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