Sales & Marketing

How do you build a sales pipeline and build a loyal customer base? This section answers this age-old business question with practical advice on customer service training, sales planning, mastering customer experience, and creating strong brand narratives and values that will make your product attractive to customers in the long term.

Evolving technology has lead to the digitisation of sales and marketing. But human contact is still essential for selling products and retaining brand loyalty.

59% of consumers believe brands need to offer them more in terms of loyalty incentives and customer experience. For businesses to persuade consumers to buy their products and continue using them, brand narrative, image, and customer care must remain strong.

Businesses can create an enjoyable sales experience for consumers through the ‘human touch’. This includes training in customer service and an awareness of what brand narratives and cultures resonate with consumers online. To lead the way in sales, establishing a clear and flexible methodology can help you stand out in a saturated market against bigger competitors.

What is the difference between sales and marketing?

While both help your company achieve the same goal, the terms “marketing” and “sales” can’t be used interchangeably. It’s crucial you know the difference as you’ll require both to raise awareness of your brand.

Sales is all about mastering the art of persuasion, convincing potential customers to buy into your brand and make a purchase.

Marketing is a series of actions designed to bring your product or service to the forefront of everyone’s minds. It’s a strategy intended to create a mutually advantageous exchange between customer and business. It includes market research, customer support, press relations and advertising.

Marketing is increasingly standing out as a business function in its own right, but is a crucial part of the sales value chain. Both functions go hand-in-hand and are the twin pillars that make your brand. Despite this, only 26% of a 6,000 company-strong survey say their marketing and sales teams work together.

Further reading:

How do I build and convert sales and marketing leads?

A lead refers to someone who has expressed interest in your business – and with GDPR now in full swing, this has become an important topic. Here’s how.

Creating a brand that sells

Building a successful sales pipeline is not only based on identifying your target customer, it’s about understanding how these customers want to be targeted and treated. A balance between technology and human interaction is crucial to ensure good customer care throughout the selling process. Whilst AI can overcome delays, automation services can be costly for SMEs. Such investments don’t always pay off as consumer confidence in tech-based customer support is low. Only 15% of consumers believe that companies should invest in them. Instead, businesses should look to a middle ground of time efficient technical support and the emotional connections human interaction produces, says Joe Heapy, co-founder of the survey, Engine.

Value your customer

If you don’t manage an effective relationship with your customers, you will not achieve the sales you want. SMEs are not exempt from brand competition because of their smaller size. Just like their billion dollar counterparts, SMEs need to prove their worth to customers in order to improve sales and brand loyalty.  Whilst SMEs may have smaller budgets, they can work on cultivating a strong and organic brand identity on a limited budget. The combination of brand originality and valuing customer needs and preferences will make your business stand out in the saturated marketplace.

Being customer facing also means you have to be aware of maintaining a solid brand reputation for anyone that engages with your brand, be it customer or stakeholder. Firstly familiarise yourself with what PR entails in terms of communications and ensuring brand reputation, then you can avoid any PR mistakes, such as failing to communicate to audiences when the business is facing a problem.

Understand the ‘digital’ in marketing

Whilst many SMEs have the intention to become top disruptors, a survey has revealed that 11% of marketers cannot analyse their own data effectively. To beat competition businesses need to understand social strategy and implement engaging brand narratives that resonate with digitally savvy audiences.

Product launches and responses to customer demand must be swift. Responses to product stock and availability must be as instantaneous as it is for consumers to buy them. Managing your own ‘PR’ is connected to marketing approaches, where using media platforms to promote your brand and share the coverage will aid brand reputation.

Brand values are emotive

As an SME owner, defining your brand values and company mission should happen when you start the company. By answering questions such as why you decided to start the business, you create these founding values. But it’s up to you to communicate these values down to your managers and then your staff.

90% of buying decisions are made subconsciously. This means that devising brand values and an engaging product narrative must create an emotional and sensory reaction in customers. An original brand concept can hold its own in the consumer market and can lead to business with big retailers.

This section provides businesses with the latest statistics on customer confidence in sales techniques. Readers will also find tips from businesses who enjoy positive and enduring customer engagement. Reminding SMEs that campaign efficacy rests with brand individuality and appeal, this section provides practical advice on how to help SMEs carve out an engaging product narrative and ensure customer loyalty. Also included in this section is advice about forging engaging brand narratives that resonate with customers and how to make the most of the marketing and PR approaches in the digital sales age.

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