In part 1, we discussed the critical role senior executives play in setting expectations for sales and marketing within their organizations. Now let’s move on to:
Part II: Participation in planning & training
When I was in high school I worked for a garden center. My boss lived, breathed and worked by the motto: “Always dig a $10 hole for a $5 plant.” The extra effort in digging the larger hole resulted in a plant that was established faster and performed better over time than one planted in a smaller hole. In other words, the more time and care invested up front, the greater the final outcome.
The planning involved in setting up a lead generation program incorporates the same principle. Too often I see managers who are excruciatingly detailed when it comes to checking references and reaching an agreement, but then they go dark, showing up here and there doing the bare minimum to help develop the best program possible. The result? The $5 plant gets a $1 hole. The only thing worse than executives disengaging from a program after it starts (which happens quite a lot) is not having executive leadership involved and engaged up front. Before a penny is spent, there are a few key areas the senior executive should, at a minimum, understand:
- Target market
- Expected results
- The critical path required for success (such as: a common lead definition; expected lead acceptance; close rates; and the process for getting leads from marketing to sales and/or back to marketing if they don’t fit the criteria)
When we engage with a client we begin with a discovery process. (And again, the more clients invest here, the better results we’ll see over time.) First, we ask that at least five stakeholders from multiple departments (sales, marketing, product, executive management, etc.) provide us with unfiltered and unconsolidated information in response to our discovery questions. We also ask that all stakeholders participate in our “Discovery Workshop” to help us get up to speed on their business. This is all, of course, in addition to our own investigation and evaluation of the market, the competitive landscape and messaging—all prior to the Discovery Workshop. If participation by the client team is thorough and comprehensive we’ll very likely have a successful program.
With proper preparation, our team can be trained in as few as 4 to 8 hours. Bringing your “A-Team” to training is essential to our mutual success. We need sales, product and marketing expertise. War stories. Insight into the buyers’ mentality. And, we don’t just need it day one of market contact. We need it weekly. We might even need it daily the first couple of weeks of a program. Our team will have more conversations with your market in the first month than your sales force will all year. So, arm us. Support us. Pat us on the back. Kick us in the tuches if we need it. But, talk to us and care about what we’re doing because a collaborative effort lays the groundwork for success.
Next up will be the final topic of this series: marketing and sales accountability.