Though much has been written about the gap between Marketing and Sales, an equally critical gap exists between Marketing and Sales performance expectations and actual results.

The optimum outcome of marketing and sales activity can be defined as maximum success, fulfilled potential, or realized objectives. But how realistic are those desired outcomes?

Potential results are not being achieved, companies are enduring astronomical costs that include wasted marketing and sales dollars, and deals are being lost to competitors.

The following 10 questions—applicable to each of your campaigns—will help you determine the issues inhibiting optimal results:

  1. How much will it really cost?
  2. Is the objective clear? Are you looking to gain awareness, interest, or response?
  3. What are the expected results?
  4. On what basis are those results expected (best and worst case)?
  5. Would you approve the campaign if you knew in advance you'd get "worst case" results?
  6. What were the results of similar campaigns in the past? If the answer is "not very good," why is it being done again?
  7. If a campaign has never been tried before, has it been tested? If not, why?
  8. How critical is it to do this campaign now?
  9. What process is going to be used to qualify, distribute, and measure follow-up on response?
  10. When and how will you assess the results of the campaign?

If those questions set off red flags for you, stop the spending carousel that has dollars going out with certainty and revenue coming in with less certainty. Many managers tend to keep the carousel going, fearing they'd jeopardize short-term sales if current or future programs are reduced or eliminated.

Once you've asked—and answered—the 10 key questions, it's vital to take action immediately.

Without prompt action, your entire organization is at risk. Some organizations fail because their members don't know what the real rules are, or because they are run loosely. But organizations that are fenced in by strong boundaries thrive.

Take the following 10 actions to close the performance gap and ensure optimal results.

1. Provide strong direction

Take control to integrate market, offer, and media elements, and then reinforce those elements with strong sponsorship of appropriate activities and campaigns. As basic as that sounds, we work with companies every day that do not follow through.

2. Get strategically involved in the marketing and sales planning processes

You'd be surprised by how many things are being done backwards.

3. Make sure customer touchpoints support your direction

It is imperative that customer touchpoints be aligned with strict standards that support the direction you have provided.

4. Stick to your guns

Once you've made a plan, don't change it based on a subtle market change or limited market research. Avoid strategies du jour or knee-jerk changes. Stay the course, unless you have a valid reason to change.

5. Hold Marketing and Sales accountable

Make Marketing responsible for producing high-quality, valuable leads; make Sales accountable for quality feedback and results.

6. Insist on regular, weekly reports

Create weekly reports to review the status of your prospects (what their environments are, what actions they're taking, who they are talking to). Few companies have so many prospects that the entire management team could not review every one of them in just a couple of hours each week. It's that important.

7. Address sales resistance transparently and aggressively

Sales is driven by the three Cs: control, credit, and compensation. Ironically, great prospect-development programs are initially perceived by Sales as a threat to the three Cs.

That is why you hear the following feedback on leads: No telemarketer can talk to the decision-makers I have to reach; I was already in that account and already talked to that decision-maker; The leads are really not worth what you are paying for them. Just get me some names, and I will engage the prospects.

Those are not consciously destructive objections. They are a natural reaction based on experience, and so need to be addressed transparently and aggressively. Eventually, great salespeople become great users of quality prospect development.

8. Insist on training

Start with the basics. Insist on self-education and participation in local and national events that can help boost your lead-generation efforts and results.

9. Set realistic expectations

Generally, deliverables take longer than you think. Quick solutions may make you happy momentarily, but you will eventually pay a price. Don't shoot the messenger who is trying to do the right thing, even if it's inexpedient.

10. Check your ego at the door

If something in your campaign clearly isn't working or generating results, cut your losses, make changes, and move on.

* * *

Investing time in this 10-question assessment to identify your campaign challenges, and addressing them with these 10 action steps, will both help you close the performance gap and provide a concrete path to realizing the full potential your marketing and sales initiatives are capable of delivering.

(Image courtesy of Bigstock, Excited Woman.)

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image of Dan McDade
Dan McDade is the CEO of PointClear, an Atlanta-based prospect development company that helps B2B sales and marketing executives fill their forecasts with sales-ready buyers.