Give Your Sales Force What They Need

Sales is a crucial part of marketing. Too often we focus so much of our energy on advertising, and forget to pay attention to what happens when the advertising works. It gets people to visit or call, gets them to request more information, or research your products and services. But then you have to sell them.

Sure, in some industries, you rely on people to checkout themselves. You might not have a sales force. But in most you do, and it is a big part of the marketing team’s job to give that sales force the tools that they need to turn interested prospects into paying customers.

Here is a brief look at the sales cycle and what marketing can do to assist sales all the way through the process.


Your advertising generates interest. Activities on social media can generate interest. All efforts by the marketing team at this first stage should be intended to reach new prospects and start them down the sales funnel by piquing their interest.

You can create whitepapers or promotional material and use them to generate leads on your website. You can design your website to encourage people to email, or chat, or call, connecting them directly to someone on the sales team. You can create special offers and discounts that encourage people who otherwise might not shop with you to take an interest.


At this stage, your sales team has leads in the queue. This is when the selling starts.

Sales people should be provided a variety of different assets to help them sell. A basic information packet, in the form of a PowerPoint or single document can be used to reach out to people initially. In addition, when prospects ask for more information on a specific area, the salesperson should have something to show them. This might include case studies and references from other clients or customers, a more detailed brochure explaining what you offer and how it works, industry research, etc.


To close the sale, it is important to provide sales people with a certain degree of flexibility. At this stage, the ability to discount the price or create added value for the customer could mean the difference between a sale and a missed opportunity. Make sure salespeople know what they can do to close the sale, and what they can’t. And give them the proper answers to all possible customer questions.

All other aspects of your marketing might be dynamite, but if you can’t close the sale once you pique someone’s interest, your business will not succeed.

How Does a Rebate Work?

A rebate, usually described as a mail-in rebate, is a type of marketing promotion that is very common in some industries. It’s been widely used by personal electronics retailers and car dealerships.

The point of a rebate, from the marketer’s standpoint, is to advertise a lower price than what the customer will actually have to pay at the point of sale. There are other benefits to the marketer, which I will break down later in the post. But essentially, a company can market a product for $500, after the rebate. But the customer pays $700 to purchase the product and then must perform a certain action, usually filling out a card and mailing it into the company, to receive $200 back on their purchase.

The dirty little secret about rebates is that only about half of customers ever actually submit the mail-in rebate. That means that even though you are marketing a product at $500, you are making about $600 per purchase (half pay $700, half pay $500).

In addition to the benefits already discussed for marketers, here are a few additional opportunities rebates offer companies:

·         You can earn interest on the money received in the time period between the purchase and the time the rebate must be paid out.

·         You can use information collected on mail-in rebate cards to build your customer database.

·         Rebates give consumers a sense of getting more for their money, because they see the full price value is that much higher than what they will actually end up paying (after the rebate).

Think about how you might use a rebate offer at your company.

The Role of Fear in Marketing

Fear is most definitely a factor for you.

If you are in marketing, you have to know the role that fear plays in your customer’s decision making process, and how you can alleviate that fear to close more sales.

Before purchasing something for the first time, every consumer, whether they are aware of it or not, is experiencing some level of fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of being ripped off. Fear of not getting what we need or want. And in today’s age, fear of giving up personal information online.

When the benefits outweigh the costs, you get yourself a new customer. But it’s not all about monetary costs. Fear is a factor that you have to overcome in your marketing and checkout processes.

How do you overcome consumers’ fears?

  1. Lower Prices – one of the biggest fears customers have is spending a lot of money on something they don’t like or don’t need. So you can combat that fear with lower prices. If an item is less expensive, there is less risk to the customer.
  2. Testimonials – of course it’s not always possible or practical to lower prices, so testimonials can help alleviate those same concerns. Real customers sharing their experiences through video or online reviews can tell future customers that the purchase is worth it.
  3. Badges and Honors – are you accredited by the BBB or licensed by some regulating body? Have you earned an industry honor you’re proud of? Any of these things can serve as third-party verification of your own marketing claims, and reassure potential customers that you’re not there to rip them off.
  4. Free Trials – why not make it free and get rid of all the concern over getting ripped off? That’s what a free trial allows you to do. Let people take your product or service for a test run before they have to drop cold hard cash on it.
  5. Consultative Sales Process – if you give your prospective customers the chance to speak with a knowledgeable sales agent, you give them a chance to ask all of the questions they want asked before they make a decision. This is vital for products and services that are higher cost where the purchase process is a little longer and more involved.
  6. FAQs – if you don’t have a sales team or a consultative sales process, a simple online FAQ can make the difference between someone walking away and someone getting the information they need to complete a sale. Survey your customers to find out what their most common questions about your product are and answer them all in one place on your website.
  7. Experience Setting – you can use images, videos, graphics, or descriptions to show people what their lives will actually be like after becoming a customer. Product details and photos can answer a lot of the questions people have when making an online purchase.

The CREATE Method of Marketing

As in, CREATE your own market:

Content – develop content that people want.

Reach – use that content to develop a following of people.

Engage – connect with your following in a variety of channels (social, email, etc.)

Advertise – offer them a product or service that they need.

Teach – Show them how this product or service will help them.

Execute – Convert the final sale.

You Are What You Sell

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Finally, a post defending marketers everywhere…

It’s easy for a company to look at their success and either credit or blame the marketing team.

Our holiday promotion is tanking, what’s wrong with it? Or, our back to school special crushed last year’s sales targets, what a great campaign!

As a marketer, I’d love to take credit for the wins and find a scapegoat for the failures. But the truth is, more times than not, it’s not the marketing team who is responsible for either.

It’s important for business owners and managers (and young marketers) to realize that it all starts with the product. If you have a crap product, you can’t blame marketing when it doesn’t sell. And in the same way, a superior product can almost sell itself.

To be clear, I’m not making the argument that marketing is not important, or effective. But it has its limits. So here’s a message to all the young marketers out there who have taken heat from managers complaining about poor performance, or feel the pressure to improve the effectiveness of your sales and ad channels…

First, take a long hard look at what you’re selling.