Too many companies are taking a random, scattered approach when it comes to marketing and selling to their target audiences, according to speakers at OHTec’s first Sales and Marketing Special Interest Group event of 2019.
The SIG speakers—Bruce Scheer, CEO of SalesConversation.com and host of the Sales Conversation Podcast; John Merritt, CEO and co-founder of Chicago-based Zenn Solutions; and Pete Martin, founder and CEO of Cleveland-based Votem—agreed that the best way to drive growth in the bottom line is by identifying a larger theme or point of view within the company mission and then taking intentional steps to align activities behind that larger purpose.
Scheer said companies that have not identified that larger purpose end up engaging in random acts of content and conversation and that does nothing to build the business. “There’s no cohesion or consistency,” he said.
To help in the process of pinpointing this greater purpose, Scheer recommended sales and marketing leaders ask themselves the following three questions:
- What is my customer’s biggest problem?
- What are people in my market currently talking about?
- What unique insight can my company bring to this conversation?
Merritt hit on similar points during his presentation at the event, which was held Jan. 17 at the Great Lakes Brewery Tasting Room. When you take time to ensure what you’re doing is tied to the bottom line, you avoid “busy work” and will be better positioned to hit your sales and marketing objectives.
Time well spent
Aligning everyone behind a singular purpose and then communicating that mission to customers can be a lengthy process. Scheer said companies will have to take time testing with their target audience, industry influencers and the company’s own internal sellers as well to ensure the messaging is hitting the target.
Another helpful exercise when planning the execution of a cohesive sales and messaging strategy, especially as it relates to digital products or services, is to take the analog experience customers experience and ensure the digital experience matches that analog experience as closely as possible, Martin said. All told, it can take between 18 and 24 months for the theme to take shape, Scheer said.
Votem’s Martin attested to all the legwork that must go into putting this kind of strategy in place. In the case of his company, he said Votem has gotten good at qualifying opportunities. The company goes state by state and determines where their efforts are most likely to yield results. This results in the creation of a heat map showing where Votem should focus its time and energy and, in the process, helps it avoid being inefficient.
One stumbling block Scheer has seen companies run into comes when big egos get in the way. He’s seen examples where the senior leadership of a company will want to make changes to the customer sales and marketing plan. When that happens, he said it’s important to remind these leaders that this plan isn’t being developed for them; rather, it’s for the company’s target audience who have already made it clear that this messaging resonates with them.
“We’re not designing for your CEO,” he said. “We’re designing for your customers.”
The OHTec Sales and Marketing SIG is just one example of the many events the Greater Cleveland Partnership hosts each year that provide Northeast Ohio companies with education and resources they need to grow their business. Click here to view a list of more upcoming events that could benefit your business.