Posts Tagged ‘sales’

Three Questions to Align Your Strategy, Marketing and Sales

June 28th, 2016

When the business strategy isn’t linked with sales and marketing, the result is that marketers and sellers end up working harder, not smarter. This has a multi-billion dollar impact. Most companies struggle with this according to the Frank Cespedes, author, and Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School: “Selling [or marketing,] no matter how clever and creative, can’t generate good financial returns unless it’s connected to strategy.”

I met Frank while we both spoke at an event in Santiago, Chile. We had a memorable time sharing ideas and research. I thought Frank had a practical approach to aligning sales and marketing. So, I reached out to him and interviewed him about what he’s learned through his research for his most recent book Aligning Strategy and Sales.

[Editor’s Note: This interview was edited for length and grammar only.]


Brian Carroll: What inspired you to write about Aligning Strategy and Sales, which is the title of your new book?

Frank Cespedes: Despite decades of attention to so-called strategic planning, there is remarkably little research about how to link strategy with the nitty gritty of field execution, especially sales efforts [and marketing]. American companies annually spend about $900 billion every year on sales efforts. That’s not marketing, that’s sales, that’s compensation, the travel, incentives, the infrastructure, etc. and to put that in perspective, Brian, that figure is more than three times what they spend on all media, Super Bowls, everything. It’s more than about 40 times what they spend on digital marketing, and it’s more than 50 times what they currently spend on social media. This is a big, big gap.


Can you tell us more about your background and where all of this came from?

I was an academic at Harvard Business School for about 11 years working my way up the hierarchy and always was doing research in sales-related areas. My research started with distribution channels, B2B distribution channels, morphed into sales. Then I ran a business for 12 years. And then I came back and said, “I’m teaching strategy. I know something about sales. Let me see what people have written about it.”

What I found was this gap, so I figured two things. One is I don’t think the world needs another book about strategy, and I don’t think, to be blunt, the world needs yet another selling methodology, but there just isn’t much if anything about linking the two and that was the gap that I set out to address.

Read more…

Tools to Help Marketers Stretch Their Budget

April 10th, 2015

When a prospect enters her credit card online and hits “buy now,” chances are it isn’t her very first visit to the site or touch point in the sales process. According to Jeffery McCollum, Founder of CAKE, a digital marketing company, a sales path rarely leads directly to conversion.

“The client might see a display ad and not do anything. They might get an email and not do anything. But then they go to Google, search for the product, and purchase it,” he explained. “There’s touch points leading up to that sale, but marketers only count that Google click. But it’s really important to understand how effectively marketing dollars in those other channels contributed to the actual sale.”

Watch the whole interview here: 

  Read more…

How Automation Transformed a Distributor’s Online Business

March 17th, 2015

When you’re running a small online business, what’s the fastest, easiest way to grow your business and save money? Automation, according to Lenny Kharitonov, President of Unlimited Furniture Group, a furniture retailer.

Kharitonov says his company was among the first in the furniture industry to automate the online order fulfillment process.

“The furniture industry in general is not very technology savvy,” he admitted.

The Unlimited Furniture website markets products from a variety of manufacturers that ship them directly to the customer. Before automation, the Unlimited Furniture team and its vendors handled every aspect of the transaction manually using a combination of spreadsheets and Google docs. Now customers can order online, and the details are instantly sent to the vendor. Once the vendor ships out the product, Unlimited Furniture automatically receives all of the information about the shipment and updates the customer without any manual involvement.

This automated process:

  • Prevents mistakes. “When you do things manually, it’s subject to human error,” Kharitonov said. “For instance, somebody could put in the wrong quantity or wrong color; it could be done on our side or the vendor’s side.”
  • Eliminates duplication of effort. Before automation, Unlimited Furniture would enter a purchase order manually then send it to the vendor, who would enter the same information manually.
  • Saves money. Automating order fulfillment has slashed Unlimited Furniture’s administrative costs 40%.
  • Speeds delivery. Orders are processed real-time now, instead of waiting for someone at Unlimited Furniture and the vendor to manually process it.“The quicker the service you give the customer, the more likely you’ll get repeat business,” Kharitonov said.

“We want to grow the business. We don’t want to spend all our time processing orders,” he explained. “In this day and age, it’s assumed that’s automatic, but it’s not. I know a lot of our competitors are still doing it manually.”

Watch the full interview and find out more about the power of automation here:

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Inbound Marketing: 5 tips for cultivating user generated content

October 11th, 2012

Despite the fact that we have never met them, and usually have no clue as to their qualifications, consumers put increasingly greater stock in the word of their fellow consumer.

