E-mail and Sales: Creating a Seamless Customer Experience

The perception of e-mail is that it's direct, it has mass appeal, and it can be tracked. But I've seen marketers struggle endlessly with how to integrate e-mail marketing into the sales channel. There is a long-standing gap between these groups and how they work together, which makes for a disjointed customer experience.

So how should e-mail marketing and direct sales work together to give customers a seamless experience?

In order to make e-mail work, you have to make sure that any of your digital interactions with customers - like through e-mail - fit seamlessly into the entire customer experience. It sounds simple, but it is a concept that is too often overlooked.

In general, e-mail marketing groups and the sales teams are not as well-connected as they could be, making it difficult to generate a cost-to-return and to justify their programs. E-mail marketers have trouble explaining the value of e-mail in sales peoples' terms. For example, how should an e-mail marketer explain an open rate and how that helps close a sale?



Because these groups need to work closely to create seamless customer experiences, I want to cover a few tactical suggestions that might help. First, consider selling the sales teams on a few e-mail marketing services that will help them. Some of these things might include event announcements, seminar invitations, reminders, newsletters, call center replies, or qualification messaging and paperless tradeshows. Or, dissect the sales process and then identify the area where e-mail can make the biggest impact.

In addition, here are a few hot buttons to help your sales team understand how e-mail marketing can support direct sales:

Explain e-mail to sales teams in FedEx terms. In other words, you know the customer received the e-mail, you can see that they opened it, you know where it was sent, and you know what content they clicked on.

Stress the importance of field feedback as they relate to e-mail marketing efforts.
Send out newsletters to your sales teams first, and solicit feedback.
Always have a direct response option available in e-mails, and promote it internally to the sales teams.
Change the way you view ROI and establish an agreement on the financial value of an e-mail campaign's response rate. Otherwise sales teams may not embrace your tool.
Remember: Sales people always embrace things that help them reach customers and prospects faster and cheaper.

Of course, all good ideas should be taken with a grain of salt. Over the years I've learned to be cautious when having sales teams send out marketing messages. With Can Spam and new levels of liability, it is increasingly important for marketing teams to control the use of e-mail tools for sales efforts. You should also be careful about how reactive your sales team is; if they learn of a new service and it works to reach clients, they may be very persuasive in wanting to use it constantly or to press on with suggestions and ideas. With that understanding, you should be better prepared to integrate your e-mail services with sales teams. Once you're all working together, you will have a solid foundation for reaching customers with a digital interaction that fits seamlessly into the entire customer experience.

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