Do Sales People Need to Double as Product Marketing Managers for their offerings?

Do Sales people need to double as Product Marketing Managers for their offerings?

When it comes to knowing who their customers are along with their needs; they do.

Previously, I spoke about prospecting and identifying your target market. I will cover this topic in more detail in this post. I stated that it is important to know who would be a good fit for your offering. For example if you were selling Dental equipment like I was, you would look for Dental professionals in your sales territory, you would not call on other medical professionals and offices that do not have a need. When I was selling Dental equipment, I sold devices that any Dental professional could use. However, I also sold items that only specialized Dentists could use. As a result, I had to do research to distinguish between my offerings. For example, I would not present a general dentist an implant hand-piece that only an oral surgeon would use.

However, if you are selling a consumer product or one with widespread applications more research is required; you will have to do extensive market research thinking like a product marketing manager answering the following questions:

  • How is the product being used?
  • What is the product designed to do?
  • What are the demographics of the people using the product?
  • How long is the sales cycle between purchases?
  • What channels is the product sold through?
  • What offerings does the competition have?
  • What channels does the competition use to sell?
  • How do your offerings measure up compared to the competitions?

So where could you find this information?

  • Product literature from your company and the competition
  • Reading industry trade magazines and journals
  • Attending industry trade shows where products are readily on display
  • Viewing product training and demonstration videos by experts in your field
  • Talking to prospects and existing customers about how they use the products
  • Examining your company’s data on sales and the sales cycle of your products

If you are a new sales person, you will do all of these things I mentioned above as you gain more experience. If you are working at an existing company, they will have data on your competition and product information. However, if you are starting a business you will have to do this research yourself. All of this information can be used in your sales presentation to convince your prospects and customers that you are an expert. This is the cornerstone to the consultative selling approach.

Once you know who your products are a good fit for, you can come up with a prospecting list based on geography. If you work for a company as a sales representative you will be given a territory with a list of names and addresses.  The only exception to this is if you are selling life insurance and financial services, in these professions you can call on anyone. You are not limited by geography. If you are starting your own business you will have to come up with a prospecting list on your own.

So how do I build a prospecting list if one is not provided?

I would do internet searches that focus on certain professionals that are a good fit for your offerings and organize it by zip codes. You will be able to build and improve on your prospecting list as you call on prospects.  Your prospecting list is a building block you can use to develop a sales plan. I will talk about this in a later post. This is how you prospect and identify your target market.

Please send me your questions.

 

Confidence Drives Sales

In my previous post on the basic selling skills needed for success in sales, I listed four basic things that sales people need to do to be successful in sales. These four things are: belief in your products and services, knowing how to prospect/knowing your target market, knowing how to engage prospects and customers with a message that is compelling and the ability to persist in the face of rejection and knowing how to get past objections. This post will focus more specifically on belief in your product and services.

Previously, I described belief in your products and services as follows:

Believing in your product means that you think it is the best on the market and that you would buy it. Belief in your product is key because your presentation will fail to impress the prospect if you do not.

Before you enter the field of selling, you need to decide on products and services that you want to sell. Once you identify products and services that you want to sell, you need to do research on the companies that have these offerings. When choosing a company that you want to work for, it extremely important that the company is reputable and that is stands behind its offerings. In other words, make sure the customer service and product reliability is top-notch. (I will explain about customer service in more detail in later posts.) This is important to establish because this will allow you to believe in your company.

Once you believe in your company along with their offerings, you now have to build and constantly refine your product knowledge. Your company will help you do this by providing you with product literature schematics, presentations and diagrams on how the products are used. However, you must commit to doing the work that it takes to develop this knowledge. Over time, your constant study of your products will enable you to become an expert. Your mastery of product knowledge will enable you to develop the self-confidence needed to make a successful sales presentation and forge long-term partnerships with customers. In sales today, the prospects and customers are looking for someone who is an expert. It is important that you approach prospects and customers as an expert while at the same time employing a consultative selling approach. In other words, you need to do what it takes to be perceived as someone who can and will help customers with their business needs. When offering prospects and customers a solution, it is important to keep their needs in mind and to not sell just to make a commission. You need to be confident that your offer is best for your prospects and customers; if your offering is wrong for them it is your responsibility to not force it on them because you will lose their business. Your goal as a sales person is to help as many prospects and customers as you can with your offerings. Customers should have confidence in your expertise so they consult with you first about products and services in your industry.

In my next post, I will cover how to prospect and identify your target market in more detail. Please send me your questions so I can start the ask Dan section.

Until then, thank you for reading!

The Basic Principles of Marketing have changed or have they?

Marketing in the digital age has shifted from content to context. Up until recently, many brands created the content that was used to market their products. Consumers were expected to like their products just because they looked cool or were hip. With the rise of social networking with sites such as Facebook and Twitter, this started to change. People began to express themselves online more and more. Ultimately, this led to sharing their experiences online. Noticing this trend, many brands immediately launched Facebook pages, this lead to the shift from content to context marketing. Instead of creating content, many brands Like Coke and Pepsi had their consumers create content for their marketing campaigns. Customers would upload videos of the products and they would like the brands Facebook pages. Consumers have access to more information about products and services than ever before so brands have to have a compelling message.

Last month, I attended the Pivot Conference in New York City. This conference examines marketing and the social consumer. One theme rang true throughout the whole conference. This theme was that consumers own the content that is created by brands. However, consumers alone and brands alone do not create content. Instead content is co-created.  Today a brand is not just about selling and marketing products; it is about creating experiences that both the consumers and brands create. People engage with brands and vice versa.

However, although the tools of marketing may have changed, the basics have not. When marketing products and services it is important to do the following: Identify your target market, create a compelling message that makes people want to buy your products and services, engage your consumers, have your products and services tell a story and promote your content using both traditional and digital platforms.

