Sales Advice Translated for Marketers

Everyone says knows we live in a buyers’ world. It’s true. You don’t need me to tell you that. But what does “living in a buyers’ world” actually mean to salespeople and marketers?

To start, it means speaking your customers’ language and relating to their feelings. The more your marketing language sounds like them (and less like you, i.e., corporate), the more likely you are to build the trust necessary to create a transaction.

Living in a buyer’s world, however, does not mean avoiding a “closing” mentality. When it’s closing time, you want to do whatever it takes to get the business. For example, see Brent Beshore’s ideas in “How to Sell Anything: An Introductory Guide.” With a hat-tip to his LinkedIn article, I’d like to take some sales concepts from one of his checklists—the “Nail the Opportunity” category—and translate them for marketers:

1. Understand the goal. Marketing translation: What is the buyer’s ultimate, long-term goal? How about at a given moment in time? Marketers can communicate with appropriate messages and content that resonate best with each individual buyer as appropriate for her stage in the process.

2. Be enjoyable. Marketing translation: Keeping it light and funny (as appropriate) makes you more human and approachable. Tone can make the difference between coming off as cold and impersonal or warm and inviting.

3. Be confident. Marketing translation: You know your product/service is the answer for a certain segment of people, so act like it. This doesn’t mean brag, but rather, assert the unique value your company offers without apologies. More importantly, at the same time, be honest about your shortcomings or the things your competition does differently (if not better) than you. To inspire trust and respect, show confidence in what your business is … and isn’t.

4. Demonstrate competence. Marketing translation: Give people answers to their questions. Help them gain awareness of the bigger picture behind their needs that your company might be able to satisfy/exceed: Why one device or service might be better than another for that buyer’s individual situation. Make sure your content and communications reflect your knowledge of not just your company’s offerings, but where those offerings fit in the larger context of your market and industry. By answering questions your buyers may not even realize they have, you can impress them with your ability to understand and help.

5. Uncover pain. Marketing translation: In the words of the voice from the sky in Field of Dreams, “ease his pain” … in this case, their pain, as in your customers. In a B2B context, you want to consider what your buyers’ job roles are, what challenges keep them scrambling for answers, and what makes them look good in front of their bosses.

6. Hunt excuses. Marketing translation: Get a list of all the objections your salespeople encounter or that you find in your own research. Then, make sure you can counteract all the ones that your company overcomes. Feature the objections on your website in an FAQ section, a feature article or a special page that can be easily printed for the buyer to show her digital marketing manager, CMO or whoever controls the purse strings.

7. Shut up. Marketing translation: Silence can go a long way. So can white space. Don’t overcrowd your emails, Web pages or collateral downloads with too many messages or choices. Err on the side of simplicity. Remember, you want to make the purchase decision easy for the buyer; confusing them or exhausting their attention is not the way to do that.

8. Ask for the sale. Marketing translation: Marketers don’t necessarily “close” the way salespeople do. But they can nudge people to contact an agent, request custom pricing or sign up for a free trial/evaluation. What marketers can learn from the “always be closing” approach is that there’s a time to let the buyer research and explore, and there’s a time to (gently) direct the buyer toward the next logical step.

9. Establish a plan. Marketing translation: Know how and when to send prospects follow-up messages as part of lead-nurturing campaigns. Also, have a system to move these nurtured leads through the different stages toward a sales opportunity—or disqualify.

10. Set expectations. Marketing translation: As great as your business is, it can’t cure cancer, create world peace or eliminate parking tickets. Be upfront about your limitations, and you will reduce the chances of resentment from misunderstandings down the road. In other words, you’ve earned their interest, if not their trust, so be realistic with your prospective customer about what they’re getting. Street translation: Don’t blow smoke; keep it real. Save your whoppers for the hamburger stand.

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