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Sales, Marketing and Always Learning

Tom Perry
by Tom Perry - July 5, 2019


I once worked with an agency who seemed to have a team training day every two weeks…it was frustrating as a client. “what on earth could they be doing to warrant time away from our account so frequently?”. Well now I know. They were doing exactly what we as an agency now do every quarter…polishing our skills to make sure that we are not only on top of our game but at the cutting edge of B2B marketing. I think every two weeks might be excessive, but I now understand.

Last week, Sherpa had our quarterly training day and spent the day learning all about high performance client engagement with Celine from SBR. The aim was to enhance our ability to engage and get the most value out of interactions not only with our clients, but with their target customers.

In their own words, “Sales Force Effectiveness is about holding the sales teams accountable for growing the company revenues through increased customer acquisition and up-selling / cross-selling additional products and services that match the clients’ needs. Effectiveness is about building the right habits and behaviours across the sales people in 3 core areas: Sales Skills, Sales Motivation and Systems. Take any one of the three elements away and effectiveness is lost”.

But we’re a marketing agency aren’t we? Why do we need sales training? Well, there are two answers to this question…

Firstly, this wasn’t an aggressive pyramid style ‘how to close deals’ session, it was a course in engaging people, listening, understanding that the potential customer on the end of the phone is a person and being human and customer centric. Celine provided us with the psychology behind sales and helped us understand that the emphasis was on being team players, who work together to give the buyer the best possible journey possible.

Secondly, yes we are a marketing agency, but we very much see marketing and sales working together as one of the key components in the success of organisations - partners or vendors -best possible journey and see more companies moving towards this way of working. Account based marketing is the pioneer of sales and marketing alignment. It is a critical factor for ABM success. Our Client Strategy Director, Pascale Smith, recently wrote an article on what makes for ‘real account based marketing’ (I would urge you to read it if you haven’t already) and in it coined a new definition which we at Sherpa are fully behind.

Account based marketing is not marketing working for marketing, it's marketing working for sales and sales being receptive to it.  When you read about account based marketing and people say "marketing and sales alignment is a critical factor" - it's not just a critical factor, it's sort of the defining factor. Repairing the reputation and performance damage of siloing those two internal organisations in terms of how they work, the language they use, the way they are incentivised, by bringing them much closer together”

This definition flips the organisational structure of most businesses on its head and creates a team of blended sales and marketing professionals, rather than two distinctly separate teams that volley leads between them. As Pascale says, there is an organisational shift which creates a shared skillset and a common goal with equally shared responsibility.

This is why every single member of the Sherpa team, from CEO to marketing to sales to admin, attended the session last week. We learned that sales isn’t about telling people what we do, it is about listening to what people want. And then solving their problems with tailor made solutions. The session was insightful, enlightening and educational. I have come from a B2C background and customer centricity has been a primary focus for a long time, but for some reason B2B marketing sometimes forgets that there is a person at the receiving end of their comms. This session reminded each and every one of us that we are all responsible for nurturing the person we are speaking with through their journey, listening to their needs and problem solving…not just putting leads in to an automated workflow, serving generic pieces of content and passing them on to sales when they trigger a predetermined criteria.

As a team, we left with a shared sense of responsibility and a new vigour for our roles. And that is exactly the point of having regular team away days…it is so easy to get bogged down in our day-to-days, that it is easy to forget that one of our values is ‘always learning’. So we make time to make sure our skills are honed, our team is refreshed, we are all singing off the same song-sheet and are offering our clients the 'best possible Sherpa' going. We are as proud investing in our existing team as we are bringing new talent on board.

Speaking of which, starting today, we will be running a series of short meet the team videos, so you can get to know the people mentioned above, the skilled experts who make the day to day magic happen. Make sure you head over to our Instagram to have a look and let us know what you think of #meetyoursherpa!

If you would like to discuss how Sherpa can transform your marketing, please get in touch… 


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