Easter is here, and with thoughts turning to eggs (unless the religious connotations are more your thing), we're taking a look at the chicken and egg scenario, and how it relates to sales and marketing.
We all know the 'which came first?' riddle, but what do we mean when we apply it to sales and marketing today? Well, let’s assume that the egg is marketing and the chicken is sales. Just as the chicken had to come from an egg, so sales will only come about by way of successful marketing. But that egg had to come from a chicken, just as marketing resources are only possible if your business has made the sales necessary to invest in them. Therein lies the conundrum: What comes first, how do you make sure you have both, where should your priorities lie, and what’s the process?
Traditionally, business owners have believed that their sales team needed to 'knock on doors' until they generated business. Then, and only then, when a buffer of adequate resources and profits existed, could they afford to spend money on luxury items such as marketing.
The problem with this is that they are thinking of old-fashioned, traditional marketing, which is all fancy colours and stands at events that add no real value to the customer. They are branding, rather than an exercise in solving a problem for a prospect. Modern marketing, which is inbound, is all about catering for a different type of consumer in what is now a ‘Demand Generation’ – a consumer base that wants value and information that is not only relevant to their needs, but is also tailored towards them as an individual.
How can a business know who to sell to and how to do it? Through effective inbound marketing, of course.
Going back to that traditional sales guy (or gal) banging on doors, how does s/he know his/her solution is a fit for his target market? Come to think of it, do they even know who their target market is? Without a proper marketing strategy, the answer is a resounding 'no'.
However, before you even attempt to buy into marketing activity, you need to ask yourself what your expected ROI will be. This is a crucial question that most businesses will ask their employees - especially their salespeople - or will consider when acquiring any asset for their company. But they rarely ask the same question of their marketing spend. Why? Traditionally, marketing was for show, a nice branding exercise that kept the creative folks in a job, but today, marketing people are in reality the new sales team, or at least, the frontlines in your sales strategy.
Business today is all about the buyer, so the question you need to be asking is where that buyer is, how you can hang out where they hang out, and what content or messaging you can create to appeal to them and entice them towards your number one salesperson: your website?
And you need to know what kind of results you are aiming for with your strategy. How many leads should you be generating, and how many of these leads should the salespeople be converting into customers? Those KPIs will help you realise your ROI.
Standard staff turnover rates are 15% throughout the UK, according to Monster, but in sales, this figure is often far north of 20%. A lot of the time, this is down to a business not having a sales process in place. If you lack a proper sales process, you face the following:
- No handle on the stages of the buyer journey
- No knowledge of the Average Customer Value
- Assuming your lead conversion to customer rate, but not measuring it, leaving you with no idea how to improve it
- No quantifiable steps, such as the discovery call, client homework and fit, pilot phase, proposal or contract, and close.
In general, it means that your sales efforts are not using joined-up thinking. You don’t know how much each customer costs to acquire, and so don’t know how much you need to invest into your marketing efforts.
Without at least some of the above under your control, you are effectively handing your newest sales recruit the phone book and saying: ‘Now see what you can sell there.’
An old Chinese proverb says that if you are given 24 hours to cut down a tree, use the first 23 to sharpen your axe. So where do you start? Well think about it - you’ve got to create demand, i.e. give your sales guy or sales team a pond to fish in, where you know there are fish. Secondly, you need to give them a fishing rod with the right kind of bait that will catch only the fish you want to eat! (I’m not a fisherman, but this analogy works well for me).
What I’m really getting at is creating a marketing funnel and actively aligning your sales and marketing to bring leads in, engaging with them, and then nurturing them along the buyer journey until they are ready to convert into customers.
Creating a Funnel with Sales and Marketing Alignment
A typical funnel could look like this:
- 1,000 Website visitors
- 10 leads converted on offers from my website
- 3 of these leads become genuine opportunities
- 1 of these customers buys from us
If we know that each customer spends €10,000, for example, and we need to generate €100,000 to make a profit, then with all other conversion percentages remaining the same, we know we need to drive 10,000+ visitors to our website!
Finding the source
Traditional marketing is hard to measure, but digital marketing provides us with all the tools we need to measure and analyse what works and what doesn’t, to see how many visitors to our content we have, how many people showed interest, clicked through, went down the conversion path, downloaded something, and so on. All of this information means we can create far more compelling marketing strategies that attract and engage with consumers, because we know what they are looking for.
We can now make business decisions based on the data we have about the market, can tailor our marketing efforts accordingly, and hone our sales process to meet the demand generation.
One of our salespeople is very find of saying ‘In God we trust, but all others bring data’, and this is something we must always remember. Businesses should only spend money on marketing in a place where returns can be measured. If returns are good, you can make an informed decision to double down. If returns are weak, you can choose to pull back.
The first thing you need to do is make sure you know the following:
- Who is my perfect customer?
- What can I offer them as a no brainer for them to engage with me?
- Where are my current leads in my sales funnel?
- How many deals do I need at x Average Order Value to hit target?
Having a sales funnel is great, but what happens next? Use it wisely. Your sales team’s approach should be to work with the marketing team to identify the type of content that will help a lead move further along the sales funnel, leading them down the conversion path until they are better qualified, and ready to make a purchasing decision.
If this is done successfully, you will see an increase in sales, and with that extra money rolling in, you will be able to invest even further in your marketing department to enhance your strategies further, bringing in yet more sales. When that process starts to work like a finely tuned machine, you won’t have to worry about the chicken and egg scenario anymore, because your business will rule the roost.
Find out how you can generate those leads and turn them into customers in our Lead Generation Survival Kit.