It’s amazing that a communication breakdown can cause hundreds of thousands of sales dollars to slip right through your fingertips.

I interviewed a young man for a marketing job the other day. He contended that his sales experience translated into marketing prowess. Not so fast.

I told him, without attaching superiority to either skill, it was like comparing a tournament fisherman to a commercial fisherman. One is more event-focused, the other more process-focused, yet both generate fish — or, in this young man’s case, sales.

For the best salespeople, their skills are not natural. They’re trained — and train others — to sense when a buyer is in suspended disbelief (a good state, by the way) or when they’re eager for you to get to the price. They’re trained to recognize when they’ve pushed internal “buy” buttons and need to bring out the proposal. The transition to the proposal should look as natural as breathing. Yet it’s ordered, intentional and studied.

You can’t get this good by “winging it.” Training is the only way. Here’s how:

  • Share your marketing promotions with the entire staff at a weekly meeting. It could be early-season-replacement lead generation, upselling from your tune-up promotions, or your retention campaign. A simple plan is better than no plan.

  • During the meeting, all must know where the ads are running. Make sure to “offer” details and deadlines (if you don’t use deadlines or limits, you’re losing lots of leads). Nothing is worse than a customer service representative (CSR) getting a call from an excited homeowner grasping a hot letter and responding, “I don’t have a clue what you’re referring to.” Buzzkill.

  • All techs, salespeople and CSRs must know your intended upsell for each offer. For example, water filtration from a leaking pipe, or the maintenance-agreement package included with an equipment upgrade. The logic is that if they enter the home with no upsell, then they’ll either leave with either a standard or no sale. If given an upsell, they get one more level to raise average transaction size.

  • Whether these sales close or not, you must follow up. Your CSRs and eager salespeople will follow up with a planned script to make sure needs are met, more information is given, and referrals are requested. The credibility gained by doing this — sale or no sale — guarantees your differentiation and future calls.

  • Extra sales bump: The last sales follow-up comes back to marketing. This is where you send what I call the “unclosed prospect letter” to all fitting the description. We’ve offered this to clients for the past few years — though you can create your own — and their average sales rate from sending it is 4%.

See, it’s an intentional system. Whatever you’re offering this season, marketing and sales must work like a team. When they’re unified, the effect compounds to maximize leads, closing ratios, transaction sizes and referral rates.

Let your sales and marketing combine its muscle to bring you more leads, richer sales and happier customers.