You’re faced with a challenge: how to differentiate your company and products to warrant a higher price than your competition, while providing quality leads for your sales force to close.
Let’s imagine that you’re a mid-market manufacturer making industrial widgets. Your company has grown into a comfortable industry position, and probably relies more heavily on sales efforts rather than marketing. You’ve heard about branding, but feel it probably applies more to others than to your company. You’re not Nike, after all.
Yet your sales force complains about the difficulty of making sales – citing a long lead cycle, or an aggressive pricing policy, or perhaps a commoditization of products in your industry. On occasion, you have discounted deeply, just to make a sale, regretting the decision later.
You Are Not Alone.
This has become a common refrain among manufacturers. The problem is often caused by a brand that isn’t fully developed, and sales and marketing efforts lacking directional alignment. The solution involves developing and leveraging your company’s brand, then aligning your sales and marketing efforts to capture the hearts, minds and imagination of your prospects.
Let Branding Work as A Sales Rep
People understand what well branded companies represent (Apple = design; Ben & Jerry’s = sustainability). Think of branding as a trustworthy aura that surrounds your company, acting as your most effective salesman, preselling your company’s merits to your audience.
A well-branded company takes a stand, setting itself apart from the competition. Brands need to be set carefully with an eye on the future. Brands can evolve, but they do so slowly. If your customers and prospects don’t know what your company stands for, seek professional marketing assistance before employing other strategies, as everything works better when built on the strong foundation of a brand.
Nurture and Grow Customers and Prospects
Once your brand is established, sales and marketing efforts will flow more easily. Nurture and grow your customers and leads. Don’t use every touch point as a sales effort – rather build bonds through providing helpful information. Become an information resource, providing customers and prospects with fresh insight and approaches. Paint a bright picture of how your company can help your prospects grow by solving their problems. Expand their vision and imagination. Offer information as a lead-gen tool, and provide timely non-threatening follow-up. Let prospects know how they can buy from you when the time is right. And tie everything into a proactive CRM system.
Utilize Multiple Communication Channels
Field these efforts through multiple communication channels. People learn differently, so provide many ways for prospects to be exposed to your messaging. Direct sales efforts, traditional advertising, digital approaches, public relations, social media, and content marketing are just a few channels to investigate.
If this sounds like a hybrid of sales and marketing, it is – and it reflects where many leading companies are headed. Alignment is key for success, and all too often branding, marketing and sales are pulling toward different goals. Through this approach, branding is leveraged with sales and marketing pulling the same cart for a greater mutual benefit.