Admit it…… You’ve wondered.
You are marketing and marketing and tweaking more.
Your team says they like it but you’re not getting results.
Sales leads are barely trickling in. Those leads that are coming through are low quality leads and you are losing sleep over it.
And you can’t help wondering……
Maybe you need to be more patient and give it more time.
Or could it be that your marketing sucks and your team is just being nice to you and 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.
You think the solution to your marketing dilemma is to try more things, maybe you need to beef up your social media, maybe you don’t have the right lead magnets. Maybe you need to switch to account based marketing, after all recently that seems to be the buzzword in B2B.
The truth is the only thing that matters when it comes to marketing is results.
Here are 7 warning signs that your marketing is in trouble and you need to do something about it.
1) Not getting enough sales leads
Marketing’s main function is to develop and execute strategy that attracts new customers and turns existing customers into raving fans. Yet far too often marketing is seen primarily as a “cost center” because it doesn’t generate great results. If you are not generating sufficient numbers of quality leads it’s a strong indication that something is missing in your marketing recipe. This can be a branding issue especially if you brand is not established. If your prospect has a need how would they know about your offering? 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 including a sales team that is struggling to communicate your value proposition. Regardless of the reasons, if you can take a deep look at you marketing program and be honest with yourself you’ll likely find the answers. If that doesn’t help then it maybe time to consult with someone else that can guide you through the process.
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-mache 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. If your marketing is weak it attracts low quality leads and your team’s motivation soon turns into disappointment and frustration. Your team feels 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 where they are with their needs?
A review of your target market and customer personas can provide clues about who your ideal customers are. If you can describe your ideal customers as though you already know them then you got a good shot at finding where they hang out. The more detail you can be about your target customer  description the better off you’ll be in developing strategy 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 feels more like an eternity, you start feeling something is wrong. You finally pick up the phone and call your prospect to see what’s going on. That’s when you get the bad news.  They 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 in your sales and marketing somewhere. Often that gap is in your value proposition. A clear compelling statement that says why your prospects should buy from you rather than your competition. If your value proposition sucks then that leaves the door open for your prospect to shop elsewhere.
Fortunately there is a systematic process to review and strengthen value proposition. Value prop communicates the 1or 2 things about your product that provides the highest value to your customers. It needs to be in the language of your customers. Not something that your team created internally after a few brainstorming sessions. An effective way to determine your value prop 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. Because not only your job is on the line but you know he may look bad to his boss because ROI is what the share holders are looking for.
Your heart is pounding as you try to convince the 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. So 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. So whether it’s email marketing, trade shows, Internet ads, inbound marketing, landing pages, webinars, or a dozen other marketing tactics, ROI is measured by how much those programs contribute to sales. That means having a system in place that can measure results. A marketer knows from the get go the risk and reward nature of his job. And since marketing is not yet a science degree in college, often times we can not predict the outcome. 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 is the target customer
This goes back to not fully understanding your customer persona. 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 high level idea of his target customers. The problem was that the sales team had a tough time executing on that strategy. That in turn led to poor messaging and mediocre sales results.
If the sales team can’t clearly articulate who is the target customer and the criteria for a good “fit” then that leads to chasing the wrong prospects and wasting precious time. Even worse is when you start bidding without even really knowing the prospect. I know it sounds crazy but it’s true. There are companies out there that sell bids through a portal. You pay a hefty annual fee, then you login and start bidding on shadow 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 make it even more frustrating is that everyone has their own personal repository of information. What would you do if you were in charge of this mess? You know you’ve got a serious problem on your hand 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 what road to use, shows where you are at any given point and what direction you are heading to. Without a map you can get lost. You can call it a process, procedure, or 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 all those things that we need to do to succeed. This is the backbone and foundation of what you would use to reach milestones and get results.
Research shows 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 is using 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 it 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 or you are measuring the wrong thing. It’s hard when we 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 it will take time and resources. If you are doing email marketing you have access to tons of relevant data from your email service provider. If you are creating landing pages and lead magnets, there is 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. Or maybe its because of a lack of resources. After all most of us are not data scientists and would rather just get results than invest in the time and process to get there because that is hard work.
Analytics is something that is driven from the top down. The executive team sets the agenda and directive. 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 and start measuring how it can impact your business then expand the analytics program to other aspects of your marketing.
Yes there is good news, it’s not all doom and gloom.
Imagine sales leads coming into your inbox and 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. That means you are going to exceed your quota. It means 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.
All because you’ve done the work to delivers results. Not only are you getting lots of leads but most of them are good quality leads so your reps will be looking forward to pursue them. You are showing high ROI and your executive team loves you and they want to promote you. Your analytics is in place and proves your progress. Your team is using it to make accurate sales forecast about how your company will make even more money next year. Imagine that!
Sounds impossible? It’s not. Do the work, dig into your past marketing programs and learn what you can do different to take control of your business. Your new life as a successful marketer awaits.
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Nick Rakhshani