Special to the State Gazette
Now more than ever, the line between the marketing department and the sales team has been blurred. Marketing teams are connecting tech-savvy customers with the information they most want to know about your brand, essentially taking on those crucial, early phases of the client lifecycle.
The client lifecycle begins when a prospect becomes aware of a need that your business could serve. Traditionally, marketing would play a role in building broader brand awareness, but uncovering each prospect's specific needs while explaining your company's products and services was strictly sales team territory.
Now, using search engine optimization along with online advertising campaigns with targeted landing pages, the marketing team can identify a prospect's specific needs through their search terms, and then provide them with relevant information from your website instantly without involving the sales team.
In fact, if your marketing department is doing its job well, once these prospects actually call your sales team, they may not have the same patience for walking through every option; unless your product or service is highly complex, many prospects will essentially know what they want from your company before they ever pick up the phone to speak with the sales team. Understandably, this can be frustrating for traditional sales teams, especially if they feel that they have been reduced to being order-takers.
However, the shift from prospect to customer is only one part of the client lifecycle. In fact, once the prospect becomes a paying customer, the role of the sales team becomes even more important. While your marketing department may be able to motivate a prospect to reach out to the sales team, they are counting on your sales team to begin developing a relationship with that prospect that will eventually transform that client into a brand advocate.
How can your sales team spark this transformation? Driving the prospect meeting through active questioning about the prospect's long-term goals will show the prospect that your organization wants to build a partnership that supports the prospect's vision for the future. Not only will this allow your sales team to identify the prospect's immediate needs, but it also leaves the door open for future upselling and cross selling, even after the deal has closed.
After all, client needs inevitably change over time -- and unless the client has a personal connection with someone on your sales team, they may start looking elsewhere. Once a personal relationship with a proven track record of success has been established, however, your clients will be even more likely to become brand advocates, giving your sales team a steady flow of client-to-client referrals.
Your sales team's role in the client lifecycle has already been redefined. Marketing can help prospects become clients, but only your sales team can take that relationship to the next level by transforming clients into loyal brand advocates.
Ashley McHugh is a training and development strategist at RedRover, and she can be reached at www.redrovercompany.com.