Planning is great, and having the right marketing and sales strategies in place is imperative, but it can be for naught if the sales and marketing execution part of your go-to-market activities is flawed. Unfortunately, this is the case with many companies. For example, MarketingSherpa states that only about one quarter of B2B companies have a lead generation and follow-up process that is routinely observed. And the following chart from Bain & Company shows that while sales effectiveness is a chief imperative, less than half of companies believe their own sales force is operating at full effectiveness.
Our experience in B2B marketing and sales enablement shows that this “goals vs. outcomes” gap is equally true on the marketing side. All the planning on the front end and analytics on the back end won’t help you if you don’t have your act together from an execution standpoint. Once the strategic goals, processes and technology infrastructure are in place, crisp sales and marketing execution is what closes the gap between concept and revenue.
Execution is not just about doing things right (efficiency) but more importantly, doing the right things (effectiveness). This means focusing on activities that enable reps to either make more sales calls or increase sales close rates. If you study how reps spend their time and find that a vast majority is spent on non-revenue producing activities like support, logistics or qualifying raw inquiries, you need to eliminate as much of this unproductive time as possible.
One of the most important aspects of crisp marketing execution is to remain consistent. One of our clients had great technology, but also had a very bad habit of changing its product offerings and value proposition every six months or so. The sales team was encouraged to spend their time on the newest offerings instead of what had worked for them in the past. This required extensive retraining of the team, and they never found their rhythm. In a tough selling world, consistency can be the attribute that keeps your team on top.
Clear communication of the goals and processes is a must, as well as a way to monitor performance. There is a tendency to resist change and keep doing what has always been done. Sometimes this is true because what makes sense at the corporate planning level totally flops when implemented where it counts: dealing with prospects. This is why we advise prototyping new processes on a small scale before rolling out to the larger group. However, if you make exceptions or allow for too much optional behavior, the best strategies and technology won’t save you.