Who’s to Blame for Poor Sales Performance?

by Willis Turner

performance

Does this story sound familiar? Sales are down, and everyone’s pointing fingers at everyone else. The sales department is working leads from your marketing campaigns but keeps hitting a brick wall when they reach out to prospects, and they’re frustrated.

Marketing has pulled out every trick in the book to generate more leads. They’re killing themselves at tradeshows, driving media coverage, renting mailing lists and sending out direct mail packages or operating telemarketing campaigns. They don’t understand why the sales team can’t seem to close any business. And you — the leader — are stuck in the middle, trying to figure out what’s wrong and how on Earth to fix it.

Marketing & Sales are Both Making Mistakes

It’s likely that both teams are relying on what has always worked in the past. The problem is that buyers’ needs have changed. Buyers don’t buy the way that they used to, and B2B sales and marketing teams have been slow to adapt.

In The Challenger Sale, Matthew Dixon shares five important influencers when executives are deciding whether or not to buy from your company. Today’s B2B executive is looking for a supplier that:

  1. Helps them solve their business problems
  2. Continually educates them about innovations in the industry
  3. Helps them apply that knowledge in new ways
  4. Is forthright about costs, impacts and expectations
  5. Helps them minimize risk and avoid potential land mines

Delivering service at this level requires more commitment to the sales relationship than standard marketing collaterals outlining the technical specs of your products, accompanied by some fluffy jargon about features and benefits.

It’s Time to Rethink Everything You Know About Sales and Marketing

Today’s buyer has very specific needs at every stage of the purchase decision-making process. That process starts long before he or she even thinks about choosing a vendor. In fact, most buyers are more than two-thirds of the way to a decision before ever reaching out to possible suppliers.

Often we discover that leads are being handed over to the sales team too soon. Or, the sales team is reaching out using traditional scripts that undermine the hard-earned report marketing has worked to establish. Either way, the call is unwelcome, and the unwitting sales rep slams hard into a brick wall of suspicion and resistance.

The companies winning at the sales game today have taken the time to understand the buyer’s needs, providing plenty of support at each stage of the decision without trying to drag the prospect into a sales discussion too early. Developing a culture of inbound marketing and selling within your organization will provide you with the tools, systems and teamwork necessary to hit your sales targets.

*This post originally appeared on SMEI.org.


Willis Turner Willis Turner, CAE CME CSE, has gained international recognition for spearheading global membership engagement and professional certification growth as the President & CEO of U.S.-based Sales & Marketing Executives International (SMEI). Willis is also founder and CEO of Old Clayburn Marketing & Management Services Inc., a full-service association management firm. As a writer and speaker on professional certification, business ethics and leading edge sales and marketing topics, Willis leverages his worldwide business travel experiences to convey an informative and motivating message to his audiences. Willis serves on the National Advisory Board for DECA Inc. He has taught Sales Management at the University of British Columbia, Sauder School of Business. He resides near Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada with his wife of 30 years. Follow Willis on Twitter: @willisturner.