Being a part of two most important functions of an organization – Sales & Marketing, helps me understand the pressures a salesman goes through every day, week and month and the urge Marketing has to help grow the organization strategically. In a smaller organization (not by revenue, but by team size and flat org structure) you can say that a company head is like a “beam” and sales & marketing form the two “weighing pans”. The beam has to balance both the pans, an equilibrium has to be maintained between cash flow and strategic growth.
It would be wrong to judge that who is right and who is wrong. Cash flow or revenue stream is like blood, you cannot run out of it, it keeps you going. But strategic growth is more about having a vision of how your business will shape up, how would your company look like in 5-10-15 years, what would you stand for and what greater good you will bring to your shareholders and the society at large.
These are not very easy questions to answer, that’s why we keep hearing the cliché, that Sales & Marketing have to be hands in glove. And that makes complete sense. Your long-term growth plans would be of no use if they cannot make any money and your short-term sales plan is of no use if it doesn’t help you grow Sustainably. All said and done, the entire premise of this discussion lays in and around “Customer”. Ultimately your services, products, pitch, money, growth everything falls flat if you are not making your customers happy. I believe that if we work around the below five points a lot of things can be improved within the organization and the thinking of the leaders (who ultimately drive the growth) can become more clear and streamlined:
1. LOOK BEYOND NUMBERS – Though easier said than done, don’t let your monthly business plans be just about numbers or sales target. Think how you can grow both organically and inorganically. What could be that program bundle or value add that would make the customer feel as if you are not a Money sucking monster or “JUST A SUPPLIER” but their partners in growth!
2. MAKE A DIFFERENCE – You and your teams should continuously brainstorm on how you can bring a difference to your customer’s business. Don’t just go and sell. Try and understand the customer needs. Instead of having a one way sales pitch have a dialogue with your customer. A lot of times facts which surface through such discussions could be the gold mine you have looked for. Probe, understand, uncomplicate and act.
3. SOLVE PROBLEMS – Lot of times we monstrously enjoy the situation when a customer falls into trouble and comes back running to us. This is not a time to take revenge or sell your services/product at a premium. Companies who are a partner of their customers in their bad times, form a bond no competitor could break. Encash this opportunity and help your customer find the best solution. Many a times there are problems hiding beneath the surface, if your customer doesn’t bring them out, as a partner/consultant it’s your duty if not obligation to make the customer take notice of it and if possible jointly come up with possible solutions or recommendations.
4. EDUCATE & GET EDUCATED – Education and learning are the tools which never go in vain. Use your expertise to help your customers’ staff get better at their work. During such sessions, you can learn the day-to-day challenges or problems the staff down the line faces. This helps you not only gain their trust and confidence but helps you make your product/service better and more closer to reality.
5. NEVER THINK YOUR CUSTOMER IS A FOOL – The greatest mistake a company could make is thinking that their customers are fools, far away from your area of ability and you can sell them a fish when what they need is a hook. You cannot go a long way with this. The day your customer realizes what you have done, be ready to not only lose the client but your market reputation too.
These are few ideas or pointers which I believe, if become a part of your sales and marketing team’s planning every month, the organization can fare better and grow faster bearing fruits at the top and stronger roots at the bottom.
For more tips on how to be a better Salesman or Saleswoman read my blog post – How not to be a Salesman or Saleswoman