We all know what consultative selling looks like. It’s when reps actively apply Seth Godin’s principle of finding products for customers rather than customers for products. In complex-sale industries such as business telecom, consultative selling remains the core selling philosophy. Instead of making a pitch, reps who rely on this approach help prospects uncover genuine problems or needs, and guide them to the right solution.
But in order for consultative selling to work, the marketing side of the process has to align with the sales focus. This means that top- to mid-funnel activities should reflect a consultative approach, too. Keep in mind that consultative selling is grounded on trust and relationships. These things need to be nurtured long before the selling process begins.
Today’s blog post boils all of this down into a number of practical telecom campaign ideas and tips. We’ll see how you can work the consultative approach into your digital marketing playbook so that 2018 will be the year you really get the most out of consultative selling.
Put marketing and sales on the same page first
According to an American Marketing Association (AMA) article, the misalignment between marketing and sales is as old as the corporate world itself. This is a bit surprising, considering the fact that when these two functions align, the sales cycle shortens and everybody wins. That’s why the first step toward consultative marketing starts with alignment.
In a nutshell, here are some proven best practices that help ensure marketing and sales stay on the same page:
- Use a top-down approach and start at the executive or department head level
- Speak the same language and measure performance with identical yardsticks
- Set common outcomes to achieve, but clearly define each team’s role
- Integrate CRM and marketing automation platform (MAP) in a closed-loop system
- Reward marketing both for volume and quality of leads
- Attribute ROI to marketing, and measure how every marketing activity impacts revenues
Become an expert in the prospect’s business
Prospect research continues to be a consultative selling best practice. Gathering sales intelligence boosts sales reps productivity, accelerates the sales process, enables better lead management, and improves lead engagement.
But consultative selling can benefit from marketing’s input in the prospect research process. By assigning key activities in prospect research as part of marketing’s responsibilities, sales frees up time and resources which can then be devoted to building relationships with opportunities already in the sales pipeline. Here’s how to do this with digital marketing:
- Use social listening tools (such as Hootsuite, Mention, BuzzSumo, etc.) to learn more about your target prospects
- Interview your customers and identify patterns in their business pain points and decision-making
- Comb through the marketing data sitting in your MAP, CRM, analytics dashboards, campaign reports, lead sheets, etc.
- Leverage your competitors’ content and monitor industry publications to understand your target buyers
Make it easier to solve a business problem
Let’s say next year’s focus calls for increased marketing efforts on your enterprise mobility solutions portfolio. In order to attract the right prospects and ensure solution fit, a consultative marketing message might look something like this:
- Identify or narrow down the pain point or need (e.g., content pieces that explain the difference between ideal vs. problematic corporate mobile assets architecture)
- Dive into the details and key angles of the business problem (e.g., mobile connectivity, reliability, security, etc.)
- Explain and show how your mobility solutions address each of these areas (e.g., improved productivity, higher end-user satisfaction, reduced security vulnerability, etc.)
As buyers wait longer and longer into the purchase cycle before first reaching out to vendors, marketing is doing more and more of the functions traditionally assigned to sales. That’s why marketing also needs to follow a consultative approach. If trust wins deals, then shouldn’t you build trust as early in the buying cycle as possible?
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