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How to Update Your Traditional Sales Staff’s Skills for the Digital Marketing Era

It’s easy to get stuck in old ways of doing things — especially as an association that’s been doing business with the same kinds of organizations for many years. But you may have noticed your traditional sales methods starting to falter in terms of bringing in new members and income.

If you’re looking to brush up on your selling skills, here are a few key things your sales team should know:

Become Experts in Your Field

“Content marketing” has become a buzzword in the last few years. While it’s definitely not a new concept, it’s become the darling of the sales world thanks to the dramatic changes in Google’s search algorithms.

But content marketing isn’t just a tool for your marketing department, and its benefits reach far beyond search engine optimization. More and more, people want solid information instead of a list of selling points when they’re considering what’s best for their organizations.

That means, in order to be more successful at selling your association’s benefits, you need to focus on delivering quality, educational content to your members and prospects. This helps you position yourself as an industry leader and builds trust that can translate to more sales.

Learn New Platforms

With people conducting more and more of their daily lives on the Internet, online lead generation has become a crucial part of the modern sales cycle.

And that doesn’t just mean encouraging your marketing department to place more online ads. Your sales team can bring in more leads and close more sales by spending time in the online places where your members and prospects hang out.

That means becoming active on social media, engaging in conversations, and (going along with my first point) providing helpful information to others in your industry.

Rethink Sales Presentations

Does your sales process still focus on the features of membership in your association, and maybe leave out some of the benefits your members enjoy?

It’s probably time to change your focus.

These days, it takes more than a list of killer features to sway a business owner’s mind and convince them to join your association. Instead, you need to focus on the specific needs of your prospects — what challenges do they face in their businesses? What keeps them up at night?

Then, rework your sales pitch to show you understand those challenges — and highlight how your association can help overcome them. When you can show concrete ways that you provide real value to your members, your sales process will get easier and faster.

Work With Marketing

Marketing and sales have always been connected, but the line between them is becoming increasingly blurred in the digital age. In order to be truly successful in bringing in new members, you’ll need to get your marketing and sales departments on the same page.

Marketing may bring initial interest from prospects, but the sales team actually speaks with these prospects every day. Make sure sales has a way to give marketing feedback on the quality of leads they’re generating (“tire kickers” rather than motivated buyers, for example). Getting these two departments collaborating with each other can shorten your sales cycle significantly.

These are a few of the essential skills your sales team needs to have in order to remain successful in the modern marketplace. By keeping up with what members and prospects really want to hear from you, you’ll be better able to stay competitive as the industry continues to evolve.

How to Update Your Traditional Sales Staff’s Skills for the Digital Marketing Era

It’s easy to get stuck in old ways of doing things — especially as an association that’s been doing business with the same kinds of organizations for many years. But you may have noticed your traditional sales methods starting to falter in terms of bringing in new members and income.

If you’re looking to brush up on your selling skills, here are a few key things your sales team should know:

Become Experts in Your Field

“Content marketing” has become a buzzword in the last few years. While it’s definitely not a new concept, it’s become the darling of the sales world thanks to the dramatic changes in Google’s search algorithms.

But content marketing isn’t just a tool for your marketing department, and its benefits reach far beyond search engine optimization. More and more, people want solid information instead of a list of selling points when they’re considering what’s best for their organizations.

That means, in order to be more successful at selling your association’s benefits, you need to focus on delivering quality, educational content to your members and prospects. This helps you position yourself as an industry leader and builds trust that can translate to more sales.

Learn New Platforms

With people conducting more and more of their daily lives on the Internet, online lead generation has become a crucial part of the modern sales cycle.

And that doesn’t just mean encouraging your marketing department to place more online ads. Your sales team can bring in more leads and close more sales by spending time in the online places where your members and prospects hang out.

That means becoming active on social media, engaging in conversations, and (going along with my first point) providing helpful information to others in your industry.

Rethink Sales Presentations

Does your sales process still focus on the features of membership in your association, and maybe leave out some of the benefits your members enjoy?

It’s probably time to change your focus.

These days, it takes more than a list of killer features to sway a business owner’s mind and convince them to join your association. Instead, you need to focus on the specific needs of your prospects — what challenges do they face in their businesses? What keeps them up at night?

Then, rework your sales pitch to show you understand those challenges — and highlight how your association can help overcome them. When you can show concrete ways that you provide real value to your members, your sales process will get easier and faster.

Work With Marketing

Marketing and sales have always been connected, but the line between them is becoming increasingly blurred in the digital age. In order to be truly successful in bringing in new members, you’ll need to get your marketing and sales departments on the same page.

Marketing may bring initial interest from prospects, but the sales team actually speaks with these prospects every day. Make sure sales has a way to give marketing feedback on the quality of leads they’re generating (“tire kickers” rather than motivated buyers, for example). Getting these two departments collaborating with each other can shorten your sales cycle significantly.

These are a few of the essential skills your sales team needs to have in order to remain successful in the modern marketplace. By keeping up with what members and prospects really want to hear from you, you’ll be better able to stay competitive as the industry continues to evolve.

John Foley, Jr

John Foley, Jr. is President and CEO of interlinkONE. interlinkONE provides software and marketing services for associations and professional societies to generate prospective member leads, increase engagement, and strengthen member retention. John is a renowned international speaker who passionately speaks to associations in the areas of transformation, multi-channel marketing, social media, mobile, and content marketing. Some notable association affiliations include Mr. Foley’s involvement as a board member and acting CMO for the recently merged Association of Marketing Service Providers (AMSP) and National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL), as well as his membership with the Business Marketing Association and American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). He often takes part in the weekly Twitter chat for associations, "#assnchat,” and contributes content to many industry resources. Learn more about John at http://JohnFoleyJr.com, and how interlinkONE can help you at http://interlinkONE.com and http://MarketWithMAX.com.