Marketing The First Hurdle in the Sales Process

Once again I heard “I need more sales” and “My salespeople aren’t working hard enough.” My immediate response was “Please tell me about your sales process beginning with your marketing plan including strategies and tactical execution.”

sales-processThen I heard again “We don’t need marketing. Our marketing is fine, our sales and salespeople are the problem.” This SMB owner was one of the many misinformed that I have encountered over the years.

Marketing has been sold as some advertising, some logo, something that is secondary to the actual selling of the solutions. Nothing could be further from the truth.

For people to buy your solutions (think increase sales), then they must know and begin to trust you.  Your attracting attention activities from social media, to Internet, to advertising, to even those first conversations with sales leads all are marketing.  This is the first step or hurdle in any sales process.

People buy from people they know and trust.

(Yes I did repeat that statement intentionally.)

They can’t buy from you if they don’t know you.  Would you buy from an absolute stranger?  Think cold calling back in the days when salespeople physically knocked on doors selling their wares. How many doors did those salespeople need to knock on to sell a brush, a pair of shoes, etc.?

Possibly it is necessary to gain clarity around the term sales process.  Many have been conditioned to believe that the sales process is all about selling.  That might be true if your SMB had separate marketing and sales departments.  For the  super majority (97.3%) of all U.S. businesses with under 20 employees, salespeople and even the SMB owners wear multiple hats including marketing, selling and keeping (follow-up).

The sales process is really a 3-phase circular process with Marketing being the first hurdle to clear.  Then selling comes next. Finally, the last phase is keeping. To focus only on the second phase, selling, as the entire sales process dooms many SMBs.

Finally do not be confused by the term “social selling” as it really is a combination of “social marketing and social selling.”  Again, this lack of clarity around this new sales term is creating a lot of frustration to serious miss steps by SMB owners and sales professionals.

My advice is if your goal is to increase sales, then return to your strategic plan and review your marketing plan along with all the other rich data within that strategic plan.

P.S. A marketing plan created by a marketing company is only one piece of the puzzle.  Using that plan alone will probably create more unintended problems that you realize including everything from misalignment to disengaged employees.

Want more sales CLICK HERE to schedule a call with me.

* * * * *

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver for leaders who desire a Forward Thinking Sales Culture. She supports executive leadership in bridging the sales culture gap of people and processes that restricts SMB sales results. If you want to increase sales, then call Leanne at 219.508.2859 central time USA to solve your disengaged employees and ultimately your disengaged sales culture as well as improve your own sales results. Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.


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