The Right Measures of Accountability Matter

Account based marketing graph

Traditionally, employees are taught that if they designed a tight system and measured everything that could be measured, they would have a tight ship. If everyone did everything they were supposed to do and did it well, they were assured of success.

Well, now we know that doesn’t work. In fact, it’s a prescription for failure! The thought leaders in high-performance organizations know that isn’t going to take us where we want to go.

Here’s what works: figuring out what’s really important and measuring that—and only that. Don’t try to micromanage your people—if you do, you’ll see that they always hit the metrics you lay out for them, but the organization misses what’s really important. If you measure the wrong things, you get the wrong results.

Let’s look at the well-documented case of fake bank accounts at Wells Fargo.[1] Management wanted to increase the number of depositors, so they set quotas for each branch to open new accounts. When genuine depositors did not appear, the branches simply opened fake accounts. This ensured that the staff and branch management hit their numbers, but at a very high cost.

First, opening these accounts absorbed considerable clerical time. But it didn’t end there. After a full year of investigations led by Arizona, Connecticut, Iowa and Pennsylvania, the Bank agreed to pay settlements of $575 million. Aside from this steep financial cost, the Bank also lost considerable credibility and suffered a setback to its reputation in the marketplace.

This is an extreme case, but it makes the point: tightly measuring the wrong metrics leads to the wrong results.

Management needs to focus on the big picture metrics: revenues, profits, market share growth, share price, brand recognition, and the number of people who apply to work at that company. They need to create a vision that everyone can relate to–everyone from the senior management team to the front lines. Then management needs to trust their people. That doesn’t mean you let everyone do whatever they want—it means you give them the latitude to do what’s right for the company and the customer. If the vision is clear and the results are recognized, the results will be stellar.

Don’t believe this? We can show you the research that proves that companies with strong, performance-enhancing cultures significantly outperform those without such a culture; they realize four times the average revenue growth, 12 times the stock price, and 756 times profit growth of those with counterproductive cultures


[1] https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/money/business/2018/12/28/iowa-wells-fargo-settlement-attorneys-general/2431320002/

Five Factors Affecting Revenue Growth

five factors affecting revenue growth

A study by Bain and Company shows an alarming trend: the cost of sales and marketing is growing faster than revenues. Half of the companies surveyed experienced their sales and marketing costs rising faster than revenues. Ironically, when companies achieved high growth, their costs of sales and marketing, as a percentage of sales, remained flat or even declined.

This study, along with others, proves a fundamental shift in the B2B world: Buyers have dramatically changed how they buy, while sellers continue to sell as they always have.How do sellers adapt to the changing demands and preferences of the modern buyer while pursuing continuous revenue growth?

Through the Five Factors that accelerate revenue growth; these factors are:

shaking hands revenue growth

Contact Us

Factor 1: Chose the Right Market Focus

This first factor advocates that you select, market, and sell to the right industry segment for your unique business’ products and services. Of all of the five factors, this segmentation and focus has the greatest potential to increase or decrease your revenue growth.


Read more

Factor 2: Remove Friction from the Sales Process

The old selling process is being replaced. Today’s buyers want to work exclusively with vendors who align their selling process to the buyer’s preferences. Buyers prefer to research and reach out to companies that the like. To capture the attention of this new brand of buyers, sellers must align their sales and marketing processes with their buyer’s expectations and preferences.


Read more

Factor 3: Tightly Align Sales & Marketing

To achieve high revenue growth, companies should perceive their marketing and sales efforts and departments as intimately linked. If your marketing and sales teams see themselves as a united force, at least 75% of your leads should be directly generated by marketing.


Read more

Factor 4: Leverage  Intelligent Sales & Marketing Data

With the overwhelming amount of data present in sales, you must be careful to only provide sales reps with intelligent data. Intelligent data is numbers and figures that enable sales reps to be relevant, engaging, and convincing in their interactions with buyers. The targeted capabilities of intelligent data enables your sales team to more effectively speak to leads and prospects, increasing the likelihood of their conversion into buyers.


