I have sold to Marketers for a long time. Somewhere along the way, I started thinking like one.
Don’t get it twisted: I live to drive revenue. So when I first realized I was thinking like a marketer, I was shocked and a little upset. Was I going soft? Losing my edge?
It turns out that this shift in thinking was the single best thing that happened in my career. Instead of “losing my edge”, I gained a whole new arsenal of tools that I could wield to make my job easier. I was able to add more value to my organization, communicate better, close deals faster, and prospects even started coming to me.
I felt like I had just fallen into Wonderland. What was this crazy new world? As I explored it, I began to wonder why more sales people didn’t spend more time here.
It’s been a few years since this shift and I have boiled my success down to four key marketing tactics I now believe all salespeople need to learn to be successful.
Marketing tactics for salespeople:
- Learn copywriting skills to create succinct, relevant messages
- Use online communities to build a lead generation machine
- Build a Brand for Yourself on Social Media
- Own the Whole Sales Funnel
1. Learn Copywriting Skills To Create Succinct, Relevant Messages
“If you can’t explain it to a 6-year old, you don’t know it yourself.” – Albert Einstein
Great sales people are excellent communicators but we often fall into the trap of knowing too much about our product or service. Someone who likes storytelling and has a long story to tell can be at a disadvantage. Buyers are more informed than ever and want answers as efficiently and succinctly as possible. Sellers who can tell an engaging story about their product and themselves win.
When I first started creating my own content, particularly blog posts & linkedin posts, a lot of it was way too long and it was too focused around my organization. I learned very quickly: nobody cares.
In the online world you will be given maybe two seconds before people decide if what you are delivering is worth spending their precious time on. I observed that I needed to always lead with value, make it easy to read & keep my message clear, concise and simple.
Here’s an example (note the simplicity and structure):
After I saw how powerful concision could be on LinkedIn, I decided to give it a try on my sales calls, too. My next call finished almost fifteen minutes earlier than my usual thirty minutes. Of those fifteen minutes I was on the phone, I spent only about two of them explaining my value proposition. That deal closed in two weeks.
Do this now:
Review your value proposition and cut it down to 1-2 sentences. If you can’t articulate the value in two sentences tops, I don’t believe that you know your product/service well enough from the perspective of your buyer.
Record your calls and give yourself a mulligan: practice the same points you made in the call, but using only 50% of the words.
2. Contribute in Online Communities to Build a Lead Generation Machine
“‘Build it, and they will come’ only works in the movies. Social Media is a ‘build it, nurture it, engage them’ and they may come and stay.” – Seth Godin
Marketers are great and finding where the ideal customer spends their time and – more importantly – their attention. They know what blogs they read, what newsletters they subscribe to, what slack channels they’re active on, and they spend time and money to make sure their brand is also present in those channels. If you want to create your own steady funnel of leads, you need to take a chapter out of their playbook.
Look for industry-specific groups or communities that are engaged in discussions about the problems and challenges that you can help solve and start to live there. Carve out twenty minutes a day to post and engage with thoughtful comments, and over time you’ll begin to build yourself up as an expert in your field.
I repeat: no pitching.
You want people seeing you as an industry expert/consultant and not just another sales guy. That takes time, and a good faith effort to just be interested and interesting.
I remember the first time an ideal prospect literally begged to jump on a call with me to “pick my brain” after a comment I had left in a group. I almost fainted! But I never looked back. These connections made with prospects in good faith ultimately resulted in over $2.5M in revenue over the past year, without the support of a marketing team (aside from myself).
Do this now:
Go join an industry community your buyers may be interested in, and share an article and your opinions on it. It can’t be an article authored by your organization.
Choose a channel and start to build your own community. This is a hard road, but if done right can pay off in a big way.
3. Build a Brand for Yourself on Social Media
“Extreme Ownership. Leaders must own everything in their world. There is no one else to blame.” – Jacco Willick
Don’t you wish marketing had your back more? How come your accounts never get those re-targeted ads or invited on those fancy webinars? Maybe then your decision maker would actually get back to you, your deals wouldn’t have stalled, and your quarter would have been a big win.
I remember having these thoughts. Being frustrated. Feeling like I was helpless. I would follow up three, four, ten times with every member of the buying committee and even try a new champion but still nothing. Deals dragged on as I continued this endless follow-up.
By becoming my own marketer, I realized that I didn’t have to wait for marketing to provide me with air cover. I could build a drone to cover my ass while I battled it out in the trenches. And that drones name is: targeted, relevant content. It’s helped me get more than a million views of my LinkedIn content in the past year.
Creating social content is not just a top of the funnel activity to drive new leads, either. It’s helped me push stalled deals along, too. I can’t even count the times I’ve posted a video on LinkedIn and magically the next day my prospect sends me a note apologizing for being absent, explaining that they were just “very, very busy”.
People lead busy lives so make it difficult for them to forget about you.
Do this now:
Pick a challenge your prospects face, come up with three bullet points that can help them solve it (without your product), and go create your first LinkedIn video. Use subtitles to increase engagement.
Learn how to edit your videos with iMovie, to take your video quality a notch or two above your competitors.
4. Own the Whole Sales Funnel
“The more the world is specialized, the more it will be run by generalists” – Marcel Masse
I’m not on the whole “robots are going to replace salespeople” train. Frankly, I think that’s a ridiculous idea. But I do think that AI will slowly start taking over menial, repeatable tasks and sellers who act like order-takers will no longer have a place at the table. The future of sales will demand creativity, humanity, and authenticity, because AI cannot do those things.
Deep role specialization in sales has become the norm, but I actually think that AI and new tech will bring back the “generalist” who has a wide variety of skills in sales, marketing and operations. Rather than focus on acting on one part of the sales process, generalists can use tools all the way from lead gen to close, and spend their time optimizing the whole funnel, all the way to close. They will perform as many different business functions as is needed in the organization at that given moment.
Businesses are moving faster than ever and don’t have time to go out hire a new person every time they want to exploit a particular opportunity in the market. I believe that orgs will start to look for salespeople that can have an impact beyond just the revenue they bring in.
Do this now:
Go learn how to use Canva and create that piece of sales enablement material that you’ve been begging for!
Learn how to build and manage a sales stack, and test new tools on your own to improve your technical skills.
Looking for More Inspiration?
Here are a few salespeople who are great marketers that I’d recommend following (in no particular order):