“[User generated content] is just something that has evolved, but in many ways we have always had it,” said Kaci Bower, author of the MarketingSherpa Inbound Marketing Handbook citing mass reviews and word of mouth.

“Now, with the advent of social media, it is just exploding. Now consumers and brands actually have a place to share their opinions, thoughts and ideas,” said Bower. “It actually provides a platform for user-generated content to not only be created, but also shared quite easily.”

The puzzle is in learning how to harness its power.

Social media provides a more intimate cyber setting than any other format, and because of that fosters feedback that is more conversational and for better or worse, people don’t hold back. It gives marketers insight into what their consumers are really concerned about, or happy with.

Read more…

B2B Marketing: Focused top-of-the-funnel campaign fills day-long workshop in target market

October 25th, 2011

Marketing and Sales alignment is always a hot topic. When the two business functions are working together marketing efforts are more effective and Sales’ job becomes easier.

At the MarketingSherpa B2B Summit 2011 in San Francisco this week, Michelle Mogelsen Levy, Associate Vice President Marketing Programs, ECI Telecom, presented a case study on a successful quick-hit, top-of-the-funnel effort that had the side benefit of getting already close Marketing and Sales teams into even closer alignment.

Sales’ challenge for Marketing

Sales at ECI Telecom came to the marketing team and asked for support to penetrate a brand new geographic market in a very limited time frame – under 30 days – and fill the top of the funnel with high-quality leads.

The resulting effort was a proprietary workshop in Sweden, a new market Sales was targeting. Marketing’s challenge was finding a way to get relevant prospects to the event with an eye on being cost-conscious. And the goal was to register 20 participants for the eight-hour workshop.

The strategy was an inbound effort combining Sales leveraging its connections through email and social media with Facebook posts and other outreach, and Marketing taking advantage of the existing database along with reaching out to anonymous web visitors from Sweden. Turning unknown website visitors into known visitors was a key goal in the effort.

ECI Telecom went out and found a vendor that was able to provide a tool that allowed for segmenting Web traffic and delivering relevant messages to those visitors, and allowed for real-time intelligence on site visitors and behavior. Read more…

B2B Lead Generation: Why teleprospecting is a bridge between sales and marketing

March 24th, 2011

For complex B2B sales, there is no better capability than teleprospecting for optimizing funnel efficiency.  I suspect that is one of the reasons more and more marketing executives have taken ownership of this function from sales.

One of the reasons that teleprospecting is so important is that it is (or should be) a bridge between upstream marketing campaigns and downstream sales teams.  For marketing, the teleprospecting team cannot only convert marketing responses into sales-ready leads, but provide marketing with clarity on how to improve its demand generation efforts.

Let me provide two simple examples:

1. Fine-tuning lead scoring models

There is probably no more promising capability than lead scoring.  To evolve the rule set, marketing must take aggregate funnel data from teleprospecting and fine tune the scoring model.  For example, usually 20-50 percent of the leads will be unreachable after four or five dials and three or so personal emails from the teleprospecting representative.  By comparing a large pool of these unreachable leads with leads that do respond to follow-up of teleprospecting representatives, marketing can often find different characteristics that correlate to responsiveness and dial up the lead score accordingly.

2. Fine-tuning messaging and media strategy

If a large percentage of potential customers the teleprospecting team does reach are out of the target market, then marketing can often fine-tune its messaging and its media/search strategy to improve the percentage of responders who are actually in the target market.

If the teleprospecting team receives similar, simple feedback on the sales-ready leads, that feedback can help the teleprospecting team improve it’s practices.  For example, if there is a disproportionate percentage of sales-ready leads that do not respond to the follow up by sales, then the teleprospecting team (or some subset of the team) most likely needs additional training (or talent) in order to better qualify prospects.

What’s important is that there is a repeatable process and that the operation measures the right things.  What’s also important is that marketing views the teleprospecting capability as a mechanism for improving upstream marketing efficiency and that the teleprospecting operation views sales feedback in a similar light.

In this light, the real question isn’t whether sales or marketing owns the teleprospecting function, but that everyone sees the potential for teleprospecting to better connect marketing to sales and drive optimization of the funnel.

