Creating a Culture of Innovation: Start in Your Sales & Marketing Departments

In the first of this three-part blog series, we introduced the notion of starting with your sales and marketing departments as places where you can innovate new aligned, value-based best practices and processes. In this blog we’ll look at WHY these practices/processes are important to your company’s future, WHAT are some examples of them, and what do they have to offer.

Let’s Look at the WHY First

Most small manufacturing firms have sales and marketing practices/processes that have been developed and grown out of the experience of the Founder, President or first few salespeople that are hired. In other words, as a result of won and lost sales, and/or marketing expenditures that did and didn’t work, the company has evolved a way to keep the company going and hopefully growing year-after-year. These organic sales and marketing systems can help launch the company and enable establishing a small footprint in their primary target markets; however, it falls short of the proven, predictable marketing and sales processes that are necessary to scale or build the business.

So “scalability” is perhaps the best reason to consider implementing some proven, tried, and true sales and marketing methods.

Establish Predictive Systems

Establishing these methods also helps you predict the results your sales and marketing efforts and expenditures will produce. As your company grows you can spend more money on all things marketing and sales. Both can be expensive. It’s easy to spend large sums of money on unproven marketing initiatives that do not produce the qualified leads and the resulting sales you need and expect. Predictive systems can

  • Save you time and money when selecting, creating and implementing new lead generation campaigns
  • Provide your salespeople sufficient qualified leads to achieve their and the companies sales and revenue goals

Onboard New Employees Successfully

Aligned practice/processes in sales and marketing also allow for the efficient and effective onboarding of new employees. As you grow your business you’ll need new sales and marketing. When you’ve established and documented aligned practices/processes that are shared as part of an orientation and training program, the new hires start-up quicker and are productive sooner.

For example, research shows that salespeople who are trained in their company’s established sales process will ramp-up to a productive sales level 2-3 times faster than those without it.

When it comes to marketing, new hires can use your documented principles and procedures to guide their content development, creative processes, data and analytics compilations, as well as establishing standard reporting of marketing campaign results. This means fewer questions that interrupt your time and productivity, fewer edits of their work, and fewer errors that affect your brand. This way, marketing communication pieces go out accurately and on time.

Now, let’s look at the WHAT

What are some examples of aligned, value-based best practices/processes? A good example of alignment is when your marketing and sales activities are sequenced to feed and report on each other. For example, your president may ask either the Marketing or Sales Director which lead source produces the most qualified leads that lead to high margin sales. If you’ve implemented a closed-loop inquiry-to-close marketing and sales process, supported with the right technology, you can create a report that will tell you this with little effort. Obviously, this allows the company to optimize and direct their marketing spend toward lead sources that create awareness and attracts the very best prospects for your sales team to follow-up on.

Another example would be establishing a thorough qualification process where all prospect inquiries are vetted so your salespeople are not wasting their valuable selling time on prospects that cannot, or will not, be purchasing your product. A complete qualification process would include training your salespeople to discover each of their prospect’s “buying styles” so they can adapt their “selling style and as a result develop increased trust and confidence.

There are four primary prospect buying styles each with their own set of “value needs”.  If a salesperson can identify what needs their prospect has, and then relate the value of your product/service to them, they will have an advantage over their competition. Good qualifying also includes knowing how to ask the right questions, in the right way, at the right time to discover these core prospect value needs.

When you combine personality adaptation skills with matching value givens to value needs, your salespeople can present your product/service in a relevant and personalized way.

And lastly, the development and use of aligned messaging by both marketing and sales is essential to establishing brand clarity and consistency. In other words, everyone in the company says the same things in the same ways. This not only strengthens your product/service positioning and differentiation, it also minimizes misunderstandings and confusion within your target markets. In a post-sales environment, it can reduce customer complaints that result from customers receiving different results than expected due to a misalignment of marketing and sales messaging. It can even reduce legal and/or liability issues.

So those are just a few of the reason WHY you want aligned value-based practices/processes and examples of WHAT some of them are.

In the third and last blog of this series we’ll look at the WHEN and the HOW of deploying and integrating aligned, value-based sales and marketing practices/processes with your existing people, processes and corporate culture.