I was speaking with an executive the other day who repeated the concerns of her management team that their existing market was too small to sustain their growth.
Expanding into new markets may look enticing, but there are large risks and costs associated with this strategy. As it turned out in this case I was able to show the company that their market was large enough to provide growth opportunities for the next 3 years.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
As an interim marketing executive I consider myself a part of the revenue-generation team of my clients. In this role, together with the sales executive, I frequently have conversations with the company CFO about the sales forecast and resource requirements within the marketing and sales departments.
I’ve found that in companies where a sophisticated revenue funnel is in use for planning and performance management, and the CFO is very familiar with the model and its metrics, these conversations about forecast and resources are shorter, smarter, and frankly, less contentious.
On the other hand, in companies where a sophisticated funnel model is not in use and the CFO is not privy to the metrics and assumptions that drive the model . . . well, let’s just say the meetings aren’t much fun.
The revenue funnel isn’t the sole domain of sales or marketing. CFO’s should be as familiar with their company’s funnel structure and metrics as any sales executive or marketing executive. Here’s why.
- Funnel modeling tools provide the best way for marketing, finance, and sales to talk the same language during planning and reporting.
- The variables of the funnel make up the actual metrics of the revenue engine. These variables are the levers and dials over which management has control.
- The funnel, over time, enables the sales forecast to be made with higher and higher degrees of accuracy.
- Requests for more resources from Marketing and Sales can in part be justified or refused based on funnel economics
CFO’s should be trained in the use of sophisticated funnel modeling tools right along side their marketing and sales colleagues.
An excellent source of this training is the FunnelAcademy(tm), which includes comprehensive training on sizing a funnel and measuring progress. It also includes the most robust funnel modeling tool I’ve ever had the pleasure to use.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
When the going gets tough, the tough fine-tune their sales funnel processes for greater efficiency and effectiveness.
So many companies today find themselves trying desperately to succeed with fewer marketing and sales people and with less budget. I like to think of this situation as having to step into the OK Corral with only four bullets in my gun instead of six. Every bullet has to hit its mark. No room for waste or ineffectiveness.
Marketers and sales people realize this, but it does raise two questions:
- What should we be doing more of?
- What should we be doing less of?
If a company’s sales funnel has been designed around the buyers’ journey, and if both Sales and Marketing have aligned their strategies and tactics to this journey then they will find the answers to both questions in the metrics that result from a well managed sales funnel.
If there isn’t alignment around the buyers’ journey then sales and marketing are likely working at cross purposes to one another and there is an unacceptable level of trial and error in the tactics.
Research* has proven that companies who have aligned their marketing and sales activities to the buyer’s journey win 38% more of their proposals, lose 36% fewer customers each each year and grow 5.4 points of growth more than companies who aren’t aligned.
Not all sales funnel processes are equal. Most are too simplistic or are centered on the seller’s journey not the buyers’ journey. A rock-solid funnel model factors in lag, leakage, and recycling–there’s nothing “simple” about the dynamics of a funnel.
There is a way to mine the sales funnel expertise of major corporations around the world. You simply need to plug into the minds that developed the processes for these global brands and built the tools to support the processes. That is easy. The world’s leading authorities on sales funnel management and performance are at MathMarketing. They now offer black belt workshops that teach companies and marketers how to do this. Known as the Funnel Academy(tm), these workshops are now available in the U.S. CEO’s should make these programs mandatory for every B2B marketer and sales manager. For that matter the CEO’s should participate, too. This is the best B2B marketing training on the planet.
*Source: MathMarketing alignment benchmark study 2004/2005 : 1400 professionals : 84 countriesRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
Do you suspect that the marketing function at your company is not doing enough to help grow revenue and move the company forward? If these thoughts are in your mind don’t feel like the Lone Ranger. There exists in many B2B companies a “marketing malaise” that is a drag on company performance.
Much can be done in 3-4 months to transform the marketing function into a finely tuned and inspired machine.
I give an overview of my approach in a Flash presentation called, “Transforming the Marketing Function in B2B Companies: The Road to World-Class Performance”. View the presentation. No registration required.
