We came upon an interesting article in Industry Week last week called “Developing New Sales Channels To Fit Your Customers.” The article focuses on the change in global economics and technology that has created the necessity for a change in sales techniques, but one particular facet of the article really stood out to us:
Harry Brown of Mollo and Associates in Erie, Pennsylvania says that the biggest change in selling is that customers want problem solvers and expert advice. He calls the new type of rep a sales engineer “who can offer engineering assistance as a ‘freebie’ with the sales package. In addition to the engineering perk, if manufacturing knowledge (experience) is offered it will enhance a long term relationship.” He goes on to say that “being a pleasant person with a great personality will not carry the day in today’s environment.”
There are a lot of important points to contemplate in this single paragraph that can relate to marketing as much as to the selling process. Let’s break this down in more detail.
Problem solving is not only essential when working with a customer face-to-face. Problem solving is also the engine that needs to run your marketing tactics in today’s new economy. Whether you are using a print advertising campaign, a blog, or an e-newsletter, the content that will most interest your audience will be content that helps them solve a problem. Whether or not purely promotional content was ever fashionable, it certainly is not the path to follow now.
Value Added Services
Pricing is no longer the only factor your customers are weighing. They are also looking at everything they get for that price, including customer service. How you treat your customers can become a way to differentiate your company, and in fact, in today’s world of social media, your customer service can also become a marketing tool. If a customer is impressed with your service, they now can say so on Facebook or on Twitter. Similarly, they can report a negative experience with you. Make sure you don’t create any fodder for a negative social media report!
Expertise as the Foundation of a Long-Term Relationship
This final point is a prime example of how marketing can support sales in the new global business environment. Just as customer service can differentiate a company and can even become a marketing tool, a company’s expertise can be used as the foundation of a marketing campaign and as a sales tool. By creating a blog, white papers, an e-newsletter, or even a Facebook page that demonstrates your company’s industry knowledge, you can create an easy way for prospects and customers to interface with you as a thought leader in the industry. Your marketing team can use these platforms for light sales and your sales team can refer new customers to these hubs of content so that they can learn more.
The article in Industry Week was intended to assist a sales team. However, as you can see, the advice being offered to salespeople in the manufacturing world is equally important to the marketing team. This is yet another reason why communication between marketing and sales personnel is more essential than it has ever been in the past. Use your marketing to support your sales and create marketing tools through customer service provided by your sales force. If you are not equipped for this type of integrated marketing approach, now is the time to get started!
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/42931449@N07/5342954678/ via Creative Commons