Attention CEO’s and CFO’s; Do you have a “Sales and Marketing Funnel” or Bucket? …the answer may surprise you, take a short quiz and know for sure

 

 

do you have a marketing and sales funnel or a leaking sales bucket?

do you have a marketing and sales funnel or a leaking sales bucket?

 

“Wouldn’t it be great if we could have our sales and marketing run like our plant? We could have key indicators, a proven methodology, and process with predictable results…”I hear business owners and leaders say this to me often once they relax and truly share their thoughts and concerns. Far too often CEO’s and CFO’s think/hope their marketing and sales teams have a defined process that is efficient and effective to drive predictable results. Unfortunately, if you really understand and look at leading indicators what they think is a marketing and sales funnel is actually a sales bucket. In this post I will share how to determine if your team has a marketing and sales funnel or a sales bucket that leaks an occasional sale or two.

 

I was asked by the chairman of the board of a company to have lunch. He heard through his venture capital and private equity network what I do, and he was warned early on my approach is a bit different. I enjoy meeting new people and business problems are drawn to me. I enjoy learning new things, facing new challenges and each meeting like this one always teaches me something. Once we made it through the pleasantries it was not too long for me to hear his concerns;

 

Why can’t sales and marketing be like my manufacturing plant? Predictable, scalable, and provide me sales forecasts I can count on?

 

It drives me nuts to know we are spending so much money on marketing and I do not see an immediate and often long term return on that investment, but I am afraid to stop making it in case it would hurt the performance we are seeing.

 

What we need is a repeatable sales process. We need the sales guys to be more efficient at closing business and bringing in the revenue.

 

Based on our moderate to poor sales results over the last few years, do I have the right salespeople or should I be looking for new ones?

 

I feel like the CEO / President is asking for more money each year for marketing, but I am not seeing a corresponding increase in sales…why?

 

We seem to have high turnover in sales, we lost some good sales people and this has to be expensive and hurting our results.

 

About the time we finished eating he said; “what do you think? Is this something you can help with, can you fix sales problems like this?”

 

I have and often do “fix sales problems.” However more often than not what CEO’s and business owners want to hear on how to fix sales problems is not the way they anticipate. In most cases they think they have a repeatable sales process, but they don’t.

 

They think they have a marketing funnel that is dumping primed and ready leads to their salespeople and their sales people have a proven way to close them quickly. They think they need more sales training. They think they need to better motivate their sales people to perform.  No, no, no and in most cases no again.

 

What I have observed in most cases is leaders, particularly those not from marketing and sales believe they have a marketing and sales funnel, but in reality they have a bucket, with an every so small hole in the bottom that occasionally leaks a sale or two. Left unchecked this marketing and sales bucket becomes a Chinese water torture to your senior leadership team as they try to explain and predict future revenues and ROI with owners and investors. As one thought leader just shared, what they think is a funnel of live and vibrant leads and opportunities is actually pipeline stench. The pipelines may look full and make you feel good in senior management meetings Monday mornings…but are actually full of dead and rotting opportunities polluting your entire marketing and sales process.

 

Do you have a Marketing and Sales Funnel or Bucket?

 

  1. What is your lead to close %? Do you know it?
  2. Do you have defined stages in the marketing and sales pipeline? What are they?
  3. Can you share the # in each phase?
  4. If I met with your latest new salesperson, could they share your repeatable sales process with me?
  5. Does sales and marketing have an understood definition of the terms; opportunity, prospect, lead?
  6. Can you tell me the average time a new person you engage with spends in your process until they buy or die?
  7. Can you share the qualifying questions you use?
  8. Do you have the top three buyer personas  identified and have you mapped out their buying journey?
  9. Have you added new sales tools in the last 6-12 months?
  10. Does your web site speak in the tone of the problems you solve?

 

If the answers I receive to the above have three or more “no’s” you have Marketing and Sales Bucket not a funnel.

 

How about your company?

 

Do you have a “Marketing Funnel”, “Sales Funnel” a “Repeatable Sales process”?….are you sure? (you need to be)

 

What other questions could we ask to determine if you have a funnel of vibrant buyers anxious to buy and solve their problems, or a bunch of rotting dead leads just polluting your management process?

 

In the market of today there is no excuse to not have marketing and sales funnel that is a systematic process driven tool to maximize your team’s effectiveness and do so in the most efficient way.

