This is What Happens When Your Sales and Marketing Strategy are Synched (Building a Salesforce, Part 4)


If you suck at marketing your own brand, why would a client trust you with theirs?Clients today have sophisticated tastes. They know what effective marketing looks and feels like and they expect their promotional marketing company to excel at marketing. Plus, clients are busy and harassed. You are not merely competing with other promotional products distributors for their attention; you are fighting with everyone and everything for a top place in your client’s heart and mind.

When your efforts are uncreative, disjointed, or haphazard, you lose mindshare. When they are imaginative, executed with a clear vision, synchronized and on-brand, they are respected and valued. Clients who value your marketing prowess will trust you with more opportunities to help them with their marketing. 

Nothing leads to faster sales more than a kick-ass marketing strategy.

 Having a self-promotion closet is not enough. Launching a single campaign is not enough. Tweaking your website occasionally is not enough. Your marketing efforts should be the tip of the spear of your overall business strategy. Your marketing should be systematic, it should synchronize with sales and achieve specific business objectives. And empowering your team with a consistent marketing strategy is the fastest way to ramp up their sales success.

In our current series on Building a Salesforce, we explored how to best scale your team and set them up for success, including, thinking through your role and purpose, creating the right compensation plan for your team, and the three KPI’s that will make you a better sales coach. In this post, we’re looking at how to ensure you create a strategy that works while also building the right marketing support to set your team up for success!  

“To Grow Our Sales” is Wishful Thinking Without Strategy

 What is your specific marketing strategy this year? Can you define it in one sentence? Have you asked yourself, “What is the purpose of our marketing this quarter?” Is it to grow specific accounts? Do you have a strong focus on new account acquisition? Cross-category selling? What areas need marketing support? Which reps need the most help and how does your strategy help them grow?

Many distributors rely on creative self-promo campaigns as a key marketing tactic in their overall strategy; but the most successful rely on them for specific business objectives. Promotional marketing is more than being clever. Our medium is damn good at delivering results. A cute self-promotion campaign that doesn’t achieve a sales objective for you and your sales team is a waste of money. Every campaign you create should convey a precise message and trigger a specific call to action.

“Always start at the end before you begin,” writes Robert Kiyosaki. As you work on your strategy and build your campaigns, ask yourself: What’s the net effect of this campaign? How will this empower our sales team? What’s the result of this quarter’s marketing? What growth will we see if we implement this strategy this year? 

Coordinate Your Team to Create a Flywheel Effect

 Your salespeople are not your marketing strategy. They fuel your marketing strategy, but they are not your marketing strategy.Many make the mistake of hiring salespeople and by default, expect them to become the marketing strategy.But salespeople should be set up for success by being liberated to sell.

Salespeople are excellent at bringing in new business, nurturing client relationships, and growing sales, and they should be freed to focus on those three essential skills. Your marketing strategy should synchronize with their energies and support their sales, not rely solely on their efforts. What do I mean? Just a few tactical ideas from successful distributors:  

  • Campaigns: A drip marketing campaign is a proven and primary marketing tactic that can achieve a specific objective and it should be a part of your overall strategy. One distributor landed an initial order of $96,000 from a brand new client using a drip marketing campaign. For our drip campaigns, we would often create holiday promotions that we would either mail on behalf of the salesperson or work with our sales team for face-to-face delivery. Each quarter, we would map out what the next quarter’s campaigns would be, build the creative campaign for the team, and then map out a plan for execution and delivery. A drip campaign is an excellent tactic for a specific objective: new client acquisition.
  • Merchandise Collections: Anthem Branding creates merchandise collections every quarter that they then present to their clients in a creative way. The merchandise is carefully selected to showcase new products and communicate a unique part of the brand's message. There are no unimportant details because every tiny detail is important, from the selection of the right merchandise to the packaging, even to the powerpoint presentation. Merchandise collections are an excellent tactic for a specific objective: growing existing clients.
  • Start a Project/Conversational Marketing: On the Creative Boulevard website, you’ll see a “start a project” button prominently displayed on their website. “Start a project” is a fast way to feed qualified leads to your sales team. On the RIGHTSLEEVE website, you’ll see a chat window pop up with their marketing manager welcoming you to the site and sparking a conversation. In addition to a well-designed site and SEO strategy, tactics like these are project-starters for your reps. The more qualified leads you can facilitate on behalf of your team, the more stickiness you build into your brand, these tactics are specifically for eliminating friction and jump-starting a project.
 These are just a few examples, there is much more to a marketing strategy, including your target market, personas, digital and social properties, interior and exterior branding, your message and voice, and your vision, but for our conversation today, we’re focusing on example tactics of your strategy that achieve a specific objective and sets your sales team up for success.

In the examples above, marketing and sales do not exist on two parallel planes; rather, they strengthen each other, amplifying each other’s unique discipline. Moreover, this careful attention to every aspect of your marketing proliferates your brand through systematized methods while overcoming the fragmentation of energies (with everyone creating their own campaigns or “doing their own thing”) plus, it eliminates the confusion in the market from independent voices who might be “off-brand” and instead, unifies the voice of the brand, creating a cohesive message and a fast-ramp to sales.

Fragmentation creates noise; a streamlined, concerted strategy creates heat. Coordinating your strategy between sales and marketing creates a flywheel effect for your sales efforts and has the subtle power of training your sales team to trust and rely on your creative infrastructure to support their growth.  

Carve Proactive Marketing Support into Your Budget

 Which comes first, strategy or budget? A bit of both, because budget depends upon strategy and strategy will depend on where you are at in the lifecycle of your business.

So, how much should you spend on marketing? Is there a suggested metric you should use to ensure you are consistently carving a percentage of your profit toward future marketing efforts?

There are many conflicting pieces of advice on how much a successful business should spend on marketing, some experts advise upwards of 10% of your gross profit and some, like the Small Business Administration, recommend 2-3% of projected gross revenues, or 3-5% if you're a start-up or in high-growth mode. The problem with general statistics is that these numbers encompass a variety of industries and may not be a true reflection of what’s required in our industry. In my work with Robyn, we would spend anywhere from 3%-6% of the gross profit, depending on the year and depending on what new initiatives we were trying to launch (a new web property for example, or maybe we recruited more salespeople during a particular season or anticipated a challenging year).

So, for example, for every $1,000,000 in gross sales at 35% margin, we would allocate $10,500 - $21,000 in marketing, or, an easier way to look at it may be to use Catherine Graham’s calculation of 1%-2% of your total anticipated gross sales revenue.

Just like in our sales commission example, there is no real magic formula to ensure success, but proactively investing in your salesforce means allocating a defined portion of your current profit toward future success and prevents the “hire and hope” default strategy that causes confusion in the market place and slows success. When a distributor relies solely on their salesforce to market the business, both the distributor and the salesperson loses. The distributorship loses a chance to build brand equity and the salesperson loses because they lack the resources that would help them grow faster.

The most profitable distributor-entrepreneurs obsess over their marketing strategy. They know clients will trust them with more of their overall advertising budget if they demonstrate marketing prowess. They know they can build a brand that lasts with a consistent strategy. And they know they can create a unified infrastructure that salespeople will depend on. They are hell-bent on intent, they fight becoming by default what Seth Godin refers to as a “wandering generality” instead of a “meaningful specific.”

It’s subtle yet powerful, but when you design a creative strategy where sales and marketing work harmoniously together through a defined plan, you create marketing magic and dramatically boost sales. 

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