Aligning Sales and Marketing

I was asked to write this article for Box Score, a bi-monthly publication by the
Association of Independent Corrugated Converters


When we think of marketing, we often think of it in terms of how we project our image and our message to our customers. Many times, the message gets lost on the very people we depend on most for our success – our sales team.

How can we apply the same principles of marketing and internally focus so that our sales teams benefit from the support and tools we provide? Here are some very simple steps and ideas to follow that should be a component of every corrugated manufacturer’s marketing mix:

1. Listen to your sales team’s feedback: Not only will they provide valuable information from the field, but also they can reveal tools and ideas that will help them keep at the top of the customer’s mind.

2. Sales training: Even to the most seasoned sales professional a little training refresher goes a long way! At Newhall Klein, we are seeing more and more effort put behind on-line training, or e-training programs. We’ve developed several on line training web sites that bring a single, voice and corporate message to the end user, and trains them on:

  1. Various product components
  2. Product or service capabilities
  3. Product and service features and benefits
  4. How to sell against the competition
  5. Specific industry or brand terminology
  6. Print capabilities and what it means to the customer

This allows the user to learn and take tests 24/7, and save tremendous cost on travel to and from live sales training seminars. Regional Managers can track their sales team’s progress. We recommend rounding out the training process with a product promotion to both the sales team and the customer to make sure the messaging is getting out to the field in the most effective way.

3. Consultative assistance through direct marketing: As more and more customers require professional expertise, the sales team has evolved into a more consultative role. You can assist that effort through communicating directly with your prospects and customers through direct mail campaigns or the ever-popular e-blast or on-line newsletter. This can have two major impacts on your prospects and customers:

  1. Generates sales leads
  2. Pre-promotes your product or service so your sales team has a reason to see the customer or prospect

4. Web Presence: Why having a website is so important! Your website is your most trusted online face to the public, prospects and customers. It’s generally the first place people go to look for your:

  1. Address and phone number
  2. Product and service offering
  3. Order status
  4. Delivery radius/miles
  5. Who to contact in my area

If a prospect or customer searches for your company or even high level searches such as “corrugated manufacturer” and finds no official website, there’s a chance that they’ll source the business from somewhere else. By having a “home” on the web, you grow the strength of your brand, while serving as a functional resource AND supporting your sales staff because you are easily found.

Another effective web presence for B2B marketers is LinkedIn. It’s the new “word of mouth” marketing for businesses. Sales people can get involved in groups, share information, and generate connections, which in turn generates sales leads.

Marketing is an important and effective component to the internal support of any organization’s sales team, and should be considered when planning goals and objectives and how best to reach them. True leaders understand this as well as understanding the basic principles of selling:

  1. Being good at ANYTHING requires skills and dedication
  2. All personalities have selling strengths and weaknesses – throughout the diversity of selling tasks know when you can be you, and when you can’t.
  3. Just because you have done it a lot, does not make you good – Always be learning, developing, improving, changing, investing, building, growing, and of course closing!

A sales mentor of mine shared this with me: Always remember these three words to live by:

  1. Adaptive – Alter your selling behaviors to fit the situation – A sales situation is influenced by you, managed by you and designed by you – but is never about you!
  2. Relationships – Don’t sell transactions, create relationships. They are the real dollars in the sale.
  3. Persistent – Apply great energy and effort to being SMARTLY persistent.

Happy Selling!

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CorrChoice is a leader in the corrugated packaging industry. We helped them redefine their brand identity and how it’s communicated across every touch point with a sophisticated new look and messaging that sells.


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