Lisa McEwen
Lisa McEwen 4 June 2018

5 Things Senior Marketers Can Learn from Sales Training

Who says marketers can't learn from the sales team? Check out what senior marketers can learn from sales training.

Sales skills training has undergone a huge overhaul in the last 10 years or so, with the internet providing a key role in that shift. Previously, the buyer-seller relationship was largely based on the salesperson initiating contact to make the prospect aware of their product/service, then setting up a time to educate them in the form of a sales presentation.

Although some aspects of sales haven’t changed—such as overcoming objections and deciding when a lead’s not going to pan out—many have. In reflection of the new way of selling, sales coaches have had to develop a new approach to sales skills training. Simply training a salesperson to understand the product/service is no longer enough.

Many of these new sales lessons and methodologies can be applied to marketing as well, and it’s part of the reason it’s beneficial for marketers to go through sales skills training.

Forward-thinking brands are even using platforms to support a holistic approach to sales skills training, like MindTickle, Brainshark or PointForward. These platforms provide a modern, mobile way to keep every employee - from sales to marketing - on the same page with a one-stop-shop of communication tools and metrics to gauge success.

Not only will marketers get a better understanding of what salespeople do, but they’ll also be able to apply many of the principles they learn in sales skills training to the overlap between the two departments. Here some examples:

1. Human interaction offers insights into the customers’ problems

Much of marketing is one-way communication. You’re writing copy without any input from the customer. Changes and improvements may come into play after A/B testing, but most of your adaptions in marketing will be chosen based on data analysis.

In sales skills training, you’ll hear about the two-way communication that gives you direct insight into customers’ problems. The face-to-face meetings that most salespeople experience put the focus on helping the client’s business succeed, not their own. Sure, they want to earn their commissions, but rather than just throwing information about their product/service at the wall and hoping something sticks (which is often how marketing feels), salespeople have learned to be problem-solvers for their customers.

They learn how to become active listeners and which questions to ask to determine the customer’s wants, needs, expectations and concerns. It’s unique perspective that marketers don’t always get to see unless they go through sales skills training.

2. Objections can dictate the direction of marketing

Although a product or service’s cost will always play a factor, it may not sway the customer’s decision more than, say, customer support, ease of implementation, experience and results.

Sales skills training will almost always include ways to overcome customer objections, and marketers are sometimes surprised to learn that price points don’t always make or break a sale. This can dictate direction for marketing, steering unpersuasive copy away from a focus on cost and into other benefits.

3. Certain leads become immediate dead ends

How many times have marketers drummed up leads only to see few convert? It can feel frustrating to put a lot of time and money into a campaign or project only to see the large pool of leads dissipate to virtually nothing from the sales team. What happened?

The answer will be revealed in sales skills training. Perhaps the white paper you promoted only got downloaded by your competition. Or maybe the contest your pushed was marketed to consumers who wanted to win the prize but weren’t interested in your other products. You may learn that all that social listening only resulted in a list of leads lined with your competition’s jilted customers who are too distrustful of your industry to make another purchase.

4. Sales emails sometimes need to be analyzed and tweaked

Marketing isn’t the only department that needs to review and rework its content. It’s possible that salespeople are losing their potential customers along the way due to boring, unprofessional or off-message emails.

Sales skills training may provide the perfect opportunity to review the emails being sent out by the sales team to ensure the messaging is effective and on point with marketing. Work to understand the sales team’s goals and to ensure that your work supports these goals at different stages in the buying process.

5. The right marketing content can close a deal

Find out what marketing content is being used in sales meetings and how effective the sales team thinks it is in its current state. Is there room for improvement?

Where does your sales team send customers to get their questions answered—the website? An FAQ? An ebook? Which white papers do they use to share persuasive data? Which collateral best helps initiate a conversation with a lead? Learn where your content is doing its job best and revamp the pieces that aren’t pulling their weight.

Attending sales skills training can help marketers shift from creating content for personas to real people, provide direction based on real, rather than assumed, objections and help clarify how a marketing qualified lead is currently defined. Go into training with an open mind and a thirst for information. Once completed, plan a sales kickoff party to get everyone excited about finding and working with new clients. 

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