You may depend heavily on referrals and word-of-mouth to grow your business, but as much as WOM and referrals form the foundation of a successful business, those tactics alone won’t sustain the growth needed to meet your long-term sales goals. The trouble lies in thinking only tactically, instead of strategically. OK, that sounds easy, but what if you’re not sure what a strategy is, let alone understand the difference between a strategy and tactics? Aren’t they all part of a plan?
Yes, they are part of a plan. And, with successful plans, there are steps that must happen in linear order to make sense—and sales. If the first steps are shaky, the plan usually collapses. So, time for a quick review.
A marketing plan comes out of a business plan, but remember, it can’t reach any business goal alone. A marketing plan can’t help a business increase market share, or a business goal, if product distribution, supply chain or the global economy is riddled with issues a communication function can’t fix. A marketing plan lays out goals, objectives, strategies, budget and a timeline, ideally based on the company or organization’s goals, values, mission and vision statement. It’s a road map.
Sales often falls within marketing at many corporations and companies, albeit a distinct function, and a sales plan is much like a marketing plan. It’s a documented blueprint for positioning and selling a product (or service) to qualified buyers in a way that differentiates any one solution from its competitors. Sales plans provide goals around growth, objectives and often include KPIs, buyer personas, sales processes and selling methodologies (tactics), a competitive analysis and product positioning. It’s a road map, too.
But both marketing and sales plans fall flat when they have no strategic big idea that allows for conversational storytelling to a highly specific audience that communicates a value message. It’s as if you have a road map, but you don’t know where or why you’re going on the trip.
Therein lies the rub.
If your sales team members go into the field armed with buyer personas, sales processes and competitive analysis—a road map—but don’t understand the why and where of the trip, they won’t be able to get anyone (customers) to willingly join them. Ditto your marketing efforts.
We’re going to assume you’ve done the research you know must be done. You’ve analyzed your business and products or hired someone to assess your strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities (never easy to do yourself), your competition, your industry and the larger environment in which your industry exists, and your current/potential customers.
Where in that information is where your road map will take you? Where in that information is the reason to follow the road map? Where in that information is the story of the map maker? Where in that information is the value proposition, the overall promise to your current or potential customers about your brand, product or service that matters to them? Identify each of these in a detailed way. Remember the value of a well-told story, too, particularly for marketers and your sales team.
In a recent Forbes article on humanizing brands to increase sales, the author wrote, “Marketing strategies that integrate branding and storytelling instead of just promos and PR tend to make emotional connections. Brand stories and values inspire audiences and give them reasons other than a rock-bottom price to buy. Storytelling also humanizes a brand and builds customer relationships. It’s what differentiates a company from competitors offering similar solutions while appealing to a target market’s unique motivators.”
Go back to the early mention of referrals and word of mouth as marketing strategies. Now apply the road map and trip analogy and know, to be effective, word of mouth must have an inherent story to share. Effective referrals should be able to reference a clear value message.
Now you’re ready to construct marketing initiatives to increase sales. Here are our top four tips for re-vamping your marketing roadmap to increase sales.
1. Focus your Efforts on a Specific Target
It’s tempting to cast a wide net so you can capture a diverse customer base when developing a marketing plan, but it just isn’t smart business. It will dilute your efforts and cost you more money in the long run. Instead, identify one audience you want to focus your efforts on and cater to that audience’s wants, needs and pain points.
Being hyper-selective in your targeting allows for personalization of the message. Particularly after the pandemic, audiences want to know they are seen and understood. They want to do business with brands and people they like. Personalization can start with personalized subject lines in emails, but it can’t stop there.
Take the time to personalize each touchpoint of communication to build appreciation and trust. But know that to reach this level of personalized sales—and marketing—messages, you’ll have to have an unfailing understanding of the industry, the company and the person.
2. Reduce, or Eliminate, the Barriers Between Communication and Sales
Although marketing incorporates sales in many businesses, in others the two are strictly siloed. Not good. It’s not an us versus them. Go back to the road map analogy. If marketing and sales have two different road maps, neither of which has a clear destination or reason for going, both groups are stuck clueless at a dicey truck stop. Try tailoring user journeys to buyer personas and empower knowledge translation and sharing. Focus on shared goals.
