For many of us in the marketing department, focus is a central concept in driving our concentration on what is important for our customers. But when we work on sales support and enablement projects, our focus drifts many times to providing what they are telling us they think they need rather than what they really need to accomplish their task.
Here are a few examples:
- Using sales enablement tools that drive sales people away from the CRM: The modern CRM is a key tool in managing the business. Keeping it updated by keeping sales reps within the CRM is key to getting the best quality data. Conversely – installing external tools will drive sales people away from the CRM and all but ensures they will spend less time updating it.
- Spending cycles on sales support projects that lack measurable, leading KPI focus: We tend to choose and implement sales support products that sales reps like. However, we have to make sure that at that the shiny product also delivers real, KPI focused value (e.g. help convert deals). If it doesn’t – why spend a single cycle on it?
- Focusing on individual requests from sales reps vs. pipeline value: As marketing we should be focused on strategic goals. For example, we should be creating sales tools that support the largest pipeline impact, rather than sales-decks that are biased towards the “loudest” sales rep (unless they happen to be aligned).
When we evaluate projects, we should always keep in mind one or more leading KPI that the projects can improve. I am not naïve – I can certainly relate that not all projects can be fully measured using such KPI. Examples of KPI that could be useful when evaluating sales support projects:
- Conversion of MQL to SQL: Are we aligning the MQL pipeline to sales reps expectations and, as important, are we getting the information across to sales that will help them accept and qualify the lead successfully.
- Conversion of SQL to ‘Closed Won’: While outside of marketing’s responsibility, this metric is directly influenced by the activities of the product and marketing teams. Did we build the product and sales tools that help the sales rep push the deal to a successful close – and did we ensure the sales rep had access to the information the need to close the deal.
- Measure alignment to pipeline: If the company is a ship and marketing are the sails, the pipeline is the rudder. Sure we can fight the pipeline, but if the direction marketing is pushing is perpendicular to the pipeline, sales will inevitably reject marketing’s direction. Steering the sales pipeline is about small incremental changes to the direction (unless it is a complete restart). Are the sales tools we provide sales reps with in line with the direction of their leads and opportunities in the sales pipeline? Are we sure our strategy is supporting the funnel?
Thoughts, as usual, are welcome.