Every marketing playbook begins with “know your target market.”
It’s preached day in and day out by the top marketing pros. Every well-paid exec learns this on their first day on the job.
And for good reason. Knowing your target market is critical to generating traffic or converting sales.
But what does it really mean?
Most playbooks will tell you to fill out the classic buyer persona or demographic template.
What does that tell you, though? Honestly.
BMW sells convertibles to old, white, bald, suburban dudes who make a comfortable six-figures a year.
Ok. Now what?
That doesn’t tell you why they buy. That doesn’t tell you how to reach them, where they hang out, who influences them, or how to upsell them at the right time.
To make matters worse, most companies sell to multiple customer personas. And each one buys for vastly different reasons.
So shoe-horning them into a single box of…
… isn’t going to bring in paying customers.
Many marketers want to jump the gun. They go straight into A/B testing multiple audiences, for example.
You need 1,000 conversions monthly, minimum, to get results with statistical significance. And if you’re testing variables against a single persona, that means you need multiples of 1,000 conversions for each one. Which is one of the many reasons why A/B tests often fall flat.
Sales reps, on the other hand, know your target market inside and out. Even the lowest SDR on the totem pole has your target market down cold.
They deal with annoying sales objections all day long. They know what makes your target customer tick. They know what pushes them off the fence and what turns them into paying customers.
How? Because they’re in the trenches talking, learning, experimenting, and failing on a daily basis.
Sales reps spend 41% of their time selling. Dealing with real customers in your target market. Finding out if they’re qualified to buy, or if they aren’t.
Meaning they know major things that marketers struggle with:
Who’s gonna buy from you
Why they’re gonna buy from you
Why they’re picking you instead of competitor A who charges less
Who ain’t gonna buy from you
Why they ain’t
That’s more powerful than any buyer persona template you can come up with. And according to HubSpot’s State of Inbound Report, leads sourced by the sales department are among the highest quality (outside of unicorn-esque personal referrals).
And they also produce the most leads and sales for a given business.
Sales reps understand customer motivations and preferences deeper than marketers do. Because without speaking one-on-one or meeting face to face, you can’t learn everything you need to learn about them.
They know how to sell without selling
You’ve just walked into a car dealership to scout new vehicles. It’s time for an upgrade.
You walk in the door and instantly realize you’ve made a big mistake.
It’s all downhill from here.
Time for a cup of terrible black coffee from the helpful car salesperson grinning from ear to ear. “Another deer in headlights,” they think. Practically licking their lips.
You know exactly what’s coming. But you still can’t avoid it.
You want the damn car. You’re practically foaming at the mouth.
You told yourself to be strong. To fight back. To flee from temptation.
But that smooth-talkin’ sales rep just roped you in.
They sold to you without selling.
90% of the sale happened before you ever stepped on that filthy lot. They built a brand image around the product. They didn’t even tell you to buy the car. They didn’t talk about its features or its wonderful quality.
They didn’t ask you to sign anything, read anything, or even what package you wanted. They simply got you to take a test drive.
See, we buy based on emotions. Ones that never show up on the Customer Persona deck circulating your department’s Slack channel.
They made you feel like a star when you got behind the wheel. That’s selling without selling. And sales reps are king at it.
It’s simply another form of branding that’s unmatched by most online attempts. And branding drives sales:
Sales reps don’t know how to leverage branding or deliver an amazing customer experience because they read about it on GrowthHackers.com.
They know because they know. Because if they didn’t know, they wouldn’t eat.
Sales reps know how to sell to existing customers
Landed a few new clients from that latest marketing campaign?
“Run another one and double the acquisition! We just need X more traffic to land Y in new leads.”
Except, of course, those are just leads. Not sales.
And most new sales are completely unprofitable at the beginning.
So that’s not where the money’s at. Savvy (and wealthy) salespeople focus instead on where marketers don’t: existing customers.
You know, the customers who already use your product or service. Who already pay you cold hard cash. The ones that cost 5x less to sell to.
But marketers aren’t really at fault for this. Our system/current mantra is that marketers exist to drive traffic. New inbound leads.
Content is king, right?
Their sole goal at most companies is to bring in more visitors. Meaning they often get caught up in customer acquisition and acquiring as many new visits as possible.
