“Move over mass marketing, welcome to fragmentation and segmentation:” this was voted by our readers as the third most important sales trend in Barrett’s 2012 Sales Trends Report. Market fragmentation and segmentation is well and truly taking over from mass marketing society’s staple way of communicating with buyers for over 50 years.
So what will this change look like for our businesses and our customers? Barrett is seeing the relationship between marketing and selling widen as each fights for supremacy in the digital communications era. With this widening gap, marketing will finally find a meaningful role and sales will be left to do what it does best – seek out and harvest opportunities.
Many marketing professionals have tried to take ownership of the digital communication explosion and claim the entire revolution as a marketing initiative, expecting that salespeople will continue to go about their job of generating business opportunities and closing deals.
Now, if marketing and sales can actually put their differences aside they’ll quickly see that they are two sides of the same coin. The two are simply using different media and marketing tools to achieve the same end result; more sales at better margins, from customers more demanding than ever before. How? Well, here’s just one sample…
Social and digital media can be used to identify prospects in different segments. These tools allow salespeople to approach selling on a targeted basis, rather than mass marketing techniques of the past. From a marketing point of view, the groups they once lauded as “segments” will be reduced to markets of one. For salespeople already familiar with markets of one, digital media can be used to more carefully to segment buyers so that the approach is more focused and more targeted. The result – less leg work and more sales time!
During the sale
Salespeople use the digital highway to keep in touch with prospects and keep them focused. The buyer receives constant reminders of the value the salesperson can deliver. It needs to be admitting that mass marketing is out. Marketers should now be treating each buyer as an individual and use digital tools to expand the footprint and gather information. Better yet, marketing professionals can use digital media to capture share of mind and promote their message at lower cost and with more certainty, purely because they’re sending the right message to a segment of the market that is ready to receive it.
Selling should use the data to help clients integrate their solutions and maximise return on investment. They can also use the medium to capture and retain share of mind as buyers familiarise themselves with the value of any purchase. Marketing can join in the battle for share of mind by staying socially in touch with customers at low cost and with high frequency.
So, the upshot is simple. As customers become increasingly aware of their uniqueness they will shift away from mass marketing, looking for customised solutions that suit their business and lifestyle. In fact, they already are. Salespeople can use the digital media to learn more about their customers’ expectations, as opposed to their needs, and use this data to help their customers get a better solution that is more meaningful.
So instead of creating a chasm of difference, sales and marketing teams need to work together even more closely now and take their listening skills to a whole new level. Smart companies will tune in to where buyers are electing to spend time and money. Ready or not, new consumer markets will emerge demanding different ways of doing business.
This means sales teams must be more targeted in their sales planning and prospecting efforts – no more scatter gun approach. Marketing teams should stop producing catch-all marketing materials that ignore buyer preferences and attitudes at their peril. Leaders will need to start looking at their strategy’s evaluation measures and start measuring marketing and sales teams on the same measures. 2012 requires a distinct shift in attention from an internal company ‘me’ focus to an external buyer and seller ‘we’ focus or expect to perish.
Remember everybody lives by selling something.
Sue Barrett is one of the leading female voices commenting on sales today. Sue is an experienced business speaker and adviser, facilitator, sales coach, training provider and entrepreneur and founded Barrett Consulting, support system where you can get access to sales assessments, sales consulting, sales coaching and sales training programs including planning, prospecting, selling skills, account management, emotional resilience and more. Visit www.barrett.com.au, Barrett Facebook Page or follow Sue Barrett on Twitter