Suppose you had to invest your life savings in one of two companies. Both companies are in the same business and sell to the same prospect.
The first company’s philosophy is; ‘we’ll make or product so good that it will sell itself’. They focus intensely on engineering and product development but they don’t spend enough time developing their sales and marketing efforts. Their product is clearly the best and always wins industry awards. But, they struggle on the sales and marketing front.
The second company’s philosophy is; ‘people buy people’. Their primary focus is on sales, marketing and developing strong customer relationships. Their product does the job but it’s not winning any awards like the first company’s product.
Without any more information than what I’ve given you, which company would you invest in?
I know if it’s my money, it’s going to the company who focuses on sales and marketing.
As much as we’d like to think the companies with the best products always wins, it’s not often the case. Nine times out of ten, its sales and marketing that put the industry leaders ahead of their competition, NOT their products.
I’m not trying to say that a good product isn’t important. But, what I’m saying is that having the “best” product is no guarantee of success.
There are plenty of examples of failed companies who’ve had great products they couldn’t sell. And, many of these companies wound up getting acquired by their more sales savvy competitors. So, in the end, the companies with the best sales and marketing also wound up with the best products.
So, the next time you think improving your product is the key to outselling your competition, think twice. Products don’t “sell themselves”, people do. Focus on sales and marketing and you just might be able to buy your competitors to get a better product.
One of the best sales professionals I’ve met uses a day planner to manage her entire selling process. Her name is Debbie, and although her company has invested heavily in a state-of-the-art sales activity tracking system, she refuses to use it. Debbie insists she doesn’t want anyone monitoring her sales activity and that updating forecasting data slows her down and gets in the way of selling. So, she sticks to doing things her way.
As you can imagine, Debbie’s refusal to use the company’s system is a challenge for her manager. Because, not only does Debbie refuse to follow their process, she’s also a sales superstar and the company’s top rep.
Her superstar status comes from the fact that she doesn’t just make her quota; she consistently exceeds it by 150-300%. She personally accounts for 25-30% of the company’s revenue and has for years.
Debbie’s company has mandated that everyone follow their sales tracking process to help sales forecasting. But, this applies to everyone but Debbie. She can keep doing things her way.
It sounds like Debbie has a spineless manager, right? It might sound that way but, that’s defiantly not the case. If you asked, Debbie’s manager would say:
‘When a sales rep becomes a superstar, I work for them and they call the shots. Until then, they work for me and I’m going to monitor everything they do.’
If every sales professional was a superstar, we might not need systems for monitoring sales activity. We’d all be exceeding our sales quotas, all of the time and we’d all be happy. Of course, this isn’t usually the case and most sales teams aren’t made up of all superstars.
I don’t know of any technology solution that will turn a poor sales rep around. However, there are systems that can accurately monitor sales activity and with the information they provide, managers might just have a shot at a sales team of all “superstars.”
For most of us, marketing’s primary objective is to generate revenue. I doubt there are many who’d argue this point. However, we shouldn’t forget that revenue generation isn’t the only way marketing can benefit an organization.
For most organizations, REAL (yes… another acronym) marketing results can be realized in one or more of four areas. They are:
- Revenue generation
- Expense Reduction
- Asset building
- Liability minimization
Revenue generation is the most obvious way marketing can benefit an organization but some marketing can reduce expenses as well. For example, one of my clients used to fly their sales reps all over the United States to do product demos. With the marketing budget, we duplicated the rep’s demos as live Web conferences for a lead generation campaign. The Web demos cost almost 65% less then the in-person demos and were very well received by prospects. This strategy was quickly adopted by the sales team and my client realized a tremendous opportunity to reduce travel expenses.
An organizations number one asset is its customer and prospect database and their ability to turn that data into revenue. Yes, even more valuable then products, buildings and any other tangible a company might own. The simple reason is that a clean database and a reliable marketing (and sales) methodology will insure future sales. Almost nothing else will.
Generally when an organization thinks of liabilities the focus is on financial obligations. Rightly so but, liabilities are really anything that holds a company back. From that prospective, consider an organization without an effective marketing program going head-to-head with a marketing savvy competitor. Get the picture?
So, when assessing the value of your marketing or determining a marketing return on investment, consider how much revenue your marketing is generating and the other REAL results you’re creating.
Truth be told, I’m not really a marketer; not in the traditional sense anyhow. Traditionally (or stereotypically) marketers are considered to be left-brain, artistic types who are full of creative ideas. That’s not me.
Sure, I have my creative moments, everyone does, but for the most part my strengths are more analytical than artistic. In fact, I might make a better accountant than marketer. Or would I?
Even though I’m often (very often) creatively challenged, I’ve been able to hold my own in the world of marketing by learning to compensate for my lack of creativity. What I’ve learned is that following a few simple rules can take even the least creative marketer (marketer want-to-be to some) a long, long way. And those rules are:
To say I’m reluctant to invest in marketing programs that can’t be measured is an understatement. I realize some marketing can’t be measured but most organizations can’t afford that type of marketing anyway.
You’ll never get as much out of your marketing budget as you could. If your vision (as it should be) is to create a fully optimized marketing program that consistently generates an increasing return on your marketing investments, you’ll always have room for improvement. So, never ever settle for the results you’re getting today.
Even though you’ll likely never develop a 100% optimized marketing program you will (or should) be able to get most of your marketing on “auto-pilot” to some degree. If you don’t, the time it takes you or your team to execute your “normal” marketing initiates will prevent you from taking your marketing to the next level.
Tangible results are all that count
At the end of the day, upper management is concerned with the bottom line. Sure, they’ll get all excited about those ultra “cool” or “entertaining” programs when you first present it to them, but the minute that program bombs, you’re on your own. So, you’d better keep the focus where it should be. I think you get the picture.
I fairly certain my rules won’t get your creative juices flowing. But, they can work wonders if your goal is to get some revenue flowing.