What do the experts find to be sales and marketing best practices? We decided to find out by asking a few questions of some industry leaders, giving them the opportunity to answer some or all of the questions. The answers, like our panelists, are diverse, surprising and informative.
Fred Carollo: We’ve definitely included digital marketing as a larger part of our overall marketing strategy. In my view, the advantages of it still are that it’s quick to the market at a very reasonable cost, and probably the most important piece is that it does hit the next generation of the industry. With that being said, I still think that print marketing and event participation is extremely effective, although the cost is higher in terms of time and dollars, especially the events for time. The industry still responds to the print and event marketing, so we’ll continue to do this type of marketing as part of our strategy, but we’re definitely including digital as more of the mix, mainly because of the cost effectiveness and who it is hitting.
Mike Marusic: I believe that digital content has had a revolutionary impact on marketing and has driven marketing further into the sales process. Digital allows for customization of messaging and the ability to flow the message based on the activities of the recipient. Now marketing can provide customers with a variety of messaging through video, images and text all varied based on their background, where they found the content, or how they interact with the materials. Our industry’s sales process has always been based on “the demo,” and video content allows for us to provide the demo but also adjust that demo to the needs and actions of the customer, just as a great salesperson would do.
Brad Roderick: Digitization affords great opportunities for delivering more targeted messages that are relevant and engaging. The challenge has quickly become how to use the new tools to stand out in a very noisy world. Starting with the basics of an email marketing platform, we work to continually increase our proficiency in the methods of delivering our message in a way that will 1) be seen by the right target audience, and 2) reach that target audience in a manner in which they choose to consume the information. Our marketing team now spends more time at user conferences than ever before in the search for the “next great tool.”
Matt Smith: Digitization has allowed us to understand our customer’s pain points and interests. This allows us to serve up better content that is more targeted at a unique customer instead of mass marketing. We have also been able to support our partners by extending their reach with new digital tools that enable our partners in a digital age. This is through content syndication, email marketing and social media tools that drive greater simplicity for leveraging Samsung’s digital content. The program is built on three elements: enhanced communications, more relevant rewards, and more valuable content such as training webinars and online marketing and sales tools.
Do you use social media and if so, have you structured its use in any way? Are there corporate policies? Or is it wide open? How are you managing it?
Fred Carollo: Social media is a newer strategy for us, especially for our sales group and to a lesser extent the group as a whole. With that said, our salespeople have been trained to use LinkedIn as an effective marketing and prospecting tool. We feel strongly about LinkedIn as a good tool. As for company policies, we are owned by a publicly traded bank, so there are certainly corporate policies on social media as well as any kind of marketing we do. We manage it by letting our salespeople know that Everbank-related material on their personal LinkedIn page and any other social media they use referring to Everbank needs to be reviewed. It gets reviewed by our marketing department.
Kay Fernandez: We have presence on major platforms: (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, Flickr) and are now including social elements into our events and promotions wherever possible. We have a consolidated entity on most of the platforms – on LinkedIn we have a main corporate page and showcase pages for our ECM and IT divisions. We have separate Twitter handles for our All Covered IT Services division and Konica Minolta ECM division as people expect more niche information on Twitter. For customer service, we utilize monitoring software to track conversations and also to facilitate customer service inquiries or complaints that come in via social media. Customer behavior has evolved to a point where social media is often where they go first and the expectation is not only a response, but a timely response, so we aim to respond to inquiries within two hours and resolve within 24.
Konica Minolta has taken the position of not only allowing, but encouraging employees to be active on social media. When employees are active on social media, they also raise the profile of their employer. According to LinkedIn, employees have 10 times more connections than their company has followers, and people tend to be considered more authentic than companies, so there are many benefits to having a social workforce. That being said, with that comes a responsibility, and we have developed a social media guidelines policy for employees to follow, regularly conduct training seminars and have a social media information portal on our intranet to help inform employees of best practices and new developments.
What’s the most unique marketing campaign you have run?
Kay Fernandez: We ran an Apples to Apples to campaign where we had the recipient of the print campaign compare offset print to digital. One side of the printed piece was printed on offset and the other on our bizhub C8000. The goal of the campaign was to show the printers that going digital could provide them a cost effective printing solution that would allow them to increase revenue and become more efficient without losing the quality of print they expected from their offset devices. For this we also had a contest and gave away a trip to the Big Apple and the NYC office had a event around the theme.
