Session Recap: Sales and Marketing Success

By Nathan Denny and Scott Axelrod

SESSION RECAP: Sales & Marketing Success. Facilitator Jerry Folz led the following Private Advisory Board session.


How do I make the best use of a tiny sales team (that also has other responsibilities) to sell a complex product that requires demos and lots of follow up?

Why It’s Important

This company needs to quickly develop a base of users for its digital platform before potentially significant competition comes online within the next year. This team operates proactively, following up all sales leads, and has a large number of customers who have used its other digital materials and are interested in the new platform.

But these customers aren’t always technically savvy; some are reluctant to adopt new methods. Many are also used to a very “high touch,” and want lots of hand holding.

Currently, the team has four customer support staff members, and each has significant additional responsibilities (such as bookkeeping, marketing, production, and sales). “Busy time” is coming soon, in July, and support staff time will be taken up. On top of that, there’s no budget for additional personnel at the current level of revenue.

Options Under Consideration

  • Find ways to reduce non-sales responsibilities of lead salesperson.
  • Spread out sales calls among all other support staff.
  • Make better use of sales lead’s time through more hands-on and effective coaching/supervision, as well as more effective use of lead-tracking systems.

Clarifying Questions

  • Who do you market to, and how much are they paying? Is it an annual subscription?
  • To what degree does your top salesperson have other things on his/her plate?
  • Is anyone currently making outbound sales calls?
  • Does each new client get online training support, or do you have “blocks” that let you support more than one client at a time?
  • Do you have any mechanism in place to track the effectiveness of your training?
  • Is there an alternative to using your services?
  • Are you considered a compliment service?

Suggestions / Solutions

  • It may not be a salesperson that you need — it may be marketing.
  • The senior staff / lead producer should lend expertise to your training.
  • Measure results of the training — not just how clients rate it, but did they buy?
  • Is there a way that you could develop an incentive program for additional word-of-mouth sales to your existing customers?
  • Identify how many conversations/how much time it takes for a sale. Identify when sales calls are going wrong.

Recommended Materials

Action Plan

This leader has committed to following through with:

  • Focusing more on metrics (related to training and staff time);
  • Revisiting time-tracking;
  • Trying to turn current members into a way to engage and attract new customers;
  • Enlisting senior staffer to discuss training and referrals.


How do I shift marketing efforts from very targeted “pre-screened” prospective clients to “mainstream” prospects — and adjust our message and media channels accordingly?

Why It’s Important

In order to grow this company and meet targets set by the parent organization, this leader needs to expand marketing reach. This may mean an adjustment of focus on products, as well, though there is concern about straying from core competencies.

This company is a specialty broker that wants to market to more mainstream, high net-worth investors who should be responsive to the company’s high level of expertise (“unmatched in the U.S.”).

Yet, the company has no marketing personnel; the parent company in Toronto is usually leveraged for this purpose.

Options Under Consideration

  • Adjust target audience; adjust media channels; adjust product mix.
  • Media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and local magazines with good wealth demographics could contribute to efforts towards expanding traditional target markets.

Clarifying Questions

  • What marketing has been successful in the past when targeting investors of less wealth?
  • Is there any value to partnering or aligning with another investment firm?
  • Have you generated a following on Twitter or Facebook?
  • Is there anyone in your space that is doing something you admire on the marketing arena?
  • What makes an investor choose your firm? What’s your competitive edge?
  • Do you have video/audio appearances of your experts? If so, are they posted on your website, or on YouTube?

Suggestions / Solutions

  • Get a clear idea of where the people you want to reach are hanging out online (recommended: Forrester Research).
  • Find out what people are saying about YOU online — see how others view your firm.
  • Test four web ads at one time and see which drives a better conversion rate.
  • Develop more information around your experts — let people know you have hired experts.
  • Craft a message around the expertise your firm brings to the table
  • Take a step back and identify your potential clients. The research done at the start, even having a 3rd party do the work, will bring back a lot more bang for your buck — because you will market to a much more targeted audience.
  • Leverage YouTube / Create a YouTube Channel
  • Have your experts blogging on your site
  • Have your experts become guest bloggers on sites you wish to have access to (their audience)
  • Understand who you want to get to and craft a message targeted to them — invest in research.

Action Plan

This leader has committed to taking the following steps:

  • Posting content on YouTube;
  • Scaling up blogging efforts (already underway);
  • Work with marketing team to start some research.

Session date: May 29, 2012
Originally published: May 29, 2012

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