Saturday, June 30, 2012
A number of years ago, I worked for a large association as the Director of Sales. Like many organizations, this one was structured around product lines and each had its own budgetary goals for revenue and, in some cases, its own sales staff. The executive director understood that the various sales operations (exhibits, advertising, corporate memberships, etc.) were, in effect, competing with each other for the money being spent on the association's products by the suppliers to that industry. He had the foresight to understand that by unifying the sales efforts, the association would be better able to deliver more value to its customers and, in the process, generate more total sales from those customers. The result was more business for the association through customized packaging of multiple products, the process of which was managed by one department. But, it took a structural change within the organization to accomplish this
First, the organization created a one-point-of-entry strategy for the supplier community. In the case of this association, that point was corporate membership. Upon joining as a corporate member, the company was immediately entitled to a discount program for advertising space it purchased in the association's magazine, and additional discounting if multiple products were purchased, such as exhibit space or mailing list rental. A unique logo was created for each new member's use in their own advertising and collateral material. We made it clear that the organization was not endorsing or recommending any product or service of its corporate members, but simply acknowledging the support of those companies
The next step was to identify the largest suppliers to the industry our association served and meet with key decision makers from each of those companies. The purpose of this was to determine what the marketing goals were for each company and to then develop a program including as many of our association's products as possible that delivered those goals while staying within each company's budgetary restrictions. Here is an example:
A large and well-known software manufacturer identified our industry as a target for their focused marketing campaign. Although they utilized print advertising to a great extent, they believed that the best way for them to sell their technologies was through live demonstrations. As a result of several meetings with them, they joined as a supplier member and paid dues based on their annual sales to our market (several thousand dollars of new revenue for the association). Since they were most interested in demonstrating their products, I sold them exhibit space at our national convention along with a 25-seat demonstration area adjacent to the exhibit hall floor. Their package also included advertising in our website and magazine scheduled throughout the year. The result, this company, which had never purchased any single product before, spent over $75,000 with us in the first year of this program and the best part was that as a result of the demonstration area, they made a large sale of their technology to a new customer for them
Under the prior organizational structure, the advertising sales director and the exhibit sales director did not share customer information, did not package their offerings. Through no fault of each director, the vertical structure simply created disincentives for them to collaborate. But, with a collaborative sales and marketing structure, all that changed and those same directors saw that by working together, they both could more easily achieve their goals. The culture changed from silos to an understanding that (as the old axiom goes), "when the tide comes in, all of the ships in the harbor rise."
Is your organization ready to create a collaborative sales structure? There are challenges in doing so, but the result is worth the effort
Want to learn more? Contact Bob Silverstein at rsilverstein@AdSalesExperts.net or visit us at www.AdsalesExperts.net