Are You Ready for the New Year: Critical Marketing and Sales Planning Questions
As a marketing/sales leader or company executive, you probably don’t have the luxury of divorcing your mind from business during the holiday period. You know that 2019 will be here in a flash and you need to take steps to ensure that you enter the new year primed for focused activity and optimized results. Following are nine important questions to help you get your marketing and sales planning off to a great start.
Can I be a thought leader? You probably understand intuitively that thought leadership can separate your company from your competition and bring you easier and more profitable sales. However (and this is a big however), despite what you have been told by certain content marketing gurus, being a thought leader requires work in four areas:
- A deep understanding of your chosen market domain.
- Differentiation in terms of the way you approach the market and customer solutions.
- Thoughtful creation of unique and compelling content.
- Relentless socialization/propagation of your content.
Is my primary mission to create demand or fulfill demand? Get this answer wrong and your marketing and sales road becomes a lot rougher. There are companies who have to educate consumers about why they need a product or service and those that are dealing with prospects who already know they have a need. If you are a demand creator, you need to aim a lot more of your content at the top of the funnel (e.g. whitepaper or best practices report). In the latter case, the mission is to create the type of compelling offers that compel prospects to buy now, and your content should be targeted deeper in the cycle (e.g. buyer’s checklist,case studies).
Is my company delivering and expressing its highest possible value? As we show in our latest whitepaper, The Business Value Hierarchy, you can benefit from a strategic approach to cure under performance and leapfrog your competition. For example,if you are a solution provider and make the commitment to graduate to “expert”status, your company will be worth more, both in terms of financial and brand equity. Note that what counts is not how you perceive your company but rather how prospects and customers perceive you.
Can we benefit from a new lead-to-revenue (L2R) model? The lead-to-revenue model is everything that you do to attract, educate, engage and sell prospects.Perhaps you have built a great company with your existing L2R process and you don’t want to jeopardize current revenue. This is perfectly understandable but maybe you can test a new model alongside your existing processes – testing the concept in small quantities at a low investment. Lots more about this can be found at The Expert’s B2B Revenue Growth Playbook: Actionable Strategies to Make Your Business Soar. One last point about complacency with your current L2R model: It is always best to disrupt your own company before your competitors and customers get a chance to do so.
Is our sales model built around the needs of the seller or the buyer? For years, we have been talking about the sales and marketing funnel. But the funnel that really counts is the buyer’s funnel. Instead of forcing customers/clients to do it your way, figure out how they prefer buying and align your processes accordingly. Change your mindset from “we need to do a better job selling” to:“we need to do a better job at helping people buy.” Note that this is a repeat question from my end of year 2017 blog but it is so important that I wanted to include it this year.
Can I impact results by optimizing in a few key areas? Perhaps you have a targeted audience, great product, compelling offer and the right outreach program – yet your results are lagging. This is good news because you may be able to improve a few key conversion metrics to hit or even exceed your revenue targets. One example is the percentage of website visitors that either purchase or download. What would 50% improvement here mean to results? Careful attention to just one area can boost overall performance and focusing on several can skyrocket results.
Am I substituting activity for effectiveness? Is your first tendency when things go south to ramp the level of your marketing and sales activity? This is a natural reaction but is probably not your best option. Rather you should focus your activities on those most likely to achieve the best results. Sales productivity expert Barb Giamanco wrote a great column on this for our blog titled, The Myth of More in Sales.
Do we have the right team in place? As you complete your 2019 planning, carefully consider whether the team you have in 2018 is exactly the right team to deliver a more successful 2019. If not, you have some decisions to make about adding,subtracting or replacing certain team members. These are some of the toughest decisions we marketing and business leaders go through but it is usually better to do this sooner.
What external resources can help us hit our targets? This is a companion to the previous question.Perhaps your team is talented and dedicated but just lacks in a few critical skills (e.g. web optimization, digital marketing, branding). An external resource can fill the gaps and relieve you of the burden of hiring and managing employees to do these specialized tasks. External resources can also include partners and strategic alliances that can propel your entry into new markets and/or expand your footprint in existing markets.
Even if your 2018 was less than stellar, concentrating on the questions and areas of improvement I’ve listed above can ensure your 2019 is improved in terms of a more effective lead-to-revenue model and additional power for your sales and marketing teams to meet revenue goals. I know we all get busy this time of year, so I wanted to make sure to wish all of our readers and clients, contacts and colleagues, a happy holiday season with family and friends and a fulfilling and prosperous New Year.