HomeBlog “We’re Not Making Our Number”: How Marketing Can Help Close a Gap

“We’re Not Making Our Number”: How Marketing Can Help Close a Gap

March 18, 2013 | By Megan Heuer

“We’re not making our number.” These words strike fear into the heart of business leaders, but especially those in sales and marketing. Unfortunately, marketing’s response can be a disjointed and expensive set of tactics conceived in a rush to “do something.” Sometimes these actions are helpful, but often they end up driving a wedge between sales and marketing.

“We’re not making our number.” These words strike fear into the heart of business leaders, but especially those in sales and marketing. Unfortunately, marketing’s response can be a disjointed and expensive set of tactics conceived in a rush to “do something.” Sometimes these actions are helpful, but often they end up driving a wedge between sales and marketing.

So what can marketing do? Plenty! So take a deep breath, grab a cup of tea and read this list. And for goodness’ sake, don’t forget to build in a way to measure whether marketing’s extra work has paid off!

Here are three areas to consider:

  • Do some (but not too much) fact finding. Choose battles wisely. Ask questions before making plans. Find out exactly where the shortfall is, and ask sales, product, and marketing leaders why they believe it’s happening. You need enough information to pinpoint and solve the real problem(s) and also identify where marketing has no hope of helping. Fact finding must happen fast, as in a few hours, not days or weeks. If you do have the luxury of extra time, get a more complete look, but quality insights usually come from conversations with a few people, plus a look at available data.
  • Look for LIFO opportunities. The acronym LIFO stands for “last in, first out.” In general, this is not a great way to do perishable inventory management, but it has a place in marketing. We call it last-mile pipeline acceleration. If time is short, work with sales to identify later-stage deals in the sales pipeline that stand a chance of closing sooner, using a checklist of criteria to keep the review consistent. Marketing may have unexpected suggestions about content, events or interactions that persuade prospects to say yes sooner. Especially for large accounts, the reasons for not buying may vary widely, requiring custom solutions. In a higher-volume model, look for accounts with similar issues to create relevant one-to-a-few actions.
  • Identify who needs the most help. At the other end of the buying cycle, consider rapid-entry pipeline acceleration. This approach focuses on getting new deals into pipeline quickly by targeting accounts with the greatest propensity to buy. Rapid entry works best when there’s a little more time to make an impact. Its effectiveness depends, in part, on the length of the buying cycle involved. Buying cycles can speed up with rapid entry, but don’t expect a miracle. Develop an understanding of which accounts and buying centers tend to buy faster, and why. Is there a similar need or pressing issue that causes some buyers to solve a problem sooner? What are their common characteristics? Who is involved in making the sale move faster, and what helps them do it? Use this information to develop a plan to identify more of these accounts and contacts more quickly, and to plan demand creation and sales enablement toward that end. A combination of account profiling and integrated marketing outreach is typical, as these tactics blend online, email, phone and direct mail to open the door to productive conversations. Sellers must be informed and involved in every step, especially if accounts are part of a named list where reps have relationships already.

Megan Heuer

Megan Heuer is Vice President of Research at SiriusDecisions. With more than 20 years of industry and professional services experience, she has worked both in – and for – organizations to build a wide variety of collaborative sales and marketing deliverables that drive systematic, predictable growth. Follow Megan on Twitter @megheuer.

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