VI. The Sales Force and Marketing Implementation Oversight
How should a country translate its intangible assets into dollars and cents (or euros)?
Enter its Sales force and marketing intermediaries.
Even poor countries should allocate funds to train and maintain a skilled sales force and pay its wages, expenses, and perks. Salespeople are the human face of the country’s promotion efforts. They tailor to individual listeners (potential customers) the message the country wishes to convey about itself, its advantages, and its prospects.
As their title implies, salespersons personalize the sales pitch and enliven the sales process. They are as indispensable in mass-attendance road shows and in retail marketing (e.g., of tourism packages) as they are in one-on-one meetings with important decision-makers and investors.
The country’s sales force should be trained to make presentations, respond to queries and objections, close deals, and cope with account growth. Its work should be tightly integrated with other promotional efforts such as mass mailings, telemarketing, media releases, and direct offers. Sales personnel should work hand in hand with marketing intermediaries such as travel agents, financial firms, investment funds, and corporate buyers.
Marketing intermediaries are at least as crucial to the country’s success as its sales force. They are trusted links to investors, tourists, businessmen, and other “clients”. They constitute repositories of expertise as well as venues of communication, both formal and informal. Though usually decried by populist and ignorant politicians, their role in smoothing the workings of the marketplace is crucial. Countries should nurture and cultivate brokers and go-betweens.
A marketing expert – preferably a former salesperson with relevant experience in the field – should head the country’s marketing implementation oversight board or committee. The Marketing Implementation Oversight Board should include representatives of the various state bureaucracies, the country’s branding and advertising consultants and agents, its sales force – and collaborating marketing intermediaries.
This body’s task is to harmonize and coordinate the country’s various efforts at branding, advertising, publicity, and promotion. It is the state’s branding headquarters and should enjoy wide supervisory as well as executive powers.
In other words, marketing implementation is about ensuring that the country’s message is both timely (synergetic) and coherent and, thus, both credible (consistent) and efficient. Scarce resources are better allocated and deployed if the left hand consults the right one before it moves.
But how can a country judge the efficacy of its attempts to brand or re-brand itself and, consequently, to attract customers?