I had a client, let’s call him Jon. Over the course of a couple of decades, Jon had built a very successful business and was accustomed to certain things, such as: what a sales person would have to do to be successful; the cost of sales; the level of service required; and moreover the expected margin on the products and services sold. The problem was, he was unwilling to see or even discuss the idea that the world around him had changed and therefore a new approach was needed.
My biggest obstacles in helping Jon were combatting the following well-touted beliefs:
“We don’t do things ‘that’ way, we have always been successful doing it ‘this’ way.”
“We pay our sales people to listen.”
“Marketing is an overhead expense with no ROI.”
Although Jon was an unusually stubborn fellow, I pick on him because his beliefs ran completely counter to what it is that I have built my career on and the fundamentals that founded my company on. I believe (or at least hope) that I won’t come across too many people like Jon in my career, but I also believe in some organizations – this thinking still exists and in today's market it's hurting your ability to grow and build a profitable business. Let’s dig into each one a bit more.
Remember that the 6 most expensive words in business are: “We’ve always done it that way.”
I remember one time I was watching Oprah, she was telling a story about Thanksgiving and how she* was preparing the turkey and cut an inch or so off of one end. When Gail (or whomever it was) asked what she was doing, she said "I am getting the turkey ready." To which Gail replied: "Yes, but why are you cutting all that off?" Oprah stopped and explained that it was what her mom always did. What Oprah didn’t realize was that her Mom had always done that because her pan was too small, to make the turkey fit she had to cut some off. Oprah’s pan was plenty big, she was just doing it because that was they way “we’ve always done it.” That is just a simple story to illustrate the bigger point, what if it wasn’t a turkey, what it if was a business process or the like? What if, teams were empowered to ask why and look for a better way to drive bigger and better results, even if was new, different and untested? (BTW – I have always wanted to be able to quote or reference Oprah for a work related purpose, this is a huge milestone for me. Thanks for your support.)
The Decline of the “Ordertaker”
I touched on this in a previous blog a bit, but Forrester has categorized salespersons in to four main archetypes and have published research on how the mix is changing. You can read there entire article “death of a sales person” here, or if you aren’t a Forrester client you can watch this webinar - it is well worth the time. They explain right there in black and white, why we will see a significant drop in the number of “ordertakers” in the next 4 years. They estimate the number of this type of sales person (those that simply fill requests) will decrease in number by an estimated 37%. Why? To paraphrase, because they aren’t effective! Not for the client nor their employer. In a related statistic, many companies are replacing Ordertakers and explainers with technology! And while navigators and consultants are best equipped to deliver the services that buyers prefer during their buying process, it is ultimately the consultant that will come out on top. So how do they describe a “consultant”? The Consultant Salesperson of the Future will:
Understand the customer’s cycle
Be socially networked
Follow data-insight signals
Be engaged in the buyer’s context
Be skilled in marketing
Be a content concierge
How does your sales team stack up against this list?
Showing the ROI of Marketing
The role of a marketing team is always expanding and there can be challenges to showing ROI (especially when roles across the marketing organization are not well understood by those wanting to see the results). However, with digital channels and access to data in the toolkit of today’s marketer, not only is demonstrating ROI possible it is becoming easier for marketing teams. It is proven that organizations who are willing to invest in expanding their marketing teams and their skills sets to embrace this transformation will over perform those that don’t.
There is quite a bit of research available today on the subject and the consistent message is this: with growing frequency marketing teams are owning the end-to-end customer experience throughout their customer’s lifetime. In a recent Economist study sponsored by Marketo, 63% of marketers polled say when done effectively that an engaged customer results in improved customer renewals, retention and repeat purchases. In the same study as this latest transformation continues, 80% of respondents agree that within 3-5 years, marketing functions will be classified as a revenue driver.
Net / net: those organizations that invest in marketing will be able to measure a significant return on that investment, those that starve a marketing organization of time, resources and talent -- won’t.
*or someone else – I don’t remember it was Oprah and Gail or if she was retelling the story herself… but let’s go with Oprah for the sake of the story.