B2B sales and marketing wish list by Mac McIntosh, one of America’s leading sales and marketing consultants, speakers and trainers.
- I wish that more marketers would interview a couple of their company’s prospects and customers every week. This will help them to better understand their prospects’ and customers’ needs and points-of-view, allowing the marketers to better craft and target their B2B marketing messages. It would also give the marketers a lot more credibility with management, product development, finance, and sales.
- I wish more marketers would start treating the company’s sales people as though they were the customer. (They are the marketer’s customer. The end buyer is the salesperson’s customer.) This approach will allow marketers to better focus on supporting their company’s salespeople and driving sales and revenue with their B2B marketing programs.
- I wish more marketers would make the time to regularly accompany their company’s B2B sales people, reps, dealers or distributors on B2B sales calls. This would give the marketers a better understanding of what the salespeople are up against and what B2B sales tools marketing could and should provide to assist B2B salespeople with demonstrating, proposing and closing B2B sales.
- I wish more companies would stop wasting the B2B sales leads they invested hundreds or thousands of dollars each to get. How? By putting in place B2B marketing programs designed to nurture those leads until they are ripe and ready for sales attention.
- I wish marketers did the work required to better understand the true value of B2B sales leads to their companies. If they tracked and measured cost-per-inquiry, cost-per-qualified-lead, cost-per-closed lead and the average sales value of leads that close, they could demonstrate their contribution to the company’s B2B sales goals and use the same information to justify their B2B marketing budgets.
- I wish more B2B marketing communications agencies were not afraid of being held accountable for results. Even bad B2B marketing communications works to some degree. And great B2B marketing communications works great. If marcom agencies tracked and measured the results of their client’s B2B marketing communications programs, as most direct and emarketing agencies do, they would be better able to justify their services and fees.
- Same goes for the company’s B2B marketing people. I wish they would be more accountable for the results of their programs. Especially if they want respect and a big enough budget to get the job done.
- I wish mailing list and database providers would not call what they sell “sales leads.” The lists or databases they provide may be suspects worth marketing to, but they’re definitely not what your salespeople would define as sales leads.
- I wish more opt-in email list managers would offer segmentation of their lists, similar to sorts and selects offered by traditional mailing lists. Then we marketers could better target our email efforts and reduce the volume of one-size fits all emails that get us in trouble.
- I wish more business and trade publishers would understand that what they are really selling is not advertising. Rather, they are selling access to their readers and visitors. And if they got creative about how they delivered that access, readers and visitors would want it, companies would pay for it, and the publishers would prosper.
- I wish more trade show companies would understand that a trade show is really about bringing buyers and sellers together. If they understood this better, they might do a better job of intelligently promoting the show and driving higher attendance. And removing stupid rules like not allowing companies to sell their products or services during the show.
- I wish companies would invest in improving their websites. I’m amazed at how many are not optimized to be found by the search engines, difficult to navigate and do little to bridge the gap between B2B marketing and B2B sales by helping prospects move from interest to consideration to sale.
- Also, I wish companies would use plain language on their websites. Here’s a real example of bad website copy:
“(Company) has a distinctive point of view: Each client is unique and what each client values is equally specific to them. We also know that each client’s conception of value will change over time. New conditions will prevail, new technologies will become affordable, new priorities will emerge. Sustaining value, once created, is key. We believe that a “Best Total Solution” is the most effective way to generate the maximum value for each client and sustain that value over time. “Total” means all the elements of work, not just hardware or software or products or services. It also includes knowledge, organizational structure, contract terms, risks and rewards – all the facets of providing service, the “how” as well as the “what.”
Honestly now, can you tell what they are trying to say?
- I wish that companies understood that brands are not products or names or advertising slogans. They are everything a company stands for. They are a reflection of the company’s character and personality – each trait from how the phone or email is answered, for example, to how quality is maintained, how products are sold, how customers are supported after the sale, and so much more.
- I wish B2B marketing and communications managers would treat the companies they outsource to as strategic partners to involve not only in the tactical execution but also in the planning. You can often prevent costly trial and error and increase your overall results by getting them involved in the project up front.
