Sales Isn’t the Mother Ship — Marketing Is

On the winding road to the revenue mountaintop, marketing teams often occupy the back seat while their sales counterparts drive. To accelerate the pace to the revenue peak, however, marketing teams need to climb to the front seat and take more control of the steering wheel.

Marketing teams frequently drift to the “expense” side of a company’s financial ledger, while sales teams fill the more favorable “revenue” bucket. Organizational charts support this viewpoint within many companies: Sales employees typically outnumber marketing members by a wide margin.

Yet customers complete 70 percent of their buyer's journeys before ever consulting a salesperson. They have questions that require answers and problems they want addressed at every point in the purchase process. Marketing teams, by their nature, alleviate customer concerns and fulfill customer needs. As such, they should partner with the sales department to stimulate the company’s revenue growth.

Establish a Clear Vision for the Marketing Team

Unfortunately, the marketing team’s role still lacks clarity and understanding in many companies. Companies risk undermanned and overworked marketing departments, not to mention high turnover, if they don’t comprehend the role marketing can play in increasing revenue.

Another danger surfaces for companies that don’t embrace the benefits a fully engaged marketing team can deliver. Marketing teams can veer off course into a department primarily devoted to “fluff” tasks, such as designing brochures, that don’t accomplish much. If used properly, however, marketers can provide value through analytics, ROI measurements, and automation.

Finally, instead of working with the sales department to grow company revenue, marketing teams risk becoming separate silos. Sales team members busy themselves with sales pitches and techniques, while marketing employees wonder where they fit in. Customer needs and concerns get lost in the shuffle.

Leverage Marketers to Achieve Increased Sales

Businesses must focus on sales, of course, but they need to fine-tune that focus. They must present themselves as thought leaders and problem solvers to customers. Business leaders can produce better revenue growth by engaging their marketing teams with these tactics:

  1. Take the words out of the customer’s mouth. Not literally, of course, because that might hurt. Rather, the marketing team should place itself in the customer’s shoes and brainstorm the most common questions customers might ask. Then, find answers to those questions from experts within the company and post them where customers can view them, such as a website or social media platform.Most importantly, don’t dodge the tough questions, but do provide straightforward information. Teach your sales team to use content that educates customers and makes your business their go-to resource for anything in that field.

    For example, in my swimming pool company, I wrote an article on our website that answered the question, “How much does a fiberglass pool cost?” I didn’t evade the question or say I offered the cheapest price. Instead, I gave honest information about the product. The article ended up with a million-plus reads and directly accounted for $3.5 million in additional sales. No other swimming pool companies wanted to address the question for fear the answer might scare away customers or somehow make them look bad.

  1. Gather a lot of data. Designate a member of the marketing team as the lead analytics person. Determine the website content that draws the most interest from customers and prospects. Then, integrate content, such as answers to questions, into social media and email marketing initiatives and track the results: leads, website traffic, and additional customers. Finally, invest in search engine optimization tracking to define the searched words and phrases that generate the most revenue for the company.Big dataplays into all of this. Regardless of where the customer might reside in the buying cycle, gather and use insights as advantages against competitors.
  1. Hire a journalist with a marketing mindset. Have someone within the marketing team designated as an “on-site journalist,” not to dig up dirt on local politicians or even competitors, but rather to interview experts and create content: video, text, visuals, and webpages. Create content that customers want to read, not information gushing from a fire hose that customers cannot turn off. Interestingly, only 11 percent of businesses label their content marketing effective so plenty of room exists for creativity.

Today’s digital business environment aligns itself with what marketing teams do best. Why not use marketing teams to develop the kind of content customers want to see? The revenue mountaintop waits.

mother ship marketingDubbed a “web marketing guru” by The New York Times, Marcus Sheridan is the founder and president of The Sales Lion, and author of “They Ask, You Answer.” The book chronicles how Sheridan’s company, River Pools and Spas, used content marketing to rise from the brinks of bankruptcy during the 2008 economic crisis.

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