The last few years have been unique and challenging for businesses of all kinds. The pandemic, global events like the Suez canal blockage, and political instability created unprecedented difficulties and dramatic responses from politicians and business leaders alike. These strained fragile supply chains, disrupted workflows and generally wreaked havoc on the business world which trickles down to sales and marketing.
The worst part is that economic struggles like inflation persist. A recent second straight quarter of decline in GDP also brought up the question of whether the U.S. is on the cusp of (or has already entered) recession territory.
With so many concerns in the past, present, and future, many businesses have looked for ways to cut costs and trim budgets. One common way to do so has been revamping service lines.
Revamping service lines
The creation of service lines is a popular approach to organizational structure. This decentralized hierarchy is horizontally aligned. It also provides services that are often more in tune with customer requirements and needs.
While they are helpful, service lines also require maintenance. You need to update them to keep them in line with your target audience.
When economic times are tough, revamping service lines is also a good way to respond to ongoing challenges. You can adjust different service lines to combine them into a single package which offer more flexibility compared to itemized services.
For instance, consider a marketing company that offers two service lines. One comes with a specific number of SEO backlinks per month. Another provides traditional press mentions. A business looking to reallocate resources and create flexibility could combine these into a single service line. This could include an unspecified number of backlinks per month and traditional press mentions. This package offers more value to customers than either one individually and is better able to withstand industry changes.
Adjusting service line offerings is a common way to adapt to tough times. But if the aftermath of a service line revamp isn’t handled well, it can undermine the impact of the adjustment. That’s where collaboration between sales and marketing departments becomes a factor.
Collaborating with service line revamp promotion
The two primary groups that spearhead service line promotion are the sales and marketing departments. Each one advertises service lines in its own way to complement its own activities.
However, if they don’t work together to promote a new service line, it can cause issues. Inconsistent messaging and unclear values can confuse customers and even push them away.
That’s why it’s important to bring these two critical groups together. Here are a few suggestions for different collaboration strategies to help your sales and marketing teams align with one another during a service line revamp.
1. Sync up your message for the awareness and consideration stages
It’s acceptable to sort through confusion and inconsistencies with your promotional messaging behind closed doors. But as soon as your marketing and sales personnel start interacting with customers, the outward-facing message should be iron-clad, crystal clear, and consistent at all times.
With that in mind, it’s important to bring your marketing and sales teams together immediately after a service line revamp to sync up their messaging. Marketing should be aware of how their messages inform clients’ expectations for sales. And it could be beneficial for them to ask what customers still want to know when they get to the conversion stage. This communication could also benefit the sales team, as potential clients would be more aware of certain services.
Your marketing team should be able to attract and inform consumers during the awareness and consideration stages. Then, your sales team should be able to seal the deal by converting and engaging customers during the conversion and retention stages. Leadership should demonstrate to everyone the clear and communicable value of what the new package offers. Of course, the obvious value from an internal perspective is that your company wants to save time, money, and resources by offering a more efficient product or service package. But the focus here should be on external benefits.
What value does a service line revamp offer customers? Why is it better for them to purchase a particular set of services as they are currently cobbled together? This is critical knowledge that every single salesperson and marketer should understand. That way it can influence every interaction that they have with both potential and existing customers.
2. Focus on the customer
When someone brings up the concept of focusing on the customer, it’s easy to nod and move on to the next point. But let’s consider how often customers get shoved to the back burner in both sales and marketing.
It isn’t difficult to see how often the sales cycle focuses on the seller rather than the buyer. The emphasis isn’t on customer needs but rather on target goals, quotas, and sales incentives.
Marketing can also slip into a myopic state when it comes to understanding the customer. It can be high-minded, disconnected, and, in the era of online marketing, inefficient and scattered as it is spread thin across too many channels.
Sales and marketing teams can work together to realign their focus on truly prioritizing their target audience. They can use their joint resources and knowledge to identify customers, research common buyer needs, and create buyer personas. Marketing can ask sales about experiences with clients, and sales can learn about consumer research from the marketing team. Let’s use the creation of buyer personas as a good example of how they can inform one another.
On the one hand, a marketing team tends to develop personas based on key data points. While that information is important, it can only get them so far. On the other hand, sales personnel spend their days interacting with real customers. However, their information is often limited to what they’ve experienced. When sales and marketing teams work together to create each persona, they bring these two perspectives (theoretical and experiential) to bear on the creation process.
In fact, it may even be worth the trouble to get other groups like customer service in on the process. Like salespeople, they are more in tune with how real-world customers act and what motivates them. In the case of customer service, in particular, this means understanding customers who have actually used a product or service after the point of purchase.
3. Set clear communication expectations between sales and marketing
Syncing up your message and understanding the customer-facing value of a service line revamp are good communication starting points. But your marketing and sales teams can’t meet once at the beginning and then call it a day. The very nature of a service line revamp is to create a more flexible offering that can adapt to different circumstances. This means the way that it’s presented to customers can also shift over time.
In order to keep your teams on the same page in perpetuity, create clear communication protocols to avoid data siloing. There are many third-party apps that already address the ongoing issue of cloistered information, but data silos remain common in business. This is often due to a lack of interest or effort on the part of leadership to set up infrastructure for effective data sharing.
If you want to keep communication strong, you need to find ways to share data. When your marketing team creates content, sales reps should be able to access it and use it to inform their pitches. When sales team members receive valuable insights and feedback from their interactions with prospects, they should be able to share this with the entire sales and marketing departments.
Closed-loop reporting (CLR) (closed-loop reporting) feedback loops are helpful for this activity. You can set them up through marketing automation solutions as well as data reporting and analytics software. The more customer data you can share with your entire sales and marketing teams the better.
Strategically utilizing the consumer knowledge your teams already have in order to revamp will free up resources and create flexibility. Many companies reposition and revamp to adapt to challenging economic times and customer needs. Taco Bell and Starbucks are two successful businesses that revamped based on customer data and behavior to benefit their bottom line.
However, if service or product line revamps aren’t promoted well, they can do more harm than good. Use the above tips to make sure that everyone on your sales and marketing teams is aware of the value that a revamp offers — and is ready to consistently and clearly communicate that value to customers in the future.
Kimberly Zhang is Editor in Chief at Under30CEO. She is also a contributor for the Entrepreneur and has served in previous roles at Apple and Salesforce.
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