According to a recent Forbes article, Heather Kelly of Next PR writes, “Marketers must learn to speak their sales team’s ‘love language’: leads. How are your marketing efforts contributing to their sales funnel? Whether you’re driving traffic back to the company website through earned media placements or running paid ads on social media, you need to communicate to your sales team how your work is contributing to the overall sales process for a healthy, happy relationship.”
3. Analyze Your Website Regularly and Implement an Omnichannel Sales System
Two things here: While there’s nothing inherently wrong with a website that’s effectively an online brochure for your business, that approach won’t return the best results for you either. You want your website to be a dynamic sales presence that automatically converts its visitors into leads. For it to do so, it needs to spell out the services you offer, what you can do for your customers and what makes you different from the competition.
Dovetail that with an omnichannel approach to sales and marketing. An omnichannel approach, according to Shopify, “Provides customers with a fully integrated shopping experience. Omni-channel strategies unite user experiences across multiple touchpoints, including brick-and-mortar, web, and mobile apps. When a brand or business adopts an omnichannel approach, information entered by customers through one channel will be integrated with all other channels, unlike in a multi-channel approach wherein customers must re-enter their details whenever they use a particular channel.”
4. Review customer feedback
Asking for reviews is shown to increase customer loyalty and engagement, but keeping an eye on your customer reviews is key to increasing sales. If you can reinforce a positive review, that helps to create the positive word or mouth we’ve discussed. If you can personally and authentically address a complaint or concern in a not-so-hot review, you can convert a lukewarm customer into a loyal customer who, wait for it…refers others. Don’t let the rich material in customer feedback go unnoticed or addressed. Have a plan for it.
Bonus tip: Create engaging content that is distinctively yours, to give your customers a feel for what you’re like and what you have to offer them. Again, people like to do business with others they like and know. Also, when creating content, ask yourself if it answers a question or need that your focus audience is likely to have.
Combine the above four steps to boost sales with your newly revamped marketing roadmap. If you’d like to start a conversation about how to further address marketing or sales strategy concerns, call us.
A marketing plan lays out goals, objectives, strategies, budget, and a timeline for a company or organization based on its goals, values, mission, and vision statement. It focuses on positioning and promoting a product or service to potential customers.A sales plan is a documented blueprint for positioning and selling a product or service to qualified buyers in a way that differentiates any one solution from its competitors. It provides goals around growth, objectives, often includes KPIs, buyer personas, sales processes and selling methodologies (tactics), a competitive analysis and product positioning.
While tactics are important for achieving specific goals, a strategy is necessary to provide a big-picture context and direction. Tactics alone won’t sustain the growth needed to meet long-term sales goals. A marketing or sales plan without a strategic big idea that communicates a value message will fall flat.
Being hyper-selective in targeting allows for personalization of the message, which is particularly important after the pandemic. Audiences want to do business with brands and people they like, and personalization can start with personalized subject lines in emails. Taking the time to personalize each touchpoint of communication helps to build appreciation and trust.
Marketing and sales should not be siloed, but rather work together towards shared goals. Tailoring user journeys to buyer personas and empowering knowledge translation and sharing can help. Communication should focus on how marketing efforts contribute to the sales funnel.
An omnichannel approach provides customers with a fully integrated shopping experience, uniting user experiences across multiple touchpoints, including brick-and-mortar, web, and mobile apps. When a brand or business adopts an omnichannel approach, information entered by customers through one channel will be integrated with all other channels, unlike in a multi-channel approach wherein customers must re-enter their details whenever they use a particular channel. It is important because it provides a seamless and convenient customer experience, which can increase customer loyalty and engagement.
Customer feedback is rich material that can be used to reinforce positive reviews and convert negative ones. Personal and authentic addressing of complaints or concerns can convert a lukewarm customer into a loyal one who refers others. Having a plan for customer feedback can help improve customer loyalty and increase sales.
Engaging content that is distinctively yours can give your customers a feel for what you’re like and what you have to offer them. People like to do business with others they like and know. When creating content, it is important to ask yourself if it answers a question or need that your focus audience is likely to have.