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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. 

When You Get Punched in the Face

I’ve had marketing and sales management jobs where success came easy, we made our numbers, marketers basked in glory, and salespeople took the accolades they earned.  

The opposite has also been true.  I’ve been with companies that struggled, fought, clawed and wrestled with the marketplace.  These were times of declining sales, missed forecasts and finger pointing.   In most of these “hard cases,” salespeople and marketers inched back and eventually surged ahead from the lessons they learned.

I was reminded of these wins and losses when I heard Matt Heinz, on one of his Sales Pipe Line Radio programs.  A quote from Mike Tyson, the boxer:

Yes, we all have a plan until we get punched, but what Tyson’s implying is that plans will fail but fierce determination and the will to fight on is what wins the contest.  Boxing fans may or may not agree, but boxing is as much about being able to take a punch and keep on fighting skill as it is about skill. 

Coping with these occurrences is primarily what we’re hired to do. This is a reminder for marketers and salespeople that our careers will not always go as planned.  There will be conflict, plans will fall apart as competitors introduce new products, economies slump, and management decisions fail to deliver.  This is the game of marketing and sales.

As I look back and remember the jobs I’ve had, both as an employee and a consultant, I remember most the difficult times that were turned around; the win that was snatched from defeat.  I remember being punched in the face by the marketplace, the government, or the economy, and finding a way to survive and win.  Those are the days to savor. 

This is what marketing and sales does; it wins in the face of adversity because every market by its nature is a game of adversity.  Few companies have an 80% market share, and those that do often don’t have it for long.

So, my advice  for the coming year to marketers is:  when your company gets punched, find a way to recover; that’s what Marketing does.  Marketing is the engine that creates demand and drives the success of the company. Listen to what the salespeople say and need. Go on sales calls until you know what’s going on in the marketplace.  Read the lost sales reports; call those who didn’t buy from you and ask why.  Skip months-long research projects and go listen to the customers.  If you have less money, use it better on cold, hard lead gen that delivers qualified potential buyers. 

Savor the successes as you fight back; learn from adversity.  If it were easy, more people would be in Marketing.

More from Matt Heinz on Sales Pipeline Radio

Do You Have the Right Sales Funnel for Your Business?

This week's Funnel Radio Featured Episodes

This week we don't have a live broadcast, but we are appreciative of our hosts. We decided to feature some past episodes to cover your day and give you a new episode of INSIDE Inside Sales with Darryl Praill and Rooted in Revenue with Susan Finch. Each posts links to the replay of the featured episode. Great time to catch up and perhaps find a new favorite podcast to subscribe to. Most of our shows are on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, GooglePlay, Blubrry and more!


880x440-tweet-iis-mahoneyNEW EPISODE: INSIDE Inside Sales with host, Darryl Praill  @VanillaSoft @ohpinion8ted

Guest: Carole Mahoney @icarolemahoney @unboundgrowth

Topic: How our perception of Sales impacts results

20180906-tweet-rr-morgan-muratovicREPLAY: Revenue Rebels with host, Rhoan Morgan @demandlab

Guest: Tijana Muratovic

Topic: Does Revenue Ops Affect Alignment? Of course!

Crm-20180711-KosakowskiREPLAY: CRM Radio by GoldMine CRM with host, Paul Petersen @goldminecrm 

Jack Kosakowski, Creation Agency @JackKosakowski

Topic: Connection on-line is the new Relationship Model for Business!

Tweets-instream-images-800x600-spatzerREPLAY: Sales Pipeline Radio with host, Matt Heinz @heinzmarketing

Guest: Eric Spatzer, Citrix @espatzer

Topic: Do You Have the Right Sales Funnel for Your Business?

Tweet-rooted-selling-to-hospitalsNEW EPISODE: Rooted in Revenue with host, Susan Finch @susanfinchweb

Guest: Heather Williams, Vice President Business Development Strategic Dynamics

Topic: Selling to Hospitals & Healthcare Organizations: have an edge over your competitors.

Episode2-twitter-holtREPLAY: WVU Marketing Communications Today with host, Cyndi Greenglass @directchick @wvutoday

Guest: Jennifer Holt, SPINS @jenniferwholt 

Topic: Corporations Die When They Don’t Listen to their Customers

Farmers Creed, "Never Eat the Seed Corn"

IStock-178727964It is that time of the year, at the mid-way point for many companies, when the c-level is in a panic.  The forecast is off and the year already seems shot.   It's at this time that the c-level cuts back on the demand generation budget, fires a few marketing people, hamstrings the salespeople by cutting travel and even fire a few salespeople.  Their defeatist attitude says its time to eat the seed corn.  Seed corn is the good quality ears or kernels of corn that are used as seed for the new crop. 

Why it Matters

“What are you made of? Will you huddle in a corner eating your seed corn because of your poor performance and fears or will you plant?  Will you grow by adding revenue producers or die back and shrivel?  The choice is yours.”

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Welcome swag package for new team members.

6a0147e05adc32970b022ad352d12d200c-320wiI was reminded of  a business that sends out random thank you cards to vendors - all signed by everyone in the office and a personalized note on how the vendor makes a difference in the company. No special occasion, sent out twice a year to each vendor.  Guess how often that vendor will remember that company to recommend them to people looking at solutions that same company can provide?

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Funnel Radio Line-up Oct 26, 2017

 Full schedule today. David Lewis kicks us off at 9:30 am Pacific with his guest, Daniel Day.

  • How ABM fosters tighter alignment between Sales and Marketing
  • The process for establishing targets for sales teams
  • Why ABM can be easier for driving growth than traditional demand generation

Some of these topics covered on the other shows include: It’s Budget Time and this year may be different for many marketers as expectations of “marketing revenue management” have increased. The 5 Step Model for Operationalizing an SPB&M. Also, Why is marketing automation important to any (IT) organization? Jim has a candid conversation with Lars Helgeson CEO of GreenRope. He discusses what he learned from rejection, over-coming resistance, and why he needed to build partnership with employees as well as the external partnerships so important in building a business. Matt's guest is Maureen Ezekwugo getting you on track to take your sales career to the next level. Points include: Four traits or skills needed to make it in sales management AND How to position yourself for the next opportunity to advance your sales career.


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How to Erase Wrinkles Caused by Salespeople

This simple solution also solves gas, bloat, & high blood pressure while in a salesperson’s presence.

IStock-147272160It’s a proven fact that salespeople can cause premature aging in marketing people.  Wrinkles are just the most visible indication that salespeople are stressing out the marketing department.

Doctors tell me that another symptom of premature aging in marketing people is increased blood pressure (usually within 25 feet of anyone from Sales, including sales management).   Other health issues may be gas and bloating; severe snoring and lack of sleep; heart palpitations and migraine headaches between the eyes.  Stomach ailments are also reported when salespeople fail to make quota and complain to Marketing.

The treatment for these common symptoms is to give every salesperson a qualified sales lead each morning, with or without food.  Avoid giving salespeople qualified leads if they are likely to consume alcohol within four hours.   Alcohol is known to put them to sleep and they will easily forget they received a qualified lead from you.  

Why it's Important

"If all salespeople are given at least one qualified lead a day, within 30 days marketing managements blood pressure will begin to return to normal when they are in the presence of anyone from Sales.   Within 45 days gas and bloat should subside to once or twice a week.   Snoring diminishes and lack of sleep is resolved within 60 days.  Heart palpitations and migraines might take as long as 90 days to subside."

Jim Obermayer

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