My old boss used to say, “Never take a job that has both the words “Sales” and “Marketing” in the title.” Ah yes, those were the good old days.
Or were they? His opinion reflected the long-standing notion that these activities were very distinct silos. Sales was for Willy Loman. It was polishing your shoes, gargling with Listerine, and asking for the business. Marketing was the strategic and repetitive placement of your people and your ideas in places where you expected (or at least hoped) that your prospects would be. And PR was…well, it was issuing press releases.
But today, things have changed quite radically.
Sales, Marketing and PR are converging to the point where it’s sometimes hard to know where one ends and the other begins. And if you aren’t using this phenomenon to your advantage, you’re already behind the curve.
As with the results of all technological innovation, this convergence does mean more work for you—and there’s really no way around that. But there is an upside as well—which is the democratization of the sales process. Hard work, and being good are still rewarded—but they can now be rewarded more quickly than ever before.
Here’s some practical advice for the use of “Convergence” in selling your company, your products…and yourself.
1. Prospecting the old way is dead (or at least dying): Of course cold calls, direct mail, and waiting for responses from your Website may still work to some degree. But if you’re not physically and virtually in front of your prospects, you are losing the race.
2. Do you have a blog? You need one. “Even if I’m just “Joe Salesguy” working for MegaCorp,” you ask? Yes, you do. Do not rely upon your company to provide all the canned outreach to your potential client base. Be a resource. Be an expert. I don’t care if only six people follow your blog—and four of them are your mom. You can point potential clients to your site so they can get to know you and have some of their basic questions answered. If the other guy has one, and you don’t, who looks like the expert? Who looks engaged? Who looks like he cares? Remember, Willy Loman didn’t have a blog.
3. Make it viral. I know that you have satisfied customers and friends in the industry. So why not channel their energy and enthusiasm into more business? Start a Facebook group or fan page for something cool about your product. Make it a forum for your clients (that’s YOUR clients—not every client that your company has), and make sure they know you are paying attention by making quality contributions of your own.
4. Find the experts and niche networks. Quote and re-tweet the sage advice of others in your industry (as much as it pains me to say it, you should be on Twitter as well.) Ask to contribute content to their sites. Be involved in on-line discussions. It’s all about establishing yourself as a go-to guy or gal when the chips are down.
I think this last point gets to the heart of the matter. As a sales person, you are no longer simply a cog in your company’s wheel. You now have to have your own brand. You’ve always known that prospects buy the salesperson along with the product. If your competitors are doing a much better job of selling themselves, you’re only operating at 50% capacity. OK? Now get crackin’!