Services Marketing Organization Development

Establishment Alignment Optimization

In general, the establishment phase is focused on laying a foundation that will be subsequently built on. This involves establishing core processes and the skills to execute them so that you have consistency; and developing tracking systems that provide visibility and insight. With respect to the marketing organization, our focus is on those functions that are most directly related to generating revenue and supporting the sales process. In that context, the key components of the establishment phase include:

Campaigns target those actively looking to buy and early adopters:

It is important to tap into these two groups, assuming they meet your market criteria. It is better to find and engage potential buyers to determine whether they are worth pursuing further, than not know about them and miss out on the opportunity entirely. But those two groups have significant weaknesses, and those must also be noted.

Those actively looking to buy have already initiated a buying cycle. How or who started may be unknown. Most likely, it was initiated by one of your competitors and now the prospect is comparison shopping. That means you are immediately in a competitive battle - never a good place to start. There will also be some who are actively looking to buy because a trigger event has ocurred in their environment; but that group is typically much smaller those whose cycle was started by a competitor.

From the research we have reviewed and polling our clients, only about 10% of the total target market is looking to buy at any given time. That number can vary, depending on your market; but it is always a small percentage of the total potential prospects. So the vast majority of your market is not actively looking to buy right now. So the more important, and more difficult, challenge for marketing is how to intiate the buying cycle by moving them from 'not looking' to 'looking.' We will address that topic in the 'Alignment' tab.

Early adopters are able to, on their own, see technology and understand how to apply it to their business. That skill, coupled with a general enthusiasm for technology, make them both an attractive target for vendors and a kindred spirit. They can be a great market for vendors and a great source of information. But, they also present a great risk. As detailed in the writings of Goffrey Moore, many a vendor has deluded themself with the relatively easy selling to early adopters - believing the entire market will be so receptive and marketing to the early market is the way to successfully market to everyone. But like those actively looking to buy, early adpters are only a small percentage of the total market. Sadly, many never learn the difference between how early adopters and the late market go about making a purchase decision. And the difficulty in learning that lesson has resulted in the demise of many businesses.

In addition to a source of revenue, the most successful marketing organizations also use the actively looking and early adopters as a resource. By conducting research, those groups can provide marketers useful information on relevant business drivers and benefits that can be used in messaging to the late market. They can also serve as references or evangelists for the technology.

Collateral focused on product features:

Initially, marketing collateral is focused on features - describing what the product does or what the service is. service is. Such collateral is most effective in reaching those looking to buy and the early adopters described previously. They are not as effective in marketing to the late market and can even be off-putting to them, as the offering can be perceived as too complex or too expensive because of the features.

Leads limited to basic contact information:

The goal of marketing campaigns is to generate leads. What constitutes a lead, as contrasted with a contact or a prospect, needs to be clearly defined. TBut, there is often a major disparity in how marketing and sales define a qualified lead. Marketing often defines a lead as containing the rudimentary information of a name, a job title, and contact information. As what they consider to be icing, marketing might also solicit information on what offering the person is interested in. On the other hand, sales would like to have an opportunity handed to them all ready to close. Marketing is not gathering enough information before it passes the information off as a qualified lead and sales is expecting too much. A realistic compromise is achieved by defining qualified leads based on by your qualification criteria and sales process. How that information can be effectively gathered is the challenge for marketing. And it is not necessarily an easy one. But, it starts with the most basic contact information and that is what is gathered at this stage of development.

Conduct activities to educate the market on the product:

Consistent with the collateral, initial marketing events (conferences, workshops, seminars, etc.) tend to be focused on products and their features.  Conducting such events, or having similar components as part of an event, may be necessary. And, they can be appealing to those looking to buy and early adopters. But, product-oriented events are much less successful in attracting and engaging the majority of the target market. Like feature-focused collateral, product-oriented events can be off-putting. And that is especially true for some of the key decision-makers that are often critcal to sales. For instance, how many CFOs really want to go to an event that is not much more than a big software demonstraion and is attended mostly by techies? To attract the key players in the late market, the focus needs to shift away from your products and to the target market's business.

Centralized data, preferably in the CRM

Marketing needs to a means to store and manage all of all of its data, collateral, work in progress, etc. They will also need a means to comprehensively track leads as they move through various marketing activites (e.g., as they are nurtured) and to assess whether they resulted in sales. If relevant, there will be other data strage and management needs, such as registration for and attendance at events, online survey results, etc. Access to the data should be based on role and function, and may need to include both internal and outsourced staff.

