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Involve Sales In Your Branding Initiative

So you’ve decided to do it. You’re going to begin an initiative to launch the strongest brand strategy you can possibly attain. Good for you. You’re going to identify all the different constituencies that make up your market. You’re going to go out to listen to them, offering them a confidential way to tell you the honest truth about how they experience your brand. You’re going to comb through all your findings, looking for patterns, themes and common threads that are shared by all these constituencies. You’re going build your brand strategy around all the positive insights you uncover. You’ll eliminate or rectify any negative traits. You’re going to survey your competition and examine how they’re branding themselves. You’re going to look for any “white space” that may be available to you. And you’re going to wrap your brand strategy around a brand promise that only you can deliver. This initiative will be led by your marketing team and, as CEO, you will involve yourself closely. But don’t forget to get sales involved. They are the people who know the most about your current brand and will be most directly affected by any changes.

Your sales people are your brand ambassadors. When your customers experience your brand, it is most likely through an interaction with one of your sales reps. You need sales deeply involved to any proposed changes to that interaction because their livelihood, and your success, depends on it.

First of all, your sales people know what’s already working. They know the motivations that spur your customers to buy. They won’t want you messing with anything that’s already successful. Nor should you want to. So trust them to point out to you what should remain untouched. Sales people also know where the opportunities lie. They know where the customers have unmet needs – unmet needs that, perhaps, you could fulfill.

No one in your company knows your buyers as intimately as your sales people do. They talk to them every day. They know what’s trending in your customer base. But, as valuable a source of information as sales people are, their opinions still need to be verified. You still need to go talk to the customers themselves to see if your sales force got anything wrong. They are human, after all. In most cases, though, you’ll find your sales people are pretty much directly on-target.

At the end of the day, someone has to sell something to someone else. That’s what commerce is all about. The exchange of values. But sales people can’t just run around aimlessly. You can’t have them selling jet engines off a push-cart at the beach. Sales teams need marketing to direct them toward qualified purchasers. They need marketing to prepare the correct hunting ground for them with marketing communication campaigns that, at minimum, build awareness for what they’re selling. At best, marketing will create demand for the offering.

But the best, the most on-target, successful marketing campaigns have to be launched from a solid brand platform. The market needs to see the campaign but they also want to know who sent it. That way, they can decide how much attention should be paid to it. Especially these days, if the market can’t tell who is marketing to them, they put up their filter and you can’t break through the cacophony of every other brand out there.

So, it starts with branding, moves on to marketing and ends with sales. Three distinct disciplines but with blurry lines between them. You can’t do a branding project without getting involved in marketing, at least a little bit. And the boundary between marketing and sales is notoriously porous. Think of it as a continuum where communication moves from left to right. The right end of the spectrum is sales. That’s where direct communication happens with the buyer. You need sales to inform branding at the beginning of the continuum so that it can successfully represent the brand at the end.


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