Early in my career, I had trouble with the idea that I was a salesperson. I had started a record label, launched an arts magazine, brought an awfully sticky website to market and run an award-winning ad agency. I wasn’t some schmaltzy schmo trying to get people to buy something they didn’t need. I was creating things. I was introducing opportunities. I was bringing value to the table.
And yet, sure enough—as every business owner knows—every bit of it was selling. I’ve spent the past few years doing a fair amount of mentoring of young entrepreneurs and, although they come to me for marketing guidance, I find that my focal point always drives back to sales. Without a serious focus on selling, your business is going to be a hobby.
As a business community, we frequently buy into the “church and state” rule with sales and marketing. Your sales team is doing its thing, while your marketing team is doing another. In a dream world, we hope that they’re on the same page, but at the end of the day we believe that salespeople and marketers are different personality types with different skill sets.
But I’ve come to believe that the best salespeople are first-rate marketers. Here are five key attributes that good marketers have that your sales team needs:
Marketers are born to sell
Indeed, the marketing function grows out of the need to go to market—and nobody is going to market without an ambition to turn an idea into money. The whole point of marketing is to drive sales. If that doesn’t scream “natural salesperson,” I don’t know what does.
They’re insight gatherers
Without your crack marketing team, you wouldn’t have the insight into your target customer that you’re so thrilled to have, right? In fact, your marketing people know your customer profiles so intimately because they’re natural researchers—always reading, always searching, always investigating. This approach to understanding the target gives your business an edge, not just in its communications materials but in its direct sales-driving conversations with customers.
They’re wily messagers
Marketers are obsessed with the single most important message, the value proposition, the brand pillars. Knowing what you’re trying to sell inside and out isn’t sufficient—it’s how that message is presented to each new target that matters. Marketers are exceptionally good at crafting stories to capture attention, and even better at extending this conversation once the first communication has yielded a result. Is this not exactly what you’re seeking from a salesperson?
They’re relationship builders
There’s no such thing as a marketer who’s satisfied to have driven a prospect to purchase just once. They’re looking to build a relationship that extends beyond the product or service, and moves the prospect into brand-loyalty territory. With their years of training in what makes a brand relationship work, marketers have an instinct for creating the pillars that matter to your prospects, and for bringing these to life in sales meetings.
They’re edgy thinkers
Marketers are always chasing the next big thing, always trying to understand what’s new and different. They’re forever on the hunt for something—anything—to help them stand out in what is often a virtual sea of same. Driving a marketer’s natural tendency towards flexible, leading-edge thinking into a sales team is a massive asset to the company that gives this a shot.
It takes lots of different skill sets and personalities to drive sales. As business continues to move towards a model of social selling, the person with a marketing background is uniquely equipped to shine in this sales environment. So why not diversify your sales team’s skill base and give a marketer a shot?
Jacquelyn Cyr has spent the past 16 years building businesses and brands, and is the co-founder of R3VOLVED Inc., a sustainable-product development firm specializing in recycled plastics. Cyr is a strategy columnist, consultant and speaker on business and brand building, and ranked on the 2010 and 2011 PROFIT/Chatelaine W100 as one of Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs.
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