15 Keys to Success for: Sales and Marketing

1. Educate yourself on the selling skills of today.

Old school selling involves brochures, internet brochures (aka your ‘traditional’ website), cold calls, hard closes, staged conversations, bill-board advertising, radio advertising, face-to-face meetings, driving around town all day long, dry sales letters, and press releases.

Contemporary school selling involves communicating on the customer’s terms, with information products, long sales copy, webinar meetings, white papers, case studies, blogging, podcasting, video, as well as attracting and converting prospects online via various social media outlets.

Old school strategies are best implemented with a new media twist, and new school strategies can be severely screwed up if not taken seriously and carried out with integrity and a plan. It is a whole new era in which sales and marketing have become a hybrid strategy. Invest in self-educating yourself so you do not get left behind! The selling skills of today are always changing!

Don’t underestimate the power of faxes. In these days of email, faxes have taken a back seat. Because of that, faxes get noticed. Carefully position faxes as part of your prospecting efforts.

2. Sell on emotion always!

Day-to-day business is riddled with emotion. There are many problems to solve and risky decisions to make ! Never forget, we all buy out of happiness or fear. It’s that simple! Don’t shy away from communicating the value of your solution based on your prospect’s fears out of concern for appearing negative. Many of their fears are very real AND justified – your prospect wants them alleviated! Can you help them? Tapping into happiness and fear will earn your prospects attention for communicating your value.

3. Targeting

The foundation that underpins sales prospecting success is the strength of your list and the precision of your targeting. Salespeople often call too low in the organization and try to start a groundswell by working their way up. Reach high to the decision makers. Make sure that your list is clean and ready to go before you start, or you’ll find that your day is lost in fits and starts.

Don’t do the bulk of your business prospecting during prime business hours. Often the call that is placed at 8AM or 6PM will be received by a decision-maker that has more time to talk. And don’t under-estimate the value of leaving voice mail messages at night. These will be the very first messages that your prospect will hear in the morning, thereby increasing the odds of them placing a returned call.

If you want to present products and services that are of value to the prospect and that meet their needs, you have to ASK questions. Ask the right questions and the prospect will tell you what they want and how they need to be sold. Too many sales reps launch into a conversation by discussing the features of their products and services. Features never sold anyone. The only thing that a prospect cares about is what these features will do for them. In other words, speak in terms of benefits and your prospect will be more pre-disposed to listening to your presentation.

There’s no magic bullet. Prospecting takes time and if your sales pipeline isn’t always filled with prospects in various stages of being worked, then you are in for a future sales slump.

4. Find and retain high-value customers

The 80-20 rule of business states that 80 percent of your business will come from 20 percent of your customers. It is therefore critical that you exert the extra effort to ensure that you retain the business of your top customers.

People prefer to do business with friends, acquaintances, or those to whom they’ve been referred. That being the case, it’s to the advantage of every salesperson, real estate agent, or business owner to network, both online and off line, whenever the opportunity presents itself. Granted, there’s only so much time in a day, and we all need to maintain a balance between work and leisure; so a lot depends on one’s individual personality, lifestyle choices, and the demands of our profession and family.

There are many real estate agents and brokers, for example, who seem to live their jobs seven days a week, and are almost constantly on call or in the networking mode. The nature of the job requires agents to be available when their clients aren’t working, which is typically on weekends and in the evening. Regardless of the frequency, however, it’s beneficial to one’s business and career to always be looking for –and following up on — networking and referral opportunities.

Another inescapable fact of successful sales and marketing is that people prefer to do business with companies and individuals that are well known and have a positive reputation. That’s why it’s important to maintain a high degree of visibility in your community and professional circles. Participating in online discussions on Linked-in, for example, could be one component of a visibility campaign, along with pursuing leadership positions in organizations, civic groups, or professional associations.

5. Value in every touch

When you sell, no one wants to hear your capability pitch, your history, or your life story right off the bat. They’re looking to find out how their lives can be enriched by working with you.

