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What You Sell Today Started with Marketing Six Months Ago

This is Part 2 of last week’s post:  January: the Most Important Month of the Year

When sales are flagging and excuses are flying from salespeople failing to make quota, few people understand that the reason IStock-533903997for most quota failures is what Marketing didn’t do three to six months ago.  Today’s sold deal started from Marketing’s ability to find a qualified prospect three to six months ago.  This isn’t my fact, it’s the fact.

Most B2B companies have a 3-to-6-month sales cycle, some are 12 to 18 months.  If Marketing isn’t spending forward with an eye to the future when the forecast comes due, it isn’t doing its job.  That’s why when Sales isn’t making quota in a quarter, most of the leads Marketing creates will have little impact on the failing quarter (but will have an impact on the following quarters). 

Why it Matters

"Today’s sold deal started from Marketing’s ability to find a qualified prospect three to six months ago.  This isn’t my fact, it’s the fact."

That’s why rapid emergency lead generation efforts made in a given month, trying to save the month, fail (although it offers a good excuse for Marketing when they say, “Well, we did everything we could.”).     Marketing’s belated efforts may make up for some of the forecasted failure, but it’s often too little too late for the applicable month or quarter.  The saving grace is that it may bump up sales in the following quarters.

Have I said what you think I said?  Yep!

Yes, Marketing must work six months ahead for Sales to do its job.  The failure of most marketing departments is that they’re counting the wrong thing.  Counting lead generation for this month isn’t a consolation for salespeople’s failing in this month, because Sales didn’t have enough leads to start working on 3-6 months ago.

Why it Matters:

“Marketing must work six months ahead for Sales to do its job.  The failure of most marketing departments is that they’re counting the wrong thing.  Counting lead generation for this month isn’t a consolation for salespeople’s failing in this month, because Sales didn’t have enough leads to start working on 3-6 months ago.”

What this means is Marketing must work ahead, and its lead generation budget is sacrosanct, sacred, and untouchable if management wants salespeople to make quota.  If Marketing isn’t doing its job to provide qualified leads, Marketing’s heads are on the block as much as those of salespeople who don’t make quota.  It’s true that:

  1. Marketing must forecast the number of qualified leads salespeople need to make quota.
  2. The marketing-qualified leads must arrive three to six months prior to the expected lead closure period.
  3. In addition, the qualified lead count must increase ahead of the forecasted increase in sales for the year. Both departments are on an upward trajectory; Marketing is just ahead of Sales by 3-6 months.
  4. If the marketing budget is cut, and a sales lead brownout occurs, expect a sales downturn within 3 to 6 months.
  5. Lead generation in the last two quarters of a year support the coming year for a good Q1 as well as the final Q4 of the current year. Hint to CFO and President: cutting the marketing budget in the final months of a year cuts your own throat for Q1 of the new year. 

The majority of sales lead closure is consistently driven by the products sales cycle.   You can speed up lead generation somewhat to find buyers who are late in their buying cycle, but it usually isn’t enough to save a quarter, much less the year. 

Like it or not these are the facts, not my facts or opinion. 

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