The Whole Truth - Why CEOs Need to Know What Makes Sales and Marketing Click

Posted by Dan McDade

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on Jun 10, 2016 12:51:12 PM

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7_Truths_Header-9.jpgUnderstanding the CEO’s role in eliminating wasted marketing spend and increasing sales results—the final of a multi-part blog series.

Many challenges facing Sales and Marketing have been around since the beginning of time. The two organizations don’t understand each other, and often point fingers: Sales says marketing delivers bad leads; and marketing says sales doesn’t follow up. Both are working toward different, conflicting metrics.

Despite the counsel of leaders in this field—many of whom were quoted in this blog series—companies continue to waste marketing dollars, and sales continues to struggle to meet revenue goals.

I maintain, as do many of my peers in the industry, that the age old misalignment of marketing and sales is something that the CEO needs to address. Far from being beneath them, sales and marketing conflicts need to be a top priority for CEOs, who stand to benefit in a big way by setting the stage for these two organizations to work in sync. The company leader’s abilities to articulate the direction of the company in the context of the offering, the market and why what they sell is better and different is right up there at the top of their job description. Without that, and without careful oversight of the marketing and sales process, the bickering goes on and the results fall short.

Our latest blog series outlined 7 truths that CEOs need to know to help them help their sales and marketing teams eliminate wasted marketing spend and increase revenue. Each were covered in detail, and referenced thought leadership from industry leaders.

By being proactive when it comes to the 7 truths about sales and marketing that CEOs need to know, companies can go a long way toward achieving marketing ROI, and driving revenue results. It’s not easy, but it’s absolutely doable. A summary:

1. Define a lead 

If your teams aren’t aligned in their understanding of what you sell and who you sell it to, you’re wasting time, blowing money and giving your competitors advantage.

Brian Carroll, chief evangelist at MECLABS and Marketing Sherpa agrees: “Still, most of the companies I meet with do not have a Universal Lead Definition (ULD). An astounding 61% of B2B marketers admit to sending 'leads' directly to Sales without qualification, according to a Marketing Sherpa Marketing Benchmark Report.

“Are these truly leads? Not really. Anyone who expresses interest in what you sell is an inquiry, not a lead. Experience has taught me that only 5% to 15% of inquiries are ready to speak to Sales. However, as many as 80% of inquiries will be ready to speak with Sales in the future. If you send leads too soon, Sales will discard them, so you must nurture them until they fit your ULD.”

2. Drive revenue from all sources

Inbound, nurture and proactive outbound are all reliable sources. Why not use all the tools in your toolbox? Only with an allbound approach will you be able to effectively meet your revenue goals.

Matt Heinz, president of Heinz Marketing, says in his blog: “Inbound marketing can be both highly effective and highly inefficient. If you’re relying on inbound marketing and leads only today, you will soon reach a point at which you can no longer effectively scale your business.

“Why? Because as wonderful and cost-effective as inbound leads are, you have little control over the qualification of those leads. Yes, you can customize your content, triggers and lead registration assets to focus on a particular, designed customer segment. But the majority of the leads you generate will still likely not be ready for your sales team, be ready to buy, or even be the type of customer you want to sell to.”

3. Make marketing accountable

Marketing needs to be accountable for sourcing revenue and given credit accordingly. Marketing adds more value and performs better by having skin in the game.

James Thomas, Allocadia’s chief marketing officer, blogged on the IBM commerce site: “Never has it been tougher to be a CMO. Not only do marketers need to keep up with the growing marketing technology landscape, but they also need to rapidly respond to changing trends. CMOs are also tasked with growth and demand generation, while finding ways to deliver a cohesive story in a multi-channel environment.

“Given the complex challenges, it’s no wonder only 34% of CMOs are able to quantitatively prove the long-term impact of their marketing spend on their business. The call for ROI is getting louder from the C-suite, too. Nearly 6 in 10 CMOs say they feel increased pressure from their CEO or board of directors to prove the value of their marketing."

4. Document the cost per lead

This needs to be documented along with the cost per sales-accepted lead, per sales-qualified lead, and closed deal. Know what you’re paying (and what you’re getting) and keep close track so you can continuously optimize your lead generation, qualification and nurturing processes.

Karl Schneider of the Pedowitz group weighs in: “The problem for most marketers making this shift is thinking that the primary Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) they should be watching are the sheer volume of leads they produce and the average cost thereof. While those are good metrics to keep an eye on, they are extremely shortsighted because true performance is measured in outcomes (such as revenue) rather than outputs (such as lead counts).

“The reality is: sales doesn’t want lots of leads—they want leads that will buy. They want leads that are ready for a sales conversation and can be moved into AND THROUGH the pipeline. In other words, sales wants more from less—not the other way around!”

5. Keep leads from being ignored

Borrow an idea from our forefathers, and put a Judicial Branch in place, to make sure you’re getting return on marketing investment. The Judicial Branch, which should include the CEO, is there to align the efforts of sales and marketing.

The folks at Wheelhouse Advisors concur: “In spite of the fact that sales and marketing have a vast number of common goals and objectives, the two have always found it tough to work together. And this is really bad news for businesses. The inability of sales and marketing to collaborate and work together towards common goals can seriously hurt growth and performance: it’s been estimated that lost sales productivity and wasted marketing budget costs companies AT LEAST $1 trillion a year.

6. Nurture leads until they’re ready to turn over to sales

Not the right time? Need not realized? Budget not in place? Decision maker not yet named? When marketing nurtures across multiple cycles, they’ll triple marketing return.

Here’s what Jay Gaines of SiriusDecisions has to say about nurturing: “Salespeople disqualify leads all the time, and while a number of these disqualifications are legitimate, many others (e.g. tried calling a few times, got no response and gave up) are not. The question is, what happens next? In many organizations, the answer is nothing, which means that incorrect disqualification will almost never be exposed, causing good leads to fall through the cracks.”

7. Develop a guide

Make it easy for sales with a guide titled, “What is a Lead and How to Follow-up on One.” Even experienced sales people often give up on leads too soon. Put a best-practice process in place and make sure reps continuously follow it—and prevent your given-up-on leads from making their way to your competition.

I have written that effective lead follow-up involves three components: preparation, communication and execution.

Preparation is about spending 15 minutes to understand what the company offers, its market and the competitive situation, and researching the prospect on social media. This small effort, which is often overlooked, can mean the difference between being ignored or welcomed by the prospect.

Communication is about following a strategic plan-of-action in sales follow up, understanding that it takes eight to 12 touches even on the most qualified leads to schedule and complete the first call or face-to-face meeting with a prospect. Careful review, specific communications, persistence (even in the face of a no-show) and the discipline to reheat the lead are required to win.

Once contact has been made, execution comes into play. Recognizing where the prospect is in the buying process is key to driving the sale. If a sales rep is asking the prospect to agree on a generic solution, when the prospect has not yet identified a pain or need, it will be difficult to advance the buying process.

In the end effective sales lead follow up is critical to increasing marketing ROI and driving revenue. This is a yet another truth about sales and marketing that CEOs need to know.

How engaged is your CEO in these 7 truths? What are ways you’ve found to help them focus on sales and marketing issues?

how much are you paying for leads?

Tell us what you think!

Topics: B2B Marketing, Marketing & Sales Alignment, B2B Sales

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