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Everyone wants a bigger marketing budget. Here are seven steps to help you raise more dollars for your demand generation program.
1. Treat your salespeople like customers
The job of Sales is to hit a revenue target.
They can do that in one of two ways: by "buying" their own leads with their own time, or by following up on leads from Marketing. Just like your customers, salespeople have choices.
If they use their own time, they can find leads by networking. They can prospect for leads. They can, and too often do, create their own sales decks, email templates, and campaigns.
Alternatively, they can also hit their revenue targets by following up on Marketing-generated leads.
However, if they close the loop on your leads but don't hit a revenue target, salespeople may very well get fired. On the other hand, if they exceed their revenue target without your leads, salespeople get big commission checks.
To make sure your leads are helpful, treat salespeople like customers and think of your leads like a product: As a product manager, you should research the needs of different types of salespeople, develop your product to delight them, market your product to them, and gather feedback on your product to improve it and the messaging around it.
In short, develop empathy and respect for salespeople, just as you do for end-customers.
2. Broadly gather requirements from Sales
Clayton M. Christensen, Kim B. Clark Professor at Harvard Business School and author of many profoundly influential business books, made this observation in How Will You Measure Your Life?:
Many products fail because companies develop them from the wrong perspective. Companies focus too much on what those customers need. What's missing is empathy: a deep understanding of what problems customers are trying to solve.
Likewise, many marketers develop lead programs and other Sales-support materials without an empathetic understanding of their other customer, the salesperson. To understand salespeople, include as many of the usual methods that you use to understand customers, including interviews, focus groups, advisory boards, surveys, and, at the very least, periodic attendance on sales calls.
Whether the salespeople are inside or in the field, direct or indirect, frontline or senior leaders, develop and sustain empathy for each sales team you support in order to get clarity on the best way to solve their most enduring problems.
3. Use sales and post-sales teams as a conduit to customer insight
Reps in Sales, Customer Service, Professional Services, Account Management, and Customer Success spend a lot of time talking to customers every day. The best people on those teams develop keen insights about customers. You can harvest that insight to create great content and messaging and to refine your targeting:
- What characterizes an ideal customer?
- What triggers consideration?
- What pains motivate customers to look?
- What beliefs do customers have that you must change?
- What questions do they have?
- What are their most common objections?
- Who gets involved in the buying process?
- What stalls decisions?
The best salespeople have useful intel on those types of issues. Those are all vital insights that Marketing can use to target the market, craft the right message, develop the right content assets, and improve the customer experience.
Find ways to harvest that collective wisdom regularly. Individual interviews, surveys, group discussions, and participation in sales calls all are great ways to do so.
4. Survey the sales organization
A simple anonymous survey, ideally repeated annually, will give you and key sales stakeholders insight into the broad perspective of the inside and field sales organizations. Key areas to cover:
- Perceptions of Marketing leads
- Current lead sources, by perceptions of revenue contribution
- Perceptions of time spent looking for sales opportunities
- Potential capacity for following up on qualified Marketing leads
- Key criteria for a qualified lead
- Must-have vs. nice-to-have fields of data on a lead
Augment that information with basic segmentation of your sales organization if you have salespeople segmented by role:
- Inside vs. field
- Total time in Sales
- Time at the company in Sales
- Any other divisions of labor for frontline salespeople (e.g., an overlay sales team)
- Level (e.g., rep, manager of reps, manager of managers)
With that information, you will have data points you can use to develop your business case for lead generation funding, insights into the expectations of the sale organization, and gaps among different groups.
To get the best feedback, promise absolute anonymity.
5. Study your competition: alternate lead sources
When you are researching the needs of the sales organization, investigate current sources of leads, apart from those created by Marketing:
- Which sources are the most effective and why?
- Which are the least effective and to what degree?
There are two big advantages to those kinds of insights:
- You may see ways to scale what the best salespeople are doing when they prospect.
- When looking at the least effective prospecting methods, you will have a baseline for measuring your own efforts to increase sales production.
6. Size your market for pipeline development
Just like a product manager, you want to have a sanity check on your own planning efforts. You can start by finding out about the impact of sales prospecting on revenue production:
- How much time are salespeople spending on the least productive sources of leads?
- What is the estimated revenue contribution from those efforts?
Then research what impact you might have by asking these kinds of questions:
- What Sales capacity exists for consuming qualified leads?
- What impact might the right volume of qualified leads have on Sales production?
Use those findings to inform your plan to increase Sales production and to market that plan to the sales organization at large.
7. Help your sales organization empathize with the marketing team
Marketing teams often try to do too much. In part, that happens because of a neverending stream of "emergency" requests from the sales organization. Many salespeople don't really understand how to work with Marketing. Just as Marketing can undermine Sales productivity with an avalanche of unqualified leads, so too can Sales undermine Marketing effectiveness with those "urgent" requests and various suggestions for campaigns. Too often, the urgent overwhelms the important. Instead of doing a few things well, you can end up doing "checkbox marketing" that doesn't move the needle.
There needs to be ongoing education to help the sales organization understand how to work with Marketing. The help Sales can provide, apart from lead follow-up and reporting, is customer insight. You also have to let salespeople know that Marketing and Sales operate on different time horizons. Marketing often needs four to eight weeks to execute an effective campaign. Sales can often do a call blitz within an hour.
For additional insight on how to earn more marketing budget by working with the sales team, get the e-book, "How to Win the Love of Sales."
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