Showing posts with label sales and marketing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sales and marketing. Show all posts

SaaS Solutions – Are You Marketing for Leads or Sales?

Traditionally, Business Software vendor marketing has primarily focused on generating leads for sales to follow-up and engage with prospects.  This was predicated on the complexity and duration of the sales, delivery, deployment and implementation processes for traditional On-premises solutions.

Software as a Service (SaaS) radically changes the delivery, deployment and implementation processes for business solutions.  This creates opportunities to rethink the sales and marketing approach and processes for the SaaS solution model.

Business software vendors that started life in the SaaS world, primarily focus their marketing campaign strategies, materials and website on:

  • Demonstrating the real product online, on-demand
  • Offering a free trial to sign-up online right now to use the full product for a limited time period and subsequently convert to a paying customer
  • Pricing and other specific information about subscribing to the solution
  • Providing relevant information for prospective buyers in their context with multimedia materials
  • Engaging with their audience using online marketing and sales methods to expediently make the sale online with or without salesperson involvement
  • Alternatively, collecting contact information for generating leads for subsequent follow-up by a salesperson.
The intent for new generation SaaS vendor marketing is to firstly attempt to make the sale or part of it online and secondly to capture contact information for the lead generation process.

In contrast, On-premises business software vendors that also offer SaaS versions of their solutions, seem to be continuing their traditional marketing approach:
  • Providing general information about products, solutions, industry applicability, etc.
  • Focus on harvesting contact information for their lead generation process at every opportunity such as registration to read a whitepaper, view a video clip, etc.
  • Limited or no information about subscription costs and terms
  • Creating the need for a prospective buyer to provide their contact details to get additional information and details they need for a buying decision.
Even though SaaS creates new opportunities to reorient marketing to actually sell solutions or initiate the sales process online, most traditional On-premises vendors that offer SaaS versions of their products are still primarily focused on generating leads for SaaS solutions like they have done for On-premises solutions in the past.

Some SaaS solutions such as CRM, Expense Management, eCommerce, etc. have a proven track record of selling online in a customer self-service mode with little or no live salesperson assistance.  Prospective buyers may not be ready to buy all SaaS solutions, especially more complex or higher value solutions, in an online self-service mode.  However, there are proven methods for opportunities to redirect the focus from marketing for leads to marketing for sales.

“I am the world's worst salesman, therefore, I must make it easy for people to buy.” ~ F. W. Woolworth

The ultimate objective is to make a sale – SaaS provides the opportunity to directly market for the sale, rather than market for leads for the sales process.

Have you shifted or considered shifting your marketing focus from leads to sales and what have you experienced?  Your comments are always welcome.
Copyright © 2009 The Marketing Mélange and Ingistics LLC.

Time: An Overlooked Difference between Marketing and Sales

Most of us in marketing have experienced this scenario – your company misses the just completed quarter’s sales targets – marketing and sales leaders are hauled into the CEO/COO’s office for a grilling to explore why this happened.  Inevitably, Marketing is thrown under the bus for not producing enough leads.  But there’s a disconnect that is frequently overlooked or disregarded – what marketing are working on today is not what sales are working on today.

Although the above statement may be intuitively obvious to anyone who stops to think about it, this time difference isn’t sufficiently considered for marketing and sales performance measurement.

Consider a manufacturing supply chain as an analogy.  There are planning, scheduling, procurement and delivery activities that happen in the inbound supply chain long before manufacturing can produce a product, and then there’s the outbound supply chain to ship and distribute the product for purchase by the eventual customer.  This total lead time from end-to-end is typically 3 to 12 months depending on the industry.  Manufacturers use Demand Planning to deal with synchronizing the supply chain lead time with anticipated future demand relative to when the finished goods will be purchased.

