I'm still dwelling on this -- far beyond what is probably good for any marketing podcast host to be doing. But it just occurred to me that what makes a good salesperson is exactly what makes the rest of us hate them so much!
Think about these individuals for a moment. The best of the best in sales are driven to succeed. They are constantly on the move. They couldn't care less about your branding campaign as long as it moves product. They are always going to the best restaurants and laughing it up, while you work late to get their deliverables to them. It's all about doing anything for the customer. It's about engagement far beyond the needs of the sale at hand
Got the picture? Now the next question: Haven't I just described PR and social media efforts as well? How about Customer Relationship Management efforts? Isn't a bit of that in there too?
Relationship Building Is What We Have In Common
I find it interesting to contemplate the dynamics of change in our industry. We all talk a good game about being "relationship focused" or "getting social" and being "one-to-one" in what we do, but underneath it all remains this distaste for what it means.
I've maintained for years that marketing can learn a lot from sales. (Certainly the converse is true as well, but we already knew that.) The most effective sales efforts have always been about balancing relationships with results. They've always been about nurturing the personal connections and creating advocacy. And while there's no denying that sales invariably leans toward the immediate value of the relationship at the expense of the long-term value of the corporate brand, there's still the core truth that selling is what it's all about.
Because of this, it's absolutely essential to both create a brand that offers a synergistic flow from contact to sale, and foster understanding of how the process works within the organization.
The Underlying Truth
The real reason organizations are enamored with the social model now and have wrestled with CRM for nearly two decades, is because they both provide the means to more effectively connect the marketing and the sales processes. If done right, they offer a chance for the lines to be blurred further and for ROI to increase as a whole. And yet it can't happen unless the two camps work together.
So homework for today: Why not apply the principles of CRM and social media within your organization. (That's a fancy way of saying, do a little internal selling, mind you.) Instead of just jumping in to some new marketing mandate (Let's all Twitter!), work toward keeping a database of your sales people's needs and family members and favorite sports teams first. Send them birthday wishes via Facebook. Friend them on the network of their choice. Invite them to debate you in a relevant online forum. Position this as a means of serving them better. And prove through your actions how it all works.
Everything Starts With Trust — Even InternallyBuild trust first and then show them how branded interactions can be just as powerful and have longer-lasting value than just making the connections as an individual. Make them comfortable first and you'll find you won't just have buy-in, you'll have advocacy.
What makes a good salesperson may still get under your skin sometimes. But remember, those we resent the most usually contain those aspect that we resent most within ourselves. It's time to get over it, stop pushing idea and start taking action.