Small businesses often bundle sales and marketing together. But the businesses who quickly work out the ways these two functions are related – and the ways they are different – are likely to see a healthier, more focused pipeline that will deliver the business they really need – and virtual sales support solutions can help to turn a random approach into something much more organised.

Here’s a quick definition of each function:

Marketing: the process of getting your business in front of your target audience, showing them how your product or service can help them, attracting them to your business and giving them the confidence to make an enquiry.

Sales: the process of converting a prospect into a customer.

So, you can see that the two functions will have different elements, although they are connected, because one job is finding good quality prospects and the second is turning those people into customers.

In many larger businesses, sales and marketing often feel like competing departments – sales teams are demanding leads and marketing teams want to make sure that those leads are qualified and relevant.

In a smaller business, of course, the sales and marketing functions may be just one person’s responsibility, or perhaps two people working together. The sooner you can bring some clarity to the processes, get your sales and marketing people to work together towards a common goal – more customers and more profit – the better your pipeline will be.

Managing key functions

You should have a separate plan for your sales and marketing functions – and those plans should relate to each other, rather than being completely standalone.

Your marketing plan includes all the details of your product and service. It will also set out your taret audience or audiences – if you have more than one type of customer, the marketing may need to be different to attract each customer group. This plan will also look at channels for promotion to your target customer – website, social media, advertising, direct approach, for example – and have measurable goals for the number of responses and enquiries to gain from each channel.

Your sales plan sets goals for how many leads you want to convert into customers, what the initial and long-term value of those customers is, the process of convincing prospects to choose your business, and a plan for nurturing new and existing customers to drive further sales.

Both these plans should also be written with reference to your company’s general business plan – your overall goals will influence the nature and extend of marketing and sales needed.

Helpful tools and resources

There are lots of ways that you can streamline the sales and marketing process, and use additional resources to help things run smoothly:

Outsource your sales team support – there’s always quite a lot of admin around the sales and marketing process. Instead of your strategic team getting bogged down in paperwork, why not outsource it? You have the benefit of knowing that your ongoing admin is in safe hands, and your team is free to concentrate on driving sales into the business. The same applies to other areas of the process – you could outsource appointment setting, for example, so that diary appointments are made and sales teams can just get on with the job.

Invest in a CRM tool – a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is a really valuable tool, and the sooner you bring one into your business, the better your sales and marketing process will be. Used across the whole company, it allows all departments to keep track of each customer, no matter where they are in the buying lifecycle. A well-managed CRM gives you an accurate and up-to-date picture of every client, so that you can see how much they have bought, which products or services they are buying, the last time they bought, and more. This allows you to be even more targeted with your marketing activities – driving more sales to the team’s door.

Scheduling tools – these are particularly useful for social media marketing planning. You – or a virtual marketing content manager – can plan content ahead of time, schedule it in one go, and then get on with other tasks. It makes the whole process of managing social media much smoother and time-efficient.

Finance and invoicing tools – once marketing has delivered a prospect to your business, and sales have turned that prospect into a customer, you’ll need to have efficient invoicing and financial management processes in place. This can be done with a simple accounting package that your bookkeeper can manage – or you can send out to a virtual assistant. Small business owners can save considerable time and improve their cash flow by having a good invoicing and follow-up process in place.

If you need to improve your sales and marketing processes and you think our virtual sales support solutions can help, feel free to call us on 0800 994 9016 or use our contact form in the menu above.


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