Let's talk about three of the research findings:
Research fact: Forty-seven percent of the companies surveyed (1,600 companies participated) reported that their salespeople generate their own leads.
Research fact: Nearly 62 percent of all sales leaders surveyed say that their ability to generate new leads needs improvement.
Anyone see anything askew in this picture?
Now look at this:
Research fact: Thirty percent of all forecasted deals that didn't materialize were lost to the competition. Why? These competitors either had a better relationship with the customer or received a better price or terms.
Why is it that sales thinks they have to do the whole enchilada? Even if they're not the best suited for the task at hand?
Let's talk about lead generation for a minute. More than 750 companies said their salespeople generate their own leads. What the heck is marketing doing? Or are salespeople just discarding the leads marketing gives to them? If so, I'm guessing it's because marketing isn't nurturing and qualifying the leads to give sales what they need.
But, consider that salespeople should be having worthwhile conversations with short-horizon buyers, not generating leads. Unless of course your sales cycle is weeks, instead of months. Salespeople are after the sale-not the nurture. They want to work with folks who are actively buying something, not spinning their wheels with contacts who aren't even sure they're "looking." Salespeople are mostly hunters. It's just the way they're built-at least the good ones.
And, if salespeople were talented at generating a volume of leads, not just contacts, then the need for lead generation improvements would be far lower than 62 percent.
All of this said, the statistic that really frustrates me is the loss of forecast deals to the competition because they had a better relationship. [For the sake of this post, I'm ignoring price and terms because if you're losing deals based on that, you haven't added enough value to overcome commodity status.]
Relationships are the name of the game. For marketing, for sales and for customer retention. How is it possible that so many companies still fail to "get" this? How is it possible that companies still haven't woken up to the fact that selling is really all about BUYERS and providing whatever they need to make the purchase decision in your favor?
The key point is that building a relationship can't just be a trick your company drags out during sales interactions. Relationships are built over time. Value perceptions take more than a couple of conversations and a white paper.
Building relationships should be an ongoing process that serves as a lead generation process because people come to rely on your company for insights, education and expertise. That's what brings referrals, gets your company in conversations that include your buyers and helps convince them you're worth considering ahead of other alternatives.
Then again, only 51% of salespeople are making quota. Yet companies are living with that.
Can you think of any better reasons that marketing and sales alignment should be at the top of the priority list for 2010?
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