Matt Smith: Outside of Samsung, I freelanced for a friend’s landscape business. We created a direct mail campaign at his 350 existing customers with simple, yet relevant information. It was as simple as sending an email saying “it should rain on Tuesday and then heat up on Wednesday, so buy some fertilizer to spread on Tuesday night if you want to stop the dandelions.” It was so relevant that 31 percent of existing customers bought his yearly fertilizer program. Sending out something simple, relevant and timely and then watching the phone ring non-stop was one of the best experiences I have ever had.
For work, our Smartify campaign was designed to introduce our disruptive and innovative new printing solutions. We demonstrated how Samsung technology can disrupt typical notions of printing, while expanding into the rest of our portfolio and into other opportunities for smarter business. This campaign took the conversation beyond printers and elevated the benefit to smarter workflow. The content supported a larger business story. The campaign itself spanned seven countries including the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, China and Brazil. It included print, video, infographics, email, animated banner advertisements, white papers and social media along with a website landing page. It was designed to showcase how Samsung’s printing solutions are redefining what is possible in business and vertical market settings, including K-12 education, healthcare and finance.
What business process software/CRM-type tools do you find useful for your sales and marketing efforts?
Quentin Gribble: There’s some great tools out there, but make sure back office software and tools like CRMs bring more benefit to the business than they do time-consuming bloat. It’s so easy to become an inefficient company implementing bad software. I’ve seen CRM systems where it takes longer to enter a sales call note and a follow-up reminder than it does to make the call and close the sale.
Mike Marusic: We are firm believers in the usage of Salesforce.com as our CRM tool and driving our marketing messaging. The ability to integrate various tools and software into one overarching system is invaluable to managing the message to customers. A powerful CRM system gives us the opportunity to precisely target the messaging to a particular customer group and provide very specific messaging that will resonate with them. Once part of that CRM system, we can help them through their entire lifecycle of their ownership of our product and help them navigate future needs. When all of this information is in one system that can be shared by marketing, sales and service, you have a very powerful tool in helping your customers.
What provides the most motivation for your sales staff? What works the best to keep them engaged?
Fred Carollo: With our group, I try my best to make sure our sales force has the most complete package of products to offer in the market – not only financial products, but also other offerings we can build for a dealer or manufacturer that are a little outside of the box. When the sales team has that, they get excited about their jobs. … and that excitement carries over to their sale and their sales efforts. Dealers and manufacturers feed off of that – I think that is also what has made us “fresh” in this marketplace. Our salespeople are the eyes and the feet on the street for us. When you hear about Everbank, it’s really our salespeople that you are hearing about. Their biggest motivation comes from us making sure they have a top of class and top of market product mix. That gets them excited.
Quentin Gribble: Although I believe sales success should be financially rewarded, I have noticed that it’s the things that are not financial that consistently provide an environment that will deliver the best results. For example, it’s very hard to be motivated and incentivized if you’re not proud of your product or you don’t believe in what you’re selling. We place an enormous amount of emphasis on delivering products and service that our staff can be proud of and not embarrassed about. Ensuring staff feel appreciated, well resourced, and regularly thanked for extra effort will consistently provide solid long-term, lasting motivation long after the commission check is spent. People want to be excited about what they sell, they want to believe in what they’re doing and ultimately they want to feel like they are making a difference. Wrap that around a fair and achievable financial incentive and you are well positioned to keep your sales team engaged and loving what they do.
Brad Roderick: Providing opportunities for professional development has always been a significant motivator and now even more so with generational changes in the workforce. We are already seeing great new software tools to keep teams fully engaged. While we haven’t adopted gamification in the sales or customer care arenas, I am confident that we will roll these out early next year. Having said that, we recognize the importance of “recognition.” The real key is to recruit highly motivated people and then constantly feed the fire in a way that resonates with the individual.
Matt Smith: When I assembled my team, I looked for two attributes in particular: passion and grit. I wanted team members with a passion to provide the customer with a great experience. Also, I wanted team members to possess long-term grit realizing the complexity of their tasks. Within my team, I find more and more that those in sales want to make a difference. Giving them opportunities and assets to make a difference is my best motivator.
Are there any new markets/niches/verticals/channels you are trying to expand into and how are you approaching these?
