Don’t Blame the Sales Team for Poor Marketing

There is a big difference between marketing and sales. If you confuse these two areas in your business you can be creating problems that you don’t want and might not even know you have.

Marketing involves everything that brings attention to your business, public relations, advertising, promotions, pricing, store layout, and location, etc., up to the point of personal contact.  The sales area is personal. Anytime a prospect or customer has a personal interaction with another person in your business, they have stepped into the sales department. In a broad sense, your installers, technicians, receptionist and customer service personnel all work in the sales department.

I know that Amazon doesn’t have salespeople per se and they still make sales, I get it. But they don’t have a very big sales department. Most of their sales come through their marketing. So an email from the company is marketing. If a personal email comes from a person in the company then we have crossed over into sales, because now you are starting to develop a personal relationship with the prospect and a person in the company.

When the marketing department and the sales department do not work together like a hand and glove you will be inefficient, less effective and it will cost you money. The key is to work together as a team. Sales need to utilize marketing to their advantage and marketing needs to communicate with the sales team what they are trying to do. Any conflict needs to be resolved so that everyone can benefit.

Make sure both departments are accountable for their own goals as well as working together. Be very careful when one department starts to point fingers at the other. Marketing and branding help to build the impression of a company, but the sales team helps to build the relationships and personal customer relationships.

If you want to know more about how to build a sales and marketing team while setting the accountability standards, I would love to have that conversation.


When is “May I help you?” the Wrong Question to Ask?

Why do we do things that don’t work? What drives us to do things over and over again, knowing that we are not going to like the result? Well, when it comes to this question that is exactly what happens.

Have you experienced this?

You go into a store and someone walks up to you and says, “May I help you?” I am sure you have been asked this question many time and I am almost as sure that you have answered this question just like 95% of people going into stores. The problem is that no sales person wants to hear the answer they are almost guaranteed to get. You know what you say, “No, I am just looking!”

Once you have been given the simple answer, for you to pursue in almost anyway puts you into the pushy “used-car” sales approach. And no one wants that (not even used car sales people). So if you don’t want that answer, don’t ask that question! But almost every sales floor person will.

Some employees don’t care

Some sales people don’t care; the “I did my job” approach gets them off the hook. Some commission sales will try to change it up by asking “can I interest you in a (whatever they sell) today,” or “Are you looking for a ______, today?” But the answer generally is the same. We have been conditioned, at least in this country, to give to the standard, “get out of my face” statement of, “I am just looking.” Some will say, “don’t ask yes, no question”, but it is more than that.

There are a number of tactics that can be used. Ask, “Have you been in our store before?” Or you can ask, “When was the last time you were in our store?” A commissioned sales person or manager may take a slightly different approach by just saying, “Good afternoon, my name is Bill, let me know if I can help you folks with anything.” This will usually get a much more relaxed response of “thank you!” Or sometimes, “Well, we are looking for…”

Once you they are more relaxed you can then say something like, “I don’t know if you are interested (or ‘have seen in the paper’) that we have our “Super X Thing-A-Bob’s” on sale over next to our “What-cha-ma-call-it’s.”” Some people are just great with other people and can start up a conversation by saying, “I see you are a ___ fan,” or “Is it still (raining, hot, sunny, cold – weather related) outside?” But most can’t.

Now before you become critical, take special notice on how often you are asked the “May I help you?” question. If you are in sales or have sales staff, pay attention to how often you or others say it or some other question that gets a dead end response. Then try to find a different set of questions or approach. If you don’t develop at least three different approaches, you will default back to the standard question and get the “just looking and leave me alone” response.

What other conversations are dead ends?

This is not the only way that sales people and business owners stumble over a common almost guaranteed “no sale” scenario. Sometimes if we answer the question, “How much is…” or “Can I get…” or “Does this come in…?” we are setting ourselves up for a fall. Once you have answered, they will often answer with “okay, I was curious.” Where do you go from there without again seemingly coming on as being pushy? So we then respond with, “Okay, well if I can help you with anything else, just let me know!” You’re done! There are better answers.

Work on designing strategies and tactics to minimize the dead end answers and conversations. Pay attention to what is really happening within the relationship.

Stan Broesder is a business growth and marketing specialist with Crossroads Consultants. For over 25 years Stan has helped businesses to grow and to overcome obstacles. Today with digital online marketing Crossroads Consultants is an integrator of marketing, which means they can help your business in all aspects of marketing and business growth. Contact