 

So did this post make you nervous, anxious, and maybe a bit angry? As your team for the answers to the above that I use to diagnose teams I serve, and you will quickly understand your internal truths. Once you do, you are well on your way to driving a process that gets results. In my next post I will share some techniques I have used to turn marketing and sales buckets into funnels.

Entrepreneur Best Practices: #9 Don’t Let the Two Most Important Plates Drop

 

 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afLq5dYFWK4&hl=en&fs=1&rel=0&border=1]

 

As an entrepreneurial spirited leader there is always something to do. There are more potential new accounts to call, people to hire, bankers to meet, and the list goes on and on. It reminds me of the plate spinners I would see when I was a child visiting the circus. They start spinning one plate, then two and before long they have 12 plates spinning on long staffs. Just as one more begins to spin, one of the previous plates need attention so they do not stop spinning and fall to the ground.

 

There are only two plates entrepreneurs can never let fall; your family and your values.

 

All the other plates can fall, and often will, and they bounce. If they break they can be glued back together again, adequately enough so they continue to spin.

 

The founder of Kaboodle put it another way at a recent TIE Arizona event; as an entrepreneur you are juggling a number of balls in the air, but two are made of glass and must never fall; your family relationships and your core values. If those balls fall they do not bounce, they shatter and can never be replaced.

plate

Your Family      

 

At the end of the day, your family is the only real relationship you have that truly matters. We justify the nights and weekends away from home telling ourselves it is for them. The truth, in my case (and maybe yours is) we work like we do for the “rush” the addictive thrill of solving customer problems.

It comes down to making choices. We fail to recognize we have a choice, but we do. I made bad choices over the years. I traveled for example domestically 3-4 nights per week for 15 years. In addition, when I was home on weekends, for two years I completed my Executive MBA. I used to describe myself back then as “focused”. I was focused all right, but on the wrong plates. Missed baseball games, dance recitals and anniversaries almost made my family plate fall. Couple my passion to grow businesses with an international expansion for three years being gone weeks at a time, my family plate almost fell. Today I find myself connecting someplace between Pacing the Cage as I discussed in a previous post and the popular cat’s in a cradle song.

It truly is about “focus”, “intentional focus” to be more precise. We set our priorities each day consciously or unconsciously . When I work with young entrepreneurs, once we have trust built I ask to see their day planner (today it’s often a phone) and their checkbook. These two simple tools very quickly show me an entrepreneur’s focus.

I recommend entrepreneurs consciously put dates and times on your schedule for family. I recommend you take notes, just as you do with key accounts, but at home when your daughter is sharing what is important to her, or when your wife needs her life partner to bounce ideas off of.

I have learned that no matter how much “money” your work can produce, nothing is more valuable than your family, and this plate must never fall.

plate

Values         

Your core values shape your outlook and your actions. Just last Sunday Pastor Jason was discussing how your;” beliefs shape your actions….so what do your actions say about your beliefs”

When I work with new clients one of the first things I need to understand is their values. I do not judge their values I just need to know what they are. Far too often they are not black and white, but land somewhere in the grayness due to compromises made. Values are at the core of you as a leader, and must be at the core of your business. Just as a strong core is essential to strong physical health, strong core values establishes boundaries. Some of my clients struggle with the idea of boundaries, I had one young man who took over the family business put it this way; “it sounds like you are asking me what the rules are…if I wanted rules I would not be working for myself, …I make the rules” and he could not have been farther from the truth.

 

I came to faith in the mid 1990’s in a program called Alpha. In this series of nights watching DVD’s in small groups and discussing our beliefs, the founder of Alpha, Nicky Gumble, tells a story. His son loves to play soccer. One day they arrived at the pitch and there were no officials, so Nicky was asked to fill in so the kids could get started and he agreed. So the ball would go out of bounds, but he would say play on. The players would make a foul and Nicky would say…play on. Before long the match was pandemonium with children being hurt, parents and children frustrated, and no one was having fun. When the referee finally arrived the first thing he did was blow his whistle. He reviewed the rules, established the boundaries, and play began. Nicky goes on to say how much the children actually enjoyed playing the game once they understood the rules and had firm boundaries.

