Sales Archives | The Millau Group Global

Bridging the Gap Between Marketing and Sales

“Bridging The Great Divide” is what this article should really be called. Sales and Marketing battle it out again. Both hungry to drive customer satisfaction, loyalty, and revenue. The difference between a company’s sales and marketing responsibilities are not always obvious, and technology today isn’t making things easier. If you’ve been responsible for one or both, you know what I mean. Some leaders will say “everyone at our company is in sales!” While others say “everyone is responsible for marketing our brand!”

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Compelling Reasons for Change – TMSA 2017 Breakout Session

Compelling Reasons for Change

How might your business be impacted if you could identify the buyer’s “reason(s) for change” in each forecasted sales opportunity today?

How are you impacted if the reason for a buyer’s change is only identified on a minority of sales opportunities?

What was the compelling reason for change for a recent forecasted, surprise sales loss?

If salespeople can’t identify the reasons their customers change, how can marketing’s content be relevant and best utilized?

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Adding Clarity to Differentiating



What makes YOU different than others in your space? Would your answer strike me as different…or just fumbled and bland?

Differentiating is complex, so let’s add clarity.

4 Reasons Sales Organizations Struggle in Differentiating

1) An organization’s differentiating values are too vague and not truly unique

2) Salespeople view their prospects & customers as “companies,” not individual people.  People buy companies don’t; those people buy based on what they think the product or service will do for them.

3) The differentiating message doesn’t relate to the buyers (“decision influencers” aka “DI’s” – anyone who contributes to the buying decision) within their role & responsibilities.

4) Salespeople use the wrong “Tools” to articulate and relate their differentiators when speaking to DI’s.

When we cover Differentiating in our workshops (delivering our Sales Process), there’s an awkward silence when I ask participants (Salespeople, Sales Managers, VP of Sales, and Marketing Leaders) “what makes you different in your industry/vertical?”

Typical responses include:

  • We’re the more affordable option (we save our customers money)
  • We have better customer service and better customer experience
  • We’re a Small Company which better supports our customers” -OR- “We’re global and a well-known organization”
  • We have a more reliable product or service
  • We have a better Warranty than the industry average

None of these clarify how someone is different.  Assuming nobody wants to be the cheapest option to the market (with a fear of being commoditized), how does an organization save a customer money over someone else? If your value is higher, why would you charge less? Each bullet above deserves the response “how?”

Sales & Marketing Leaders need to be able to articulate how their product or service is different. I encourage you to write down your differentiators and ask yourself “how is this unique?” Let’s face it, if someone else claims the same differentiator, it’s not truly unique, or different.

Once your differentiators are agreed on internally, address the challenge of relating those values to the individuals you sell to (Number 3 above). Many claim there are more buyers involved in B2B decision making processes. This may be overwhelming, but remind yourself that “people buy, companies do not.” Each buyer is going to believe a differentiating value is unique and important if it relates back to their role and responsibilities.

Differentiating Scenario #1:

At TMG, we typically engage VPs of Sales (or CEOs/Presidents depending size), Heads of Training, and a Mid-Level Sales Managers to implement a Statement of Work for our Sales Process.

Using our differentiators (Process, Measured, Guaranteed), it’s not likely that the Mid-Level Manager is going to be impacted by the positioning of our Guarantee, regardless of its disruption of the sales training industry. That Manager is not responsible for the total sales department budget, or the long-term goals contributing to the department success. However, a VP of Sales, for example, is likely to have a vested interest in minimizing risk. If I were to emphasize that Guarantee as a differentiator on the mid-manager, and it’s not important to their role, they would not see me as unique or different. Rather, I would focus on how the Process differentiator(s) would impact their role when coaching direct reports, and reporting to those above.

Once I’ve identified a unique and important differentiator to the role of the individual(s), I need to be ready with what “Sales Tool” will best communicate my message.

* This isn’t the case all the time, but a concept to application in our world.

Differentiating Scenario #2:

The booming multi-family market is creating a growth opportunity for construction material manufacturers and distributors.  Those Material Salespeople (regardless of what you’re selling) need to navigate through multiple DI’s involved and identify which differentiator will relate.  One of those DI’s is often a Building Owner or VP of Construction. I suspect that the Building Owner of a large project would not be interested in the differentiating value of how the material is made or “feels” in the hands of the user (the architect, installer, or, the consumer may be more interested). Instead, they might be interested a success story of a previous customer where a differentiator created a profitable, ongoing partnership.

If you’ve ever watched a late-season round of the PGA tour, you know there isn’t much difference in play between the pros still competing for a trophy (unless someone has a meltdown). Once the match is over, the top three scores can (and often do) come down to one stroke. One stroke is the difference between taking home millions of dollars. As salespeople, if we can differentiate by one stroke to get us into 1st place in the eyes of our buyers, usually that’s all it takes.

It shows you how important one stroke really is in golf, … One shot doesn’t sound like much, but I won eight times in 1944, improved one-third of a shot in ’45 and won 18 times.

– Byron Nelson

My goal was to shed light for those of you responsible for communicating the differentiating values of your organization internally and externally. These four challenges make it difficult for any Sales & Marketing team (regardless of skill) to be in-sync. We call this “Bridging The Gap Between Marketing & Sales.”

I encourage you to ask multiple people in your organization the question that began this article. How much variation in responses will you receive? After reading this, how might you respond to their answer? This advice won’t turn sales upright immediately, but it’s groundwork that a process lays within any organization.

Who is Ultimately Responsible for Sales Forecasting?

‘Who is responsible for the sales forecast?’ was discussed on Linkedin and it had great participation, but variation in answers.  The author surveyed all the answers (I suspect ~100 responses) and the results were:

  • 66% thought sales managers are responsible
  • 6% thought salespeople are responsible
  • 28% thought both are responsible

My response: there needs to be an additional category, the VP of sales (or highest “sales department” leader in the organization).  They are responsible for the sales forecast based on their downward leadership to sales managers and their direct reports.

Agree or disagree? Share your thoughts below.  Here is my justification:

The salesperson cannot be held responsible for a forecast of their performance until they understand what a forecast is based on. Imagine you’re in a group of 20 salespeople and you’re all asked to provide a forecast.  You look to your right, then to your left…you may think “are they going to forecast based on the same “gut feeling” as I am? Won’t we all be different?”

In that scenario, I’m betting you know your opportunities better than anyone else on your team, including your sales manager. However, until the group is guided on what to base a forecast on, the integrity of that forecast is at huge risk. Once that’s established, then accountability comes into play (different topic entirely).

The middle sales manager cannot be held responsible for gathering a forecast to provide upper management until they can look at a sales opportunity in unison and know where it’s positioned and what to do next.  Image if you had to manage 5 direct reporting sales reps and combine their forecast to send to upper management. Of those 5, Bob’s forecast may be more aggressive than Mary’s, who is more conservative than Paul’s, who is a more “seasoned” salesperson than the new hire Joe, who is being trained by the veteran Sarah. This is why it’s critical than the sales department leader (VP, CEO, etc.) is involved.

The VP of sales (or highest ranking sales leader) IS responsible for the forecast and how everyone underneath them is determining their individual, or team’s forecast, in a similar fashion, based off of the same data (not emotion) within a sales opportunity.

It’s not uncommon for a sales leader to say “I never want to go back to the board or CEO and tell them we lost a sales opportunity that I forecasted.” The VP needs to implement the ground rules and process that each manager and salesperson can apply to their sales opportunity and non-emotionally determine where they are positioned and the real probability of moving it forward.  Until this happens, “gut feeling” and variation will lead to poor forecast integrity and mishandled numbers.