Crafting an Effective Sales and Marketing Strategy
It seems completely logical to talk about ensuring that your sales and marketing strategy are aligned with organisation purpose. However, this is not always the case or easy to achieve. It can take time for an organisation to fully define its purpose. Once defined though, it paves the way for setting strategy with decisions that are clearly linked to purpose. Crafting a customer-centric sales and marketing strategy to meet organisational purpose is a process that can take a few iterations and may need to overcome barriers, both internal and external.
In some cases, barriers may come from misunderstandings between internal teams - sales, marketing and product/service development. In other cases, it may be that your current customers only associate you with the first thing they may have purchased from you and prospective customers may be confused as to what you can offer. Having a clear, well thought out sales and marketing strategy, backed up with an implementation plan, will ensure that you can execute on your strategy and achieve your goals.
In order to achieve this, it helps to think about the definition of sales and marketing:
Sales can be defined as the exchange of goods or services for a fee, where there is a value to be traded, meeting the needs of a customer in a mutually beneficial manner; ideally, in a repeatable and sustainable manner.
Philip Kotler, widely regarded as the “father of modern marketing”, defined marketing in the 17th edition of Principles of Marketing (2018) as "the process by which companies engage customers, build strong customer relationships, and create customer value in order to capture value from customers in return". A related definition from sales process engineering defines marketing as "a set of processes that are interconnected and interdependent with other functions of a business aimed at achieving customer interest and satisfaction"
Whilst sales is the final step of effective marketing, both are interlinked through value determination and long-term customer relationships. It is these relationships, when nurtured, that build sustainable and scalable businesses.
In determining an effective sales and marketing strategy, there are a number of key elements that you need to consider. Each one can be implemented in great depth. However, let's not get caught up in paralysis by analysis.
Here are ten key areas to focus on:
- Understand the difference between strategy and tactics; strategy is the what and why, tactics are the how. It is a common mistake to jump straight to a tactical approach in order to take action. However this often runs out of steam. Take time to determine the what and why, and how they are linked to business purpose.
- Understand what your Unique Sales Proposition (USP) is. What makes you truly unique, what is your internal competitive advantage that no-one else has and do your customers care about it? Are you fixing their pain point?
- Who are your target customers? Take the time to understand who they are (buyer personas), where they hang out and what they think of you and the problem you are solving for them. Segment your customers into specific market groups.
- Build consistent language/messaging that is used across the organisation in all communication with customers.
- Ensure that sales and marketing are everyone's responsibility; a consistent approach by all in your organisation reinforces your promise and brand.
- Integrate sales and marketing; develop mechanisms that promote the free flow of information to ensure a strategic sales and marketing approach. Marketing has a helicopter view, sales have eyes and ears on the ground.
- Understand your growth strategies; the difference between business development, growing new business from prospects to customers including via channel partners, and strategic account management growing from account-based marketing and relationships. Ensure you have the right people in the right place who are trained and managed effectively.
- Understand your sales process; define the journey that converts a prospect to a customer. Your sales playbook defines the actions sales people can employ to get a better conversion rate and how marketing can support this.
- Employ suitable tools to enable this process; utilise a customer relationship management (CRM) platform which has the capability to automate this customer journey.
- Plan your sales and marketing activity to be as efficient as possible and fit in with your industry cadence, ensuring sales area planning is targeted and relationships are managed effectively.
By taking the time to understand each of these areas in detail, you can craft your sales and marketing strategy, employ appropriate tactics, execute the plan and review and iterate, ensuring that you are getting the best out of your people as they are your most precious resource.
ODI offers customised coaching from Colin Hogg with 30+ years of experience in business-to-business sales, marketing and general management.