In business we must also establish boundaries. What often occurs is not gross violations of core values, but small, minor compromises…often later justified as…”for the good of the team”. I have never seen those small compromises truly add long term value. I have seen companies short pay vendors, or purposefully pay their bills 45-60 days late thinking they were so clever to use their vendor’s cash to support their growth. However the vendors, if they have boundaries quickly shut down supply until you pay, or they increase your cost of goods to offset the cost of money. The net result always is your customers suffer.

I also see compromises with regards to key team members. A team member does behaviors that are unacceptable based on your company mission and core values…but company leaders look the other way because he or she…”produces”. They produce alright, they may be producing sales, or operational efficiencies or so on, but they also are creating a disruption at the core of what your team stands for. You see, everyone is watching when, let’s call him “Mark” is not living by the rules the team established. The longer Mark is allowed to play outside the boundaries established by your core values the weaker your team becomes internally and in your market. In addition to your team, your market is always watching as well. As I discussed in my post about the “Law of the Locker room” …it truly is a small world” Your market, like a neighborhood talks. I promise you they talk about you. You must insure what they say about you and your team helps grow your business and not make them seek more trusted partners.

Your core values as a leader and as an organization must be defined and they must establish clear boundaries.

 

Failure to do so and your team will make compromises and one day you may have a large company, but not like each other when you get there.

 

You can judge a leader much more by their walk, than by their talk. Their actions do illustrate their beliefs.

 

What do the actions of key leaders and influencers in your organization illustrate about your core values.

(And now the real hard one) What do your actions say about your core values and that of your organization?

 

As an entrepreneurial leader you will often feel like a plate spinner in a circus. You always have something you can be doing. For me I often felt like a “one legged plate spinner” trying do too much, too quick, and I had many sleepless nights over the plates in my mind that were almost ready to fall.

 

There are two plates you must never let fall, for once broken can never be fully repaired; your family and your values.

 

What are your core values and beliefs?

 

Are the right plates still spinning?

 

12 Lessons All Leaders Can Learn About Launching New Products and Services …From the 2009 Health Care Reform

health care mast head

 

 

Watching the current 2009 Health Care Reform Initiative has valuable lessons for all leaders throughout the world if we take time to pay attention. I think it was Einstein who said “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. The current 2009 Health Care Reform Initiative has strong emotional attachments regardless of which side of the debate you reside.

It is often the life lessons with emotional attachments we remember most.

 

The goal of my last series of blog posts was to share business lessons leaders can learn from watching and living the 2009 Health Care Reform Initiative. I tried to focus on the business principles and not take a partisan view. If you have read any of my posts you will not be surprised to learn I am a Christian, American, and Republican….in that order. I am proud to be an American and I admit we can always improve as a nation, however having traveled the world I can say first hand how blessed I feel to live in the United States.

pres obama

As for our President, I follow what our Lord taught us in the Bible and I pray for him. I pray the Lord gives him and all our leaders wisdom, discernment, and the courage to act upon what the Lord instructs him to do.( and not those of this world) I have received a number of emails since launching this blog thread. A number of those felt I was “bashing” our President, and if my word choice made you feel that way I apologize.

 

As a man, I have no problem with President Obama and if asked I would welcome the opportunity to be a part of the solution.

 

As our leader I must follow him, support him. If he loses, I lose…we all lose.

 

What I challenge is the process of this initiative.

 

My intension was to ;

 

“focus on the problem and not the person”

 

There are a number of lessons we can glean from watching life lessons before us.

 

I am sure there are many more lessons if thought leaders wish to add content:

 

 

  • the impact of social media on the 2009 Health Care reform Initiative

  • Lessons in leadership when a launch goes bad

  • The cost(s) of change

  • The psychology of change

  • When tempers flair seek first to understand and find common ground

  • …and I am sure there are many more

 

 

12 Lessons All Leaders Can Learn About Launching New Products and Services …From the 2009 Health Care Reform?

 

#1: Without a Clear Definition of the Problem You Want to Solve, You Will Experience “Scope Creep” and Your Launch Plan Will Fail

 

#2: Without a Clear Definition of the Problem You Want to Solve, you cannot write good requirements for your development team

 

#3: Without a Clear Understanding of the Problems to be Solved, and Requirements, Development will Build Solutions Because They Can and Not Because They Should!

