you run out of town.

Just a little food for thought.