Please share your comments and thoughts on the topics after you’ve seen the presentation.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
When I was in school there was no such thing as “the short bus”. Kids with special needs got on the same bus as the rest of us. I recall this situation worked fine for everyone, but I probably wasn’t paying attention.
At some point after I left the K-12 school system, districts started providing separate transportation for kids with special needs–those with learning disabilities and physical disabilities. Then the term “short bus” was born because the buses were smaller. If you rode that bus you were branded by your classmates as not being as smart or as capable as they were. Yep, kids are cruel. “And the point is?” you ask.
My point is I believe most C-level execs think the people in their marketing department get off the short bus every morning. They don’t hold their marketing people in high regard. Marketers are seen as a necessary business expense and not a strategic contributor to the organization. They aren’t viewed as people who “understand the business”. Unfortunately, in too many companies they are right.
This can be explained in three parts. First, a lack of marketing leadership has not adequately defined the role of the marketing function within the organization. Second, there isn’t the right business acumen in the department to deliver on any mission higher than worrying about the font size on the company website. Third, the top execs in the company don’t have a clue about what marketing’s true value should be.
I see the caliber of people who are in most marketing positions today and I shudder. I’m not saying that marketing people are stupid. That’s not the case. I see way too many who are mis-informed, mis-guided, and ill-prepared to do much more for the business than make the logo look good.
SMB companies, in particular, are struggling to get high value from their investment in the marketing function, but are stuck in a no-man’s land. They generally can’t afford to hire a seasoned marketing executive who can both train and lead the marketing department to new heights.
Company after company makes the mistake of thinking they can solve their sales and marketing leadership problems by paying big bucks for a VP of Sales & Marketing. Wrong! Any person with sales in their title will devote 95% of their time and energy to making their revenue target. Five percent of time and energy for marketing leadership doesn”t cut it.
Enter the interim marketing executive. A SMB company may not be able to afford a permanent CMO, but they can certainly justify an interim CMO engagement, properly scoped to lead, install best practices, and train the marketing staff. The right interim executive can transform an entire marketing department in less than six months.
Put your marketing team back on the long bus where they belong. Talk with an interim marketing executive today ( I know a few) about what they can do to boost marketing’s performance to a new level.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
In over six years as a marketing consultant and interim exec I’ve had many occasions to pro actively work with the head of Sales or Sales Operations to re-engineer opportunity pipelines (aka lead funnel, sales pipeline, etc.). MarketingSherpa and Marketo recently collaborated on an article about how Sales & Marketing can better align to generate and close more leads. The points they make in the article are good advice.
I’ve been successful in this for several reasons. Other interim marketing managers take note.
- As a “new guy” I can establish a trusting, working relationship with Sales free of any past acrimony and angst. Plus, I’m objective and bring fresh thinking to the situation.
- I share a sense of urgency with Sales; I’m anxious to make improvements quickly because my engagement time is limited. Believe me, Sales appreciates marketing folks who have a sense of urgency.
I also follow an effective process for re-engineering the opportunity pipeline.
- I was taught some time ago that the key to defining stages of a pipeline is to identify “observable customer behaviors” that dictate where the opportunity is within the pipeline. Did the customer take the factory tour, or not? Did they request a proposal or not?
- Once the stages and triggers of the entire lead gen and sales process are mapped out, I work collaboratively with ales to apply metrics, the conversion ratios between each stage. Yes, this can be tricky.
- With metrics in place and knowing what our average revenue per sale or per deal is we can calculate how many contacts, suspects, leads, prospects, etc. we need to generate hit our revenue number. Yep, you may need a separate pipeline for each brand, or product line.
- Then, we work collaboratively to assign strategies and tactics to each stage, plus ownership for each. A marketing action plan and sales support plan are the outcomes, not to mention a clear understanding of the process, and a shared vocabulary.
- The final steps are making sure the CRM system supports our pipeline stages, and training everyone in sales & marketing on it.
- Act, measure, adjust, act, measure, adjust.
By Charles Besondy
In my never-ending quest for wisdom and enlightenment I browsed the Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition published by the Department of Labor. http://www.bls.gov/oco/oco2008.htm
According to Uncle Sam the demand for our profession looks rosy except in manufacturing. This report doesn’t concern itself with interim managers or temporary managers, but I strongly believe in the theory that a rising tide lifts all boats. So if there is consistent demand for marketers, the demand for interim marketers should also be strong. An excerpt from the report follows.