Read more

Factor 5: Manage Sales & Marketing Operations by Metrics

Most B2B companies today track some form of metric, but usually only in regards to sales departments. To generate revenue growth at a faster rate than costs, companies should invest in tracking the performance of their marketing campaigns. Factor 3 informs us that marketing is just as important, if not more important, than sales at generating leads and revenue growth.


Read more

In short, buyers are demanding more from sellers. They want a real partner that can ceaselessly add value to their own offering, enabling them to renew non-stop their own competitive advantage. In other words, they want to work with a top tier provider. This is no easy demand—which is why, for most B2B companies, the cost of marketing and selling is growing faster than revenues.

To fully learn how to best leverage these Five Factors to reduce your costs and grow your revenue, download our full whitepaper.

FREE VALUE PROP ANALYSIS

Validate the Effectiveness of your Value Proposition.

When your company’s messaging is not clear or compelling, it is difficult for your customers to find you and see you as a solution. Validate that your value proposition is powerful and compelling with a FREE Value Prop Analysis. 


SCHEDULE NOW

Manage by Metrics

Manage by Metric graph

In his book “The End of Marketing as We Know It”, Sergio Zyman, then Chief Marketing Officer of Coca Cola, spells out his success in driving Coca Cola to the number one beverage company in the world. At a time before cloud based services, Sergio tracked numbers daily. He would run an ad and then measure how many cases of Coca Cola products that ad moved. If it met his metrics, the ad continued to run. If it didn’t, it was cut.

Among B2C companies, Zyman is not alone in his obsession with running Marketing by the numbers. Jim Kiltz, ex CEO of the Gillett Company and author of “Doing What Matters,” also ran his company by the numbers. In fact, he advocated for the ZOG (Zero Overhead Growth) and NOG (Negative Overhead Growth) principles that basically said companies should grow their sales with no change in selling and marketing costs—a far cry from the current situation of B2B companies.

We have not been able to find any examples of B2B companies that strictly run Marketing by the numbers. Yes, nearly all B2B companies measure and track sales results, but that’s about it.

Even in Sales, most of what is tracked is at the tail end in closed wins. Few companies, if any, track sales cycles, closing ratios, average deal sizes, lost deals, etc., by rep. Even fewer track how early reps cut loose opportunities that go nowhere.

Managing by Metrics is how companies move from Good to Great. It requires substantial work, but it pays a lot of dividends in the long run.

In Conclusion

It is our belief that each of these Five Factors can significantly improve a company’s ability to grow Sales. Working on all five can completely revitalize a company that is seeing flat sales.

Our recommendation is to always start with Factor 1. Nail that, and the others will be much easier to accomplish.

Please contact us with any questions or thoughts. We are here to help.

Use Intelligent Sales Data to Grow Sales

hand with pen pointing to graph that shows sales growth

Salespeople often complain about the amount of data they are given and ask when and how they are supposed to use this data.

Overloading people with data can be just as useless as giving them none. Not only does it waste time, it also it focuses their work on the data rather than what the data was supposed to enable—getting more business.

By intelligent data, we mean data that enables a sales rep to be more relevant and useful to a prospect so that the prospect wants to do business with the sales rep.

It should therefore be designed thoughtfully and purposefully, rather than simply transferring all of  Marketing’s material to Sales.

Intelligent Data must always be focused on the target market, and nothing outside of that. With a new prospect, it should provide a sales rep with sufficient insight on what the prospect is interested in as evidenced by marketing activities (emails clicked/forwarded, pages visited, content downloaded, etc.). Therefore, no prospect should be sent to Sales without having accumulated sufficient score as a result of significant marketing activity.

As we have shown in the Four Quadrants, existing customers are a great source of new revenue. Therefore, Intelligent Data should incorporate their past sales patterns—what they bought, how much, and when.

Intelligent Data is created when the right information from a number of tools (Marketing Automation, Sales Automation, and Accounting Automation) are integrated into a complete picture. However, it is very important that the picture has just enough details and no more. Overwhelming sales reps with more data than they can digest only makes them want to ignore the data. Read about the fifth factor here.

