You and I probably have the same vision of a successful salesperson. Clever and adaptable. Dogged without being aggressive, persuasive without being smarmy. Fast-paced, energetic, and skilled at spotting the right angle.
All good qualities, most of us can agree. But here’s one quality we don’t often use when describing our friends in sales: patient. By their very nature, salespeople want it now. Even when a salesperson is slowly but assuredly coaxing an ambivalent prospect along that long winding road to the sale, you can bet they’ve got their eye on the prize.
So what’s wrong with that? Not a thing, until it comes to marketing. See, good marketing is like preparing a sumptuous meal – many ingredients, an experienced chef who understands the appetites they’re catering to, the right tools – and time. Time for thoughtful strategies to “bake” and work their magic.
Note that patience is not a synonym for stagnation. We’re never just sitting around, hoping for new customers. But to maximize potential, marketing requires a calculated approach and careful strategies. Short-sighted and impatient actions can run initiatives off course and straight into oblivion – but establishing benchmarks up front will illuminate problem areas and rich opportunities, and ultimately guide your sales and marketing programs to success.
Consider the following:
Your marketing and sales teams must be tightly aligned, with agreements on priorities and expectations. There’s no room for individual team agendas or separate systems; everyone must use the same data, the same systems. Also important: everyone must use the same definitions, whether they’re talking about scoring models, nurture programs or buyer personas. Any confusion or discrepancies in this area can ultimately lead to fragmented initiatives.
Measure the Right Metrics. Not all benchmarks are created equal. To truly assess your performance, sales and marketing must agree on what to measure. Ideally you want metrics that paint a detailed picture of buyer triggers and motivations at every stage of the funnel, providing insight to feed your strategies. Whether you decide to measure metrics like Lead Volume and Close Rate, Time to Close, Cost Per Close and Revenue per New Customer, be sure you agree on what to measure, how you’ll measure it and a very firm starting point.
Set Goals. Nothing screws up sales and marketing initiatives faster than mismatched goals. Make sure you establish the same goals, which should be attainable and measurable. Agree on both short-term, practical goals and long-range visions, from branding to revenue to customer engagement to product lines.
Benchmark your strategies. Obviously sales and marketing will use different tactics to work their magic – but the underlying strategies should be the same or at least work synergistically. Map out what you want your content marketing to achieve and how. Refine your messaging and be sure it’s consistent through your social media presence, your mobile initiatives, your brand management. If you develop funnel strategies to nurture leads or provide better scoring capabilities, be sure both marketing and sales are on board. Your brand story should permeate your sales practices, digital marketing, your offline presence. You should also make decisions on standards like the split between lead creation and sales enablement. Will marketing source a high percentage of the pipeline? Support lower-in-the funnel sales activities?
Remember that many of these strategies won’t deliver an immediate impact. Cultivating a stronger brand profile and digital presence over time yields more amorphous benefits. (But I promise that they will manifest in a better bottom line – eventually.) The right strategies can educate, attract and inspire and eventually motivate sales, but some will take a while to bear fruit. The important thing is to align on strategy and permeate them through sales and marketing, so you will have a solid foundation that reveals whether they’re working or not.
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that results won’t happen out of the gate. The most effective strategies require a deft touch and incorporate thoughtfulness, creativity and patience. Only then will marketers have the knowledge they need to craft truly powerful initiatives that deliver the best results. Sometimes, this is tough for the action-oriented sales mind to understand. But by taking the time to create the strategic benchmarks, you’ll lay the groundwork for intelligent sales and marketing that outperforms your old results and takes your organization to the next level.
Meet Justin Gray
Justin is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO and founder of LeadMD, the world’s largest revenue operations agency having implemented over half of the Marketo user base. Justin has made a career of launching successful companies and scaling them, with successful exits of over 200MM+ in the last decade. Justin’s latest endeavor launched in 2016 when he co-founded Six Bricks an online learning startup designed to combat employee and customer churn through experience-based education. Over the past 10 years, Justin has emerged as a strong voice for entrepreneurship, marketing and culture. As a recognized speaker, Justin has been published over 350 times in industry publications and holds his own column, Tribal Knowledge in Inc., while writing for Entrepreneur, Tech Crunch and others. Justin and his wife Jennifer met over marketing and three years later welcomed their son, Grayson, into the world in April of 2017.