Sales Coach: Beyond Technology

March 31, 2013

By German Sacristan

The market in general today—specifically some marketers and most media service providers—is obsessed with the new digital channels. Internet services that include social media, email, mobile, and QR codes are among the most popular ones. Often, marketers and media service providers invest a great deal of time and effort in trying to determine the best channel with which to communicate. While all of these channels have a purpose, they each have their own strengths and weaknesses.


If you only focus on the media and marketing technologies, you will fail. In our quest to automate everything, we often forget to think for ourselves. Too often we rely on technology to do everything for us. While technologies help us execute the old concepts and basics of marketing communication in a very difficult, saturated and competitive marketplace, they can’t create an effective campaign without the ideas, creativity and planning of an experienced marketer and designer.


Media- and marketing-related technologies alone cannot guarantee success, because they lack the human element of the salesperson they’re trying to replicate. There are two simple reasons why it is harder to “replace” a salesperson than a bank teller, airport ticketing agent, or even a warehouse worker. First, salespeople are very unpredictable and can quickly shift gears based on what is happening in the sales process. Second, good salespeople are imaginative and have a sort of sixth sense or intuition that is impossible for technology to mimic.

Bank tellers, airport ticketing agents or warehouse workers are predictable in their work process and, in most cases, don’t require intuition to be successful. Their jobs follow a more mechanical process. Therefore, positive results are guaranteed as long as they follow the right process. Salespeople will increase their chances of success if they follow the right process, but they can’t guarantee success because there are always factors that are out of their control. A forklift that replaces a warehouse worker, an ATM that substitutes for a bank teller, or an airport ticketing machine that emulates an agent can guarantee success as long as the technology itself functions properly. Conversely, in marketing, having the right technology is not enough—to increase your chances of success, you will always need a good salesperson or marketer behind such technology.


Simply being on the Internet and having a social media presence and/or an email campaign doesn’t guarantee you'll sell anything. A strategy is key—choosing a communication channel before we know where we are going and what we will be carrying is like putting the cart before the horse. Using a technology or channel as the starting point of your strategy is fundamentally wrong and will only increase your chances of failure.


Even the best marketers in the world can't guarantee what kind of response rate they'll get prior to launching a campaign, nor can they guarantee any numbers on closing rates. But a methodical process and the right ingredients will increase your chances of a better return on marketing investment (ROMI). Without the proper methodology that helps you build the right strategy, you're just relying on luck.

The strategy relates to what you need to say and to whom, when, and how you need to say it. The channel, together with creativity and sensitivity, is part of the how. The creativity and sensitivity used in your marketing piece should also influence the channels you use. It’s only when we ask ourselves those “who,” “what,” “when” and “how” questions that we'll be able to choose the right channels. You might need to use multiple channels within a single campaign if you have to say different things to the same person at different times.


Never choose a channel based on which seems the newest and most exciting or which costs less. The lowest-cost channel may end up costing you the most in the long run if it’s not right for your campaign.

For example, just recently, someone told me he wanted to implement QR codes, but when we discussed his goals and challenges, it became apparent that QR codes weren’t the best vehicle he could utilize. He had plenty of traffic to his website. The problem was that he wasn't closing enough visitors, and implementing QR codes wasn't likely to change that.


I see campaigns that I know will fail before they even launch—and it’s not because I own a crystal ball but because they’re missing the strategy and, therefore, the basics and fundamentals of marketing communication and selling.

This article is an excerpt from German Sacristan’s The Digital & Direct Marketing Goose. Sacristan offers a wealth of international sales, marketing, and business development experience.

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