Although we’re in a down economy I’ve still been able to travel twice out of the last three weeks meeting with clients, working until all hours of the night and seeing first hand what is on the minds of marketers these days. I personally wouldn’t have it any other way.
During my travels, I saw the following parking space that made me stop and consider the message that it was saying (had to take a picture of it – thanks Andrew!). Take 30 seconds and really think about the message this is conveying:
Here are some items to consider:
- The only parking spaces reserved were for outside sales and customers
- There were enough parking spaces available for everyone (reserved spaces were not essential)
- What do other employees (including inside sales) think when they see this?
You may have the following reactions:
- I don’t think this is a big deal. Sales are coming from all across the country and need a special place to park when they visit headquarters
- Outside sales are getting the recognition they deserve for making the company what it is. They should repaint the white lines and repave the cracked pavement.
- Why should sales get their own parking spaces? I work my but off yet have to find my own parking spot or take public transportation.
Any of these opinions are valid but here is something to consider – we’re in a down economy right now and sales are not as easy to come by as they once were. You may be selling the sharpest and finest knife set ever created with a brand that everyone knows, loves and trusts but at when money is tight, people will consider all of their options. At your own company there still may be plenty of interest for your products or services but companies may not have the budget to purchase from you which means longer sales cycles and missed forecasts. How are the best in class companies still reaching their 2009 targets?
Come Together. Right Now. Over Me
SiriusDecisions, a leading source for business-to-business sales and marketing best-practice research and data, recently indicated that while the sales team may be suffering, best in class companies are repositioning their marketing strategies and tactics to help them out.
These marketers are not focusing on programs that are strictly lead generation campaigns but rather geared to existing clients and deals in the pipeline. Alden Cushman at SiriusDecisions notes that:
“Instead of focusing on generating new leads, these programs represent a more effective way for marketing to impact the extended sales cycle by helping to move deals that have stalled in the pipeline. Without question, the economy is driving this trend, as the program numbers we're seeing are now more in balance with specific sales requirements."
This entails a greater emphasis on sales and marketing being in tune with each other and supporting each other during these rough times. Heather Foeh over at the Marketing Insights blog has delved further into some tactics that marketers can employ which I would recommend having a look at. I would also recommend sales and marketing have joint goals, clear definitions of each stage of the lead management funnel (which are approved at the highest levels), and metrics that support those definitions. All of these items should be reinforced at regular meetings where sales and marketing are working off the same dashboards and/or spreadsheets.
Here are some additional tactics to consider:
- Ensure that marketing is communicating any activities that it’s partaking in to the rest of the company along with the results. This can be in the form of a newsletter, webcast, blog or podcast.
- Marketing needs to involve sales as much as possible in their marketing efforts. This includes coordinating on marketing campaigns, looking for opportunities where leads may have fallen through the cracks, and better understanding what potential buyers are looking for at different stages of the buying process and their challenges
- Provide useful tools to sales. Just the other day a marketer showed me a custom link they added to salesforce.com that integrated LinkedIn to the contact and lead records. It literally takes 5 minutes to add this custom code and the rich data that sales now have access to is unbelievable. I have other clients that are passing over activity data to sales (such as web visits) so sales can better prioritize who to follow up with. Other tools can summarize web activity at a higher level. The key here is to make this is as easy as possible for sales to work with and execute on.
The message I want to leave with you is that companies need to break down the walls of exclusivity that may have created for sales so that marketing and other areas of the company can better serve them. It’s time for sales to give up those reserved spaces to improve the alignment across the organization. It's the best in class companies that get this concept that will thrive in this down economy and capitalize on the opportunities that exist.