Today, marketing and sales people have many tactics and applications at their fingertips and each week new technologies are emerging that can open doors for more sales opportunities. Still, over 72% of business leaders surveyed said, “All I need is more lead generation and my company will make more money.”
Blending Business Operations and Business Development.
Smart leaders balance business operations with their business development system so their people are vested to successful customer interactions. Either, poor products and services (operations) or bad customer service and lousy sales follow up’s (business development) can ruin a company. Businesses that combine these 3 solid marketing tactics together and establish their foundation for day-to-day operations around these tactics, can create more word of mouth, grow faster and realize higher profit margins. Real branding is possible.
Ever lived through or heard this statement from other business leaders, “I tried this marketing idea… [insert marketing idea here]… and it didn’t pay back what I invested over a period of months. What a bad experience.” Knowing definitions of business terms like ROI and ROSI can actually be dangerous to business leaders. Applying these financial tools to the complicated world of lead generation, sales force effectiveness and good old-fashioned “closing more business,” is not a black and white. Fact is, many leaders try 1 or all of the 3 tactics but fail to put them in a workflow together continually touches the target audience. Many things in a business have to be orchestrated together to close a sale with a buyer.
Solid Tactic #1: email campaigns & direct mail (Mail)
Mail used consistently by 28% and email by 49% of the 400 CEO’s and President’s Companies
Although often badmouthed as low probability, email and direct mail can be extremely effective if properly implemented and measured. Most negative results come from people who did not know how to implement and measure email and direct mail or who hired someone thinking it could be simply outsourced.
Rather the postman or cyberspace deliver the message, email and direct mail offer tremendous potential to touch the marketplace and influence decisions timely and cost effectively. The obstacles to mail success involves 2 issues; 1. developing the protocols necessary to sustain the mail efforts over time and 2. coordinating the messaging with the other marketing and sales efforts going on.
To begin to try and make the case for email and direct mail, look how they are necessary and essential to these steps; follow up, collateral material, website and web presence, sales follow-up and not to mention overall branding and thought leadership needed to build a company’s market share. The idea is to provide the audience value so they don’t mind receiving your messages regardless if they read a particular mail piece or not. The amount of direct mail can be more moderate since cost is more than email but sometimes one is more appropriate than the other. Same for regulating the amount of email a company sends so the audience is not turned off or tuned out. With a consistent process, eventually, timing will be in the senders favor and some buyers in the target audience will have needs around the offerings. With advancements in automated marketing and “drip campaign” technology; email and mail are more important than ever before. The same can be said for the next 2 tactics to be discussed.
Solid Tactic #2: direct phone calls (cold calling)
Used consistently by 66% of the 400 CEO’s and President’s Companies
It’s widely believed decision makers don’t have as much time to give to important offerings from vendors. It is no secret that more sales go to sales people who meet more buyers. Direct calls get meetings with buyers – especially if direct calls made are supported by repeating branding and thought leadership messaging from email or direct mail; I.E. newsletters are a great case in point. It’s up to business developers to be there (timely) when buyers are ready and consistent email messaging is ideal for this need.
Using calls to effectively follow up with buyers closes more business. The simple phone call to buyers is still extremely powerful despite the means of communicating multiplying; Skype, Facetime, text, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Pick up the phone and call buyers daily to stay close and personal.
Solid Tactic #3: public relations and sales events (Industry Events)
Used consistently by 17% of the 400 CEO’s and President’s Companies
There are a lot of venues in the public relations (PR) and sales events heading. Traditionally, trade shows, associations and industry events are the outlets of choice. Today other options exist such as online presentations – virtual presenting, like webinars and web access events and forums. Virtual events continue to evolve the behaviors and way people make buying decisions; not to mention lowering client acquisition cost and saving time for travel. If you’re planning an industry or local event to be attended by dozens or hundreds of other competitors or if you’re hosting your own self-sponsored stand alone event, your intention is most likely to impress and have buyers purchase your offering. Public Relations and events have long been regarded as valuable for bigger businesses because of their cost and logistics concerns but the fact is they are perfect venues for SMBs and startups to grow their businesses. No matter what the budget is, a leader can plan a few events a year at a minimum or at least attend without a booth and make connections.
Despite the stories from many leaders citing they got very little from events versus the cost, a closer look must be taken. Fact is, most business leaders approach these events with no clue of what to do, how to measure, track, follow-up, much less get sales on a regular basis from these events. Time spent prepping the target audience and attendees prior to and after events, greatly increases results. Events should be the culmination of multiple tactics working together to get attention from your target audience and gain their favor. Touching event audiences prior, during and after events is a necessary process.
