The Case for Making Sales Reps Frontline Marketers A rep's granular knowledge of the customers and territory is potentially the richest source of leads.

By Mark Woollen

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In theory, marketing and sales should work simultaneously in a cohesive and transparent environment. After all, they have the same goal: contribute to the overall success of the company by growing pipeline and closing more deals.

While a cooperative relationship between sales and marketing is crucial, a notion of arguably equal importance is a sales rep's ability to market to their prospects directly. Here's why -- a sales person, is in many ways, the CEO of his or her own business.

Related: Sales and Marketing: Separated at Birth?

Salespeople have officially taken on the role of selling, but in today's rapidly changing business environment, reps must be equipped and ready for anything while they're out on the road selling. This can range from issues and concerns of existing customers, to handling pricing and operations questions for active deals, all the way to marketing and prospecting for new business.

Essentially, being a sales rep is the ultimate form of entrepreneurship, and we all know that entrepreneurs wear many hats for their business. Today's entrepreneurial world of sales is multifaceted and fast-moving. Sales reps must have the tools they need to consistently drive results. As emphatically stated by Alec Baldwin's memorable, if controversial, character in the early 90s flick Glengarry Glen Ross, it is imperative that salespeople remember their ABC's – Always Be Closing.

While perhaps not as do-or-die in real life, arguably sales' most crucial role, in addition to closing deals, is maintaining an abundant pipeline of leads. To do this, salespeople are constantly acting as their own marketers, even as the marketing department creates leads. Maybe a sales rep is hosting a dinner with top customers or inviting top prospects to the big game. Every one of these mini-events is, in essence a campaign.

To reach these customers and prospects, that sales rep needs the ability to spin up a mini, on-brand email campaign to invite top customers. They should be able to easily see which customer and prospects respond, when they respond and to which messages they are most inclined to respond.

Related: Improve Sales With a Marketing Plan

Empowering reps with marketing tools can make all the difference in converting leads into paying customers. No matter how successful marketing is, sales is always looking for more mature and qualified leads. The best salespeople can source their own leads and grow their pipeline through the creative use of their own highly targeted campaigns.

Salespeople are in the trenches, day in and day out, working with prospects and customers. They understand their territories and customers' needs better than anyone. As a result, sales reps relate to their customers, and potential customers, on a deeper level, a local level.

However, marketing a company or a company's products isn't the only type of marketing sales reps do. Equally important is building out, maintaining and marketing their unique personal brand to build trust and credibility with prospects. Customers come to expect a certain quality of sales rep. If they have a recognizable brand or reputation, the effectiveness of retention and upselling customers greatly increases. Word of a great sales rep spreads through customer communities and greatly improves the sales rep's relationship with new prospects, as well.

Salespeople should be empowered with the tools and resources to market themselves and their company's products. This enables sales reps to help create and maintain a sales pipeline that is fluid, growing and constantly evolving, ultimately leading to more leads, higher conversion rates and greater customer retention.

Related: Using Marketing in Your Sales Call

Mark Woollen

SVP Product Marketing, Sales Cloud at salesforce.com

Mark Woollen is Sr. Vice President of Product Marketing for Sales Cloud at salesforce.com where he is responsible for the positioning and go-to-market strategy for Sales Cloud, the world’s number one sales app.  Mr. Woollen has more than 18 years of sales, marketing and development experience, with a history of redefining market segments and delivering products that are easy to use and drive improved productivity.

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