1 Identifying Your Target market

As I explained in my previous post, it is imperative to identify who is a good fit for your offering. You need to make sure you are sending your message to people who will be receptive to your products and services.  Depending on your industry, this may be heavily focused or very broad. Consumer products tend to have a larger potential customer base than other industries.

2 Creating a compelling message

People today are bombarded by marketing and advertising messages. When we see pop up ads and banner advertising we tend to click off them. The results of all this advertising whether it be a television ad or billboard is a severely shortened attention span. As a result, a message has to really compelling to make it through the filters. This objective can be fulfilled by thinking like a copy-writer. You need to craft a headline that will grab the reader’s attention immediately. This headline could take the form of a though provoking question. Something that will make the reader uneasy and have them think I better act now to either gain a benefit or avoid losing one they care about. Life insurance is marketed in this way.

3 Engaging consumers

It is important for brands to engage consumers. Now that brands create experiences in our lives it is important for brands to stay connected to their customers and fan bases. This could be achieved through social media. Many brands use their Facebook page walls to allow their fans to comment, share experiences, like their products and to upload videos of their products being used.

4 Having your products tell a story

Many successful brands have their products tell a story. It is imperative that your brand tells a story that its customers can relate to. The Old Spice and Dos Equis  campaigns are great examples of this. Earlier I said the consumers own the marketing content created by a brand. Now content is marketing in the context of a consumer’s life. Brands call on their customers to help create the story of the brand though the sharing of videos, thoughts and ideas.

5 Promoting your content using both digital and traditional platforms

The digital age is here. Social media is the marketing tool for the 21st century. It is tempting to focus all of our marketing and advertising resources on digital media. However, when marketing products and services a one size fits all approach does not work. Many people are on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites but many people are not. As a result, marketers need to make sure these people are included in their marketing messages and that these messages reach people who are not on social networking sites. This is why using print, television and radio ads are still important. In order to reach everyone, brands still need to use traditional means to reach the people who are still not connected and the ones who choose to connect with them on digital platforms. One thing that television is doing to stay relevant is using social media. Almost every show that is on TV is using social media. Specifically they are using Twitter and Facebook to connect with their audience. The stars of these shows have Twitter and Facebook accounts. They tweet live with their fans during and after the show. These shows use hash-tags. A hash-tag consists of a numbers bracket and a word. This is used to create an index on topics on Twitter. These hash-tags allow fans of these shows to share thoughts and ideas that will reach far beyond their followers. Facebook is also used by television to allow their fans to comment, like and share ideas on their favorite shows. Twitter and Facebook is even used by the TV news in the manner I described above.

As you can see, the tools of marketing have changed but the basics have not. It’s about engagement. I will be talking about marketing and social media in later posts. In my next post, I will further explain the skills to be successful in sales. Feel free to send your questions to me. I will include them in the ask Dan section.

Until then, thank you for reading!

Four Basic Things Every Person in Sales Needs to Do to Be Successful

Selling is a very detailed process. There are four basic things that every person in Sales needs to do to be successful. These four things are: belief in your products and services, knowing how to prospect/knowing your target market, knowing how to engage prospects and customers with a message that is compelling and the ability to persist in the face of rejection and knowing how to get past objections.

       1      Belief in your products and services

  • Once you decide that you want to go into sales, you need to pick a product that you want to sell. The product should be something that you use yourself or if it is a technical product the product should be one that after doing some research that you could stand behind. When you make a sales presentation to a prospect, it is imperative that you believe in your product. Believing in your product means that you think it is the best on the market and that you would buy it. Belief in your product is key because your presentation will fail to impress the prospect if you do not. Believing in your product or service will enable you to speak about them enthusiastically. This will give you a chance to get the prospect excited.

        2    Knowing how to prospect and identifying your target market

  • When you decide on the product and services you are going to sell, it is important to know who would a good fit for your offering. For example if you were selling Dental equipment like I was, you would look for Dental professionals in your sales territory, you would not call on other medical professionals and offices that do not have a need.
  • Once you identify people who are a good fit for your products and services you need to obtain a prospecting list. This list should be created or generated by zip code and should include the names and the addresses of businesses in your area.
  • Once you have this list, you should develop a sales plan that determines: how many calls you will make per day and the specific businesses you will call on and how often you will see them. For example, I would call on customers and prospects every two to three weeks.
  • Knowing how to get past the gate-keeper and finding the decision maker

        3  Knowing how to engage prospects and customers with a message that is compelling     

           In order to engage prospects and customers with a message that compelling it is important you have the following:   

  • Build rapport with prospect when you call on them and get to know their needs
  • Develop and maintain a strong knowledge of your products
  • Develop and maintain a strong knowledge of your competitors
  • Know what areas your company beats them and what areas they beat you and develop a selling strategy based on this
  • Know current trends and happenings in your industry these details can be obtained by attending trade shows and reading industry trade magazines.

        4 The ability to persist in the face of rejection/Knowing how to get past objections

  • In selling you will face a lot rejection. I was selling in New York City where I was thrown out of offices and told to not go back to certain places. Rejection is tough to take at first but it is important to keep in mind that the prospect is rejecting your product offerings and not you.
  • In order to succeed you need to keep making calls and keep a stiff upper lip.
  • Getting past objections.
  • It is important to know what customers true objections are to uncover what motivates them to buy.
  • Objections in many cases are buying signals because if you do not get asked any questions  by a prospect, it means they are not interested.

          These are the four basic skills you need to be successful in sales. I will be covering these skills in more detail in later posts.

          Please send me your questions so I can start my ask Dan section. The next post will cover the basics of marketing products and services.

          Until then, thank you for reading!