By John Hilgart, Senior Strategist
Your company has a great new product or service:
- It solves a customer problem.
- It has a competitive advantage.
- It boasts an attractive price point.
- It even fills a gap in your product portfolio, giving you an opportunity to win market share you’d previously ceded to your competitors.
It’s time to market it to the sales team. They’re going to love it. They’re going to rock it. Maybe.
Consider the same situation through the eyes of a sales rep:
- Someone wants me to push another new product.
- It hasn’t been road-tested with customers.
- It’s part of an attempt to penetrate a niche market I’ve never dealt with before.
- It involves a learning curve.
- It risks corrupted selling time.
- It could even burn my customers.
“Everything is fine for me right now. I always hit or exceed my numbers. I’m seeing steady year-over-year growth. My customers trust me. I know my products, and I know how to sell them. Do I really want to bother with this new thing?”
Marketing to sales is about convincing the sales team that, yes, they really do want to bother with this new thing. They’ll listen, if you have a good answer to the question, “What’s in it for me?”
That’s not an unfair question, since you’re asking them to put their time, energy, and customer relationships on the line – all the resources they depend on to hit or exceed their monthly or quarterly numbers.
Here’s where you start:
- Show them the money
Be explicit about how sales stands to gain customers, incremental revenue, or loyalty if they do what you are asking.
- Show them the way
Make it painfully easy to sell the product, by providing efficient sales education, clear customer targeting, a legitimate value proposition, and ready-to-use customer-facing sales materials. If they believe the product is the right thing to offer their customers and are comfortable selling it, you’re ready to push them out the door.
- Show them the mandate
If you can enlist sales management in your campaign, you’ve gained a huge advantage. When the request from marketing becomes an expectation within a sales group, you’ve immediately got a lot more peoples’ attention. Don’t think of management merely as someone who can give you an assist; think of them as your first audience. Show them the money and the way; their numbers depend on the numbers their sales team turns in. Convince them that you can drive up those numbers, if they will drive their team to adopt the product (or sales behavior) you’re promoting.
- Show them how to stand out
The only thing better than increasing your sales is having everyone else see you do it. And the only thing better than having a new product to generate business is a competition to see who can generate the most. Create a formal sales contest for management and/or sales reps. Keep the standings up to date and visible throughout the contest. Prominently recognize the winners, and give them good prizes. Publically recognize everyone who did really well, on the team and individual levels. Sales organizations and cultures vary dramatically, but the individuals who thrive in the sales profession reliably respond to those four motivators. Build your initiative around them, and you will no longer be “marketing to sales”; you will be providing a complete sales program that educates, enables, motivates, and excites sales to make your product a success.