Tag Archives: Marketing Plan Execution

Do You Have a Disconnect Between Sales and Marketing?

Road closed sign

I was talking with a business owner the other day at a networking event and when the subject came up about the importance of having a marketing plan to follow, he said, “well isn’t marketing just sales?”

I don’t mean to poke fun at this individual because I strongly believe he is not alone.  I can’t count how many calls I have received that have asked for a marketing person when in reality, they were looking for a sales person.  This distinction between marketing and sales is important to make, particularly in Business-to-Business (B2B) sales, where the buying cycle can be complex and take much longer, particularly on bigger ticket products and services.

Marketing’s objective is multi-faceted: to raise awareness of the company, product or service; to educate the public on the product’s use or value; and to generate qualified leads.  Once the lead information has been captured, regardless of how that took place, it is then handed to sales to negotiate and close the deal, resulting in the transfer of money.  But is this the way it really works?

As we all know, this overly simplified scenario above is not exactly reality, because it doesn’t take into account the quality of the lead.  As the buying cycle of many products and services lengthens, a prospective buyer at a moment in time can be at any number of stages in their process of making a purchase.  Marketing may have captured their lead information, but do they really know at what stage of the buying process the lead is?

Now we move to what I call the disconnect in this process.  So many times, when it is determined by sales that the lead is not ready to purchase now, it is simply discarded as a poor quality lead.  Depending on how the lead information was collected, if the prospect made the effort to provide information, then it could probably be considered a valid lead and therefore should not be discarded.  What should take place in this process is a method for sales, after having discovered the lead is not ready to purchase now, to be able to return the lead to marketing for what we call “nurturing.”

Nurturing a lead through their buying cycle involves a unique set of communications messages.  Hopefully sales was able to determine at what stage the prospect was at: awareness, interest, intent, consideration or comparison.  Based upon this information, a schedule of specific messages can be established to stay in front of the lead and remain in the forefront of their mind, helping them through their buying decision process.  Once marketing can determine that the lead is ready to buy, it can then be shifted back to sales to close, and the circle is completed.

In order for this process to not become too onerous, it is imperative to have in place the proper technology to automate this function to help maintain consistency and to improve tracking and measurement.

I thought the following chart from MarketingSherpa was interesting in how it relates to this topic of lead quality and the challenges all marketers face.

New Chart: Today’s Most Significant Challenges for B2B Marketers to Overcome

Marketing Challenges chart

I would love to know your thoughts on this.

Successful Marketing Plan Execution

Hitting the target

It was one of those perfect October Saturdays.  The air had that fall crispness that’s so refreshing after a hot summer and the sky was that brilliant turquoise blue that only comes this time of the year.  You were ready for a great football game, after all your team had an incredibly talented roster of players, were coached by one of the best, had the most sophisticated set of plays and the morale was at its highest.  You just couldn’t lose…..but you did.  What happened?

What we have here is a failure to execute!

A well researched, documented and detailed strategic marketing plan is nothing but great intentions unless it is executed flawlessly.  Absolute attention to detail is the key and if executed properly, the plan will deliver on the increased sales that were the initial objective.

Here are some important things to remember:

  1. Make sure that you have the right resources in place and that they are committed to the plan. If internal departments were involved in creating the plan and had input, chances are very good that you will have their buy-in.  There’s nothing worse than generating great leads from a direct marketing action only to have the sales department not follow through.  Not only will the leads become stale, but the expectations of the prospects will not be met, generating negative impressions.  It’s also imperative to have the right external resources.  The selection of the right mix of vendors to perform the tactical actions is critical as their performance directly relates to your success, so it’s important not to fly through this step.
  2. Be sure to build in proper lead times. Things don’t happen as quickly as you might expect.  Sometimes a new website can take as long as sixty days to complete.  A good rule of thumb is to be working three to six months in advance and if your campaign is particularly complex, involving both offline and online efforts, you may need even more time.  There is a potential danger: allowing too much time, where other priorities start jumping in the way.  It’s a bit of a balancing act.
  3. Determine up front what every department, vendor etc. is going to need in order to properly execute their piece. If the sales department needs to upgrade their Customer Relationship Management system in order to follow through on leads, make sure that takes place before you start spending money on generating those leads.  Also, if one of the goals of your plan is to increase sales by 15%, you’ve got to have the capacity to produce or you’ll end up with unhappy customers.
  4. Hold people accountable for their commitments. A solid project management tool can be instrumental in documenting and communicating critical dates and benchmarks as well as formalizing expectations.  Who is supposed to be doing what and by when will keep the execution of your marketing plan from unraveling or underperforming.

Ongoing monitoring and follow-up is going to be a necessary aspect throughout the life of your marketing plan and most important, stay committed to the plan.  People and vendors will bring ideas or great media buy deals to you, which must be weighed against the plan to determine if they meet your plan’s objectives.

Lastly, if all of this coordination is outside of your ability or time constraints to manage, consider bringing expertise in to help, something we are very good at.