It’s November already - less than two months to go before the end of the year. I’m sure that your sales team is very focused on closing as much business as they can in 2011 - but how is 2012 looking? It may be shaping up as an Olympic Year for the UK - but is your organisation's sales performance going to be in the running for a gold medal next year?
As the end of the year approaches, it’s always tempting to focus on maximising your current revenues. But are the deals you are expecting to win being replaced in the pipeline with a growing stream of well-qualified prospects? Or will you find yourself looking up at an increasingly steep hill to climb?
There’s no point avoiding the issue. As well as closing as much as you can between now and the end of December, I urge you to use the opportunity to review what’s worked and what hasn’t in your sales and marketing programmes, to compare your performance against best-in-class benchmarks, and to put an improvement plan in place in time to have a real impact from the start of the New Year.
Having reviewed the winning habits of some of today’s top performing B2B sales and marketing organisations, and backed by a body of research from the Harvard Business Review, the Aberdeen Group, CSO Insights, Sirius Decisions and many other organisations, I’m going to suggest that sales and marketing alignment is going to be a critical success factor for the coming year.
Why we all need to line up together
Organisations simply cannot afford the wasted efforts associated with marketing generating “leads” the sales force can’t be bothered to follow up, to invest in marketing programmes that do nothing to influence buying behaviour, to create sales tools that lie unused, or to have your sales people pursuing “deals” that are never likely to close.
Nor can they afford to have CRM systems that are regarded with anything less than wild enthusiasm by your sales people, to conduct sales training that is never followed up or reinforced, or to have inconsistency or ambiguity about how your pipelines are managed or how your sales forecasts are generated.
And - this is critical - they cannot afford to be ignorant about the issues and trends that are most important to your prospective customers, to fail to spot the trigger events that cause them to start searching for solutions, to fail to be found when they start looking, or to fail to align your sales and marketing processes with the way your customers prefer to buy.
Everybody needs to be aligned. Everybody needs to be informed. Everybody needs to be on the same page. Everybody needs to be accountable.
How do you compare against these 12 best practices?
This all sounds very obvious, but my observations suggest that most organisations have some room for improvement. So how does your sales and marketing operation compare against the best-in-class - and how can you identify where you might need to change things?
Our recently revised B2B Sales and Marketing online Health Check now includes an aggregate scoring system that can reveal how your current performance in 12 critical best practices compares with today’s top-performing B2B sales and marketing organisations. I suspect that you might find the answers - and the process of reviewing them - very illuminating.
I’d like to suggest that you find 10-15 minutes over the next few days to take the test. You might even want to invite other members of your team to do the same, and then compare the results. I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll identify at least one thing that could be improved. And if not, then at least you’ll know that you have these important bases covered.
Please take the test, and let me know how you get along. If you’d like to discuss the results, please drop me a line or give me a call on +44 (0) 7802 313300 once you’ve received your score.