Early in my ad-man career, I spent a lot of time with sales pros. I thought it was valuable for me to travel “the last mile of marketing”…to experience the challenges of selling a product in the face of strong competition…to see wins and losses in real time and determine what sales teams needed to be more successful at the moment of truth. Also did a great deal of trade show duty, where the sales-folk were on fire and I actually got to sell things. A great education.
Fortunately, my clients (and my boss at the time) agreed with me and subsidized my time and travel. Unfortunately, I don’t see much of that these days. I think agency, client and the work all suffer.
What are the benefits of being tighter with sales? A key one is meatier creative briefings. Hearing directly from marketing the intent and purpose of a new product or service and then from sales about who best suits the offering and why, along with anecdotal customer experiences and insights, really brings briefing sessions to life with more “why”, “what” and “how”. And, it gets creative teams thinking in different directions that often lead to more effective tactics.
Because we work in similar or adjacent categories our insight grows deeper and broader with each meeting, even if the client is different. This allows us to add what we learned and what worked elsewhere (always honoring our NDAs, of course) and bring new perspectives that can improve the planning and execution.
Sometimes in joint marketing and sales sessions, we can tell from personal reactions that something is missing. Perhaps the go-to-market wasn’t fully vetted, or more field testing was necessary, or a new or tweaked persona was necessary to fully understand the audience needs and how the product or service answers them.
We are often developing marketing tools to pave the way for a product or service launch by growing awareness and generating demand, but from these meetings we have been able to identify better selling tools – especially with the advent of a younger sales team and the evolution of technology. We can test ideas with a sales team member before recommending them to the client.
We have been able to identify better offers for lead generation programs as a result of attending and hearing what the sales team feels would be relevant to the target audiences.
And, there have been times when the sales team expressed lower confidence in calling on unfamiliar or new audiences; we were able to help develop approaches or materials that better prepared the sales team and built self-assurance.
For these reasons and more, investing the time and money to integrate the agency with sales pays off. Perhaps, though, the ultimate ROI is when the client says, “This is our agency rep and he/she knows our world as well as we do.”
Now, that’s the way to kick off a great year.