Let’s face it, everyone thinks they can do marketing. I mean, how hard is it to pick a logo, chuck together some colours, write a newsletter, and then throw together some tweets? And when times are tough, let’s get rid of the marketing budget, as it’s just about colouring in and checking punctuation.

Marketing in a business environment should be measurably increasing your bottom line. If it isn’t, something is going wrong. Fundamentally, marketing and sales go hand in hand, working together at every step of the sales pipeline, encouraging people through the buying process until a sale is made. A sale = money in = improved bottom line. Marketing plays a crucial role in that.

Step 1. Marketing identifies who you should be selling to and what
It’s tough to sell everything to everyone, which is why marketers insist on narrowing things down.

What is your product or service? What benefits does it provide to people? Who does it offer those benefits to? Marketers make sure companies know what they are selling and who to.

Step 2. Marketing helps feed your pipeline
Sales people will tell you it’s a numbers game. The more people who are aware of you, the more will make an enquiry. More enquiries leads to more quotes. More quotes, leads to more sales. Good marketing feeds that machine. At the top end, it creates awareness of your company and products among the right people (because marketers have done step 1) and then it funnels those people towards the business.

Step 3. Marketing helps prospects move along the pipeline
Once a prospective customer has been attracted to the business, the Marketing Team has to ensure they are kept there.

Can the prospect find the information they need? Does the Sales person talking to them have the right material to hand? Is it in the right format? Does all the marketing material the prospect is seeing at this stage reassure them that your business is one they want to carry on a relationship with? Does it help them easily move to the next stage, by sign-posting clearly who they need to talk to, what they need to do?

Step 4. Marketing supports Sales as they secure the sale
So, you’ve got an interested person, they’re considering buying. What does your sales team do now? Send them a quote? Has your marketing team got a template ready for them to use? Attach a warm letter to the quote, as part of building the relationship? Your marketing team should have another template here ready for you to adapt. Once the prospect has bought and is a client, are they left alone? Or do they receive a welcome email? One which is branded, clearly stating what is going to happen next, where to go with any questions etc. Your marketing team should have provided that for you too.

Step 5. Marketing builds loyalty
Once the sale has been made, how does your business retain that customer’s loyalty? It may have Account Managers. If so, what material do they have to support building that loyalty? Do they have a quarterly newsletter they can send to clients? Is there an active Twitter account, posting interesting company news and discounts? At this stage, your marketing team should be providing the main material for maintaining a community of clients, who will be your ambassadors for referrals and your repeat customers.

This crude sales pipeline shows the crucial role marketing can play in helping turn prospects into customers then loyal customers who advocate your brand for you. Each of these steps can have measurements added in, with the ultimate measurement being the bottom line. And when Marketing and Sales have a symbiotic, beautiful relationship, Marketing improves your bottom line- fact.

Kara Stanford is Managing Director at KMS Marketing and fanatical about marketing delivering business results.

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