Sales is blessed and cursed by a misunderstanding of one-dimensionality. There is a lot to like about a clean logical framework around hunting and farming deals and winning by the numbers. Of course, like most convenient simplifications, the one-dimensional view of Sales leaves much unconsidered and a lot of room for improvement.
Marketing, on the other hand, tends to suffer from a kind of professional multiple personality disorder. Marketing is Branding! No, Marketing is Customer Engagement! Marketing is Communications! Marketing is automation! No, Marketing informs Product and Product Roadmaps! All of these personalities are valid, but at the end of the day they aren’t a great way to operationalize Marketing to accelerate topline and bottomline performance. Managing each personality silo independently may create a sense of accountability and progress, but company performance at the highest level will suffer.
I’m going to take a risk and propose that Marketing at heart is two aspects of one concept – piloting the organization’s Opportunity space. Marketing is the truest, deepest keeper and steward of Opportunites – what kinds, how many, how viable, how well-managed.
The Art of Marketing – Opportunity Generation
What happens in your organization’s future is based on the possibilities it assesses for itself. Only the possible can manifest. Every organization has a vested interest in expanding its possibilities in sales opportunities, markets and applications, as well as its brand/reputation. Expansion of possibilities is a prime responsibility of most organizations. What percentage of your qualified leads came from new sources within the last year? How much of your revenues and profits come from products or services released within the last year? Last three years?
A conversation-based marketing mindset and approach, not not necessarily the department, is well-qualified to keep and nurture the universe of possibilities ahead. Innovative leadership companies capture and run with possibilities that are discovered and systematically seek discovery. Discovery comes from conversations internally and with prospects, customers, partners, suppliers, competitors and market observers. What is your organization doing to systematically expand and capitalize on its universe of possibilities?
The Science of Marketing – Opportunity Management
I rarely encounter a company that doesn’t want more leads, better leads, shorter sales cycles, higher expected deal and customer values with longer customer retention. All of these goal metrics are dependent on how well your company manages its ongoing opportunities. And those opportunities are driven and gated by conversations that can resolve positively, negatively or not at all. Who is managing your network of critical conversations?
A company’s strength in conversation management will show up in the thoughtfulness and usefulness of its Sales Funnel practices and in its Roadmaps for Brand and Product/Service. What percentage of your funnel practices and individual critical conversation gates/trigger actions have been optimized within the last year? Are your Roadmaps ahead of, even with or behind your competitors? What is your on-time promise delivery performance?
Consider committing your organization to perpetual pursuit of increased effectiveness and efficiency in managing the critical conversations constitutive of operational Sales and Marketing opportunities, starting with leads and moving through long term customer value. The final arbiter of success in this direction is ROI. If marketing is working, you will be able to measure tangible and increasing ROI on your opportunity generation and management strategies, programs and campaigns.