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Advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales manager jobs are highly coveted and will be sought by other managers or highly experienced professionals, resulting in keen competition . . . In particular, employers will seek those who have the computer skills to conduct advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales activities on the Internet.
Employment of advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales managers is expected to increase faster than the average for all occupations through 2014, spurred by intense domestic and global competition in products and services offered to consumers. However, projected employment growth varies by industry. For example, employment is projected to grow much faster than average in scientific, professional, and related services, such as computer systems design and related services, and in advertising and related services, as businesses increasingly hire contractors for these services instead of additional full-time staff. By contrast, a decline in employment is expected in many manufacturing industries.
I have decided to write a book on the topic of interim management for the marketing function, and you can play a part. If you have hired or have considered hiring IMs for marketing roles I’d very much like to interview you for my book. Please post a comment if you have something to say on this topic and would like to be interviewed. For the rest of you, if you think a particular topic should be covered in the book, let me know.
There are some good books on interim management in general, but the focus of my book will be on the marketing department. I feel strongly that smart companies see IMs as excellent tools for staying nimble and quick within highly dynamic markets. IMs give companies the ability to bring in the perfect blend of experience and expertise at C-level, VP-level and Director-level positions. When the requirements change, it’s easy and painless for the company to change the talent mix. Not enough companies are using this model, however.
I’m looking forward to hearing your ideas.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
By Charles Besondy
Every CEO I know can be described with one or more of these labels:
- Orchestra conductor
- Chess master
- Pied piper
- Puppet master
Try it. Think of the CEOs you know (perhaps yourself even). Pin the label on the CEO. It’s fun. While personalities and leadership techniques vary, CEOs all have one thing in common—they manage resources to drive results. More specifically, the CEO blends and directs the talent, infrastructure and finances at his/her fingertips. When he gets the combination right success usually is the outcome.
However, if it was easy to get the right combination every company would be widely successful. More often than not, the limitations of the talent, infrastructure, finances, or time (our number one enemy), muck up the works and restrict success.
Interim management should be the CEO’s best friend and secret weapon (or favorite ingredient if you prefer the chef label more than the general label). By relying on interim managers in the marketing function, the CEO can apply exactly the right marketing skills and experience to an initiative for exactly the right amount of time—all while working with variable budget dollars rather than fixed budget dollars.
This ability to augment the CEOs arsenal with the right talent at the right time can be a major competitive advantage in that it enables business agility.
- The company can jump on market opportunities or react to competitive moves swiftly and adeptly. It takes far less time to locate and retain an interim manager than to recruit a full-time senior manager (even if there is headcount in the budget).
- Existing teams aren’t whip-sawed from one initiative to another. A high degree of focus can be maintained on existing business, while teams enhanced with interim marketing talent chase new opportunities.
- The initiative’s requirements can be matched to an interim’s domain and process expertise; very few compromises necessary. The CEO can select the optimum weapon for the job.
As a CEO do you see yourself selecting weapons, moving chessmen, orchestrating a team, or creating a world-class stew? Whatever metaphor you select, consider that interim management for the marketing function stands ready to help drive business and revenue growth.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
By Charles Besondy
I recently finished an engagement with a manufacturer of high-end computer systems for digital artists. Reflecting on the project I realized that it was a classic case for interim management.
The management team recognized that they had a common problem on their hands–a new product line had been conceived in Engineering and was under development. However, no product marketing or product management resources were available to validate customer requirements, develop positioning, create pricing strategy, set up a beta program, construct a go-to-market plan, etc. The company’s thin marketing resources were fully occupied with the support requirements for existing revenue-generating products.
So, management could have elected to tell their existing staff to suck it up and take on the considerable extra work for several months. However, this management team was smarter than that. They didn’t want to endanger the current revenue stream. They knew all too well how difficult it is to get business momentum in the air, and once achieved just how quickly it can stall, crash and burn if ignored.
This management team did the right thing. They brought in an interim manager (me!) to handle the product marketing duties for the new product line. With apologies to The Cable Guy, they chose to “Get ‘er Done!”Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
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