Are you tired of the finger-pointing when sales aren't where they should be? After 15 years in a b2b sales role, and now as a CEO, I know I am.
It's distracting, soul-sucking, and it doesn't EVER lead to objective decision-making. As a leader, you're torn between listening to your performers and your own gut instincts - two sources that are WILDLY unreliable (#sorrynotsorry).
So, how do you stop the finger-pointing, and get your sales back on track?
Why does it happen?
Most of you are not equipped to make objective decisions related to sales... or marketing. In fact, if you can't objectively understand sales outcomes, then it is IMPOSSIBLE to measure marketing ROI.
Why? Because what in the hell is the point of investing in marketing if it isn't to generate/influence sales?
This is why I typically push back when a new business asks me about inbound lead generation when they don't have the ability to objectively measure sales outcomes regardless of source.
That's right - objectivity is king (not content - sorrynotsorry again) in my world. Without it, emotion and hunches will be your guiding light, and your ultimate undoing...
What's the Solution?
To start, one must have data that reveals the truth, not more meetings, collaborations, or phone monitoring.
Now, prepare to be uncomfortable and to have the urge to bounce before going any further in this article. You wouldn't be the first to cringe at what I'm about to suggest.. yes, it's that troubling to many people...
This is where your most important sales data should live, not just contact ownership. Be honest. Isn't "marking their territory" what most of your sales reps are doing with it?
Ask them... Where does their most important sales data live? Is it on Excel spreadsheets or in your pipeline management tools? Do they enter opportunities and leads into it, and do they record EVERY conversation, email, attempted call, etc?
Probably not. Not if you're struggling to objectively understand what activities lead to a sale, and what sends good deals into the abyss of death.
Step 1) Implement a modern CRM... one that automates data entry, so you don't have to worry about whether the data in your system is whole.
I won't go into all of the benefits of a modern CRM with respect to supporting sales in this article. For more about that, click HERE. Rather, we're here to talk about alignment.
The CRM is a management tool. The MODERN CRM is a SALES tool.
Step 2) Collaborate between sales and marketing, and execute an SLA.
Transparency is one thing. Rules of engagement are another. Without transparency, alignment is a guessing game. Guessing games lead to finger pointing. True alignment leads to shared outcomes.
Here are some of the things you can do to bring alignment once you've achieved high quality data integrity.
- Get your teams together, and build out your buyer personas
- Create definitions around the different quality levels of leads (Leads, MQLs, and SQLs)
- Set quality & quantity benchmarks
- Develop rules for lead hand-off and follow-up cadence and type
Wrap all of that into an SLA, have both parties sign off, then come back every month to measure SLA outcomes against sales outcomes.
Be ready to update the SLA on a regular basis. Since the data is new, you're going to go through several iterations as you learn. I suggest coming back to it once a quarter.
By implementing structured data that's easy to consume and share, then following it up with black-and-white rules of engagement, you won't have to listen to any more arguments about whose fault it is that something didn't close. Just look at the data. Better yet, just look at the increase in closed deals.
You'll have insights to why one sales person performs and another doesn't as well as how marketing plays a role or doesn't play a role in your sales outcomes.
Want to learn more about where your growth planning should start? Check out this Introductory Guide to Growth Planning: