By Michael Cannon
As companies shift their strategic focus for improving profitability from cost cutting to growing revenues and market share and to gaining/sustaining competitive advantage, the impact of this change is going to affect Sales and Marketing the most. There is going to be a lot more pressure on these departments to be run more like their Manufacturing, Finance, and Operations counterparts.
Sales and Marketing are going to be run more like their Manufacturing, Finance, and Operations counterparts.
Here is how this is going to play out.
Manufacturing has a set of best practices, such as ISO and 6-Sigma, to improve the effectiveness of the manufacturing process, e.g., higher yields and lower fallout. These processes are then supported by a host of software automation tools, such as MRP, ERP, etc.
Finance has a set of best practices, such as FASB and Sarbanes-Oxley, to improve the financial effectiveness of the company and its financial statements. There is also a host of financial software automation tools to support and improve the effectiveness of the supporting processes.
Operations has yet another set of best practices and software automation tools to support and improve the effectiveness of its processes.
But when you look at the sales and marketing departments, what do you see? You don’t see the same process excellence or discipline. What’s missing is a formalized set of best practices and the needed software solutions for improving the effectiveness of how these departments generate customers, revenue, and profits.
This is the big change: The Board and the CEO are going to push even harder on Sales and Marketing to deliver a more effective customer/revenue/profit-generation process.
The Board and the CEO are going to push even harder on Sales and Marketing to deliver a more effective customer/revenue/profit-generation process.
They will want Sales and Marketing to be more aligned around this imperative in order to extract more profit from their sales and marketing investments, and to gain a core competitive advantage.
What this looks like for Sales goes way beyond sales training. Companies are documenting and aligning their customers’ buying processes with their own sales processes; that is, they are documenting the series of conversations or steps that need to occur in order to walk a prospect through the buy/sell process. They are then aligning the appropriate customer messaging, marketing collateral, and sales tools with these revenue-generation processes.
Then they’re overlaying new sales automation solutions that help Inside Sales, Field Sales and Channel Partners quickly find and rate these tools, share best practices, and support, enforce, and track these processes. It’s a big shift. What’s occurring is that the art of selling is being forced to work in the context of sales as a core business process — which is the right thing to do.
Marketing is feeling great pressure in this area, too. Marketing ROI and marketing automation are hot topics. Marketing is figuring out how to justify its expenses and tie them to bottom-line contributions. They are also implementing methodologies and tools to better align product development investments with helping customers solve meaningful business challenges. They are developing formal processes for demand generation, lead quality, and conversions. They are figuring out how to get better alignment with Sales, such as how to create, produce, and manage more effective deliverables. This means that customer messaging, marketing collateral, sales tools, demand-generation activities, and field training are considered integral by Sales in helping it grow the pipeline and win more business.
The art of marketing and selling is being forced to work in the
context of core business processes.
One of the few true breakthrough innovations that is helping Sales and Marketing make this transition is messaging. It includes the acknowledgement that messaging is a new marketing deliverable that is distinct from content, a methodology for creating and deploying both descriptive and persuasive messaging, and an objective set of principles for evaluating customer messaging/content effectiveness prior to testing and launch. It’s the one process improvement that makes a meaningful increase in both sales and marketing effectiveness, quickly.
For example, Agilent Technologies used persuasive messaging as a tool to improve the effectiveness of the competitive training developed by Marketing and delivered to Sales. The result: 60% of the sales reps were able to close at least one additional deal in the sales quarter after the training, because of the effectiveness of the new training. The annualized ROI was astronomically high since the same investment generated substantially more revenue. Read the case study on our website.
The Sales and Marketing leaders who recognize the imperative to drive greater process excellence into their organizations will thrive and will position themselves for greater leadership roles. They will also make a significant contribution to improving their profession’s reputation for being highly relevant to accelerating the growth of profitable revenue and market share.
Resources to Implement the Most Influential Customer Communications
Michael Cannon is an internationally renowned marketing and sales effectiveness expert, best-selling author, speaker and an authority on persuasive messaging and enabling B2B companies to engage customers with the most influential communications. Visit www.silverbulletgroup.com or call 925-930-9436.