Admit it…you’ve wondered.
You are marketing and marketing and tweaking. Your team says they like what you are doing, but you’re not getting results.
Sales leads are barely trickling in. Those leads that are coming through are low quality, and you are losing sleep over the situation.
Maybe you need to be patient and give it more time. Or could it be that your marketing is terrible, and your team is just being nice to you because they don’t want to hurt your feelings. Your boss certainly doesn’t care about hurting your feelings because his boss will be after him if he can’t produce results.
You think the solution to your marketing dilemma is to try more strategies. Maybe you need to beef up your social media, or maybe you don’t have the right lead magnets. Maybe you need to switch to account-based marketing. After all, that seems to be the current buzzword in B2B.
The truth is that all that matters when it comes to marketing is results.
Here are 7 warning signs that your marketing is in trouble and that you need to do something about it.
1) Not getting enough sales leads
Marketing’s main function is to develop and execute strategies that attract new customers and turn existing customers into raving fans. Yet far too often people see marketing primarily as a “cost center” because it doesn’t generate great results. Not generating sufficient numbers of quality leads is a strong indication that something is missing in your marketing recipe.
This problem could be a branding issue, especially if your brand is not established. If your prospects have needs, how would they know about your offering if you have not established yourself? Would they talk to an influencer or someone that they trust? Would they go online and Google keywords relating to your products? If they Google your products, would you come up on the first page?
There could be lots of reasons why you are not getting enough leads. One could even be you have a sales team struggling to communicate your value proposition. Regardless of the reasons, if you can, take a deep look at your marketing program and be honest with yourself. If you do so, you’ll likely find answers. If that solution doesn’t help, then it might be time to consult with someone else who can guide you through the process of evaluating your situation.
2) You are getting low quality leads
A great marketing program attracts high quality leads. Those are the kinds of leads that match the desired criteria you define to be a good “fit.”
It’s pretty funny to watch a bunch of blindfolded kids swinging at a papier-mâché donkey wanting to get the sweets inside. But unless they manage to get lucky and win an early hit, the motivation soon turns into frustration.
Similarly, if your marketing is weak, it will attract low quality leads. Then your team’s motivation will turn into disappointment and frustration because they feel like they are trying to hit a piñata blindfolded.
Do you have a pretty good idea of who your target customers are? Is your messaging engaging them based on their needs? A review of your target market and customer persona can provide clues about who your ideal customers are.
If you can describe your ideal customers as though you already know them, then you have a good shot at finding where they hang out. The more detailed you can be about your target customer description, the better off you’ll be in developing strategies to attract high quality leads.
3) You are losing business to your competition
Imagine you have submitted a quote to your prospect. You feel very confident that you’ve nailed the deal. You can’t wait for that big commission check and that fancy vacation. After waiting several weeks that feel more like an eternity, you start feeling something is wrong.
You finally pick up the phone and call your prospect to see what’s happening. That’s when you get the bad news. Your prospect decided to go with your competition. You start feeling that knot forming in your stomach—that sick feeling of sinking defeat. You’ve experienced it before and wish it would just go away.
This scenario happens all too often. Indeed, there is no way to guarantee a sale is a done deal until you get the check and deposit it in your bank. But if you’re losing too many sales to your competitors, that usually means there is a gap somewhere in your sales and marketing.
Often that shortcoming is your value proposition. You need a clear, compelling statement that says why your prospects should buy from you rather than your competition. If you have a poor value proposition, then you leave the door open for your prospects to shop elsewhere.
Value propositions communicate the one or two aspects of your product that provide the highest value to your customers. Your value prop therefore needs to be in the language of your customers. Fortunately, there is a systematic process to review and strengthen value propositions.
Your value proposition should not be something that your team creates internally after a few brainstorming sessions. An effective way to determine your value proposition is to interview your best customers and ask them some key questions.
4) You can’t show real ROI for your marketing dollars
You walk into a meeting with your boss to review your marketing ROI. As you anxiously flip through your charts and graphs, you have that sinking feeling that he is not too happy about something. Not only is your job on the line but you also know your boss might look bad to his boss. ROI is what the shareholders are looking for.
Your heart is pounding as you try to convince your boss that your data shows progress. But he is not buying it. Somehow he doesn’t see what you see in your data. He keeps pointing to lower sales. You show him significantly increased leads at the top of the funnel. But clearly, the increased number of leads at the top didn’t result in higher conversion rates.