Marketing has a life-cycle of processes over an extended time period like a supply chain.  Consider this hypothetical example of a typical B2B marketing campaign process over a quarterly time increments:

  • Q1 – marketing does research, analysis and testing to formulate the campaign value proposition, target market(s), offer, etc.
  • Q2 – marketing develops the campaign content, materials, enablement resources, etc.
  • Q3 – marketing begins executing the campaign.  First leads start coming in.
  • Q4 – campaign in full swing – leads are coming in.  Sales get qualified leads for action.
Now add the typical B2B sales and/or buying cycle of 3 to 9 months or longer on top of that and we’re in Q6 or Q7 or later when deals are planned to close for leads generated by this campaign.  So if Q7 sales didn’t make quota, marketing wasn’t working on the same leads or deals for Q7 as sales was.  That doesn’t exonerate marketing from some responsibility for the problem.  However, what these quarterly sales review meetings seem to miss, is not to look at what marketing did in the quarter in question (Q7 in this example), but what marketing did in Q1 through Q4 that led to the Q7 outcome.

Some questions executives could ask considering the time differences for a more relevant discussion and productive outcome from the review process:
  • What was the original analysis for the campaign(s) that produced leads that should have generated sales in the quarter under review?
  • What was the anticipated customer demand in the plan and how was it determined?
  • What changed in the meantime?  Economic factors, buying cycles, customer budgets, competition, market shifts, etc.
  • Did the campaign execute as planned and produce the expected results?
  • Were adjustments made to the campaign as unanticipated external or internal changes occurred?
  • Are sales selling according the campaign value proposition and reasons customers expressed interest?
That meeting is also a good opportunity to look forward for the next couple of quarters with the same questions to anticipate potential problems and proactively make adjustments. Also review what plans marketing have in the early phases of the campaign process that will drive sales activity 3 to 5 quarters from now.

Is this lead time difference an issue for you?  If so, how do you handle it?  Your comments are always welcome.
Copyright © 2009 The Marketing Mélange and Ingistics LLC.

What’s a VP/Director/Manager of Sales & Marketing?

I know what a VP/Director/Manager of Sales does, I know what a VP/Director/Manager of Marketing does, but I’ve always been somewhat perplexed about what a VP/Director/Manager of Sales & Marketing does. Over the years, whenever I meet someone with a ‘Sales & Marketing’ title I usually try to have some conversation about their job to find out more about their role. Without exception the person in that role is a salesperson with primary responsibility for sales. A quick review of current VP/Director/Manager of Sales & Marketing job postings confirms that the requirements for these positions are primarily sales related.

Based on my anecdotal research, the Sales & Marketing organization is really a sales organization with a small marketing functional area in a secondary, supportive role usually responsible for primarily two types of deliverables:

  1. Lead generation – generally a more tactical function than you would find in a full-fledged marketing organization. Focus and performance measurement is on driving the volume of leads into the top of the sales funnel needed to eventually and hopefully produce the required volume of sales from the bottom of the funnel.
  2. Sales collateral – production of tactical collateral such as brochures, datasheets, product overviews, case studies, etc. used during the sales process.

"The Sales/Marketing Manager is like an amphicar (amphibious car). Great idea, but what you really get is a highly ineffective car and a highly ineffective boat." – Mark Goff

The marketing functional area in this type of organization generally doesn’t have the bandwidth, budget or management support for a market-driven approach or a more strategic marketing role. However, the marketing functional area in these organizations can add more value and some strategic direction to help sales be more effective and productive:
  • While the performance measure for lead generation is on volume into the sales funnel, marketing should add research, analysis and segmentation to drive more targeted and relevant leads. Sales will appreciate not wasting time and effort chasing 100 leads with a 2% probability of closing versus focusing on 30 more targeted leads with a 10% probability of closing.
  • For the collateral, marketing should add value to make the materials more appropriate for the intended audience and provide guidance to sales for using the materials more effectively:
    • Strategic messaging aligned with the value your stuff creates for customers should be used consistently in the materials.
    • Develop the materials to align for use at the various stages of the sales cycle. It’s not ‘show up and throw up’ as many salespeople are inclined – guide salespeople on which materials to use at each stage of the sales cycle to help move the buyer to the next stage.
  • Company website – if you haven’t already, take control of the company website and make it a marketing vehicle that all business websites should be.
In spite of marketing usually being in a tactical, supportive role reporting to a VP/Director/Manager of Sales & Marketing, there are several ways for marketing to add more value, help sales be more effective, improve results and ultimately raise the stature of marketing in these organizations.

Your comments are always welcome.
Copyright © 2009 The Marketing Mélange and Ingistics LLC.