Sales calls fact – it’s damn hard to get in to see anybody these days.
I recently spoke to a business owner about sales travel. He replied that his sales people were travelling less these days. It’s hard to get suspects and prospects to commit to appointments. Past customers are not interested in the latest and greatest unless they actually need something. Factor in the high cost of travel and the sales’ regular road trips are often not viable.
Willie Loman would die an early death in today’s markets.
Still, business relies on a constant supply of new customers and new business. Although the specifics vary by business and industry, the cost of acquiring new customers is multiple times the cost of retaining customers. There are resources and costs required in both efforts.
Business owners and sales managers have a dilemma. How to manage resources effectively between acquiring new customers and retaining existing customers?
Marketing can help with managing the costs of both obtaining new customers and keeping existing ones.
In many cases, a majority of sales come from existing customers. The satisfaction of existing customers and ongoing “staying in touch” are obviously very important in retaining customers.
Focus on acquiring new customers is equally important in keeping the sales pipeline full and fuelling company growth.
Marketing Qualified Leads
One aspect of marketing is to cast a wide net for new business opportunities.
Marketing can do much of the ”leg work” of qualifying leads before the expense of sales people are required. Marketing can reach many in an instant, much faster than even your speediest inside sales star or your heartiest cold caller.
The Internet has made marketing more focused and effective by allowing for very specific targeting, yet on a broad scale.
Marketing can filter the wide catch of prospects into those that you actually have a chance of doing business with. Filters like company size, geo location, and simple questions determining needs can qualify prospects before assigning to sales.
Marketing to Existing Customers
Another aspect of marketing is retaining existing customers and loyalty.
There is a lot of work to satisfying customers and showing the appreciation that you really care about them. It’s delicate staying in touch with people while respecting their reluctance to talk to sales people when not they are not in shopping mode. Sales people often feel they are banging their heads against a wall.
The Internet plays a large role in marketing effectiveness. Engagement is the key and in today’s world often public. The public nature of social media, reviews, and commentary is well serviced by the marketing dept. This takes some of the heat off of sales staff in not getting mired down in trying to do everything for existing customers.
Marketing techniques and marketing automation service existing customers until they are ready for sales assistance. Again, “leg work” is provided until valuable sales people need to get involved.
Managing Sales Costs
Having marketing help manage sales costs can make a big difference in profits:
- Marketing can bring down the costs of acquiring new customers by qualifying suspects into prospects. Marketing qualified leads can be passed on to sales. Sales can then do what they are hired to do – work with legitimate prospects and close them.
- Marketing can bring down the costs of customer retention by delivering consistent messaging and managing customer engagement. Satisfied customers become repeat customers. The lifetime value of repeat customers should not be underestimated.
Managing sales costs in today’s markets is a challenge. Marketing can help by doing the “leg work” of getting your message out in the widest distribution possible. Marketing qualifies the interest generated to ensure precious sales staff only focus on potential opportunities. Marketing maintains the message that your customers are important and your organization is always a part of the conversation.