Why sales people need to know about marketing

A few years ago I was writing my Christmas cards. At first I was writing quite long personal messages, but as my wrist tired after writing out address after address, the messages got shorter and shorter, until I was just signing my name.

Shortly afterwards, I received a card from a business and of course the envelope wasn’t handwritten, but it was printed using a font that looked like handwriting. That was an ‘aha’ moment for me.

By adopting that method/technique, I was able to reduce the time on the low value task of writing envelopes and increase the time spent on the high value task of writing personal messages.

Equally in a business sense, there are skills from other disciplines that we can apply to our efforts as individual sales people. In particular, there are some really useful things we can learn from our colleagues in marketing.

Here are three reasons why I think this is important:

1. Taking the one to many approach and adapting for one to one
2. We may have to do DIY marketing
3. Higher aspirations

1.Taking the one to many approach and adapting for one to one

I read recently some advice from a top copywriter, John Carlton. He was advising that to write compelling, engaging copy, we should record a pitch by our top sales person and ‘bottle it’. By doing this we take what is proven to work one on one, then apply it on a one to many basis.

So why don’t we do this in reverse – taking some of the techniques and models that marketers use on a market-wide basis, then adapting them for use in our one to one world?

There is potentially much for us to learn from techniques such as segmentation, market research and marketing communications that we apply on a micro level to our particular group of customers.

2. We may have to do DIY marketing

There could be times where our company does not have sufficient marketing resource, or perhaps there is just no resource available to support our particular territory. In such cases, we may have to adopt a DIY approach to marketing.

Having even some rudimentary knowledge of marketing could be really useful in such conditions. It is unlikely that our sales targets will be reduced if we don’t have the marketing support we think we need ,so we have to take control, be resourceful and find a way around the problem.

After all, it is our bonus and commission that suffers if we don’t make our numbers – so perhaps we need to think of ourselves as running a small business and assume the responsibility of marketing as well as sales.

3.Higher aspirations

If we aspire to greater things than just being a sales person (not that there is anything wrong with just wanting to do sales), having a working knowledge outside of just the sales arena could be invaluable.

For instance, as sales director you may well have to engage and negotiate with the marketing director in order to get the campaigns and other marketing support you need to support the sales plan.

Or it could even be a combined role and you take on responsibility for both sales and marketing. Having a degree of credibility that a working knowledge of marketing techniques will bring could make things a whole lot more comfortable.

But I am in hard-nosed sales, not fluffy marketing

Marketing doesn’t have to be fluffy. In fact the more tangible and outcome orientated it is, the better it is. By taking control you achieve one of two things:

a) Produce better results for yourself which impact directly on your own bottom line

b)Work with marketing more productively, guiding them to focus on the things that really have a positive impact for you


So they you have it, three reasons for sales folk to adapt and adopt marketing techniques:

1. Taking the one to many approach and adapting for one to one
2. We may have to do DIY marketing
3. Higher aspirations


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