I don’t profess to be a sales expert, but in working closely with CEOs for the past 20 years, I have in too many times witnessed that no one is managing sales. Every company needs to have someone managing the sales process. It is a process and a numbers game, and we rely on sales for growth. As the CEO, you need to oversee the management of the process to realize the results. It is about holding people accountable, which I know is easier said than done.
Companies I have worked with tend to have a sales force made up of customer relationship management people rather than new business development people. There is nothing wrong with that, but companies need both. It is hard to find salespeople who excel at both new business and current customer relationships as they often require different skill sets, but it is possible to manage your salespeople to do both.
Laying the foundation for new business development
Recognizing that CEOs need help overseeing the sales process, the development of what I label an Accountable New Business Program, accomplishes five important steps for success: First, it identifies for the CEO how much new business activity is needed based on the company’s sales metrics to ensure the company will meet its year-end sales goal. Second, it lays the foundation for a new business development process and implementation milestones. Third, it establishes a target list of prospects to pursue. Fourth, it provides tools like a script, prequalification survey and sample prospecting letters. Fifth, it includes prospect profiles and contact reports so the CEO can verify and manage progress-to-goal and make adjustments as needed. Even armed with this information, most CEOs have a difficult time managing accountability.
Marketing’s role in the sales process
Most CEOs have heard of the sales funnel process that uses Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action (AIDA). Marketing’s job is make the brand known within the marketplace —the awareness quotient of the formula. Research has proven that when brand awareness is high, new customer acquisition is high. Prospects want to associate with top brands in the marketplace. If the brand is not known, a prospect cannot give it purchase consideration.
Marketing can also assist with the second quotient by maintaining and growing interest through frequent and meaningful messages or touches with prospects. This activity can help to build brand recognition and value, increasing brand reputation.
In addition, marketing can equally assist the sales team with the third quotient to transition interest into brand preference. Getting to a position of brand presence takes an understanding of what brand has market dominance and what needs to occur to get the market to take a risk and buy your brand. That leads us to the fourth and final quotient —action. Marketing can help the sales process by presenting the marketplace with offers that elicit action.
Here’s the catch: Marketing works in tandem with new business development efforts. They both need to be performing at a high level. If marketing is doing its job and sales is not making new contacts, thus filling the funnel, whatever marketing is doing will have less success.
Likewise, if sales is doing its job but there is no marketing effort to build awareness and help maintain the sales funnel, whatever sales is doing will have less success. Research has proven that when the two work together, sales success is exponential.
If you struggle to manage and hold your sales team accountable to results, I would recommend you hire someone to help manage this for you. That’s what I am doing.
Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for Greencrest, a 20-year-old brand development, strategic marketing and digital media firm that turns market players into market leaders. Borth has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 25 certified brand strategists in the United States. Reach her at (614) 885-7921 or [email protected], or for more information, visit www.greencrest.com.