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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Marketing and sales -- the continuum

Image from Continuum Marketing Group LLC in Great Falls, VA. This company provides marketing support services for the remodeling sector throughout the U.S.

Yesterday, mid-afternoon, I returned a call. Someone in Western Canada wished to discuss a new product. Uhu, I thought. This is another person seeking some free editorial publicity (something you should always try to do -- anywhere but at my publishing company!) I explained briefly our policy that we really enjoy publishing product profiles and features, but these cost money. He said he understands he has to pay for promotion. So I said I would refer him to one of our salespeople.
I then sent two emails. One, to the prospective advertiser, outlining a couple of market touch points he did not know about; the other to the salesperson in our organization I thought most suitable to 'convert' the prospective client. I also asked the caller how he heard about me. "I saw you on the Internet," he said. I didn't press, with a further question "exactly where" but I'll get around to that one after we are doing some business.
My salesperson reported at days' end that the client appeared genuinely interested -- in other words, I had passed on a good lead.
I share this story because it reflects the successful transfer of marketing to sales -- marketing creates the opportunity, builds the receptivity, and attracts interest; sales takes the relationship through the actual purchasing decision-making process. Businesses which fail in this connection are wasting their resources and potential.
Note also some philosophical and practical applications here. I certainly respected the potential advertiser for calling me -- as I do for any commercial business seeking news-side publicity in our papers (and early next year in our revamped websites). But we are not giving away our most valuable resource for free. However, I'll always share observations and practical insights that would provide this prospective client some useful and actionable information, regardless of whether he wishes to do business with us. It feels right to do that -- and of course it doesn't harm in trust and relationship building. (Once clients have done business with us, of course, we turn on the tap for service -- if the person who called me had advertised at all in our papers, we would have found a way to help him more directly, without compromising our overall editorial integrity.)

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