Sales and marketing spend too much time fighting. Even though sales reps are anti-marketers in some respects, they can still teach marketers invaluable lessons.

1. Ask for the order. Any sales rep worth his or her salt asks for the order, not tentatively, but directly and boldly.

Marketers: Websites, email blasts and landing pages must include calls to action that are clear and compelling. Subtlety sucks on the web, where people are sizing up your message in a matter of seconds. Never force them to figure out what you want them to do. 

2. Be persistent. Great sales reps never give up. They will ask for the order not once, not twice, not three times – but as many times as it takes for the customer to say yes or throw them out the door.

Marketers: Don’t be too quick to abandon programs and shift strategies. The road to success is long and littered with setbacks.

3. Be responsive. When a customer says jump, great sales reps say how high – and then actually jump a little higher than that.

Marketers: Brilliant ideas are wonderful, but it’s execution that gets results. Pay attention to the little things, like sending customers an automated response for an online form submission immediately, rather than three days later.

4. Speak English. Sales reps speak the language of the people, not corporate gobbledygook. Why? Because they desperately want to be understood.

Marketers: Get out of the ivory tower and into the field. Executives and colleagues, vital as they are, should take a back seat to customers when it comes to copywriting, whether you’re writing about clothespins or military flash clothing.

5. Give them what they want. Sales reps listen carefully, figure out what prospects want, and then figure out a way to deliver. It’s hard for customers to say no to something they’re asking for.

Marketers: Don’t assume that you know what customers want and then try to fit them into a conversion path that fits your preconceptions. Listening to customers enables you to strengthen and simplify offers.

6. Dress for success. Have you ever seen a sales rep pull up to an account in a jalopy with smoke pouring out of the hood and then saunter into the lobby wearing a tank top and Bermuda shorts? I didn’t think so.

Marketers: Do your business cards, website, and sales collateral look like they were designed by a professional – or by some guy wearing a tank top and Bermuda shorts?

7. Make small talk. Great sales reps don’t launch into a heavy-duty sales presentation without first setting the mood with a little chitchat. They know people are more open to doing business with people that they feel comfortable being around.

Marketers: Embrace social media. Make your web content less formal. Showcase the personal side of your company. Get comfortable being comfortable.

Over to You

What other marketing lessons can be learned from successful sales reps?