Marketing strategy: Success has many fathers but failure is an orphan.
Obviously – when go-to-market strategy is right and execution perfect – success follows – and everyone basks in taking credit. Yet failures are often orphans. Sometimes – marketing starts by holding the shorter straw; especially if sales manage to deliver the quota but fails executing the company strategy.
The CEO has to figure out what failed and make amends. It is unfortunate at those times to draw the short straw. For the CEO the questions are simple. There was a GTM strategy – and on the surface it seemed promising. It was okayed – but execution never materialized. Sales numbers were not up, new products lacked adoption, or profit margins did not increase.
For the CEO, GTM failure is due one of three things:
1. The marketing strategy was wrong;
2. The marketing strategy was not delivered successfully for sales to execute or
3. Sales – for whatever reason – did not execute the strategy.
Allegations and finger-pointing between marketing and sales do not help, and the CEO is forced to go foraging for anecdotes as to what caused the strategy to fail. Given a lack of suitable metrics, it is up to the luck of the draw as to which story seems more plausible: Marketing’s strategy failed – or sales failed to execute the strategy.
So how is marketing to ensure alignment between marketing strategy and sales execution?
As is the case with lead generation, where marketing automation metrics ended the age old arguments about where opportunities actually come from – metrics are the only way to measure – and show – where breakdowns in strategy happen. Metrics must show that any new strategy:
1. Takes pipeline opportunities into consideration.
2. Is amply supported by marketing and know how.
3. Is actively pursued in the field.
Let’s examine those a bit more in depth:
1. The existing pipeline – for sales to be able to sell a new strategy, the pipeline must be there if short term success is required. As an example, selling higher is a winning strategy for improving the bottom line – but only if the CRM is full of high level contacts and the sales reps are comfortable talking with them.
2. Marketing and know how support – New strategies invariably expose the sales reps to situations outside of their comfort zone. For example, selling higher may require them to talk to a C-Level executive vs. to the traditional Director level manager. For anything outside their comfort zone – marketing and other leaders (e.g. sales engineering) must be trained to assist sales in overcoming this know-how gap.
3. Active pursue deals – First deals are critical to the success of a new strategy – and it is in marketing’s best interest to ensure these deals are identified, and well-supported towards a successful close. Therefore marketing should not wait for the sales figures to come back but should follow the leads and opportunities as they occur and help ensure they are successful.