Quentin Gribble: It’s no secret that we are a new player in the North American market. It’s exciting times at Umango but this hasn’t happened by accident; a great deal of planning and hard work has gone into this phase in our company’s growth. Understanding regional trends, competitors, product expectations, etc., is one thing but employing the right people, setting up offices, distribution structures and sales channels is another. Along with this we have rolled out a complete revamp of our name and brand, launched a major new release of our software and we’re also about to release new products. It’s been a huge undertaking but one that we have really enjoyed (most days!) and I’m delighted with how we’re tracking. One of the keys to the success of each element of this rollout has been working with the right people and companies. Whether it’s lawyers, bankers, accountants, staff, dealers, marketing professionals or new (and much loved!) customers, the difference in each is the people. We are now benefiting from the hard work of a bunch of incredibly talented and dedicated people that we have worked with over the lead up to our launch. Had we made too many bad choices in the team we chose, the outcome might have looked very different than it does today.
What are some of the challenges you are running into on the sales front?
Fred Carollo: The evolution of the office products dealer solution is obviously changing. Now it includes software, professional services, managed IT as well as hardware that is coming out like 3D, digital signage — all those nuances. That’s requiring the leasing companies to get to understand it because we are putting these on our books and we are the owner of this equipment. Some of it is first and second generation — we need to really get our arms around it and understand where it is going. We have to understand it if we are going to finance it. That’s definitely creating a challenge.
Quentin Gribble: Our go-to-market approach is via a dealer channel and this means we have at least one layer between ourselves and our customers. Every layer brings another chance of a breakdown in communication and this can be a challenge. We have to rely heavily on our dealers sending the right messages about our products and services. They also act as the conduit through which we often receive relevant feedback from the user base. Anything less than great communication means the chance of a missed opportunity or a dissatisfied customer that we may not hear about. We’ve found the best approach is regularly communicating with our dealers – keeping our products and the things we want to make them aware of at the top of their minds. This can be through formal sales or product training but also more passively just in general, regular conversation. We repeat the right messages and we repeat them often and I think it works.
Mike Marusic: When we begin to realize with all the value of digital marketing and real-time marketing leveraging CRM systems, you run the risk of overwhelming people with information. When I started in the business 20 years ago, fax was the “fast” messaging system. People relied on mass media for advertising and salespeople were in control of the time in front of the customer. Today, with real-time personalization and retargeting of advertising, with advanced CRM systems and multiple groups seeing “customer” information, the risk of overwhelming people with information is very real. In the end, people buy from people they like and trust, we shouldn’t lose focus on that human element in the sales process and too much marketing can overwhelm that. It’s the job of the marketing groups to make sure we keep our messaging succinct and to the point while letting the sales teams manage the relationship with the customer and not overwhelming everyone with information.
Brad Roderick: I recently attended the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals 2015 Leadership Summit where they presented the year-end 2014 research showing that training and developing salespeople were at the top of the list. Also challenging is the need for most small and mid-sized companies to first attract high-potential sales reps and then prepare them for early stage success. Another significant issue is the increased number of people involved in buying decisions. Several studies indicate that in B2B environments there are now more than five people actively involved in buying decisions. Gone are the days of finding a “champion” or “advocate” within the prospect’s organization and working almost exclusively with them to carry the process through to close. Today, personalized messages must be created and delivered to each influencer/decider based on when, where and how they consume information.
What marketing techniques do you find effective in mature markets?
Kay Fernandez: We have taken a more human-to-human approach and have been trying to move away from too much technology jargon and connect with buyers and users at the emotional and human level. The Internet has given us the ability to quickly and effectively tell our “story” to a broad audience and turn the B2B space into more of a B2C experience.
Mike Marusic: The one big advantage of a mature market is it is usually defined. The customer set and their needs are fairly well structured for you so you can be much more targeted in how you approach them. Leveraging data in your CRM system allows you to be precise in messaging to a potential customer and also remain below the radar of your competitors. More and more, you see companies in our industry leaving the mass media fronts and be much more focused in how they approach marketing. Less print, radio and TV advertising and more digital advertising aimed directly at a specific market with a specific need.
Brad Roderick: The same ones that have always been effective in mature markets … hard work, and effective messaging that portrays true value and continual awareness of the changes taking place to increase the value. While some may rely on the “here’s my lowest price of the day” approach in line with a commoditized product strategy, we prefer to promote the full value of the relationship – specifically how we 1) help customers win new business, 2) retain existing business and 3) favorably impact their top and bottom line. It may not be the sexiest marketing campaign but it is focused where it should be, on our customers.
Matt Smith: Relevant, simple and timely. Everyone has their preferred way of receiving information, so you need to execute it all with relevant, simple and timely information.
This article originally appeared in the June 2015 issue of The Imaging Channel.