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Job Description: Marketing Operations Manager

Part 3: Want to know why sales are down? The Last of the Fifty-Six Reasons for Sales Leakage!

This is the last of the sales leakage issues, at least in this grouping.  There are more, but this is enough to use as a check list.  

33. Do you know the customers buying process? How does your customer buy? What are their steps? How many "touches" do they require to be comfortable enough to sign the PO? Do your processes match their steps? Are you in sync or out of sync with their processes to buy your product?

34. Do you have defined steps to the sale for your products? How many touches and steps does it take to make the sale? Are your steps different from the customers buying process? You have to know the customer steps in order to control the sales process (steps).

35. Open sales territories? Open territories can silently kill sales force productivity. If you have 50 salespeople (600 months of sales time) and you turn over 10 territories a year and lose an average of six months per territory you have lost 60 months of selling time. Plug that hole with creative hiring, maybe a recruiter to reduce risk and time, and add thirty months back into the sales productivity column and watch sales increase.

36. Is there someone in charge of sales other than the company president? You have to grow up and put a professional sales manager in charge of the salespeople. Salespeople need care and attention. Inside salespeople need more care and attention than outside salespeople. Both groups need a daily dose of coaching. If you have a part-time sales manager you'll get part time results. No one would expect Phil Jackson, the famous basketball coach, to get the results he has obtained by doing his job part-time.

Why it Matters

Sales Leakage stalks every company.  It is usually the small things that drain will-power and profits of failing companies. 

37. Comfort level? Sooner or later salespeople will reach a comfort level. Make them uncomfortable. Set stretch sales quotas, rescue the territory size, make the comfortable sleepy salespeople uncomfortable. I didn't say kill their momentum, just make them stretch.

38. Weed the garden or accept mediocrity.  Change is difficult. It is time-consuming to replace salespeople. Are you ready for the round of interviews, training and coaching and traveling to get the best? Are you too lazy to hire the best and the brightest? Are you weeding the garden? Are you accepting bad breath thinking it is better than no breath?

39. Did you introduce new products? Have you introduced new products at mid-year and added to their quota without taking any products away? It will take them time to figure out if they want to sell the new product, and then if they do, sales will begin to decline on other products in the line. Very few salespeople can substantially increase sales to new products and retain the sales quantities sold for their other products. In the meantime while they are trying to figure it all out, sales slump.

40. Are the new products working? Did you introduce a product that didn't work (momentum killer)? Nothing like having salespeople spend valuable time selling something that doesn't work and then they have to spent time servicing a client, answering questions, taking a product back, etc. It all steals from the available sales time.

41. Can the products be delivered? Did you introduce a product that can't be delivered? Salespeople love selling new products, even if they know it can't be shipped. Vaporware products steal valuable sales time. If it can't be shipped and invoiced, don't introduce a product before its time. Already done it? Back down quickly.

42. How are competitors doing? Find out how your competitors are doing. If they show increasing sales and profits and you're hurting you have a problem. If their sales are also hurting you know you have an opportunity. What a great time to gain market share when your competitors are depressed and not selling well. Turn on the marketing spigot and spend money to find buyers to gain market share. Leave those poor depressed fools in the dust. 

43. Lead flow being blocked? Some companies have put in place so many inside departments to take in leads, qualify leads, nurture leads and filter which leads go to which channel that no leads are going to anyone that can sell. Check the backlog of inquiries at each step of the qualification process. Break the logjam of do-gooders all trying to justify their jobs and get those leads to the field in the hands of someone who can sell.

44. Is lead flow consistent? Does a salesperson get three leads in one month and forty the next month? Inconsistent inquiry flow leads to boom and bust reactions. Many serious buyers may get flushed because they had the ill fortune to inquire in a month that delivered too many prospects to their local sales representative. What is your closing ratio for a particular product? How many leads do you need to make this number? Simple isn't it?

45. Are lead-generation programs properly targeted? It doesn't do any good to give a sales force a large number of unqualified sales inquiries. If your minimum client size is $50,000 and you give them names of people who can only spend $20,000, the salespeople are chasing the wrong prospect group. Marketing has to change the target.

46. Are products expected to sell themselves? Does senior management actually think that its products are so good that they sell themselves without marketing? Sooner, rather than later, this philosophy will fail and you will have competitors that will succeed by out-marketing and out-selling you.

47. Is your marketing program finding all the available buyers? If there are 2,000 buyers in your marketplace every year for your types of products and you are only creating sales leads from 600 of them, what has happened to the other 1,400? Are you expecting your salespeople to know everyone? Advertise and promote to the total available marketplace. Try to find at least as many inquiries as there are buyers in any given year.

48. Is marketing depending on one medium to find the buyers? Do you only go to shows? Or do you only use the Web? Do you only put out media releases? Do you only run three advertisements a year out of twelve months? It isn't likely or even believable that one medium will reach the total available buyers in a marketplace. If you aren't in front of the marketplace at the time people have a need, who will make the sale? Probably not you because no one will know about you.

49. Are you going to enough trade shows? Buyers go to trade shows to make decisions. People who recommend go to trade shows. Trade show leads take fewer steps to close than other types of inquiries.

50. Are you devaluing your products by cutting prices? Maybe you should increase price? Cutting prices to increase sales usually just slashes into your margins and moves inventory, but doesn't increase profits. Approach pricing as a marketing tactic.

51. Do prospects have a difficult time finding you? Is your company the industry's best-kept secret? Are you listed in the directories; have visibility through media releases, shows, advertising, etc.?

52. Do you have a sales lead management system in place to track follow-up of leads and marketing productivity? How do you address the needs of your future customers? Do you track the follow-up of the inquiry by the salespeople? Are marketing campaigns judged on their successes based on sales produced?

53. Is marketing spending the investor's money on the most profitable marketing programs? Can marketing measure the ROI for every lead-generating dollar? Are you getting a multiple that is acceptable? You need sales cooperation to find out the resolution of every sales inquiry. To do that you need the best inquiry management program money can buy.

54. Is there a CRM system in place? Is anyone using it? Has it been customized for your company, products and life cycle? Does the sales manager use it or only expect everyone else to use it?

55. Do you use a spreadsheet to track your pipeline? Please not today. Spreadsheets are cumbersome, difficult for salespeople to use and manage. Don’t do it. Get a CRM System.

56. Marketing Automation? Do you have a marketing automation system in place to track and nurture leads? As of 2014 only 20% of the B2B companies have a system. Companies with a marketing automation system report a 200%-300% greater closing rate than those who don’t.

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