Some years back, super salesman Red Motley said “Nothing happens until somebody sells something.”  Today, in a world with so many new technologies, that saying probably needs to be updated “Nothing happens until somebody communicates.”

Most would agree, making a sale is a lot easier if the prospect has some knowledge of the product or service being pitched—or at least has some familiarity with the brand the salesperson represents.  It is even better if the prospect has been inclined to favor the product.  This is where marketing communication comes in, and is the reason marketing and sales are such powerful partners.

The power of one-way communication

The art of salesmanship is the clincher, the deal-closer.  But, by definition, this is an example of two-way communication which is very time consuming and labor intensive.  Of course, time is our most precious commodity, and it is not unusual for it to require several attempts before a sale is made.

This is where marketing communication, the crucial element of sales support, comes into play.  Such one-way communication may take the form of print or electronic advertising, public relations, or targeted direct mail.  The key point is the fact that on a cost-per-household basis, it is far less expensive than two-way communication and enables the pre-conditioning of a great many prospects.  But, of most importance, it can go far in facilitating the sale.

Not an either/or proposition

While some sales managers may harbor the mistaken belief that great salesmanship can get the job done unassisted, the most successful sales leaders tend to understand and value the role of marketing communication in “setting up” the prospect to accept the product or service being placed in front of them.

It, therefore, becomes a matter of using a combination of marketing and sales communication to build brand acceptance and, most importantly, sales.  Indeed, strategy-based marketing communication can be the best friend a salesperson can have.

More often than not, we have been pre-sold on something through its marketing message before hearing the sales pitch or signing on the dotted line.

The case for one-way communication

If the customer isn’t aware that you exist, it’s a lot harder to sell your product.

When encountering a prospect on the showroom floor, in their office or at a trade show, in every case, he or she was “delivered” to that critical point by an awareness of you; whether through an advertisement, a referral or, in the trade show circumstance, merely because you were there.

What takes place at that point is two-way communication (you standing face-to-face with the prospect, trying to make the sale).  Though your degree of success will be determined by your persuasiveness, product, knowledge, price, etc., something that happened before that gave you the opportunity; a prospect had to be delivered.

In today’s highly competitive marketplace, real success is largely a numbers game.  To survive, let alone be a leader in your category, you have to close many sales.  In order to do so, you have to have ample numbers of prospects with which to work.

Here’s the key point:  developing adequate numbers of prospects cannot be accomplished through two-way communication, either face-to-face or by phone.  Neither you nor your sales staff has anywhere near the time necessary for this crucial function.  And sales calls are proven to be more effective if the prospect has first been made aware of the brand and its attributes through one-way communication.

Prominent publisher McGraw Hill & Co. has estimated that the average sales call requires approximately 45 minutes, and that an average of three calls is required to close a sale.  Surely, it’s not the way to prospect.


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