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Growing a business is one part machine and one part magic:
Sales tools, SEO, Web apps and CRMs provide the machine, while the mysterious power of branding provides the magic. Think of it as the left and right sides of your brain. Both work together in order to dance.

Big companies build sales & marketing departments to provide the machine and hire outside creatives for the magic. Small companies have it harder. They often task a single person with the whole of business development. I know. After being a partner in a brand agency and now a consultant, I grow my business in my spare time.

The good news is that it is possible to build a magic machine to grow your business – what I call a Sales Engine.

A Sales Engine describes the end-to-end brand experience from first impression to closing the sale. Sales Engines use Web-based tools wherever possible to automate the selling. Sales Engines allow any size team to keep the pipeline flowing.

People buy brands: The Sales Engine’s power comes from a simple idea: People don’t buy products and services; they buy brands.

To give an example, ten years ago you could buy an Apple iPod Nano for $249 and a comparable Creative Zen for $99. And as we all remember, the iPod crushed the weaker brands. Apple’s “magic” is its brand position.
From the very first product, Apple humanized technology. In the battle of the brands, International Business Machines (IBM) versus a piece of fruit – the fruit won.

A Marketing Road Map: The Sales Engine strategy uses brand positioning, content marketing, digital selling tools and online apps to drive customers to the site, engage them with the brand, accelerate the sales process, and close the deal. The Sales Engine serves as a Road Map for building out your sales and marketing strategy. Your Sales Engine can be built one piece at a time over the course of months or even years. It’s an ongoing project.

Four components: A Sales Engine has four steps that follow the sales cycle:

  1. Position
  2. Engage
  3. Pitch
  4. Close.

Think of it as “PEP-C.”  PEP-C offers an easy way to recognize holes in your current business development strategy. You might ask:

 

  • “Have we claimed a unique Position that solves our target customer’s problem?”
  • “Would our site be more Engaging with an explainer video? Or letting visitors self-schedule for a demo?”
  • “How well does our sales Pitch speak to our unique position? Do we maximize every customer contact?”
  • “Do our proposals Close the deal or just offer prices?”

And the big one:

  • “Do we present a seamless brand experience from end to end?”

Let’s visit the Sales Engine’s four PEP-C steps:

1. POSITION

POSITION your brand to meet the needs of your target customers. Components include:

  • Brand Positioning: The positioning process captures market knowledge from everyone in the organization who touches the brand. The results are compiled and then used to drive a collaborative brand positioning exercise. The goal is to create a Brand Story® that expresses the distinctive DNA at the core of your brand and addresses your target customer’s needs.
  • Brand Platform: This strategic document serves as a road map for managing your brand. The Brand Platform typically includes the Brand Concept, Brand Promise, Tagline, Brand Voice, Look, Vision, and more. It ensures that all creative executions and product decisions are “on brand.”
  • Messaging Architecture: This is your “messaging bible.” A big company might have a value proposition for every product in its catalog. A small company might simply need an elevator speech. From press releases to SEO, it keeps your messaging consistent and on target.

 2. ENGAGE

ENGAGE customers every place they encounter your brand. Key components include:

  • Sales Engine Web site: A sales-focused Web site seeks to solve problems and satisfy needs. Sales-focused sites use call-to-action statements, explainer videos, smart forms, step-by-step sales narratives and other devices to engage and sell. A Sales Engine Web site can also capture leads and schedule demos where appropriate.
  • BIG IDEA Content Marketing Campaign: A Big Idea campaignpositions your company as the thought leader in your industry. First, you identify the big idea or hot button issue that your market cares about. Second, you implement this idea across social media, press releases, SEO landing pages, video, webinars, home page banners, and email to anchor your big idea. Everything is designed to drive visitors to an E-book, white paper, or study that captures leads through gated content.
  • Traditional Touch Points:A Sales Engine strategy also aligns traditional touch points, including print, direct mail, social media, e-marketing, trade show, etc. Everything is aligned for brand consistency and message.

 

 3. PITCH

PITCH with real-time dynamic selling methods.

The Sales Engine approach is designed to bring the sales people and the marketing people into alignment. It ensures that all sales tools and strategy reflect the brand position. Components include:

  • Sales Playbook: The Sales Playbook defines your company’s step-by-step sales process for reaching target customers. With a Sales Engine approach, your sales targets, messaging, and engagement methods all reinforce your brand position. The Playbook is designed to:
    • Identify sales targets
    • Craft consistent brand messages and selling tools.
    • Support outbound and inbound.
    • Manage the process with a CRM.
  • Real-Time Sales Presentations: The goal is to make every customer contact count. A chance phone call might be your only chance to sell to a customer. So why not deliver the full brand experience? We recommend using Slide Shark in addition to Webex/GotoMeeting type platforms. Slide Shark lets you present slides on the fly during a phone call without software or set-up.
  • Modular Messaging: Pulling from a library of slide modules during a sales pitch can accelerate the sales cycle. The goal is to target a customer’s specific needs the first time. For example, if you primarily build pools and you discover that the customer is interested in spas, you don’t want to run through a a bunch of pool slides. A point-and-click spa module accelerates the process. The goal is to respond as you listen and discover the customer’s needs.
  • CRM: By preloading your CRM with email templates, brand graphics, and collateral, the CRM can play a more effective role in sales automation.

 4. CLOSE

CLOSE the deal with a branded selling experience.

  • The most crucial document of all— the Proposal — should deliver a brand-driven selling experience. Offer more than numbers; apply solid layout and design to every proposal.

 

  • Online Proposal Software lets you automate proposal writing with brand messaging and consistency. Proposal apps also deliver instant notification when the proposal is reviewed and integrate with the CRM.

 

 

Building a Sales Engine may seem like a daunting task…

But because everything flows from your Brand Position, the process is surprisingly plug-and-play. Best of all, once you have the infrastructure chugging along, you’ll be able to do more with less.

Bruce Miller
Miller eMedia | Messaging and Media to Grow Your Brand