Marketing To Sales - Whoops, Dropped the Ball...


Marketing is designed to bring our products and services to the attention of potential customers. When it does this well we need to be skilled at recognising the right moment to make the transition from marketing to our potential customers and into the sales process.

There is a risk here, in moving the potential customer into a sales process before they are ready to do the transaction, that we will lose the sale. In order to ensure that we maximise the possibility of making an appropriate sale to an ideal customer it's important for us to identify the signals, messages, and language that a typical prospect will give at this transition point. 

For example, if you're selling a product that meets specific needs that your prospect has identified from your marketing then they are likely to use language that includes statements similar to “I’ve been looking for something like this for a while".  It's worth spending time to identify phrases and actions that could be noticed, and that indicate that it's sensible to seek to conclude a deal. If they are absent then you carry on marketing until they are present. 

Another example, If you are selling a product which resolves a complex business issue through a mixture of appropriate products, consultancy and project management to implement the solution then it is unlikely that the process to a conclusion of the sale will be a short one. There will be a number of stages. The marketing efforts of the business will have positioned the solution as an appropriate one for the potential client. It won't have positioned it as the solution that they will buy, At least not yet. It is therefore likely that your sales process will include a period of fact-finding, and relationship development with the prospect. Your purpose is to demonstrate to them that the solution is a good fit and that you are suitably skilled and competent to deliver it. 

In this case it's important to spend time understanding the triggers to move from one stage of the sales process to another, and to identify what those stages are. They may include some formal triggers such as an RFP or Tender. More likely, it's a question of identifying when you have demonstrated sufficient competence in the solution to be able to move to the next level of decision-making, be that financial, or a board presentation etc.

The goal of both marketing and sales is to attract and win new prospects. The skills needed to move people through sales process aren't the same as those required to build attention; brand awareness; and product awareness. Making the transition from one to the other needs to be handled with care and at the right time. 

There's no point in being mediocre at supporting your potential customers as they learn about how you could support and help them with your products and services. If you think about all the transition points and triggers that enable you to demonstrate that you always understand your potential customers needs, before they are customers, then they are much more likely to recognise that you will do that when they are customers and beyond.

That will make your business truly remarkable.


William Buist


William Buist is MD of Abelard Management Services, which specialises in developments in the Societal Web.

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