Long Read: Flipping marketing and sales on its head

Long Reads


"At May's Gatwick Diamond Business Educational Seminar, together with Mark Whybrow of Engage Technique, I presented a new way of thinking when it comes to sales and marketing. Essentially, we invited people to take what they knew of sales and marketing and flip it. The event took me back to my chance encounter with Matt and how I first got in touch with Storm12.

"After breakfast one day, my wife mentioned that a colleague of hers was married to the Managing Director of Storm12, a local design, web and video agency. Coincidentally an hour or so afterwards I attended another Gatwick Diamond Business meeting and in a crowded room full of people, who should I be sat next to? You guessed it.

"Below you'll find a summary of our presentation which should encourage you to think differently about the sales and marketing process within your business. I hope you find it insightful and thought-provoking."

Stefan Buss, Business Development Manager



So then, flipping sales and marketing on its head - why, how and the importance of the process. 


Sales, but not as you know it


Mark Whybrow of Engage Technique outlines his five golden rules for sales and customer engagement.

Working with clients on developing their Commercial Teams, I've found that these golden rules make the difference between seeing sales as a "black art" and a skill which people are just born with, versus the true high-potential sales people who are using conscious technique and process, whilst delivering it in their own style.

If you add in a good dose of effective leadership to create the right motivating, stretching environment whilst measuring and rewarding the right things, then you have the makings of a great sales function. Now to those rules.


1. Think of the end first

Ask yourself - what are you trying to achieve? Is your objective to get the next meeting, agree to provide a full proposal, or to close the deal? From what you know of the client, where do you think there is potential for a sale? This will make sure you structure your meeting properly and avoid a drifting "tea and biscuits" conversation.

2. Ask GREAT questions

Developing the right solution for your client means understanding how the world looks from their perspective. What are the things they are trying to achieve? What are their pressures, problems, opportunities? Real consultative selling means understanding the big problems/opportunities, not just "selling my stuff". Great questions mean you can get real insights into the big themes in a customer situation. The bigger the theme or insight, the bigger the potential solution you can sell!

3. Sell solutions, not products - it's about benefits not features
When you understand your customer's position, make sure you are selling to their needs, not to yours. A benefit is what it means for them, how it improves their situation in a way that your competitor cannot. It is not about how much you love your product, it is how much you can make your client love the solution you are offering.

4. Remember the other person
Building influence is not rational - remember that the person on the other side of the table will be influenced by how you behave, how much they feel you are 'like them' as well as how much you show you are like them. Style, communication tone and rapport building are all aspects which build engagement and influence.

5. Do be rational - use the right process and measures
For longer term tracking of how healthy your business development funnel is, take an area in the process for example how many proposals are with customers or how many meetings are closing meetings, all using whatever the right "progress" measures you have for your business. That way, you can see whether the problem is "hunting" (effort and qualifying target customers), or "farming" (taking clients through the sales process and closing the deal). It keeps you honest and means you can track your sales team on the right things.


Flipping marketing on its head


We focused on three marketing levels which you've undoubtedly considered before now, but have you thought about re-engineering your marketing process and reorganising the way in which you market your product or service?


Marketing 1.0

Many modern marketers find themselves in a similar situation - a very competitive and often commoditised marketplace. Gone are the days where we have a product or services which are so different to anything else that it can command attention in virtue of itself (other than a lucky select few out there), calling only upon 'marketing' to build brand awareness and target the right audience for instant results.

Nonetheless, marketing still exists in this form and assumes customers will choose you above a competitor based on what  you offer, but to compete at this level inevitably comes down to a battle of features vs. price and it is very difficult to command a sustainable edge over the competition

The value proposition here is mostly rational and is all about the product or core service offered in isolation.

This is most commonly referred to as Marketing 1.0

Marketing 2.0

In light of the above, products and services are now being "packaged" and augmented with credibility, capability, value and experience on the one side and then added services and customer experience on the other to differentiate them.

In the complex product offering of the B2B world, credibility, capability and experience can go a long way to create the peace of mind and avoid the risks that may present themselves with high ticket products and services and plays on a risk aversion motivation, especially when there are high stakes involved.

Although there are many ways to do this within marketing, companies tend to employ the same set of profiles, blogs, white papers and email strategies that are available with marketing automation rather than getting creative. Standing out also involves realising these objectives in a different way to your competitors.

Value added services might be the after care services, the extra consultation that is included with the product or core service or could even be complementary services and products available only to those who are customers.

The customer insight is how the 360 degree experience a customer might have when interacting with your brand on all fronts, from initial contact through to quotation, sale, and use of your product. Focusing on making this the best, most consistent experience and relating to the brand promise and the objectives of the company is key.

This means that, as a customer, you can build relationships with brands and possibly rely on you being the most convenient choice. Therefore, you need to demonstrate how  you're going to add value and reward their loyalty.

This level of marketing is a combination of rational and emotional value propositions.

This is Marketing 2.0.

Marketing 3.0

However, in some sectors, even Marketing 2.0 is very cluttered with case studies, blogs, value added service offerings, testimonials etc. Getting ahead of the competition comes from constantly adapting service offerings and one-upmanship, but this does not drive the brand loyalty you need. Enter Marketing 3.0.

This is where customers choose your company and brand, not only because of what you do and how you do it, but why  you do it.

Here, the focus is on your ideology, your ethics, what you and your brand believe in. It's about how your brand DNA resonates with your target customer, and equally with your staff. We all have a part of us that wants to express our own values and associate ourselves with a community of likeminded people. Nurturing your community is not about building your email list, it's about giving your brand community what they need to spread the love. Let's face it, you are going to trust what others say about a company more than you might trust what that company says about itself, so the most powerful form of marketing is that which your brand community does on your behalf. Community marketing is key at this level and is something that many companies are missing out on.

Perhaps you've never given it a second thought but it's why some brands command such loyalty in the face of fierce competition.

It's something that is so hard to replicate and can quite possibly catapult your brand to stardom, the holy grail of becoming a household name or the go-to business in your industry. Let's face it, as marketers, that's what we're striving for.

Get back to basics, take another look at your mission statement and guiding principles and make them more real than just framed in the corner of the reception area where the carpet is faded. Why do you do what you do? Why do you offer the service you do? Why are you better at it than the next cab in the rank? Why do your loyal clients come back to you time and time again?

Once you have taken the time to rethink or reimagine why  you're in a particular industry and why you want to succeed, you can then put together your plan of how you're going to pull it off and dovetail in what it is that you're bringing to the table, filtering down your strategy through the lower levels as mentioned above, giving you more focus to then compete on all levels with a common purpose.



Flipping marketing on its head

So we ask, is it time you flipped your marketing on its head?

If you're looking to overhaul your approach, is it time you looked at the why of your strategy before you make your way through the what and the how?

That's is why we start our projects at Storm12 with an in-depth "Why?" session, a structured workshop for the project, so we can understand, support and challenge our clients' marketing strategy within our creative projects.

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