Saturday, September 24, 2011

PUT MARKETING STRATEGY INTO SELLING

A salesperson might be considered the last link to the customer. By the time a product or service reaches the sales person, marketing is just about done. Or is it? This post is meant to concentrate on how a sales person can apply marketing strategy to actually selling.

The sales person is the critical link with the person who actually buys or the person who is considering buying (or theoretically should be considering buying.). A lot of information can be gained in these contacts, some that can be captured easily with numbers and some that are more difficult. The marketing department should certainly be interested in this knowledge, but it is most critical to the sales person.

Marketing begins by asking questions and searching for answers. The focus is on looking for solutions to problems that benefit both sides to a sale. The buyer has to be see value in the solution, but the selling company has to make a profit.

A salesperson has been given a solution so perhaps the first question should be how well do you as a salesperson understand the solution? Do not be afraid to ask questions. The people higher up in the chain have been working on this solution for awhile and to some degree assume it is obvious, but that is not always the way it is initially perceived by prospects. Do you understand the problem the solution is supposed to somehow mitigate?

One step is to use the product your self. You are apt to encounter some confusion, some awkwardness the first time you do anything. You will probably learn some limitations which will allow you to avoid over promising. Your prospects will likely go through this process, although not all exactly the same.

You can't wait until you have mastered every aspect of the solution. Every prospect becomes an opportunity to learn more. They will encounter problems you might not have anticipated. They may also find better ways of applying your product than you had been aware of.  Discovering new applications should not always be a surprise.

You have been given an idea of what the problem is that your product solves, but who has this problem? Who might recognize this problem? How serious is it to them? How does it fit into their overall priorities? How can you demonstrate or present your solution effectively. The process of understanding the problem is similar to that of understanding the solution.

The purpose of this research is to refine your targeting and your presentation. Some people will find your solution more understandable than others. Some will have a greater need for your solution. Some will have the authority to take advantage of your solution. You will come to understand what the obstacles to acceptance of your solution are and better ways of dealing with them.

There is a difference between marketing and actually selling, but an understanding of both will benefit each. A salesperson has to manage their time to balance the opportunity including preparing, doing (actually communicating with prospects) and understanding. They need to understand human nature to overcome fear and indecisiveness. They have to have some understanding of the political environment for the decision process. They have to persist in the face of rejection, but also develop the judgment of where persistence makes sense and when to shift efforts. Above all all salespeople must earn trust so their solutions will be accepted.

Developing a data base (another blog post) will help you in future targeting and prioritizing.
Some of my thoughts on developing a data base:  http://www.johnfdavidson.com/2011/10/using-data-bases-for-selling-part-one.html and http://www.johnfdavidson.com/2011/11/using-data-bases-for-selling-part-2.html

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