When you think about providing value, don’t just think about the value you will eventually provide when they buy from you. Think about the value they’ll get just from speaking with you. Eventually you’ll sell your company, your offering, and yourself. At first, sell the idea that the prospects’ time will be well-spent if they elect to speak with you.

Your ultimate offer might be a particular type of software, technical instrument, building materials, financial product, operations plan, or marketing tactic. But the interim offers—the offers you make and they accept before they buy from you—must be crafted with the utmost care.

Plenty of business success awaits you with your high-integrity approach. There is no need to use tricks, bend the truth, or cut corners to generate an initial conversation. Anything that you wouldn’t feel comfortable telling your children about when you tuck them in bed at night, leave out of your sales prospecting techniques.

6. Think!

Selling today is hard work! You can’t just roll into a meeting or give an unemotional presentation and walk away with a sale. You need to prove yourself first, and then sell your product/service. You need to understand your prospect simply to show them you understand. You need to communicate according to their communication style.

In addition to skills, what about your products and services? What opportunities are you missing? Does all your revenue come from one product? How can you better use the internet to acquire business nationally? What info products can you sell on-line in addition to your services? Are you connecting with your prospects before you try to convert them? Are you pushing your research, product, or services on the market, or are you attracting the market with your education-based marketing practices and establishing thought leadership? Can you trace the sales flow from attraction to conversion in your organization? What is your strategy?

Like a solid business plan, a sales plan needs to be created, implemented and measured.

7. Know your business

You must understand why you are in business, what your current strengths and weaknesses are, and you must have a vision for exactly where you want to take your business.

8. Know your market

Understanding who your "perfect customer" is will enable you to speak directly to them with every marketing communication you send out. This feeling of personal connection will naturally and automatically attract people to do business with you.

9. Know your competition

Who else is fighting for the same consumer dollars? What are they doing differently than you are? Is it working for them? What are their customers saying about why they choose to do business with your competitors? Answering these questions will give you insight into the ways you can differentiate yourself from your competition.

10. Know the demographic

Without knowing the demographic for the organization’s product or service, a marketing strategy cannot be effectively developed. The organization’s brand must be built to attract and retain a specific customer demographic. Therefore, understanding who is this demographic is Step One in the process. From there, the target demographic is the anchor point for all marketing strategies, from design to implementation. Knowing their customer base also allows organizations to more effectively and efficiently to develop new products and services.

11. Demonstrate differentiation

Effective marketing will show customers how your product or service is different from the others on the market. Differentiation builds perceived value. It’s the reason why people will pay a lot more money for a BMW than a Kia, although both serve the same function and have many of the same features. A successful marketing strategy demonstrates to the customer why they should purchase specifically that organization’s product or service above all others. When done correctly, and that differentiation effectively builds value, the result is increased revenue and increased market share.

12. Craft your message

The right product and the right potential customer are the first two things you need, but having the right message will hook that prospect and turn them into a customer faster than you can say, "Do you want fries with that?" Do you have a clear, compelling marketing message that speaks specifically to your perfect customers?

13. Deliver your message

Advertising, promotions, yellow pages, internet marketing, public relations – there are hundreds and hundreds of different ways for you to deliver your marketing message into the minds and hearts of your perfect customer. Knowing who your customer is and developing a psychographic profile of them will give you great insight into the types of advertising and promotions that will reach them. Using the media and the internet to leverage your message delivery is absolutely essential in modern marketing communications.

Discover how consistently your message is being communicated. This is one of the first areas that begins to drive marketing and sales apart. The sales team is trying to close the deal anyway possible, message and rules be damned; marketing is working on crafting a specific package, regardless of the present environment. Ensuring that sales and marketing are together and "on message" should be a key area of focus if you want to integrate your teams.

14. Innovation

Develop new products while maintaining the high quality of existing products. Ensure that your products are created or chosen in response to the needs of your customers. Ask for customer feedback through surveys or direct interaction with them to find out what are the items that they need and expect from your business.

15. Customer satisfaction

Create and maintain the highest level of customer satisfaction. A very important success factor needed to sustain your business is to provide the best service to your customers. Satisfied customers are more likely to come back to you. Better yet, give your customers more than they expect.