- I wish sales management would design compensation programs that reward salespeople for all behaviors that contribute to the success of the company. Commissions are important, but how about also rewarding salespeople for “closed-loop” feedback on B2B sales leads, more accurate forecasts, adding names and information to the B2B sales and marketing database, and other tasks important to the company’s ongoing success? Then, maybe salespeople would invest more time and effort towards these important tasks.
- I wish more sales managers would insist that the company’s marketers accompany salespeople on at least one sales call per month, so they better understand what the salesperson is up against and what B2B sales tools are really needed.
- I wish salespeople would quit complaining about B2B marketing people and, instead, try to help the company’s marketers understand how they can assist B2B sales in finding qualified sales opportunities, demonstrating product or service advantages, proposing and closing sales.
- I wish salespeople would stop ignoring qualified sales leads generated by B2B marketing programs. (Notice I said “qualified sales leads.” I don’t think salespeople should follow up on every inquiry or website visitor; only those that have been pre-qualified.) Their company spent thousands of dollars generating and qualifying sales leads, and if salespeople don’t contact these prospective customers, they will go elsewhere to buy.
- I wish salespeople would take the time to report back on the results of the B2B sales leads they are provided from B2B marketing. Their feedback would allow the folks in B2B marketing to better target their future lead generation programs, eliminating the efforts that don’t work and concentrating B2B marketing efforts where they will produce more of the high-quality leads salespeople want.
- I wish salespeople better understood that some B2B marketing is designed to plant the seeds, and water and feed the seedlings; not just identify the fruit that ripe for picking. The market recognition and sales leads salespeople are finding now are often the result of last year’s B2B marketing efforts.
- I wish sales people would get over the perception that they “own” the customer and should control all correspondence with “their” customers. The customers belong to the company. And by not allowing B2B marketing to communicate with their customers on an ongoing basis (reminding them of products and services they may have forgotten about and telling them about new ones they may need) the salespeople are missing out on additional sales opportunities.
- I wish salespeople were paid substantially more for selling products or services to new customers than for selling to existing customers. Even in the best of circumstances, existing customers are a shrinking group. The company needs new customers to replace the customers stopped buying and to meet the company’s growth goals.
- I wish that salespeople would quit trying to make customers fit into their selling process, but rather would focus on matching their sales approach to the customer’s buying process.
- I wish that sales people wouldn’t make promises they know can’t be kept. It eliminates the trust that good business relationships are built on and tarnishes the company’s reputation.
- I wish that CEOs and CFOs would approve B2B marketing budgets based on the percentage of the forecasted sales revenue, rather than the percentage of last year’s revenue. B2B marketing is an investment in the company’s future sales. It shouldn’t be based on past results. Especially if you want sales and revenue to grow this year.
- Better yet, I wish companies would budget for B2B marketing based on what needs to be accomplished, rather than simply based on a percentage of past or future sales.
- I wish corporate management would quit creating sales targets and quotas using the WAG (Wild Ass Guess) and WT (Wishful Thinking) methods. Instead, it would be more realistic to base targets and quotas on a combination of market research, past performance, and forecasts from the sales people in the field.
- I wish B2B marketing course work was required for anyone studying finance and accounting and as a part of continuing education requirements for CPAs. Then the CFOs and controllers in our companies might start seeing B2B marketing as an investment instead of an expense.
- I wish that all people at a company who have direct access to the company’ prospects and clients would participate in customer contact training. How often is your company’s B2B marketing message wasted (or the sale lost) when its customer is treated poorly?
- I wish companies would stop trying to cut costs by replacing live pre-sales support assistance with canned, automated email responses which are often useless or received far too late to positively influence the sale.
Giving credit where credit is due, not all the items above were my ideas. I enlisted the aid of a small group of business-to-business sales and B2B marketing professionals who subscribe to Sales Lead Report®. They include Peter Altschuler, Bob Derr, Tracy Emerick, Dianna Huff, Mike Wallen and Kristin Zhivago.
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M. H. "Mac" McIntosh is described by many as one of America's leading business-to-business sales and marketing consultants and marketing speakers. He is president of Mac McIntosh Incorporated, a marketing consulting firm specializing in helping companies get more high-quality sales leads and turn them into sales. More about Mac...