Tag Archives: selling

Is the role of sales and marketing director dead?

Is it a sign of the times, and the broad acceptance of marketing as a standalone discipline, that the role of the sales and marketing director is becoming less common? Can you really focus effectively when you are doing two jobs?

Make no mistake they are two very different jobs. In a recent Marketing Week feature, Pitney Bowes marketing director Phil Hutchinson commented:

   “Marketers are thinkers and strategists, they are more creative, whereas sales    is a very hard-hitting, fast moving and fairly aggressive environment. Within      marketing, you need to think more long term. In the sales arena, you’re                  always dealing pretty much in the short term.”

Differing disciplines

Sales and marketing are two diametrically opposed roles with different focus, different methodologies and different outcomes. They exist at different stages of the buying process. Though bound by the need to sell products, they go about it in very contrasting ways.

If you are operating in a sales role, you are focused on selling, period. You want to shift as much as you can as quickly as you can. Discounting, bundling and price promotion are the tools to use. They are not the same tools that the marketing-focused use to build durable brand equity for the longer term.

Anecdote time

In an early post-university position, I worked with a boorish sales director who ruled the sales and marketing roost. For a time he dominated the negotiation and running of key account relationships. He went awol for days on end, conducting his business on Europe’s finest golf courses, running up huge expenses as he went. And, of course, giving away product at significantly reduced prices.

After a while, a southern based director of market development moved north. They didn’t seem eye-to-eye. But surprisingly, it was the sales director that made way. He was a relic. His perspective and his blinkered view of the world had become outdated and dangerous to the business.

Overnight, the company moved from being a sales led to a marketing led business. That isn’t to say that sales targets weren’t set and worked towards, but that the profitable meeting of segmented and definable customer needs became the mantra. It remains the case today, and many companies the world over are now doing the same thing. Channelling their efforts into designing and supplying products and services that meet the exacting requirements of niche segments. Marketing is the future of selling.

Ultimately, I think it comes down to this. If marketing and sales were the same, there wouldn’t have been the need to differentiate between the two. Marketing would never have happened, the fact it did – 90 years before the concept of ‘spin’ – speaks volumes.

What has your experience been? Have you conducted a sales and marketing role and if so, did you honestly focus 50:50? Do you think a sales and marketing role is achievable in the modern business age? Might it just be worth thinking about that next sales and marketing vacancy you need to fill?

Image: Corp Intel

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The future of selling

I’ve stumbled across another interesting presentation deck on Slideshare.

This one from Ogilvy explores how the sales function in most companies needs to step up and embrace new marketing, new technology and the new world of communication, collaboration and engagement. There are also some great examples of joined up integrated thinking.

I do think there is still a place for traditional techniques in sales but we have to realise that customers are smarter, more discerning and invariably look to the Internet before shortlisting suppliers or making key capital purchases.

It needs a shift rather than a complete change in mindset, but a willingness to adapt nonetheless.

Marketing Metrics 9: Micro blogging

One of the liveliest and often most polarising marketing debates centres around the relevance of Twitter for marketers. Like most social media tools, Twitter was establishing as a personal networking tool, but brands are trying to use the platform to understand and engage with customers.

What is true about Twitter is its addictiveness. If you adopt a ‘have a go’ approach, expect to spend a huge amount of time but probably garner precious little return – either in investment or involvement terms.

For fairly obvious reasons (and like other marketing tools) use it strategically and to add value or inform your understanding of your target audiences. Sounds complicated and overly dramatic but if you fancy getting your tweet on, consider the following:

1. Personal v business

People still predominantly engage with people. Corporate brands don’t tend to do terribly well on Twitter (though there are frequently cited examples of retail and customer service from Dell_Outlet and Zappos). Corporate accounts can be used to source and find information and insight but arguably little engagement. In my view, unless you already have brand magnetism (like a magazine, website, news resource or consumer brand) it is best to set up a Twitter account with an actual personal identity. It gives people something to engage with. A corporate account will inevitably follow a broadcast rather than an engagement model.

2. Selling v engaging

Businesses have to sell to make money. So be clear – decide if you are selling, if so what, and if so what is the value proposition for Twitter followers. Don’t build an audience following interesting tweets, quotes, comments and insights and then when you have them, hit them with sales collateral. Why? They’ll drop you. If you are going to sell, build in pricing related to time sensitivity – like early bird course bookings which work well in the event sector. Accept that your attempts to build an audience will be more difficult, but you will at least have an interested niche audience.

