What Skills Should I Look for to Build Successful Marketing and Sales Teams?
Each year, companies all over the world are bombarded by hopeful candidates who hope to join their sales and marketing teams. However, there’s more to landing a marketing or sales job than simply possessing the right degree. The sales and marketing professionals in today’s world require a wealth of soft skills and personal traits that aren’t easily communicated on a resume. Bringing in people without the necessary credentials and skills is not only a waste of time, but it can bring your company’s productivity to a standstill. Here are some of the skills you should look for when hiring new team members as well as when training your current sales and marketing staff as you work to make your teams the best they can be.
Skills Sales and Marketing Should Both Have
No matter how your company is structured, sales and marketing are not individual efforts. Both roles require the ability to work within the confines of a team. Without clear communication about shared tasks, neither sales nor marketing team members can come close to achieving their individual goals.
The need for teamwork is especially important in sales, which has become a team-based operation in recent years. Salespeople may be be able to function at a high level individually, but they must also know when to ask for help, provide resources to fellow team members and allow other reps to work on their leads. Individuals who have difficulty handling these tweaks to the traditional sales model might not be the best fit for your team.
Hubspot considers listening to be the single most important skill a sales rep can have. A salesperson who doesn’t listen to the customer’s needs can’t be effective. But listening is also imperative for marketing staff. It’s critical for both sales and marketing to have the skills necessary to listen to what people and all members of the team are communicating. What’s more, it’s just as important for these groups to hear what their subjects aren’t saying. Top-notch listening skills will help your sales and marketing employees read between the lines and determine what your target audience really wants, even if those needs aren’t explicitly stated.
While it’s important to hire employees who have the basic skills to function in sales and marketing, you should also identify those people with the ability to make your company’s functionality even better. It’s hard to quantify creativity, and it’s difficult to pick up on if your company doesn’t allow employees to pitch ideas that are outside the established norm. No company approaches sales and marketing the same way it did even ten years ago, and encouraging new ideas is a great way to create a culture of success. As you look for new sales and marketing team members, look for someone who uses creativity to improve themselves, their process and their productivity. Within your existing teams, foster outside-the-box thinking to keep them engaged and constantly looking for new ways to get results.
Society may be tethered to its mobile devices more than ever, but it’s not for the purpose of making phone calls. Written forms of communication are replacing spoken conversation in all walks of life, and marketing and sales teams need to be able to respond to this shift. Blog posts from marketing and emails from sales are just two of the many ways in which writing skills are a must for any member of your teams.
Skills Sales Should Have
Although your sales reps may be selling your products, your customers are buying much more than that. They’re buying into your company as a whole, and they’re buying into your sales reps as individuals. Salespeople with leadership skills will be better equipped to encourage customers to take the next step, and those customers will be happy to be guided by a steady presence.
A veteran salesperson has heard it all from their customers, but that doesn’t give him or her the right to put their humanity to the side. Your sales team has to truly care about their leads, and that includes understanding exactly what has led them to the point of making a purchase. For example, if you’re selling medical supplies, your sales force has to know just how difficult the lives of your customers have become in order to position your products as the solution to those issues.
Sales is a time-sensitive business. While marketing may work with loose timeframes, sales has tight deadlines that must be met on a daily basis. If a salesperson fails to call a lead at an agreed-upon time, that lead might be lost forever. It’s essential for everyone on your sales team to have iron-clad organization skills. After all, you don’t want leads to fall through the cracks for preventable reasons.
On paper, concepts like lead nurturing and call scripts should do a lot of the heavy lifting for the sales team. But not all sales opportunities are created equal, and sometimes it takes quick thinking and a little ingenuity to seal the deal. Sales reps should have the ability to come up with solutions that benefit both your company and your customers, and they should be empowered to implement these ideas where appropriate.
If sales and marketing are two separate units, why should your sales reps know about marketing? It’s easy — with inbound, every qualified lead that your sales team will encounter comes directly from the marketing team. The more your sales team knows about the marketing process, the better they’ll understand what has been done to get those leads to this point. This will better enable your team to push the right buttons to get your leads to become customers.
Skills Marketing Should Have
Just as sales should understand marketing, your marketing team should also have some knowledge about the inner workings of sales. Marketing personnel don’t have to be expert salespeople, but they should understand what the sales team actually does and how their marketing work helps sales to do their jobs. This understanding will also help marketing realize that even the best marketing plans need help from sales in order to generate revenue.
As marketing has become increasingly data-driven, it’s become more important for marketers to understand what their key metrics mean. Knowing the numbers will also help your marketing team identify trends in the marketplace, potentially opening new opportunities for your company. Not every marketing rep needs to be an analytics guru, but you certainly don’t want a team full of people who shudder in fear of these numbers that can help you a great deal.
Just because you are great at using social media personally, it doesn’t mean you’re great at using social media for business purposes. Virtually everyone thinks they’re skilled at social media, but how many people can point to an actual difference they’ve made through their social media activities? Those are the people you want. Proven social media movers and shakers can do a lot for your brand, and since social media is a huge part of the “research-before-you-buy” process, using social media to influence consumer behavior is a skill everyone on your team should have.
Lots of people can write and format a blog post, but today’s marketing landscape is a little more sophisticated. Video is becoming the preferred means of gathering information for many people, and your marketing staff should be able to embrace this revolution. The ability to change with the times is essential for any marketing team, and you want technology to be your friend, not your enemy.
People don’t buy products. They buy stories. Your marketing team has to be able to associate your brand with compelling stories that touch your audience in a profound way. Sharing the right stories with the right people will put your marketing on a whole new level, but it’s up to your marketing team to turn your product into something much more significant than a simple item.
The Ideal Marketing and Sales Teams
Assembling the ideal marketing and sales teams might seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually not that bad if you know what to look for, and how to train your existing staff. Many of these skills aren’t taught in a college classroom, and they might not be very obvious at first. But bringing analytical and multimedia skills will help your marketing department share and tell your story in compelling ways. Infusing your sales team with leadership, empathy and problem solving abilities will help your team solve the problems of your customers. And if everyone can work together and think critically, the sky’s the limit for your sales and marketing teams.