By Meredith Elliot Powell
I don’t think anyone would argue against the idea that these are challenging times. Advancements in technology, increases in regulation and pressure to find and retain talent has made it easier to find Waldo, at times, than it is to find new business and retain clients.
While our politicians and journalists are busy battling over whether this economy is up or down, the truth is that the economy is neither. What the economy is, is changed. It is radically different and things are never, I mean never, going back to the way that they were. In fact, economists agree, we have literally gone through an economic shift, moving out of a Push and into a Pull Economy.
Now, do not worry, you are not about to get an Econ 101 lesson. All you need to know, all you need to understand, is that when we moved out of a Push and into a Pull Economy, your clients moved into the position of control. They have all the power. They are calling the shots.
In addition, not only have consumers moved into the position of control, they have changed just like the economy! Today’s consumers, your customers, are highly skeptical, squarely in control, and well-informed. How they buy, who they buy from, and why they buy is radically different today.
So if our economy has changed, if our clients have changed, wouldn’t it make sense that how we market and sell our products and services should change? To succeed in today’s economy, you need to understand that what you “sell” in the eyes of today’s clients has become a commodity, something they believe they can buy anywhere, at any time. But how you “sell” it has become your competitive advantage. This is what I have come to call a Trust and Value Economy, an economy where trust is how you attract the client, and value is how you keep them long term.
How you sell, how you build trust and value, has everything to do with the alignment, integration and collaboration of your retail, sales and marketing departments. If you want to position yourself to win in this new economy, then you need to change how you view and what you expect of your retail, sales and marketing departments.
Five Strategies That Ensure Alignment, Integration and Collaboration
- Understand It Takes A Village. Business development has changed, and it takes every member of your team working together to make it happen. Every team member has a role and a responsibility, and you need to define those: retail, marketing and sales. To begin, you need to shift your paradigm and understand it takes a village—buy-in to the fact that no one department or area can be successful without the other. This is a new economy, a new type of client, and it requires a new approach and a fully aligned retail, marketing and sales team.
- Develop A Roadmap. You need a plan, complete with the understanding of where you are headed. (What is the single vision, and what are the goals?) What do you need to achieve? What does success look like? Than you need to put together the task force to make that happen, a cross-functional task force that has representatives from all three areas: retail, marketing and sales.
- Direct With Data. Data is king in this economy and what marketing can pull, what they can put together, is the key to helping you identify the best and easiest way to reach retail goals, products to develop, predict whom sales people should be calling on, and the best way to easily deepen client relationships and attract new ones. Every area—retail, sales and marketing—should be influenced by and paying attention to the data.
- Talk Endlessly. Business growth in this economy is far more art than science, and you need to be communicating (retail, sales and marketing) regularly. Talking about the goals, the data, products that are selling, services that need to be developed, and, most importantly, client feedback. A strong, very focused form of regular communication will build solid relationships between the departments and ensure that the team is working together, as a team, to achieve the goal.
- Accountability Is King. As a team, you need to learn to love accountability and use it as a tool to change, enhance and build on the success that you are having. Hold each department accountable for their part of the process to ensure the integration, alignment and collaboration of achieving the results you need and the goals you have.
Yes, business development today has changed, and it takes a strong lineup of the right marketing, the best products and services, and a well-skilled sales team to both attract the business and retain the client. To succeed, you need your retail, marketing and sales departments working together as one team, with full alignment, integration and solid collaboration. With a plan like that, how can you help but win in the Trust and Value Economy!
Meredith Elliott Powell is a business management consultant located in Asheville, N.C. She delivered a pre-conference workshop entitled, “The Game Changer: Powerful Strategies that Fully Align Retail, Sales and Marketing” at the 2015 ABA Bank Marketing Conference.
“IDENTIFICATION OF TOP PHOTO: Meredith Elliott Powell”