With a ton of experience to call on, Hunt & Hawk co-founder, Ryan Devlin, knows first-hand the benefits for businesses when they align sales and marketing activity. In this insightful article, he explains why…
The way consumers buy today is completely different to how they were buying five and 10 years ago.
That’s the first thing I always tell people when they ask me about the connection between sales and marketing.
In today’s digital world, the way consumers become aware of and interact with products and services is totally different to what it was like even 10 years ago.
Think about Google, and social media like Facebook and TikTok, and it’s pretty clear most consumers are doing a lot of their research about products online.
But the need to align sales and marketing is still the same.
In all my years of experience, I’ve learned that if you don’t have alignment, or if you focus too much on one thing and not another, you’ll find it really difficult to drive the results you’re after.
My Career In Sales Started At A Real Estate Agency
Like a lot of teenagers, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do – but I had the gift of the gab and decided that sales could be a pathway to success.
I heard that real estate agency Ray White offered cadetships, so I applied for one in my local area in Brisbane and that’s how I started in sales.
The Ray White I chose for my cadetship had a very young and ambitious principal, who took me under his wing and taught me a lot about the proper technique for sales.
Once you’re inside real estate, you really get exposed to marketing. You have to learn how to market correctly, how to advertise everything, think about what sort of titles to write and the exact words you should use to describe the property you’re selling in your brochures and newspaper ads.
One thing I never wanted to be was dishonest. So I would write ads that said things like ‘renovate or detonate’ and ‘so close to the train you can hear it!’ And it became this thing where people knew exactly what they were going to get.
So I didn’t have to oversell, or handle angry buyers, because I’d aligned my marketing strategy with exactly how I was going to sell the house.
I was quite successful, and was named Cadet of the Year and later Rookie of the Year, and eventually I moved to another Ray White agency in Ascot.
And my biggest lesson from selling in an upmarket area like Ascot was that things don’t simply fall into your lap. You have to fight for it.
What I found was that I was spending 80% of my time doing sales activity – just knocking on door after door. Ray White’s branding only got me so far – it was probably more like 20% – so my sales activity was doing all of the heavy lifting, and it was a really hard slog.
I tried really hard to boost my marketing just by getting my listings up, so I’d pound the pavement and try and take any listing I could get so I could get my name out there.
In an ideal world, your sales and marketing activities should be an even 50/50 split… but there are obviously times when you need to do more of one to help boost the other.
Why Branding Is So Important When It Comes To Sales
My last stint in property ended up with me being headhunted by a nationwide company called PRD Real Estate. They brought me in because I was renting a unit through them and they knew I worked in realty.
They said, “We’d like you to come in and elevate our brand”. So I said, “Okay, no more taking photos on your phones!”
I insisted on professional photos. I made sure every property got a corflute that actually advertised the property – not just the agency.
I also made sure we printed full-colour, professional brochures, on high-quality paper. I was basically just looking for ways to get more bang for my buck and give me the quickest marketing uplift.
What I didn’t factor in was the importance of branding. When I left Ray White, I was confident that people would still choose me to sell their property, because they knew my background and they knew my name.
But the marketing just fell over because the brand name wasn’t as strong. And because the branding wasn’t strong, I had to get back to relying on all my sales activities to generate results.
So it dawned on me pretty quickly how important that association with the Ray White brand actually was.
The Big Mistake Businesses Make With Sales And Marketing
I think the most common mistake businesses make when it comes to the ‘align sales and marketing’ theme is that there’s no closed-loop feedback.
Being on the frontline of sales – whether it’s inbound or outbound, whether it’s telesales, face-to-face, corporate sales – you need to get that feedback.
I’ve personally gone through and I’ve worked a lead from cold and nurtured it to warm. I’ve done the presentation, I’ve done everything as correctly and by the book as it possibly can be.
And the end result is that it’s closed lost.
That’s happened time and time again to the point where I started to go, “Okay, well, now I know what’s going on”. So I’m tweaking things and making changes – because a big part of sales is just experimenting with what works.
But no one in marketing ever goes straight to a salesperson and asks, “What is the customer saying to you?”
And there aren’t many marketing creatives going straight to a salesperson and saying, “What is the client chasing from you?”
Or, “What are the top five questions you get asked on a daily basis?” Or even, “What are the top five reasons someone wouldn’t buy from us?”
And the flipside of that is that some salespeople don’t ask these questions, either. Or they’ll get asked those questions and say, “I don’t know”.
They don’t know because they either don’t care – since it doesn’t really impact their job – or they’ve got enough leads not to have to worry about it.
So the biggest tip I can give when it comes to the question of how to align sales and marketing is to seek feedback from the sales team, and then reverse-engineer everything.
That way you get a much clearer idea of what you need to say on your website, what you need to say in your emails, and what points you need to emphasise across all of your channels.
And the second tip for how to align sales and marketing is: if you use a closed lost prompt in your CRM, attach a reason to it.
That way you’ve got a better understanding of why the customer said “no” – whether it was down to a lack of urgency, no need for the product, you’ve failed to establish credibility with the customer, or they simply have no money.
How We Align Sales and Marketing
While I’m the first to admit our branding isn’t always as well-defined as what I’d like it to be, the feedback I often hear from prospects is that we’ve already won them over before they’ve even got on a sales call.
That’s because our messaging is really straightforward – it’s short and sharp and gets straight to the point. So then all we need to do is establish our credibility, and lean a little bit on testimonials from our other clients, and go from there.
I’ve always tried hard to ensure our sales and marketing is aligned at Hunt & Hawk – just because I’ve had so much experience in both worlds – and the one piece of advice I always give to businesses looking to improve their sales and marketing is to start with their branding.
You may not need to dive head-first into a full website development or anything, but maybe your homepage needs a refresh, and you can start looking at your brand messaging and brand identity and see if there are ways you can improve from there.
Then make sure your marketing team speaks to your sales staff. Get them talking about what’s working well, what’s not, and the top five questions the sales team gets asked every day.
Sales and marketing won’t just magically align unless you get the two teams talking to each other.
And if you’ve got any questions for me about how to align sales and marketing for your business, or whether your brand needs a refresh, reach out.
I love helping businesses get their sales, marketing, and branding right.
For more marketing, branding, and sales tips and insights and plenty else, check out more of our blog.