Align Sales and Marketing for high growth

By now, factor 1 and factor 2 should have demonstrated the central role of marketing in the new B2B paradigm. Marketing is too important and too expensive to just “have” if it doesn’t impact sales in a measurable way. For Marketing to impact sales in a measurable way, it must be numerically aligned with Sales.

It is no exaggeration to say that a least 75% of all sales should come from leads generated by Marketing.

We cover this topic extensively in The Four Funnels Framework, which shows that all revenues start in Marketing and end in Sales.  However, the planning starts from Sales. Whatever the revenue targets are, the numbers must be worked backwards to determine how many inbound and outbound leads will be required.

In the past, the relationship between Marketing and Sales was akin to two neighbors who know each other, try to accommodate each other, and occasionally complain about the other’s lack of fairness or reasonableness.

Today, however, the relationship between Marketing and Sales is more like one of a  married couple working closely together to raise a family.

Each is equally responsible for achieving the overall revenue goals. Read about Factor 4 – how intelligent data drives revenue growth.

Remove Sales Friction

Group of friendly business men and women shaking hands with no friction

Factor 2: Sales Process is Buyer Process

Research by McKinsey & Company, Bain & Company, and the sales force training firm The Rain Group all show the same thing: Buyers now prefer to work with sellers who align their process to the Buyer’s process. A seller that does not comply is one that complains about unreturned phone calls and emails—hence increased marketing and sales cost.

The New Buying Process

The studies show  that Buyers prefer to conduct their own research and determine who gets invited to work with them to further refine a possible solution.

The buying process starts internally, typically when some pain becomes no longer acceptable, driving a new initiative to address it. The head of the business or functional unit (the business driver) who is responsible for the resolution of the issue now heads this new initiative. She typically assigns someone on her team to conduct preliminary research and report to her with findings and recommendations.

This is the beginning of the “Buying” process. At this point, no seller is aware that the buying process has started.

The team member assigned to this task now begins the research by entering keywords in her preferred  search engine. She thenreviews the search results and begins tagging the promising ones.

Later, she will go deeper into each result to determine  which will make her final cut. At no point has she called any company—this is all digital content review.

A few days later, she returns to her boss to report and make her recommendations. The business driver then makes the decision of who they will review—in other words, who makes the short list. She then tells her researcher to contact the short list and schedule meetings with the vendors’ representatives.

The New Selling Process

Marketing

Since the buying process starts with research, the first thing that a Seller must do is make sure the seller’s website has deep and relevant content that addresses the issues that its market typically faces.

If the Seller has a focused market as described in Factor 1 above, then not only can it stay abreast with changes in its chosen market, but it can actually be ahead of them with thought leadership. The Seller can anticipate trajectories in regulations, changes in norms, shortages of key supplies, etc.

Because it specifically focuses on a single market and because it has depth, the Seller’s content will surface  among the many sources examined by the Buyer’s researcher. The Seller’s chances of making the short list is pretty high, and it will likely be invited to present.

Lead Generation

In addition to having highly search optimized content that drives inbound leads, if the seller also has outbound lead generation campaigns, then it is virtually guaranteed to make the short list of vendors that get invited. Its emails are likely to be opened as their message is directly relevant and always refreshing its subject matter. Its voicemails are right on and are likely to generate call-backs.

Selling

When invited to meet the business driver, the Seller must recognize that this is a collaborative event and should invite the buyer to fully participate in defining the problem as well as the solution. Read about Factor 3: Sales and Marketing.

This is exactly what buyers today are looking for since their needs are complex and will need customized solutions rather than ready-made ones. . They want Sellers who are willing to work towards customizing a solution that functions perfectly for them.

The Problem with the Old Selling Process

Lets compare the new selling process with the old. The Old Selling process consists of  “blasting” a huge list with irrelevant emails and “dialing for dollars” in hopes that someone picks up. If through sheer persistence, the sales rep gets an appointment, the chances it will get canceled are high.

