The Power of Planning
We’ve learned from experience that all too often, business planning takes place on the run – or not at all. People are busy and don’t take the time to sit down and formally talk strategy; but without a solid game plan, opportunities are missed and holes start to form in the pipeline.
That’s why before the start of the new year, we conducted business and marketing strategy planning sessions with our clients’ sales and marketing teams. We wanted to give them the chance to collaborate and lay down specific goals, but we also hoped to set a precedent for them to conduct their own planning meetings in the future.
Here are some common areas of improvement that emerged from the sessions:
1. Improved alignment between marketing and sales will help the team better qualify leads and develop more effective sales follow-up.
Sales Team, meet Marketing Team. Marketing Team, meet Sales Team. Our sessions revealed that sales and marketing frequently miss opportunities to help each other be more effective. Better communication and coordination could improve both groups’ success and performance.
How do you bridge the communication gap? We recommend establishing regular touch points between sales and marketing. It is important that each knows what worked, what didn’t work, tradeshow successes, etc. For most of our customers, that means a joint meeting about once a quarter. Most companies also leverage their intranets, sales portals, and social media tools for more frequent sales and marketing collaboration.
Here are two talking points to kick-start collaboration between marketing and sales:
A. List key company events in 2013: Focusing on the upcoming 3 months, identify events as opportunities in the sales cycle. What are your specific goals? How can marketing improve? Who are your expected customers and prospects?
Use our Marketing Roadmap Planner to track key events such as trade shows and product launches, as well as pre- and post-event marketing initiatives.
B. Know your customers: Identify probable demographic information such as age, income, and job type. Then try to get in their heads: What are their pain points? What problems can you solve for them? What are their values and goals? Where do they go for information (websites, social media, word-of-mouth)? What might they find objectionable about your product or service?
By doing this, says MarketingProfs, “you'll achieve greater success in your nurturing programs, creating a no-lead-left-behind mindset that ensures both Marketing and Sales play a role in the nurturing process.”
Effective internal communication is not only important for day-to-day sales and marketing success, but it also makes big events and initiatives such as a product launch run a lot more smoothly.
2. Greater ability to measure marketing and sales effectiveness will help companies set priorities, focus on what works and stop what doesn’t.
Anyone can make statements about how they feel a certain marketing program is going or what they believe will work, but nothing says “you’re failing” “you’re doing great!” like cold, hard facts.
Adding marketing metrics to your regular monthly business performance review will give you a clearer picture of whether or not you’re achieving your goals. If you haven’t defined what to review, we suggest, at a minimum:
- Website metrics: All websites should use Google Analytics or an open-source tool such as Piwik or AWStats. Numbers to pay attention to include daily visits, unique visitors, types of traffic (organic, referral, direct, or from email campaigns or social media), and most-visited pages.
- Email marketing metrics: If you don’t do any email marketing, consider sending quarterly email newsletters. Review open rates, click through rates, and lead conversion.
- PR metrics: Media exposure, unique media outlets, website traffic lift
- Print and online advertising: Conversion rates, circulation (print), page views (online)
- Tradeshow: Number of qualified leads
- Social Media: Keep an eye on both where people are interacting with your content (Facebook vs. Twitter vs. Google+), and how they are interacting (are people liking, commenting, or sharing?) Facebook Page Insights offers basic analytics of business page activity, and sites such as UnFollowers.me and fllwrs notifies you whenever someone follows or un-follows you on Twitter. Platforms such as HootSuite and TweetDeck provide social media analytics as well as social content management capabilities.
Companies that rely on the web for lead generation should be especially concerned with metrics. Platforms such as Hubspot provide content management and advanced analytics for those ready to delve deeper into the numbers game. Interested in learning more about Hubspot? Contact John.
3. Efforts to generate more and better qualified leads will expand market share in existing markets and grow the business in new markets.
These opportunities go hand in hand: By boosting the rigor of your sales and marketing process, you will drive improvements in lead flow, lead qualification, and lead-to-customer conversion.
Many of our clients, while relatively small businesses, sell globally. You know who your customers are, and with the proper tools and planning you can find them anywhere. Just remember not to ignore the planning part in pursuit of the payoff. By setting aside time to strategize with your team and to target, measure, and optimize, you will greatly improve your ability to achieve your best ROI.