The Eternal Conundrum.
The sales executive comes to you and says that marketing isn't delivering qualified leads. The marketing executive responds that they are delivering qualified leads, but the sales people can't close them.
Until now, as the CEO, you were stuck in the middle, negotiating with both, to get them to work together effectively to deliver results.
Studies over the last few years has continued to consistently show that the sales funnel has changed. Whereas before, the salesperson got involved early in the sales process and was instrumental in ushering the lead through the sales cycle to the close, nowadays, prospects get to the sales person much later in the cycle. First, the NEW consumer of today usually starts looking on the web, on social media sites, through their friends and colleagues recommendations on Facebook and through their Twitter feed. When they finally get to the salesperson, they have a much clearer idea of what they want to buy and how much they want to spend.
This makes successful marketing efforts at the top of the funnel even more critical. Marketing must capture the interest of the potential buyers and nurture them until they are ready to be sold.
The Best Companies
The Aberdeen Group recently published a white paper. In the paper, the "Best in Class" companies,(160 end user companies were surveyed and then placed in groups of top 20%, middle 60% and bottom 20% measured on key performance criteria) the top 20%, marketing's contribution to the sales pipeline (leads resulting in business) averaged at 60%. In the average companies, marketing was involved in 10% of the leads in the pipeline and in lagging companies, marketing's contribution only averaged 3%.
Glossy Marketing Material is Not Enough
If your marketing people are telling you that their job is to create quality brochures, develop catchy advertising campaigns, design up-to-date sales contests and send out press releases, sit down with them and tell them that their job is to deliver qualified leads to the sales people that result in profitable business.
How do they do this? Not only through creative sales brochures. Good brochures certainly help, but the real differentiator in great marketing is marketers who:
- Use software to better understand the identity, behavior and potential spend of both prospects and customers
- Support their marketing efforts with both pre-launch testing and post-launch evaluations of all marketing programs
- Ensure that all the stakeholders have access to the performance data, measured against the goals.
The best marketers in the companies that are meeting and exceeding their goals analyze and share the data. And make changes based on it.
Does it Cost Money to Fully Utilize Analytical Tools?
Yes, and the best companies spend the money. They might initially use the free versions of various software packages but they upgrade as their needs and knowledge base increases. Some of the free and/or inexpensive services come from Google. There are Google Webmaster Tools that are incredible and Google Adwords. There are also some great services like Hubspot and Pardot. They help your marketers measure their efforts. And what is measured can always be improved.
As CEO, you need to hold your marketer’s feet to the fire. The next time they come in with an idea, ask then for the analysis behind it. Where is the data? What are the expectations? Say, “Show Me” again and again. You need to inspect what you expect. But first, you need to develop those expectations using real knowledge, not intuition or guesses.
Have pre-campaign planning meetings, deciding on the goals. Check that the goals are on track as the campaign continues and always ask for a follow-up report.
- What went right?
- What went wrong?
- What could be improved in a subsequent campaign?
Get everyone involved. Share the data with all of the stakeholders. Solicit Feedback.
Remember, the research is in. Companies that use software tools to crunch the numbers and have the marketing people to analyze them are getting more customers through the sales funnel. They are also keeping those customers at a higher rate. And retained customers translates to top line revenue increases.
If your marketing executive is not rigorously analyzing this data, put pressure on him or her to do this. You need people in marketing who understand this new landscape.
What do you think? What analytical tools are you using?