A few months ago I had a great lunch with a friend here in town who owns a marketing firm that has a particular emphasis on social media. One of the things we discussed is the changing face of marketing. What is also changing is the role of sales and salespeople. My company is really starting to focus on changing how we sell and market based on what I am seeing in the industry. The whole topic gave me the idea for today’s post.
I’m going to start it off with this chicken and egg question – which came first – marketing or sales. Talk to a Salesperson and they will tell you it was them knocking on doors and making calls that brought the people to the door. Talk to the marketing department and they say “ well, heck no, if the customer had never heard of our product, the sales person wouldn’t have gotten to first base.” That’s why I call it a chicken and egg question. Which aspect indeed is first?
Often, I run into organizations who think they are one and the same – to which I say, absolutely, unequivocally, NOT. And if that organization thinks this, they are probably in trouble or going to be soon. There are different rules and techniques required for each process. And that’s what is changing. And it’s changing for both sales AND marketing.
Social Media and Social CRM are rapidly changing how we interact with our customers. It’s no longer a push situation – it’s a two way communication model. The customer indeed wants to hear about the product or service and wants to talk pricing. But after they have gotten the product, they want the dialog to continue. They want the ability to complain or compliment or suggest or comment on an ongoing basis.
Recently I read an article that “claimed” the sales person was going to become obsolete. Websites, online marketing, “here kitty kitty” advertising, Facebook, all of the above would drive customers to buy. Sales people would become an unnecessary burden and expense. Humph. I don’t agree. But I do agree how people sell will need to change to accommodate the new emerging online model.
It used to be that the role of salespeople was to advise customers of products and solutions. The savvy customer can now find that on their own. So, why would you need a salesperson? The fact that the customer can find it out on their own is why you need a salesperson. The customer is probably overwhelmed with too much information and needs someone to help them figure out what’s right and wrong for their requirements. The salesperson role is changing to that of a trusted adviser who knows what’s up and can help guide you, hopefully honestly, thru the morass of information to a workable solution.
My advice for salespeople is to become very literate with the internet tools. Know what it means to be on Twitter. Sign up for Linkedin, the world’s largest old boy network. Join groups on Linkedin that are pertinent to your product and services. Become a voice, and not just a lurker. If you don’t, the new young guy following behind you will. This is the world of the future, trust me, and it behooves salespeople to embrace it and become proficient social media pundits. Or wait by the wayside while the other guy does.