2 Secret weapons need to be put in place to work together with the 3 marketing tactics in order to create synergy and get breakthrough results. These 2 weapons focus on protocol and procedures for branding and selling so that the people in a company can function as a team and work from the same “play-book”. Sales engineering a business model that combines these 3 tactics together with the 2 secret weapons enables a company to:
- Create competitive advantages
- Gain more target market share
- Lower customer acquisition cost
Raise customer service and satisfaction
Go faster to market domestically and globally
Grow revenue and improve EBITDA
Bolster portfolios of products, people, brands and companies
Position for M&A activity and exit strategies
Business Development and Operations Working Hand in Hand
I. Secret Weapon – Protocol for contact record management (CRM)
When it comes to keeping up with all the prospects, customers, vendors, employees and others involved in a business, the ability to stay organized is mission critical. We’ve gone from rolodexes on people’s desk and a stack of business cards to the yellow pages to excel spreadsheets to CRMs and solutions in the cloud. There are many CRMs (also known as databases) on the market today. Dominant market players exist like SalesForce.com, Sugar and Microsoft Access. Frankly, many CRMs are similar in features. Aside from compatibility, the most important factor of a CRM is how the people in the business use it (protocols) and what reports management can get and actually utilize. Sales Force Effectiveness is a part of the solution for this issue.
How effective are CRMs in businesses today? In a survey, 400 CEOs and Presidents across North America described their CRMs and how they can be used as one of the secret weapons supporting the 3 solid marketing tactics.
314 of 400 leaders report they have a CRM.
Less than 150 of these 400 leaders report having any protocols for their CRM (Wow).
476 Leaders said they are not happy with the state of their CRM.
Want a competitive advantage? Look at CRM protocol!
When CRMs are maximized with a protocol, it becomes possible to engineer a successful sales process. ROI and ROSI can truly be impacted and measured at individual employee and customer levels. Lack of CRM effectiveness conversely impacts EBITDA due to numerous repercussions; cost of acquiring customers skyrockets, operational cost get out of control, turnover-recruiting-training cost start to spiral. In turn, morale and culture will both suffer and the company will have a hard time repairing this damage.
II. Secret Weapon – Creative content development for branding (content machine)
A “content machine” is necessary to compete in present day business and social media generation. This means having a steady flow of messaging to your target audience. Content can take many forms; website, web presence, collateral, advertising, sales materials, email and mail, scripts from sales people and more. The importance of content creation to businesses is growing at unprecedented rates. Don’t miss the opportunity to get ahead of the content creation curve while time still allows and many others are still way behind. Leaders often overlook the fact they can get all their stakeholders to help produce content. Especially considering the social media evolution that is ongoing.
281 of 400 CEOs and Presidents interviewed by C-Level Marketing and Sales Consulting between July 2013- February 10, 2014 checked the box; “Yes – I am concerned because we have almost no consistent content creation ability.”
348 of 400 CEOs and Presidents said “Yes – I fear writing and graphics creation for my company’s image” and when asked why, over 70% said it is because they end up burdened producing content, project managing content or somehow responsible for content themselves.
A real surprise of the survey is that when asked about branding and public relations budgeting for their companies, the majority of the leaders said it is an unclear area for their budgeting process and that it’s hard to say what constitutes branding and thought leadership. That is why “content machine” is one of the secret weapons.
Do not believe the hype about how email, mail, cold calls, public relations, trade shows and other industry events are a waste of time. Too many leaders have stories of bad experiences in marketing and sales and often it’s their own fault. Usually they don’t have a clue as to why. Leaders must ask themselves if they are guilty of thinking, ”every time I pay 100x for marketing or sales I should be able to wait X amount of days and then get 150x or 200x in return, ROI or ROSI”. Shocker, but If business worked this easily everyone would have their own company.
No matter how much business development has evolved in virtually every industry to date, these 3 solid marketing tactics remain vital to the success of all sales systems. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling software, concrete, various consulting services, consumer products, big hardware, banking, financial services, electronics or high-tech products; the target audiences will buy more from those companies and people who have a “consistent-repeatable-process” for messaging and persuading them over time. Alone, each of these 3 tactics are ok but working together with a CRM protocol they can be great. Especially when you add a content machine to the mix to capture more favor from the target audience and increase word of mouth. Today, industry leaders need an engineered sales process that uses traditional marketing tactics and technology combined with protocols and procedures for how their employees continually contact and message buyers.