That leaves almost no room for focusing on marketing messages to existing customers.
Even worse, the deck is stacked against marketers. The mass majority of channels used by marketing departments are better for acquisition than retention:
If you can’t measure lifetime value, you can’t know the potential of your existing customers.
That leaves you with one option:
To keep turning the wheels to avoid customer churn. To go back to those acquisition-based tactics. Bring in new leads with inbound strategies and make sure the CPA is low enough to allow for profits.
But sales reps are different.
They’ve built real, lasting relationships with the sales they’ve closed.
They don’t get paid based on Twitter followers. They get paid based on new real revenue.
And the money is in the list.
No, no the crappy email one full of unqualified subscribers who aren’t ever going to pay you. (Those influencers are wrong.)
Selling to existing customers is easier. And more profitable.
But typical marketing gigs don’t allow room for that. Marketers drive the traffic and email signups. Sales maniacally focus on dollars and cents.
Your sales reps actually talk on the phone
I know it sounds crazy. Phone calls? Is this 1973?
But phone calls are extremely important in today’s world.
According to HubSpot, the most successful channel for sales reps to connect with a prospect is via phone:
That means more deals. And more real, tangible sales are landed on the phone than any other channel.
Sitting on social platforms all day doesn’t drive big-ticket sales.
Sure, it can be great for generating brand awareness, but when push comes to shove, phone calls convert best.
Want to reach C-level executives, VPs, and managers? In other words, decision makers? Phone calls are your best bet.
And marketers almost never call customers. They’re too busy running around, managing new marketing campaigns.
Sales reps, on the other hand, are taking advantage of outdated phone calls for one specific reason: personalization. The Holy Grail of conversions.
Marketers love to talk about personalization. However, they don’t like to do it.
Phone calls are arguably the most personalized form of communication (aside from face-to-face interactions).
You’re talking directly with the prospect, for extended periods of time, developing rapport. You’re finding out what they did on the weekend, what ages their kids are, their tone of voice, their frustrations or excitements.
Try getting that on Instagram.
It’s real communication where the customer has a voice, and the sales rep is there to serve.
In fact, customers actually enjoy being contacted by phone:
56% of surveyed customers prefer to communicate by phone for business purposes, after email and face-to-face.
When it comes to big fish like C-level executives and VPs, phone calls and real interactions rank high as well:
While messaging and social seem fun, it’s not what business communicators or consumers want.
And sales reps are the ones conducting the face-to-face interactions and phone calls, not marketers.
To add to that, the most successful channel for connecting with prospects is via phone:
Want to drive more sales?
You need to reach your prospects. And the best way to do it is through conducting a good old-fashioned phone call.
Aligning both departments is critical for success
Marketing and sales are often seen as two different worlds.
One has their heads in the clouds, posting cat gifs on social all day. While the other is a sleazy, money-hungry cesspool. (Marketers words, not mine.)
But that’s not true. The stereotypes simply don’t hold weight anymore.
Marketing and sales departments shouldn’t be seen as competition, but rather, two parts of a well-oiled machine.
When marketing and sales teams are tightly aligned, companies state that their marketing strategy is more effective:
If you’re sales and marketing teams aren’t, you’re likely struggling with marketing.
And the cold hard truth is:
The majority of sales and marketing departments aren’t tightly aligned.
Some are even rarely or completely misaligned. Meaning most strategies and campaigns are going to have major flaws that hinder revenue.
So your first step is to work on the fundamentals by making sure your messaging is aligned across both departments. Whether you’re cold emailing as part of your outbound marketing or blogging as part of your inbound marketing.
Viral coefficients don’t pay the bills. Neither do 301 redirects or Facebook chatbots.
And therein lies the problem.
Good marketing can’t beat real relationships or high-quality customer service.
Sales reps are actually the best marketers in your company. Even if they don’t want to be.
Experience trumps all, and sales reps almost always have the most customer experience in your company. They know your customers’ ins and outs. Their pain points. Their desires, wants and needs.
Aligning marketing and sales has never been more important according to the latest business data.
Want to become a better marketer? Spend more time selling, first.
About the Author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to Kissmetrics, Unbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.