Digital Marketers Must Understand the Selling Process

Before I started my career in marketing, I worked nine years in sales. The first few years were brutal although I consistently made my numbers. It was in the third year that I came to understand that selling is a process and that I didn’t have to succumb to a sales strategy of “quote and hope.”

As I have progressed my career in marketing, my understanding of the selling process has been a skill that is invaluable to me. When marketing experts like SiriusDecisions speak of the need to address multiple buyers and the buying unit during the buyer’s journey, I see a strong correlation between those observations and strategic selling principles and processes introduced by experts like Miller Heiman.

Having this sales foundation for me reinforces what is critically important about what we do as marketers which is to ultimately help our companies to acquire, grow, and retain customers at a profit.

We can have the most elaborate marketing campaigns, using the latest Martech innovations but if those efforts don’t ultimately produce sales, they will not last.

I don’t know any CEO, President, or VP of Sales that gets up each morning energized by a new lead or opportunity. For any person responsible for selling something a new sales lead or opportunity is the start of the sales journey and not the end.

Too often as marketers, we are quick to claim victory for delivering what we perceive as our primary responsibility which is to generate and hand over leads.

As marketers now take on the added responsibility to accelerate early-stage pipeline into more advanced sales opportunities, there needs to be an accompanying shift in a marketer’s mindset.

While I firmly contend that pipeline acceleration success requires a new hybrid marketing/ sales model, there are three steps all marketers should take to assess the quality of their opportunities and their potential for future sales closure.

1. Stop viewing your potential engagement strategies and responders from the lens of personas and start looking at your responders as people in a buying process especially when marketing to large accounts.

2. Understand that while we can now track and measure a company’s or individual’s purchase intent, that does not define their motivation for that search or identify their role in the buying process. These are the unknowns and knowledge gaps that must be solved to accelerate and close the business.

3. Don’t confuse pipeline creation with potential business results. When marketers and companies become overly obsessed with achieving a pipeline multiple, they run the risk of becoming hyper-focused in attaining the “what” rather than understanding the “why.” Isolated metrics like pipeline multiples can be misleading indicators of potential business health especially when larger orders and customers characterize a business.

With all the new available marketing technology to identify potential buyer intent, it can be easy to confuse this purchase intent with an individual’s motivation or capability to purchase. Like our successful sales colleagues, marketers who take the time to evaluate their responders with the potential buying decisions and buying units are going to have far greater success in converting their initial inquiries into future business.

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