As with any data management system, the needs and processes should drive the selection of technology. It could all be contained in one system or speard across multiple ones. In most instances, best practices would recommend fewer systems. The ideal would be a single system, and one that is part of a larger CRM system used by the entire revenue organization. Being part of the CRM better enables the comprehensive tracking of leads through sales and sharing of data throughout the organization. It also allows the establishment of common terminologly and process milestones across the organization, which promotes the alignment of marketing and sales.

Once the core marketing processes have been established, they can be aligned and coordinated. That alignment will take place with functions both internal to marketing and with cross-departmental functions. Alignment will occur with a large number of functions. Our focus is on those most directly related to generating revenue. In that context, alignment is focused on:

Campaigns focused on initiating buying cycles:

Without ignoring those already looking to buy, campaigns now become focused on initiating a buying cycle - how to move someone from not looking to looking. In the context of the buying cycle, the progresion is from being unaware to recognition of the problem or need, then to defining the problem and evauating options. During the evaluation phase is when a buying cycle is is typically considered to be initiated. But, the demarcation is not definitive and can vary. Evaluation is when the prospect makes contact with a vendor, be it directly with sales or indirectly through researching product information.

Oftent, moving someone from unaware to evaluation is not easy. It is one of the biggest challenges faced by marketing. There is no single answer. The common theme is that sparking curiousity or interest will move them from unaware to recognition; and providing hope for a better way will encourage them to more fully define their problem and begin to consider posibilities for a resolution. Your messaging, and the ways it is distributed, will be the means by which you spark interest or curiousity, and provide hope. Collaboration between your creative team and the market researchers is essential to the development of effective messaging. Creative needs substance from the researchers, and the researchers need creative to be compelling.

Data-driven market segmentation:

With a more defined sales process, you can track milestones and collect better data. Internally, the data can come from anyone who is in contact with customers and prospects, including: your own marketing activities, sales, customer service, and pre-sales engineers. Having this data standardized and centralized is a good argument for implementing a CRM that is used by the entire revenue organization.

That self-generated data, potentially coupled with third party research, can be used to define and understand your markets in greater detail. The specific analyses will depend on your situation and need. They can include: segmentation by specific industry, identifying all the key players involved in the purchase decision and their role, industry-pecific risk concerns, etc. That additional information and insight can then be used in subsequent messaging, and other marketing activities and collateral.

Solution focused collateral:

Previously, collateral was focused on products and services, and what they do. Now, they shift to describing how customers use your products and services to help them solve problems and meet objectives. Creating detailed reference stories and case studies is and excellent place to start. They stand alone as an excellent resource. We liken them to the 'coin of the relm" - meaning that they will open doors and take you places you never imagined. The information in them can be subsequently distilled and crafted to be used for a variety of purposes. 

Leads include prospect's pain or goal, and buying timeframe:

When generating leads, attempts are made to collect information about the business drivers that are creating interest in your products or services, and the timeframe for making a purchase. Having this information means that leads will be better qualified before being transferred to sales. In addition, the information is also market research, providing valuable data that can be cycled back into messaging and used in other ways.

Gathering this data is not always easy. People may not have th information or may not be willing to disclose it. But you won't get the information if you do not ask for it. There are also many creative and unobtrusive ways to solicit the information. If the person does not have the information, take an incremental approach. Get what information you can from them - and one thing might be finding out who can provide you the information.

Comprehensive and standardized competitive analysis:

Marketing is often charged with collecting and analyzing information about your competition. Although, for that to be truly comprehensive requires collaboration among members of the revenue organization. Each has information and a different perspective that is necessary to develop a complete undertanding of your competitors. To be most effective, the analysis and distribution of that information should be standardized. We utilize the the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) methodology because it serves the purpose and is well known. Other systems may work better for you. Just make certain there is a standardized system used throughout the revenue organization.

In conducting the analysis, we make certain to consider all five areas in which you compete (capabilities of your primary offerings, change management capabilities, your company, value, and the way you sell) and include as one of your competitors the possibility of the prospect taking no action. We believe that if you omit any of those, the analysis will not be comprehensive; and that will put you at risk of losing sales.