 

#4: Your Previous New Product Launch success (or Failures) Affect Current and Future Launches

 

#5: Without a Clear understanding of the Problems your New Product Solves, Marketing will resort to “Buzz Word Bingo” and “Gobbledygook”

 

#6: Without a Road Map Your “Administration” Will Attempt Too Much, Too Fast and Not Achieve Any of Your Goals

 

#7: Asking…and not listening to your market, is worst than not asking at all…

 

#8; Buyers Become Tone Deaf to Lazy Marketing Messaging

 

#9; Make Sure Your Marketing Has All the “Rights” Covered…Fix the Right Problem

 

#10, #11, #12; Make Sure Your Marketing Has All the “Rights” Covered…right time, right customer, right offer

 

What other lessons have you learned, or are learning as we watch the 2009 Health Care Reform Imitative?

 

Is your organization making some of the same mistakes? Why?

 

Are you about to Launch a New Product or Service and you adjusted your plan based on the above 10 posts? If so which posts and how?

 

How can we unite as Americans and stop Blame Storming?

 

Do you feel I was wrong to use this real life emotionally charged lesson to blog about? Why, Why not?

 

“Dumb and Dumber, FOX and Warner and how they are Planning on Delaying Deliveries to Red Box

dumb and dumber

                                                                                  Lloyd and Harry reach Aspen on Scooter in Dumb and Dumber

 

FOX and Warner Bros delaying new movie releases to Red Box and other kiosk vendors is like watching a new release of Dumb and Dumber.

In the Wall Street Journal article: Warner Bros. aims to lift DVD sales, will delay arrival at rental kiosks. They discuss how they plan to delay new releases to DVD rental kiosks.

The movie studios are concerned about their DVD revenues.

The market is not only speaking, but screaming how they are raving fans of DVD rentals Kiosks like Red Box.

The current big customers like Blockbuster and others are posting over 22% losses in revenues when kiosks like Red Box are showing consistent and impressive gains. Call me crazy… but your market is speaking guys…can you hear me now? Red Box Kiosks are described as; “The hottest thing in movie rentals is as old as the Coke machine — and just as red.”Their CEO Gregg Kaplan said “We are incredibly proud to achieve 200 million rentals and 10,000 locations nationwide.”

The studios have a choice, they can try to “control” the market, the buyers, or they need to intimately understand the market, buyers and needs and not only embrace the new ways consumers wish to consume content but enable it.

Thirteen years of my work experience was serving the movie distribution, rental and mass retail. How Warner and Fox are behaving is no different than how they all were behaving worried that this new thing called “movie rental stores “would erode their box office revenues in the mid 1980”s.

Market losers try to control the market and they protected their current cash cows while ignoring the consumer’s voice. They ignore the bright lights of growth and change trying to tightly hold on to past business models their markets no longer value.

Market leaders spend time getting to know their market and they quickly understand consumers who rent movies also go to movie theaters and some even buy movies and collect them.

When we rent content it is about wanting entertainment in a convenient and cost effective way for me as a consumer. You can try to control us, however when you do we find other ways to solve our needs and often they are much more severe to your bottom line. Besides, how long will it be before one of your competing studios blinks? Didn’t we live this same scenario “back in the day” And what happened…aggressive smaller studios emerged understanding the needs of consumers and and one of you big guys blinked. Some of you held your ground (more stubborn and stupid, driven by your own needs and egos instead of being strategic marketers) and how did that work for you back then? I remember, do you?

I can remember the 28,000 independent video stores and large movie distributors placing pressure on the studios to not ship new video releases directly to this 14 store chain in Texas called Blockbuster. At the time they were buying through distributors like Big State, Commtron, Ingram, and others. Well that little chain of 14 video rental stores quickly became a market leader.

I am a huge fan of Red Box.

They solve problems for me;

· I want to rent a DVD fast, I like the experience

· I want to rent a DVD and do my grocery shopping in one trip, in one location, one stop ( I am already late for dinner)

· I do not want to pay what Blockbuster charges , no late fees …but still a lot more than $1.00

· I only want the movie for one night

· I don’t want to have to join Net flicks or others and pre plan my month of movie viewing

· At a $1.00 rental, I feel like I receive a value , if I like it I go to Wal Mart and buy it

· I do not want to have to “shop” at a movie rental store only to find out they have all the new releases checked out

· I do not want to pay more for a new release than an older movie

· I do not want to buy movies through my cable provider as they are already raping me with what they charge

· The box office theaters are increasing their prices ( again, feels like they are thinking about their own needs and not mine)

So what are you going to do Dumb and Dumber? Are you going to repeat the past and focus on your needs or are you going to understand the market, it’s consumers and our changing needs and not only enable us to enjoy movie entertainment, but who knows you may even find new products and serves that solve our unresolved problems that Red Box fails to solve?

