Once upon a time, sales drove company growth. From first contact (remember cold calling?) through final purchase, skilled salespersons guided the buyer’s awareness, education, and experience about the product or service.

The digital age turned the tables. Consumers are in charge of their own experiences. They tune in what appeals to them, and tune out everything else. Therefore, traditional sales has taken a backseat to marketing. Marketing is now in charge of attracting consumer attention without the more obvious and direct selling tactics of the past.

There’s an old saying: “You catch ‘em, I’ll clean ‘em’”. Marketing catches their attention; sales comes in for the close.

Despite these significant changes in consumer behavior and the sales cycle, start-up companies can lose ground by assigning the wrong strategies and priorities. Here are three tips to help avoid that.

Differentiate between junior and senior resources. Early in the digital era, many smaller companies mistakenly assigned junior-level employees to the marketing role. But effective marketing is crucial to your growth process, and deserves the resources of a more senior team.

These more experienced team members should be adept at conducting research on the company, its competitors, and the target consumer. Then apply this insight to craft a comprehensive marketing strategy. Conducted correctly, marketing serves as the first and largest step to driving growth.

Respond to consumer values, research competitors, and diversify your approach. Your marketing team must seek to understand not only consumer values, but the actions of competitors. An uptick in your own website traffic is a good start, but stats should be compared with that of competitors. Growth in your social media following is promising, but less so if you’re still overshadowed by a stronger presence. Research must include not only consumer reactions to your efforts, but also reactions to competitors, to better compare marketing effectiveness.

Understand that a digital marketing strategy should be integrated and balanced. Website traffic is only one metric. Build a social media presence, invest in quality content, consider SEO strategies, install a chat bot on your website, and craft an email campaign. All of these measures should support and complement one another.

Align your sales and marketing teams. Marketing and sales departments should work in lockstep. Their contact with consumers should be consistent and seamless. Marketing should funnel high-quality leads to Sales. Sales must commit to follow-up communications, and kick that ball back to Marketing when necessary. When both teams work to dovetail one another’s efforts, productivity increases. Growth is the result.

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