Conduct activities to educate the market on relevant business issues

As part of the efforts to initiate sales cycles, marketing activities shift from product education to focusing on busine issues relevant to your market. The ssues selected will be predominately biased toward those addressed by your products and services. The solution-focused collateral discused previously will support these efforts. However, expanding the business issues beyond what you directly address will help the events to be perceive as education, and not just selling. That will also enhance the value of the events to the attendees and will promote any goals you have of being a trusted advisor - a position frequently sought by vendors, but often poorly implemented. Because a trusted advisor is one who is focused more on your concerns, not theirs.

Once processes and functions are aligned, they can be optimized to further improve their effectiveness and efficiency. Optimization will include:

Messaging targets concerns of specific key players:

The data collected from leads on the specific pains and goals of key players now allows you to develop messaging specific to those individuals. In addition to the specific messaging, effectively reaching those markets may also require new tactics and mediums. Different advertising venues and new types of events are just some of the new tactics that may need to be considered to reach the different key players. But in essence, what you have accomplished by developing specific messging for each key player is to increase the number of potential targets for you to zero in on within your markets. And an increase in targets improves your chances of generating leads and making sales.

Value focused collateral:

The solution focused collateral detailed how your products and services were used to solve problems and reach objectives. The final element to add is the outcome of that use - or in other words, the value you help customers realize. If at all possible, value should be quantified. Numbers add power and weight to the reported results. There are some situations where measurement of the value is not possible, but in virtually all business settings and most major consumer purchases numbers can be gathered. More often than not, the buyer will be tracking something to assess the value, and wisdom, of their purchase. The issue is that they may not share that information with you. And in instances where they are not tracking outcome, many times they would like to. Helping them understand what and how to track success can be an added benefit - to both the buyer and the seller.

It is important to emphasisze that the metrics you track should generally not be monetary. Monetary payback will be encapsulated in the return on investment analysis and an ROI, although it might be the ultimate metric for the buyer, is typically not a very pure measure of the benefits that were gained. Too many factors outside of your control can confound an ROI and mask the actual impact of your products and services. More direct measures of that that impact should be identified and tracked. We call those Customer Success Factors. You can read more about Customer Success Factors in the Alignment tab of discussion on the development of the revenue organization.

Lead nurturing:

The goal of lead nurturing is to improve the conversion rate of leads to sales. Lead nurturing is focused on engaging people that meet your customer profile but are not actively looking to buy; and promoting their progression from being unaware of their problem or need to recognizing and starting to define it. In addition to promoting that progression, lead nurturing also tries to position your brand as being top-of-mind when the prospect is ready to buy. You can read more about lead nurturing and some of the data we have collected about it.

Full cycle lead analysis:

Several factors now enable marketing to track leads all the way through the buying cycle. A defined sales process with milestones implemented throughout the revenue organization, specific qualification criteria, tracking Customer Success Factors, and an organization-wide CRM are just some of the key elements that enable that analysis. The benefits to marketing of being able to comprehensively track leads are numerous. Perhaps the most important is that marketing will be able to demonstrate their contribution to revenue. In addition, it will provide key information to further refine messaging, and where unsuccessful leads are lost can be determined and the causes identified.

Input on negotiation concessions and requests:

With all the data now available, marketing will be in a better position to provide strategic input into other aspects of sales. One area is negotiations to close opportunities. Inevitably, negotiaition entails making concession and making requests for something in return. Too often, price is the predominate focus of negotiaitions and other items of value are ignored. Marketing will now have greater insight into what will have strategic value to the organization, such as asking for referrals or for the customer to be a reference site. 

Advise on Customer Success Factors:

As with negotiations, Customer Success Factors are another area in which marketing will now have better input. Based on gaps in your existing references or case studies, emerging market trends, and the interests of key players, marketing will have more insight into what Customer Success Factors should be agreed to. They will know what can be effectively tracked and what new information will help subsequent marketing efforts.

It's important to note that our model is a guide, not a prescription. It is used for assessment and planning. By identifying gaps and understanding the interplay of processes and skills, we can help you create a development plan that maximizes both effectiveness and efficiency. You can read more about our developmental model and the benefits of using it.

We can help you develop and implement any of these specific functions or assist you in developing a plan for the development of your marketing organization. Our services include:

  • Instructor-led programs

  • Distance-learning programs (web and telephone)

  • Individual coaching

  • Curriculum development

  • Self-paced workbooks and other instructional materials

  • Job aids and other support tools

  • Strategic consulting

  • Process mapping and process refinements

  • Change management

  • Project and event management



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