Related resources

Free Web clinic, March 30th — Converting Leads to Sales: How one B2B company generated $4.9 million in additional sales pipeline growth in only 8 months

B2B Marketing: The FUEL methodology outlined

How and When to Use Content in the B2B Sales Process (Members library)

Free MarketingSherpa B2B Newsletter

Better Window Than Door – a Transparent Marketing primer

November 11th, 2010

If you’ve spent any time reading content here at MarketingSherpa, or at our sister company, MarketingExperments, I bet you are familiar with this mantra – “People don’t buy from companies. People buy from people.” That very intuitive idea is a big part of a concept – Transparent Marketing – that is the heartbeat driving everything we do. We even offer an article that explains in detail what we mean by Transparent Marketing.

If you just want Transparent Marketing boiled down to the base essentials, here are the five key principles:

  1. Tell (only) the (verifiable) Truth
  2. Purge all vague modifiers
  3. Let someone else do your bragging
  4. Substitute general descriptions with specific facts
  5. Admit your Weaknesses

All five concepts are simple, direct and make a ton of sense. And you know what else? They are harder to implement than you think. Much too often marketers talk to the target audience in the “marketer” voice, and not the “person” voice.

Do you enjoy being spoken down to from up on high by some corporate entity you may or may not even want to engage with in any fashion at all? I know I don’t. Now when that same corporate entity comes at me with little more human-sounding message, suddenly I’m a lot more receptive to donating a bit of my valuable time (and/or cash) to whatever proposition I’m being offered.

Hype is a door, the truth is a window

Here are some daunting figures taken from that article I linked to up there in the very first graf. The numbers are from 2003, but the lesson is timeless:

The average person is assaulted with a barrage of 577 new marketing messages per week.

If we could somehow wire the mind of the consumer as they sift through the conundrum of emails, snail mails, banners and commercials… we would probably hear a resounding response:

“I don’t have time to listen, and I don’t believe you anyway.”

Indeed, experts tell us that people sort their mail in order to find an excuse to trash it. And even if by chance a message somehow escapes this ruthless purge… it probably won’t be remembered.

Statistics indicate that we retain less than 1% of the marketing messages we encounter.

That means that this very week, your company’s pitch is just one of another 577 being hurled at the prospect. You may be #11 or you may be #450, but whatever number you are, it is imperative to win a place among the fortunate 1% that are actually “heard” and remembered.

And this is only half the battle… somehow you must be believed.

The lesson here? If you can avoid churning out the typical jargon and meaningless hype, you have an opportunity to create a very high level of credibility. And credibility leads to trust. Trust builds a bridge to a relationship and that relationship translates into sustained sales. This short thought sequence is also taken directly from our Transparent Marketing article. Did I mention it’d be a great idea to invest in a click and read the whole document?

Here is my editor, and Associate Director of Editorial Content, Daniel Burstein on this topic:

In an age of social media, all marketing is transparent

Flint McGlaughlin’s seminal article, Transparent Marketing: How to earn the trust of a skeptical consumer, was written seven long years ago, and it has never been more prescient. Think of all that has changed since 2003 in the world of digital marketing. The rise of Facebook, Twitter, blogging, and other forms of social media has turned everyone with a device (you don’t even need a computer any more) and a connection into a publisher. So if you produce marketing that isn’t transparent, don’t worry, it soon will be.

From @BPGlobalPR to YouTube songs about broken guitars, you are no longer just up against your competition to grab mindshare about a product or service, you are essentially competing with your audience as well. They are also diligently working to shape perception of the brand. So let a little sunlight in … before someone breaks your window.

What does Transparent Marketing mean to you?

I posed this question at our MarketingSherpa, MarketingExperiments Optimization and B2B Lead Generation Roundtable LinkedIn groups.

Kirsi Dahl offered this response at the MarketingSherpa discussion:

In brief, to me, transparent marketing is a term we industry types have created to summarize a growing trend among consumers related to their skepticism of sales and advertising.

Consumers migrate towards brands that authentically engage in meaningful relationships with them. Brands can demonstrate this authenticity through listening and engaging in two-way conversations in places and spaces where their consumers are hanging out (online and in store).

First, I want to thank Kirsi for taking the time to share her thoughts with the group, and second, I want to invite everyone to join the conversation at one of the three LinkedIn groups, or in the comment section for this blog post. What does Transparent Marketing mean to you?

Related resources:

MarketingExperiments article on Transparent Marketing

Blog Case Study: Three Lessons Learned from a 232% Increase in Visits over Eight Months

Transparent Marketing and Social Media: Twitter and Facebook are the new Woodward and Bernstein

Teamwork Turns Leads into Sales

October 13th, 2008

Teamwork is essential to any project involving more than one person. Strong teams are more efficient, reliable and create work of higher quality. It’s impossible for your marketing team to be at its best if it’s not working together. Read more…