- Andrew Ballenthin, Founder of the Community Marketing Blog
- Tibor Shanto, President of Renbor Sales Solutions Inc
Are sales people to blame for failed campaigns in a B2B environment? Or is it marketing's fault campaigns don't deliver?
One of the unfortunate realities of today’s market is that many campaigns do not yield the results that hoped for or promised. This usually leads to finger pointing between sales and marketing, and the battle is usually won by the finger with the greater amount of data, no matter how flimsy or inaccurate. Overlooking the obvious, which is that sales and marketing should be working together to execute a proper customer acquiring and care strategy, with the aid of a robust application, the question stands, is sales to blame for the failure of campaigns?
Why Sales Often Gets Blamed
I am not hear to defend sales, but to highlight factors that contribute to the fail rate which are usually laid at the feet of sales, that are at time beyond the control of sales. At time it is easiest to blame sales because they are usually the most visible group, and can be said the most vocal group. But that is to be expected when you are the tip of the spear in a fierce battle for revenue in a competitive market.
Poor Quality Lead Generation With Low Conversions - Sale people like others do respond to specifics based on experience, and at times rightly or wrongly hesitate to go back to where they have been burned in the past; specifically badly qualified leads. With out a well designed qualification process the risk is that any response to a campaign is passed on to sales, they get rejected, and are reluctant to try the next time around. This may not be right, but it is reality.
You can do two simple things to resolve this, design an agreed on qualification matrix that helps ensure that only those responses to campaigns that meet a clear threshold are passed to sales. The ones that are passed should have a ranking allowing the rep to know, again based on agreed on guidelines how immediate or “hot” the opportunity is. The second is to have a clearly defined lead nurturing program for those responses that are not passed to sales immediately. Sales understands the process of nurturing and then is ready to act on those leads that graduate through the process.
Garbage In Garbage Out - Another reason sales is not always to blame is that the focus of the campaign is disconnected from what they are hearing from their customers and prospects. Marketing is getting input from third part sources or research that may not be vetted with sales, and as such the basis for a disconnect. I will be the first to admit that sales can do a much better job of providing feedback from the market so when campaigns are designed they are on target. This is usually easily facilitated through a proper CRM implementation, but more importantly through strategy and process, and yes, adoption by all.
Bad Timing For New Campaign Launching - A third factor is timing, I have seen all too many times when product development and marketing are steering the process based on their own timelines, based on the “need to introduce something new”, all with the assumption that sales will be ready and able to run with it. But with greater demands on individual reps, a lengthening sales cycle, and a consistently tougher environment, sales needs and deserves better lead time.
All this is not to say that sales is absent from blame, as with every group, there is room for improvement. But is not the fault line. Greater synchronization across the entire customer experience process, from product design, to marketing to sales and the post sales experience for the customer needs to be better integrated and better executed. These have always been the drivers for a better customer relationship model and process, and should be the drivers for implementing and measuring the success of a CRM application.
Why Marketing Gets Blamed For Poor Revenue Generation
Lack of Connecting With Reality - Part of the role of marketing is to watch market trends, new client behaviours, competitors and a variety of external factors. Sometimes promotions are driven by more intuitive urges from the business owner or management team regardless of external data. The expression of “stuff roles down hill” couldn’t be more relevant when marketing has to pursue the next big revenue generator for the business as it follows top down direction. There’s a mix of evidence these practices work, BUT more importantly, if the field sales people have not been brought along in the process the internal energy and campaign spending can be washed away literally in moments as sales people retort, “what were they thinking?” The new idea may or may not have been a good idea but without the sale team engaged in a new revenue generating campaign the result is often silent resistance to support company leadership and in the end everyone has egg on their face.
Poor Sales Conversion Process – A number of years ago I was urgently flown out to Texas 4 days before a half million dollars in TV ad spend was about to go national; the crisis, ‘what the heck was the call centre supposed to do when the calls came flooding in from the TV commercials?’ The marketing management team had done their job and championed a stellar campaign, but they had left the best to last: sales lead conversion. I’ve seen this repeated in 4 countries I've worked in. Marketing holds all the campaign cards and then on the day when the focus should be on closing deal or qualifying leads the sales staff are left with almost no information, training, or context on what to do when the leads do come in. The answer is in the quality of the marketing team and having a member that thinks laterally across departments. This is a make or break point on how to supercharge marketing campaigns or watch them die a horrible muddled death due to lack of inter-department collaboration.
Both Sides Need To Fail And Win Together – What worked 3 years ago, last year or three months ago may have passed it’s moment in glory. Too often marketers hang on to the past and run copy cat campaigns that “should get the results”. One of the richest resources an organization has is its sales team. By regularly integrating sales team ideas into product lines and campaigns it dissolves the feud on who’s right as sales people accept responsibility that their ideas can tank just as easily as marketers campaigns. A priceless dialogue gets built over time as both shoulder the responsibility that neither can pull it off on their own or get it right every time. The end result is both sides get closer to the customer and fewer opportunities slip through the cracks as sales people are no longer paid just lip service and held responsible for their ideas working or not.
Share Your Thoughts - Tell us what your company does to break down the divide between sales and marketing or where you think past companies you worked with went wrong.