3. Follows v followers

Conventional Twitter wisdom suggests that if you follow 100 people, 50 may follow you back. This is often how businesses get started. By association. So use Twitter search or look up lists that other people create (@MarketingB2B is one of my personal favourites). You might blast follow lots of like-minded accounts and hope they follow back. Or simply follow those you like the look of. Over time you can use tools like Twinfluence to remove those who aren’t following you – if you are Machiavellian in outlook.

4. To retweet or not to retweet

Depending on the content of your tweets, you’ll pick up followers regularly. Retweeting things you like is the best and fastest way to building a profile and developing influential contacts. You become an information resource to people who haven’t got the time to plough through it all themselves.

5. Metrics

Metrics relating to social media and Twitter specifically cover a broad range from insignificant to significant. My advice. Look beyond follows, retweets etc and consider your wider influence. Is activity on Twitter integrated with other platforms such as your blog, website or YouTube account? Can you see a tangible uplift in newsletter subscriptions, white paper downloads or incredulously, leads?

Monitoring tools like Klout (which has found its way into Hootsuite) exist to give a score based on activity around your profile. I view them with scorn as they are easy to manipulate. If you have way more followers than you are following, succeed in getting your tweets retweeted, receive lots of @ messages then you are likely to have a high influence score. I’ve seen people with 200 followers, sending 5,000 inane tweets have influence scores 50+/100. Is that influence? I’m not convinced.

Here is a metrics-cloud I created drawing on a number of resources, not least Jim Sterne’s excellent Social Media Metrics. Jim compiles a list of over 100 at the outset if you really want to get stuck into it. What it highlights to me is that there are so many ways of determining how investment of time in social media can be measured – and some of them are actually worthwhile!!

Summary

Twitter works for me. I’m in it for the long haul. At this stage I’m not really selling, I’m profile building. I integrate it with other sites for content and use it broadcast my blog and share those I respect from Google Reader feeds.

What has this taught me? A lesson about Twitter, wider marketing and life perhaps. Think through what you’re doing and ensure you are getting something out of it. And, if you are considering it for business, think even harder. Set objectives and a way of measuring the time spent – whilst return on investment might be difficult, return on involvement can certainly be achieved.

Blog Gold 2010: The only KPI that matters…

I wrote back in December 2009 about conversion being the only KPI that matters. Any activities that don’t drive customer engagement and uptake with your business are a cost not an investment.

It is very easy to be seduced by statistics, to keep yourself busy, and to convince yourself, your team, your subordinates and your management, that everything is measurable.

You can track advertising responses by keeping an eagle eye on reader enquiries or logging responses to a campaign landing page. For PR you might compare column inches as advertising equivalent value and opportunities to see, extrapolating circulation to give an idea of visibility.

You can monitor traffic flow on your website by considering entry and exit data, hot and cold spots, time spent, pages viewed, number of return visits, sign ups and registrations, downloads, comments and forum postings.

For emarketing and online advertising you can reference open and click through rates. For exhibitions you can log booth visitors, enquiries and orders. You can monitor ‘social’ media by keeping an eye on fans, follows, friends, connections and links.

Don’t be the busy fool. Sure, all these will help refine your marketing, but at the end of the day marketers need to remember you are, for the most part an employee of a commercial business. If you don’t convert interested parties, you won’t be in business for very long. All your efforts should be focused to that single KPI of converting – whether it is selling, selling more, selling frequently and repeat selling.

Whether you are into product, service, information, price comparison, subscriptions it really doesn’t matter. You need to drive prospects through the line from unaware to awareness, engagement, trust, conversion and advocacy to stand a chance of making your business a success in 2010.

I view most KPIs as a distraction from the main objectives and that most readers of this blog should however avoid nice to have, time sapping fluff and focus on conversion.

Originally posted 18 December 2009. Image courtesy of Scyong

The only KPI that matters?

Unless you work for a charity, there is only really one Key Performance Indicator that matters in your marketing.

Sure if you want to review your advertising your might measure reader enquiries or track responses to a campaign landing page. For your PR you might compare column inches as advertising equivalent value and opportunties to see.

For emarketing and online advertising you have open and clickthrough rates. For exhibitions you have booth visitors. You can monitor ‘social’ media by keeping an eye on fans, follows, friends, connections and links.

And can monitor traffic flow on your website by considering entry and exit data, hot and cold spots, time spent, pages viewed, number of return visits, sign ups and registrations, downloads, comments and forum postings.

All these will help refine your marketing but at the end of the day, you are a commercial business.

If you don’t convert them, you won’t be in business for very long. All your efforts should be focused to that single KPI of selling, selling more, selling frequently and repeat selling. Whether you do it hard, soft or both is another discussion.

All other KPIs are nice to have’s for large enterprises with big teams to keep busy and agencies to keep in check. Most of the readers of the this blog should however avoid the nice to have, time saping fluff.