At the end of the day, success is usually measured by how much you help the bottom line. We could be talking about email marketing, trade shows, internet ads, inbound marketing, landing pages, or webinars. In all those areas, people measure ROI by how much those strategies contribute to sales.
You therefore need a system in place that can measure results. A marketer knows from the get-go the risk/reward nature of his job. And since marketing is not yet a science degree in college, often we cannot predict the outcome of our marketing efforts.
So we do our best to create strategies that are based on common sense, logic, and data. But the best way to show ROI is to increase sales as a result of your marketing programs. Cut the programs that are not producing, and invest in those that show promise.
5) Your team is not sure who the target customer is
I once walked into a meeting with a CEO to talk about his targeted marketing strategy. He talked about his ideal customers, industries, needs, etc.
It seemed like he had a pretty good idea of who his target customers were. The problem was that his sales team had a tough time executing his strategies. That situation in turn led to poor messaging and mediocre sales results.
If the sales team can’t clearly articulate who the target customer is and the criteria for a good “fit,” then they will chase the wrong prospects and waste precious time. It’s even worse when you start bidding without even really knowing your prospects. I know it sounds crazy, but there are companies out there that sell bids through a portal. They pay a hefty annual fee, and then they log in and start bidding on shallow leads.
Companies that have a strong track record of success often attribute their performance to a deep understanding of their target customers. The rock stars of such organizations are super focused on going after qualified leads and not wasting time. Ask your marketing team to sit down with your sales team and discuss how to describe your best customers.
6) Your sales and marketing process is all over the place
Excel spreadsheets, emails, databases—the list can go on and on. And your sales and marketing process is trapped in one or more of those islands of data. What can be even more frustrating is that people all have their own personal repositories of information.
What would you do if you were in charge of this mess? You know you’ve got a serious problem on your hands that needs to be fixed if you want to accomplish anything major with your organization.
An effective sales and marketing process is like a roadmap that shows how to get from point A to point B. A map tells you which road to use, shows where you are at any given point, and indicates the direction in which you are heading. Without a map, you can get lost.
You can call it a process, procedure, workflow, or something else. No matter what you call it, it’s how you handle the day-to-day activities of your team. It’s the way you organize, prioritize, research, qualify, communicate, and do everything you need to do to succeed. This process is the backbone and foundation of what you would use to reach milestones and get results.
Research shows that successful sales and marketing teams have a robust, sustainable process in place that can change and adapt with the growing needs of their organizations. The process is the roadmap your team will use to get results and check to see if you are on target.
7) You don’t have an effective analytics and measurement process
If it can be measured, it can be improved. We’ve all heard that cliché a thousand times. But for most of us, it’s much easier said than done. If you can’t measure ROI, how will you keep your shareholders happy? And how will you measure ROI if you don’t know what to measure? It’s hard when you don’t have a process in place.
The good news is it’s not hard to measure results and generate analytics. The bad news is that doing so will take time and resources. If you are doing email marketing, you have access to tons of relevant data from your email service provider. Creating landing pages and lead magnets will give plenty of data to show results.
If you are making sales calls and tracking them, there is plenty of data to show progress. The challenge is not that there is no data but that we often don’t know how to use the data to measure results. After all, most of us are not data scientists and would rather just get results than invest in the time to learn how. That is hard work.
Analytics is driven from the top down. The executive team sets the agenda and directives. Without a clear message from the top, most analytic programs fall short of the promised results. So take baby steps and start with something simple. Start measuring how the information you’ve gathered can impact your business, and then expand the analytics program to other aspects of your marketing.
The Good News
Yes there is good news. It’s not all doom and gloom.
Imagine sales leads coming into your inbox while you look forward to giving them to your reps. Instead of breaking into a cold sweat looking at an almost empty sales leads folder, you are confident and happy that you’ll have a great quarter. You are going to exceed your quota. The bonus you’ve been waiting for is just around the corner. That vacation you’ve always wanted to take with your family is finally going to happen.
The reason why is that you’ve done the work to deliver results. Not only are you getting lots of leads but also most of them are high quality leads. As a result, your reps will look forward to pursuing them.
You are showing high ROI, and your executive team loves you. They want to promote you. Your analytics is in place and proves your progress. Your team is making accurate sales forecasts about how your company will make even more money next year. Imagine that!
Sound impossible? It’s not. Do the work, dig into your past marketing programs and learn what you can do differently to take control of your business. Your new life as a successful marketer awaits.
Latest posts by Nick Rakhshani (see all)
- 7 Warning Signs of Failed Marketing and What You Can Do About It - October 12, 2016