Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Age-Old Conundrum: Getting Marketing Involved in the Sales Process

The beauty of blogs is that you can post on those items that you run across in your day-to-day journey that either make you want to dance and sing . . . along with those that make you want to scream! As bloggers, we have that going for us!

Hence the topic of today's blog (screaming not dancing): How can we (the brains and brawn of direct marketing) force our way into the world of sales (with them kicking and screaming) in order to assist them in creating revenue? It's an age-old problem -- and as evidenced by this article from destinationCRM, one that many of us are faced with every day. Here's a snippet from the article:
Who is in charge of revenue at your company? In most B2B companies, the sales department owns the revenue pipeline -- and therefore, the most political power. In contrast, the marketing department too often gets left out of the revenue process. There are companies where sales holds weekly revenue calls, and nobody from marketing is part of the conversations. The executive leaders of these companies think of marketing as a cost center, not a strategic asset that drives growth. As one marketer lamented in a recent CMO Council report, "My group is perceived by upper management as the people who do color brochures." Marketing is suffering from a crisis of credibility. So what can marketers do in order to be seen as part of a machine that drives revenue and profits, not just the people who throw parties and buy swag?

This article, written by Phil Fernando, President and CEO of Marketo, then provides some excellent pointers as to how to accomplish this change of perception. From our perspective, as direct marketers, we possess the tools that can measure and track the success of every single campaign that we create. The beauty of direct marketing is that every little thing can be measured and stripped down to figure out which elements of each program were the most successful . . . and which weren't.

Why then does it continue to be a struggle to prove to sales that they need to include direct marketers as part of the solution to generating more revenue, ROI and sales success?

It beats me.

Don't get me wrong, there are those who do get it . . . but it seems that they are few and far between. And if they do get it, they probably used to be marketers prior to leading sales teams.

However, don't give up on this. We need to continue fighting the good fight. Continue to drive home the fact that you can partner with the sales team to make them more successful. Find the successful sales people and bribe, cajole, and convince them to give you their ear for a few minutes. Explain to them how you are honing in on the perfect prospect for them. Show them how you've come to that conclusion -- or better yet, enlist them as advisor prior to creating a campaign (who knows the customer better than the sales person?), and get their input on their idea of the dream customer. By getting their buy-in on the front-end, they may be more willing to work with you as you launch the campaign and really need for them to begin working the leads you have so carefully crafted just for them.

Then, and most importantly, keep them involved in the measurement process. Help them understand how successful the leads have been. Don't quote response rates and other direct marketing mumbo-jumbo. Sales doesn't care about response rates -- sales cares about closed sales. Make your results speak to them in their terms. Point out the number of sales that the campaign brought in, and again, bring sales in to tell the story of how they closed that sale, why the prospect was the perfect one, and how marketing really nailed it that time (i.e., got sales the leads that were most likely going to close).

Don't stop there . . . next, enlist their support for future campaigns. Determine what went right in the prior campaign and what, if different, would have resulted in more closed sales. Maybe there was an industry out there who -- hands down -- just wasn't open to a sales visit. Or maybe there was a customer segment who refused to be interested in the product or service. Sales can tell you this. Listen with an open mind, get past the whining and on to the actual golden nuggets that you can act upon.

Remember, you are the genius of direct marketing. You enable the sales force to create revenues. What you do can make or break their efforts. Therefore, you have to wriggle your way into those meetings where they talk about projecting revenues and number of closed sales for the month or quarter. Build your story to present to the sales leadership team of how you can -- and will -- impact those numbers.

You need to stand up for your right to direct market! And, sales needs to listen. Guess what? All you need to do is create some success and they will listen. Get that sales superhero on your side and start talking!


Sprezzatura said...

Or you could just find a job at a company that actually values its marketing department.

Nancy Arter said...

Good point! I'll keep that in mind as I consider future clients!

Thanks for your comment.

Ted Grigg said...

Companies love sales because they get results paying for the results only AFTER the sale is made.

Marketing, on the other hand, requires making an investment BEFORE the sales come.

For many companies, this philosophy will require a paradigm shift.

Thanks for another insightful post.


Nancy Arter said...

You have that right, Ted. And, I agree, to get there it will require a paradigm shift, and support from the Leadership level to actually make it happen.

It makes so much sense for sales and marketing to work together -- we try to cause this to happen as often as we can as we work with our clients. It's just astounding that more companies don't get this!

Thanks for your insightful comments!