3 Tips to Enhance Sales Integration Efforts from Copernicus' Kevin Clancy and Peter Krieg

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Marketers CAN chart a course for business growth even in this recession, but they need these sales team on board to do it. The good news is marketers report making great strides with sales integration efforts in 2008. Marketing consultants Clancy and Krieg offer 3 ways marketers can maximize alignment and the ROI by getting the sales folks closer to the "right" customers.

These days, marketers have a whole host of business factors and forces impacting how they spend their budgets, but enhancing alignment and integration with sales is right up there on the list, reports the CMO Council. "Marketers are looking to better support the sales team," explains Liz Miller, VP Programs and Operations at the CMO Council. After too many years of letting friction get in the way of a productive working relationship, marketers have realized that improving sales integration will translate into better marketing ROI.

"Marketers have made great strides in brokering a peace with the sales team," explains Kevin Clancy, Chairman of Copernicus. Indeed, according to the CMO Council study, marketers report realigning operational processes and capabilities to better support sales as one of their top accomplishments in 2008. The co-author of the marketing strategy book, "Your Gut Is Still Not Smarter Than Your Head," adds that concerted efforts to improve sales integration have dramatically increased the effectiveness of both organizations.

"With every marketing dollar on the hook these days," says Peter Krieg, President and CEO of Copernicus, "marketers would be wise to put even more emphasis on directing the sales folks to the most profitable customers--and fast!" To chart a course for growth that the sales team can easily follow, Clancy and Krieg recommend marketers take the following three steps:

1. Circle the wagons. Undertake primary research and/or ransack databases to segment the market into groups that are distinctly different in terms of their potential profitability for a firm. Ideally, marketing should be able to tell sales, you should go after buyers in segments A and B because they represent the greatest share of potential profitability. You can ignore segment E and place less emphasis on segments C and D. Taking the time to understand what kind of information they can use to qualify a segment BEFORE collecting one iota of customer data will go a long way towards ensuring sales can and will use the information.

The best way to ensure sales really listens to the targeting recommendations is to make the business case that if they use the outputs from the steps above, they won't waste time overselling a Cadillac to customer A when customer A, as marketing has determined, is looking for a Kia. They won't spend time trying to sell a station wagon to customer B when customer B wants a sports car. Marketing is not telling them to sell less to fewer customers, but how to sell SMARTER to MORE of the buyers that will put the most money in their pockets.

2. Locate the cheese at the end of the maze. Consider the kind of information in available databases that will help the sales folks get to the people to whom they need to get. Show sales where the folks in segments A and B live and work, for example, along with what they watch, listen to, and read. Marketers at an insurance company, for example, identified its most profitable consumer target group and tied the profile to block level census data. They generated a list for each agency and all their markets throughout the U.S. of likely prospects for their insurance services. The agents loved it.

3. Find the path to a buyer's heart. Yes, a price segment does exist in every category. These are customers who do not--within reason--care about delivery times, after-sale service, or company reputation; they just want the best price. But this isn't EVERYBODY.

Depending on the industry, price-sensitive customers may represent as much as 40 percent or as little as 20 percent of the total market. This means that 60 to 80 percent are not fixated on price and willing to pay more--not less--for a product or service that solves a major problem or addresses an unmet need.

Enter marketing. With each of the segments, identify unique needs, problems, pains, and new product/service interests among segments and give sales different scripts to move buyers towards the brand, product, or service and make the most profitable sale.

"The more marketing can do to move sales integration efforts onward and upward this year, the more dramatic the improvements to ROI," maintains Clancy. "And let's face it--these days marketing can use all the help it can get!"

Adds Krieg: "If it's tough out there for marketers, just think of what it must be like for the sales guys. Now more than ever, if marketers show sales the money--who the profitable buyers are, where to find them, and what to say to them to get them to buy--they will show marketing the love."

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