And if the rep actually gets the meeting, the rep typically will blow it off by forcing a process the buyer does not find useful—first I am going to tell you about me. Then I am going to ask you about you. Then I will show you my product. Then I will send you my proposal…

The old seller driven and seller biased way no longer works. Sellers must understand that Buyers are looking for committed partners.

Critical Success Factor 1: Content

person on laptop displaying the words content

One critical success factor in the operations of B2B sales is content. Content is how a prospect can determine the degree to which a vendor understands her problem and can solve it. The more quality content you have, the more certain she becomes that you must be on her short list of vendors to evaluate— making it easy for your sales reps to meet with her.

Since this is a journey for the prospect to take, you must have a variety of content types designed to get her started on this journey so that she can acquire more knowledge and conviction regarding your company and continue to an actual sales engagement with one of your sales reps.

Type

Purpose

Usage

Emails

Create awareness

Email continues to be the most effective outbound communication medium. Its sole purpose is to make the prospect aware of a specific problem and what the logical next step might be towards solving that problem.  Ask the reader to take a small incremental step forward, but always have a complete means by which the prospect can get in touch with you if she is ready to engage.

White Papers

Educate: the generic problem and solution.

The purpose of a white paper is to enable your prospects to clearly see the type and extent of the problem(s) they have, analyze its cause(s), and provide a vendor-agnostic solution to the problem. In other words, your objective is not to sell your product or service, but to establish yourself as a credible partner that can help your prospect solve their problem(s).

Webinars

Educate: specifically about your solution

Webinars are similar in purpose to White Papers. They both require a significant amount of time and effort to produce quality content. However, webinars are typically expected to discuss your product and solution, perhaps with a demo (if appropriate).

Case Studies

Prove

Case studies give the prospect a practical and relatable example of how your solution solves problems such as the one the prospect is currently experiencing. The power of a case study can be diminished if you are unable to use the customer’s name (especially if it is a highly recognized company). Be sure to do what it takes to get permission to mention the client by name on at least a few of your case studies.

Blogs

Educate Interest

Blogs are relatively short (1-2 pages), highly targeted, and highly educated opinions. Have your internal experts write them, and then have them polished off by your editor.

Video / Animation

Arouse curiosity

These are short (60-90 second) video clips that explain the main issue and the solution. The goal is to create a fun and engaging way to communicate information at a high level.

Product Information

Educate

This is where you get to talk all you want about your products and services. It is best to keep the information simple, factual, and engaging.

Read about the second Critical Success Factor, “Content Distribution”.

Critical Success Factor 2: Content Distribution

chalk boarding drawing of content on being being distributed from one to another

While the first critical success factor in B2B sales involves the quality of your content, the ways in which that content is distributed to your audience is also important.

Medium

Key Metrics

Description

Email

Click through rate, unique opens

The purpose of email is to produce awareness of something you want the recipient to notice. You want to point out a critical issue and direct recipients to where they can learn more about it.

Therefore, your email campaign must be designed to support your prospects’ desired process for finding solutions to their problems, as well as the vendors with which they want to partner.

Emails must be designed to get a click to where you can engage the prospect more. Of course, emails must be opened in order to get the click, but the opens alone tell you very little.

Website

Inbound leads, search ranking, web traffic

Your website’s number one role is to act as the central repository for the information your prospects need to determine that you should be on their short list of vendors they should engage to solve a particular set of their problems.

It is a powerful communication tool and must be used as such. You must rely on your website to bring in leads straight to your sales team, as well as to nurture other leads for the long term.

You must know what key terms your prospects use to search, which pages are the most visited, and where they go from there. Continually optimize your website to attract, engage, and nurture prospects.tor

Social Media

Followers, likes, shares

Your social media platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) are where you truly build your brand. They allow you to create a community of loyal customers, employees, and future employees.

Social media is the appropriate place for you to share your views that are more socially and politically oriented, such as environmental responsibility, diversity (cultural, racial, gender, age, etc.), and so on. It is a great place to post new job openings, have current employees discuss the importance and impact of those roles, etc.

In short, your social media properties are where you correctly position your company.

Read about the third Critical Success Factor, “Automation”.