When I wrote my post : Attention leaders: Don’t look now but your lack of market knowledge is showing… I was talking about companies like you that have lost touch with their markets and they guess , assume, and use their gut and intuitions as their way of hitting their goals. They make inside-out versus market -in decisions and their shareholder values decline rapidly.

Your choice…focus on your internal needs and try to control the market… Or gain an intimate knowledge of your market today and it’s consumers like me and build products and service delivery systems that serve me and solve my unresolved problems.

Oh I can hear the movie exec’s now…”easy for you to say, we have billions at stake here.” Well you are right, you do. But you will eventually supply the kiosk companies with new releases at the same time as others. While you figure it out, Red Box will go to a mass retail store on the day of the new release and buy them. While you figure this out you will remove profit from your movie distributors.

So the question is how long do you want to be a “buggy whip” manufacturer saying this horseless carriage is a fad? Or, do you embrace your market, its changes and evolve into a new company that meets our needs today and into the future?

Maybe you develop a “imovies” since my kids seem to download their favorite DVD’s onto Apple laptops? The only hassle is the download from the disc. Not a big deal, but maybe you take the time to understand why they are doing this, the problem it solves for them and solve it brillantly?

We are all watching…

How about your company….

Are you trying to control your market? How’s that working for you?

Are you trying to control your vendors trying to slow down a new service model in your industry?

Are you the buggy whip manufacturer saying this new horseless carriage is a fad and will never last?

Or are you studying your market, your consumers and intimately understanding what and why they do what they do?

All is not lost by the way as some forward thinking buggy whip manufactures found as they learned to make leather seating for these horseless carriages.

Trying to control a market is foolish and expensive. Understand and embrace your market and become a market leader, not a market loser.

The leadership “Quiver” for driving change

arrow and quiver

The days of “one size fits all leadership” are over. Leaders today must understand their team dynamics as well as the specific personality traits, values, and attitudes of their team members. Today’s leaders must also know themselves, their style, strengths as well as weaknesses. (For example I need to work on patience) Each team member has their unique gifts, as well as their way of processing change. Leadership today requires skill to drive lasting change that adds the most value. If you have not had a DISC profile completed for yourself I highly recommend you invest in this inexpensive tool. I like to plot my profile with all team members to help me understand our common or contrary traits. You can read examples of assessments I took years ago, here.

 

In today’s economic climate leaders are identifying roadblocks to serving customers and driving change. Some of your team will loyally follow your direction, some will be slow to adopt changes, and some will fight change. Leaders often misinterpreted these individuals as not following “the leader” when in reality they are not executing “leadership directives”. (There is a big difference)

 

So what are we to do when a member fails to execute strategic and tactical changes we have asked them to make? The first place I turn is the Bible. In Psalms 51:1-6 David models how we are to deal with sin; “if we deal with sin (missing the mark) genuinely, openly and immediately God will lessen the severity of discipline Discipline is designed to drive change, to help us obey. If God sees we genuinely want to change, obey, the need for stern discipline is not required. We should model the same with our team members.

 

We all have a number of correction arrows in our leadership quiver;

 

1. Seek first to understand, seek the true why the team member failed to implement the change

2. Share why you changed direction, give them the time to digest what you have probably had weeks to digest: change management is a process

3. Make them a part of the change, ask for their input

4. Share the value these change initiatives have made for other team members

5. Have a performance improvement discussion (a Discipline discussion)

 

The trouble I see is leaders (new leaders in particular) use the fifth arrow first when they should save discipline as the last arrow released. When you use the discipline arrow it takes the least amount of skill. This is the only arrow that also pains me upon release as it means I failed to find the “why” behind someone is not getting on board with changes. In addition, this arrow is often dipped in the poison of threat: “if you do not change your behavior, future disciplinary action up to and including termination may occur”. This arrow always finds its mark. The trouble is once landed the poison of the threat invades the body of your team member and permanently taints the relationship.

Market leading organizations build a foundation of trust not threats.

When dealing with employees that fail to follow your direction, remember you have a number of arrows to try before you use correction through discipline.

 

What are your thoughts?

Is there a time to fire the 5th arrow first?