If you’re in your company’s “C” Suite today, as a CEO, COO, CFO, CMO, CSO, you need to sit back and hold on while you read this.
It’s going to be a bumpy ride that you may or may not like. But when it’s over, I promise you will either have loved it, or hated it.
It’s a ride in the Real-World. Not a Small-World like that in a regional place like Disneyland. But in a Big-World as in all over the country – based on my having personally made more than 1000 sales calls over the past 20 years on marketing and salespeople in companies just like yours, who actually hide behind and thrive on Status-Quo when it comes to changing anything that may affect them personally.
They describe their problem, see a solution and do nothing, because they are paralyzed with the fear of altering the Status-Quo.
When it comes to trade show lead follow-up today, “ACT” should be considered an action VERB. But too many marketing and salespeople are treating it like a NOUN and side-stepping the daunting task of sales lead follow-up. Then the infamous blame-game begins that no one wins.
The renowned Center for Exhibition Industry Research (www.ceir.org) has identified the #1 Objective of trade show exhibitors today to be lead generation. And the #1 Problem exhibitors have is post-show lead follow-up. A paradox?
At the beginning of all of the trade show exhibitor education seminars I conduct, for show owners and organizers across the country, I continually validate the CEIR research findings by asking the same questions of exhibitors. I.e., “What’s your Objective?” Leads! “Problem?” Follow-up!
In fact, I know everyone reading this has heard, read, or lives in the statistics that continually scream that less than 20% of sales leads ever get followed-up. However, everyone must be thinking that it’s someone else’s problem and not theirs, when in fact it’s the 800-pound Gorilla in the living room that everyone seems to ignore.
Why anyone (or everyone) isn’t doing something about the lack of follow-up in their companies today is beyond me. Unless it’s for the reason, below, that I hate to admit is true, but becoming more obvious from having made hundreds of sales calls on BtoB marketers in small, medium and large companies over the past 2 decades.
Could it be that the problem of poor lead follow-up simply permits marketing to hit the ball over the net and blames sales for poor follow-up, and sales then lobs the ball back over the net and blames marketing for poor quality leads?
If that is the case or reason today, I shouldn’t even have to mention who’s winning that blame-game. Just look at the thickness of industry trade publications today. And look at the increasing number of visitor rest areas on trade show floors where exhibitor booths used to be, and you’ll begin to formulate the answer for yourself as to who’s’ really winning or losing. Marketing!
How many sales budges have you seen getting cut, due to the lack of ROI? I bet not many.
Instant gratification that has become a normal expectation today makes one ask for the answer, or a quick fix to the lead follow-up problem that I’ll first allude to with the word CHANGE. Then I’ll be more specific in where the answer lies with reference to the following statement made recently in an eye-opening luncheon presentation by the American Marketing Association (AMA.)
Overworked, marketing might not like to hear it, but they better start warming up to the reality of the following, because it’s as real as 9/11.
“The sales and marketing disconnect has reached a day of reckoning. Executive management is demanding that sales forces become more effective and that marketing departments help them get there. No more blame-game… No more finger pointing. We are all on the same team, with the same objective: Sell more stuff profitably.”
If you’re in marketing today and you missed the part in the above about “marketing departments help them get there”, I’d suggest you read the above statement again, because like it or not, I’m hearing it from every upper management person I talk to in companies today. They expect their marketing department to make it easier for their sales force to follow-up leads, by determining which ones are worthy of the sales force’s time. And marketers that don’t, are on a slippery slope.
What marketing doesn’t seem to understand is that people buy from people, and that true lead follow-up requires personal contact. The “act” of people talking to people is what establishes a true relationship. And finding the people that want to talk to your salespeople is not only critical today; it IS the only real answer to the pervasive problem of poor lead follow-up.
What marketing may also fail to understand, is that while today’s communication technology makes it easier for people to talk to each other (once a relationship has been established), it actually makes it harder for sales people to make the initial contact necessary for them to establish the relationship of follow-up leads.
By that I mean today’s technology of automated switchboards, voicemail, new fax laws and junk e-mail actually discourage salespeople from trying to contact people (or leads) they don’t know, and with whom they don’t already have a good relationship. So they are being forced to spend their time trying to squeeze more business out of their existing customers with whom they already have a relationship, and ignore the new business opportunities that exist in 80% of leads (from the aforementioned follow-up statistic) that aren’t being followed up. Another paradox?
Marketing needs to stop blaming sales for the problem and start empathizing with the barriers to success and the sales force’s inability to follow-up raw leads today.
The following 3 statistics are derived from Reed Business Information Systems statistics.
- The cost of a personal sales call is $329.00
- The number of personal sales calls necessary to close an order is 5.2
- The number of sales people the average buyer sees in a week is 1.8
Do the math here. Considering the above, 100 raw leads (or names from GI-GO ((Garbage In — Garbage Out)), CRM or Contact Management software output) actually requires…
- $32,900 of personal follow-up cost.
- More than 500 personal sales calls.
- Years to get in front of the buyers.
it’s both humorous and sad that I see marketing people actually hiding from the real solution to the problem of poor lead follow-up or trying to disguise it with incredibly expensive CRM and Contact Management software solutions that are doing nothing but getting raw sales leads to their salespeople faster… so they can do nothing with them sooner. All while orders are being lost.
If you laughed at that anecdotal comment, it’s no laughing matter that the “C” suite in companies today is beginning to question why expensive marketing leads aren’t leading anywhere.
Pro marketers need to take another look at that 800# Gorilla in their living room and at least begin to admit it’s there. And that planning to take the family to an Orlando during a trade show to see Mickey Mouse, or sneaking off to Las Vegas to gamble, is no longer considered acceptable trade show venue selection criteria.
I may have angered every marketing person reading this, but it’s time to forget the roller coasters and roulette tables for a while, because upper management is beginning to “get it.”
In my previous work life I personally walked in the shoes of a marketing and sales manager. And I’ll admit (now) that not only did my family see both Mickey and Minnie, what happened in Vegas stayed in Vegas. Today, however, proof of marketing expense ROI has agenda priority.
Times have changed, again. Generating leads in marketing and throwing them over the fence to sales no longer works. So, CHANGE the process.
Earl Nightingale’s comment that” It’s a human nature tendency to think that whatever people are doing in large numbers must be right, because so many are doing it” is no longer something that marketers can hide behind, just because everyone is “doing it.”
Marketing needs to get over the important fact that everyone that responds to their creative messages is not a prospect. So, all their names shouldn’t be given to their salespeople to sort out. Those that admit or realize that fact and assume the task of eliminating those that are not worthy of immediate sales contact before they are turned over to sales, are going to win BIG, long before the blame-game that they are obviously losing involves them.