Analyse your marketing strategy
To determine whether you have the right marketing strategy, ask yourself:
- Given the current set of products/services we offer, who have we targeted and are they the appropriate customers? If the answer is “all good”, then is the market too small or already saturated?
- If, as they say in the venture capital trade, “the dog is not eating the dogfood”, do we need to change the dog food? Or change the customers we’re trying to sell it to?
- Are our “promotions” reaching our target audience? Are we trying to use broad brush media when we should be sending individual messages to specific people?
- Did we underestimate the strength of our competitors? Why are prospective customers buying from them and not us?
- Have we “delivered on our promise”? Is our product or service doing what we advertised it would?
- Have we made it difficult for people to find and buy our products or services?
- Is our pricing strategy appropriate or relevant?
Answers to these questions will help you determine whether the problem lies with your marketing strategy. If everything checks out, then look at your promotional activity and the performance of your sales team.
Review your promotional activities
Sometimes a company whose marketing strategy is good but whose sales are declining will discover a mismatch between their target market and their promotional activities.
Assuming you are targeting the right prospects with a product or service they want at a price they are willing to pay, your promotional activities should:
- Engage the target audience by delivering a creative message at the right time or place
- Persuade the target audience by changing their thinking, their feelings or their actions
Does your promotional activity address the barriers an audience may have to considering your product? Also consider the barriers a target audience may have in converting to your product.
The job of sales
A salesperson once told me, “I follow up on every lead that comes in through the website. Marketing just needs to get us more leads.”
Too many salespeople think marketing is there to deliver customers who want to purchase – and the job of sales is to overcome objections and “close the sale”. In fact, the job of sales is much more than “order taking.”
Marketing has an arsenal of tactics to get the company and its product and service in front of the target market. But it’s the job of the sales team to identify specific companies within that target market who need, want and value the product or service.
It’s also the job of sales to figure out who has money and authority to buy it, then offer a compelling argument for buying it. If your target is the top 200 pharmaceutical companies, your sales team should do their research, create a brief for each of them and identify the people who have the authority to sign the order.
Just like prospectors searched for gold, salespeople need to prospect for customers. Sometimes you get lucky and find a chunk of gold lying on the ground – a warm lead from the website. And although marketing can identify the places where gold is likely to be, the salesperson is the one with pick in hand to extract the gold.
The sales team needs to identify specific companies that need or want your product or service. Then develop a relationship with them in order to move them to a “buy” decision.
The sales team needs to know how to carry out the marketing strategy and when to use marketing tools such as brochures, infographics, product webinars, customer testimonials or personal experience.