In a nutshell: Marketers can help salespeople differentiate products and services, understand the customer journey and develop consistent, integrated messaging.

For smaller businesses, marketing and sales often overlap each other. That can be positive. It provides excellent opportunities for those working in marketing to bolster the company’s sales efforts.

However, you shouldn’t forget that marketing and sales are two different areas. Marketing focuses on the promotion and advertising of products and services, as well as the marketing research needed to identify consumers who are most likely to purchase those products or services. Sales focuses on “closing the deal,” selling the product or service to buyers. This can involve selling products to consumers or business-to-business sales.

Marketers have many ways they can help with sales — a good thing, as sales are the lifeblood of any organization. If the people in your marketing department are looking for ways to enhance sales, consider the following.

Differentiate

Every product or service is different in some way. Highlighting those differences through marketing is a wonderful way to help the sales staff, who can then pitch those differences to buyers. Examples of differentiating a product include lower prices, innovative technology or after-sales support and services.

Cars offer one of the easiest examples. A German badge on a car connotes luxury, high-end technology, comfort and style. Lexus, a Japanese luxury brand, takes this even further by also offering exceptional service after a purchase.

Whatever the difference is, it needs to be the focus of marketing efforts.

Perception is key in marketing. Once people see a product differently, that will drive more sales. For example, consider Geico, which has a talking lizard and funny (often off-the-wall) commercials. Neither has anything to do with insurance, but it gets people to pay attention when they are told the insurance company’s real value proposition: It can save you money.

Customer Journey

No matter the product, sales staff always think about the three steps of every sale: awareness, consideration and decision. However, in the digital age, the customer journey does not always follow a set sales funnel.

Marketers are aware of this, and it’s important that they help the sales staff understand it as well. A customer journey is literally the journey a customer takes from first contact with a product to the purchase. It’s a different way of looking at what makes a sale.

By focusing on specific consumer demographics (soccer moms in suburbia, for example, or single urban professionals), marketers can help sales staff understand the different “touch points” for each customer, how they engage with a company and areas where they encounter the most roadblocks.

By putting themselves in the customer’s shoes, sales staff can better understand the mindset of different potential buyers. That can only help in how they approach making a sale.

Messaging

Messaging is a word that is heard a lot in both marketing and sales. But what exactly does it mean?

Essentially, it is the process of sending messages about a product, service or company, usually through electronic means. That includes advertising on television and online. It also includes email marketing campaigns and posts on social media.

The No. 1 key to messaging is this: It must be consistent across all platforms. Consumers will become confused (and possibly angry) if they hear one thing about a product in a television commercial and get a contradictory message in their email inbox.

In the context of marketing and sales, it means that sales staff should be saying the same thing to potential buyers that they have seen through the marketing department’s efforts across all platforms. Coordination between the two areas is crucial in this area.

This leads to the need for “messaging architecture.” That involves creating a template. They can be found for free in many places online, including this suggestion from the Content Marketing Institute.

The idea is to identify your product and company differences, the ones that provide high value, and ensure that a consistent message about these attributes is used in all marketing campaigns and by the sales staff.

Marketing and selling products and services is more complicated than in the past, but it’s not rocket science. By having open and frequent communication between marketing and sales, it’s possible to streamline the company message and become effective at reaching potential buyers.

That’s always been a good thing, and it always will be.

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