Digital Marketing and the Sales Process, Part Two

Salespeople as Digital Marketers

Salespeople can make great digital marketers. This is true because they best understand the customer, and are on the front line of the customer relationship. Salespeople must be integrated into strategic digital marketing because strategic digital marketing is one of the primary drivers of sales leads and the sales process! It is critical to their success. Successful salespeople must know how to identify and connect with prospects from the world’s best lead generator, the Internet.

Salespeople must learn the basics of online marketing to drive leads. Web leads and prospects are usually highly qualified leads. Prospecting, historically the most time consuming part of the old sales process, can be skipped in its entirety and the focus can be placed on generating leads from the web. The sales rep can move right into highly-qualified selling and closing with an educated prospect that has researched online.

Great Salespeople are Perfect for Digital Marketing

A sales rep’s value and the overall marketing ROI to your business will increase dramatically if salespeople can market online. The good news: the fundamentals of strategic digital marketing are similar to the basics of selling. Your company’s website is now a key sales tool and needs to function like a great prospector and presenter of information. The website should be easy to use and simple to understand with a focus on key benefits. The site should push visitor hot buttons to drive inquiries. The best salespeople on your team should have an intuitive understanding of how to get this done. It is too expensive to pay for prospecting efforts when those efforts produce such poor ROI. Businesses that take a web-savvy approach to selling will outpace competitors, and the changing role of the company sales rep can make an impact.

The Role of Salespeople in Digital Marketing Starts with Education

If salespeople are to make the transition from traditional sales roles to digital marketers, they must first learn the basics of strategic digital marketing. This is a personal choice and if they are not willing to learn there is not much hope. The necessary skills will not come from a college or university. Internet marketing skills are developed by doing, watching and acting on results. It is critical to stay on top of changes, which can literally happen overnight.

Also, there is no quick fix! It takes time and effort to get strategic digital marketing efforts optimized and successful. This effort will pay off many times over with increased leads and sales. Anyone can learn these skills at a minimal cost from many free resources available online and from the content in this book. The biggest challenge is finding the salespeople with the desire and motivation to make the change and learn a new approach to sales. Let’s take a look at the specific skills needed by salespeople to become effective web marketers.

What Digital Marketing Skills are Needed? Follow the Four Steps…

Salespeople do not have to be IT or design professionals to be successful at strategic digital marketing. The key is to provide strategic, sales-focused direction to IT and design professionals. This process will not be successful unless the sales team has a basic understanding of the Internet marketing strategy for the company. To gain this understanding, salespeople should start with the basics. They first need to learn about the four steps:

  1. Strategy
  2. Design and Development
  3. Driving Traffic
  4. Website Performance

These four steps are the foundation for salespeople learning about strategic digital marketing and developing an action plans to drive results.

Salespeople and Digital Content Distribution

Each of the four steps leads to a lengthy list of action items. Once the website has an excellent strategy and great design, the next step is driving traffic. The salesperson’s role in driving traffic is mostly based on written content. In fact, content preparation for the website and social media may be the most common tasks performed by salespeople in their roles as web marketers. This content can be posted on the company website and blog, written in articles, used in e-mail marketing or throughout the Internet on a variety of websites. Salespeople should be able to write excellent customer-focused content.

Content preparation is the most time consuming, yet most effective role of a digital marketer. Website content comes in a variety of formats and here are a few examples of content types perfect for sales professionals:

  • E-mail newsletters
  • Blog postings
  • Podcasts
  • Webinars
  • Informational articles
  • Social media postings
  • Product and services descriptions

This is how salespeople must sell today, and in the future. The traditional sales pitch has been replaced by carefully crafted, inviting websites, informative e-mail contacts and effective use of social media content and resources. Salespeople must become experts on their product and services, facilitate expert discussions, tell stories and understand in great depth how targeted markets use the Internet.

How to Find and Train Salespeople to Market Online

Hiring is the greatest challenge in developing an effective strategic digital marketing and/or sales team. Finding a sales rep with online marketing skills, or the desire to learn those skills, makes hiring an even greater challenge. However, finding a salesperson with those skills is a real benefit to the company and to the salesperson. The organization gets more sales and leads, and the sales rep gets more enjoyment from the work. The challenges are to find salespeople with those skills or find ways to convert current sales team members into web marketers by providing access to online marketing job functions or strategic digital marketing training. It’s difficult to do, but not impossible.

Hiring and Training Recommendations

Here are a few suggestions for hiring and training salespeople to market online.

  • Look for salespeople that are very comfortable on the web and are good at writing content. People that have attempted to build a website or frequently use Facebook and other social media sites are good candidates, and will naturally want to learn more about strategic digital marketing and look forward to posting content.
  • These salespeople should have a high comfort level with technology, and a passion for the Internet and strategic digital marketing knowledge. Without this passion, there may be little incentive to learn and practice online marketing skills.
  • Encourage learning about strategic digital marketing from proven web resources. You can find nearly unlimited resources online. Make the time for salespeople to try out what they learn and convert natural selling skills to strategic digital marketing. Set up web stats and ROI tracking to measure their performance.
  • It is important to modify incentive and rewards systems around digital marketing skills that include lead creation, online conversions, an understanding of web stats, e-mail marketing and more.

Some of the best candidates for strategic digital marketing positions may already be a part of your current sales team. Investigate internally to find skills that go beyond traditional selling and into a more effective strategic digital marketing approach to drive leads. Watch out for non-technical salespeople, because they will find it more difficult over time to generate leads and close sales; although, non-technical salespeople may have excellent writing skills.

More to come in part three of Digital Marketing and the Sales Process.

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Thomas Young

Thomas Young is the CEO and Founder of Intuitive Websites. He is a consultant, award winning Vistage speaker and author of “Winning the Website War” and “Sales and Marketing Alignment.” Tom has helped thousands of companies succeed online and has over 25 years digital marketing experience.