Sales and marketing and buying, oh my!
Wednesday, July 20th, 2011
We're not in sales anymore. The web is changing everything. Josh Stailey is back this week to talk about how you're selling cycle has changed and where your sales team fits in the big picture.
Hi, Josh Stailey from The Pursuit Group. I want to talk a little bit about sales and marketing and buying.
What’s happening out there right now is bad news for sales people, perhaps good news for marketing, but important for every company in term of how the buying cycle of your potential customers is changing. It’s changing because of the web, big surprise there. The web changes everything; it’s no surprise that it’s changed sales. But it’s doing something really important to the selling process. And that is, it’s taking the early stages of the selling out of the hands of sales people. That’s in part because buyers no longer have to respond to a sales person or listen to a sales person in the early stages just to learn about what’s going on. There’s a whole web out there full of information for them to help recognize and define a problem and even determine a solution and possibly even decide who’s on their short list of vendors to purchase and implement a solution.
So sales people are still important, but at a starting point much later in the selling cycle. So as a company, you now have a gap in your classic selling cycle in the early stages that you have to fill. And you have to fill that with I think two things: marketing as a process and content. And content is critically important here because that’s what your sales people gave to the buyers in the classic selling cycle in the early stages. They helped them define the problems; they were the authoritative source for information to enable them to make a better decision. Now they’re not doing that, they’re going to the web to do that. And if you don’t provide it through content on your website and through other resources, then you may never know that somebody’s been looking and may have even hit your site and decided you couldn’t provide enough good content to stick around.
So it’s critically important that you provide the information that those sales people used to provide in a readily available, easy to use format for buyers. That could include white paper, it could include lots and lots of product specifications and descriptions and even configurations, even pricing. It could include seminars and webinars; it can include presentations and demonstrations. It’s all content and it’s all important for potential buyers early in their buying cycle to learn. And they will reward you if you can provide that, they will reward you with the right to reach out to them with the product eventually. But if you try early, they’ll probably say, “No, we’re not interested in talking yet.” And if you don’t provide early, they’re probably not going to come back and ask you.
So you have a critical function that you have to do in order to make sure you’ve got good leads and qualified leads to feed into the sales people at the right point in the new buying cycle. It’s not easy to do. The first and most important thing to do is, sit down with your sales people and learn everything they do in the early stages and figure out how you put that on your website in ways that people can find.
You have a lot of other marketing tasks to do as well, but you cannot underestimate the importance of having that kind of content, the content your sales people used to be able to provide on the web in readily available digital format for your potential customers.
The stakes here are huge because you are carving out what used to be an essential piece of your selling cycle. The buyers are taking that away from you and you have to replace it with something that’s not your sales guy.
Our friend and contributor Josh Stailey passed away unexpectedly on September 10, 2011. We have valued his expertise and willingness to share his insights with us. We discussed the appropriateness of sharing content he provided before his death with his business partners at The Pursuit Group and they agreed sharing his expertise was a fitting tribute to Josh.
Josh Stailey was a 40-year veteran of the marketing and sales wars, a journalism-trained professional who understood the role of information and technology in today’s business world. A consultant and writer, he was a founding partner of The Pursuit Group, which specializes in designing and implementing demand-generation systems for small- and medium-sized businesses. He has also consulted with Fortune 500 companies on customer experience management and content system design.
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