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As you gear up for annual planning, don’t forget the prework.

Reach out and gather feedback from your customers on your performance, check in with your strategic alliance partners to gather their perspective on the upcoming year and consider re-visiting your approaches to Marketing and Sales.

To help prime the pump on the last item, take our quick 5 question quiz below. Guaranteed to give you some great ideas for leveraging your time and improving your top line in the weeks and months ahead!

Feel free to print out the quiz, give it to your team, and put their answers and your results on the agenda for your next Strategic Monthly Meeting discussion.

1) Which statement best describes how you get new business?

  1. We have a multi-faceted marketing strategy that is updated regularly and brings us the RIGHT prospects.
  2. We just pick up the phone. It never stops ringing, even on weekends!
  3. We get all the business we need from referrals.
  4. We get lots of leads, but they’re not necessarily qualified. We can waste a lot of time with prospects that never buy.
  5. Well, we’re out selling a lot and attending networking events all of the time…we had a marketing plan, hold on, let me look…

2) How do you measure the success of your marketing department?

  1. We measure our CMO’s success based on the number of qualified ‘A’ and ‘B’ leads that their department brings in to the Sales group as well as the cost of those leads.
  2. We don’t really have a marketing department. We just take orders.
  3. We have a head of marketing. They’re mostly doing trade shows, social media and press releases, but honestly we’re not sure what impact they have on the business.
  4. We outsourced our marketing to a firm. But they told us that it would take at least six months before we saw any results. We’re still waiting…
  5. Measurement? I’m not sure what you mean…

3)     How do you qualify your leads?

  1. We have agreed upon criteria that have been agreed to by both Marketing and Sales. The criteria includes whether the prospect has the kind of problem that we can solve – a compelling need AND if they’re part of the decision making process AND if they have the money to pay us in their budget.
  2. Qualified? Every lead is qualified. If they call us, we’ll talk.
  3. That’s a great question. Sales thinks that it’s Marketing’s responsibility and Marketing thinks that it’s the Sales Department’s job. They’re always arguing at meetings.
  4. That’s why we hired the marketing firm. They’re supposed to figure that out for us.
  5. Leads? What leads?

4)     What process do you use to determine your annual marketing budget?

  1. We take the number of qualified opportunities we need to meet our revenue goals and multiply that by the average cost of a qualified opportunity, which gives us our lead generation budget. Then we fill in with the other marketing dollars needed for things like staff, PR, trade shows and website.
  2. We don’t have a budget for marketing.
  3. Whatever we spent last year, adjusted for inflation.
  4. The CEO handles that when they contract with the marketing firm that we’ve hired. Usually the firm gives us a quote and then we try to negotiate them down. Is there something else we should be doing to figure this out?
  5. I’m not sure why we need a marketing budget. We have a great product. It should sell itself. But maybe that’s why Sales isn’t meeting their numbers…

5)     How do you assess the productivity of each marketing initiative?

  1. For every initiative (direct mail, search engine marketing, trade shows, webinars, even advertising) we measure the number of qualified leads that resulted from that initiative so that we can design the right mix of programs to deliver the best results.
  2. We’re meeting our revenue goals every year so why do marketing? We have all the business we can handle.
  3. That’s what Sales and Marketing are always arguing about.
  4. Well, the marketing firm that we hired said that measuring the productivity of each initiative can be challenging.
  5. I wouldn’t even know where to start to answer this question.

So how did you do???

Look below to check your answers against our scorecard AND get some helpful tips as well!

If your answers are mostly A’s, at least 4, Congratulations! 

Sounds like you’ve got a lot of the right activities and plans in place. It might just be time for a check-up. For an “audit” of your marketing and business development strategy, Kevin Daum (author of “Roar: How to Get Heard in the Sales and Marketing Jungle”) has a great set of “advanced” questions that can be used across your company to find out who’s saying what and what your customers are hearing. To get you started, here’s some to consider:

  • Are you tracking the number of customer contacts that you (and your team) make every week?
  • How many times in the last 30 days have you just picked up the phone to check in on how a customer is doing – and not asked for additional work or an order?
  • Are you sitting down once a week (or at least once a month) with your management team and asking, “What have we learned from the market this week?”

If your answers are mostly B’s, you’re doing something right but don’t rest on your laurels. 

Hopefully, your revenue numbers reflect your goals and that you’re making a profit. If so, you’re doing some things right – even if it’s mostly being in the right place with the right offering at the right time. Although you’re probably wasting a lot of time talking with suspects who aren’t really qualified and there’s a good chance you’re leaving money on the table.

If you’re getting plenty of inbound calls and emails, now’s the time to take advantage of what life is bringing you. Do you know why people are contacting you? What are you doing that’s attracting them? Which ones are really qualified i.e. they buy quickly without a lot of negotiation and are highly profitable?

Here are some questions to consider as a team:

  • Do they have a significant pain and you’re the only game in town?
  • Do you have great “searchability” and the right keywords?
  • Have you leveraged referral partners?
  • Have you cultivated the right strategic alliances?
  • Is there a competitor who’s nipping at your heels who could be a threat in the future?
  • Start asking yourself some of those questions over the next few months. And talk with your market – those who are already customers and those who are buying elsewhere. (See some of the questions to ask in letter D below.)

Remember: Success is planned – not stumbled upon.

If your answers are mostly C’s, you’re obviously a referral magnet but what’s plan B?

Sounds like you may be positioned well and you obviously have a great referral network. But if you’re relying on just one source of water, when the pump breaks, you’re out of luck. And why are you spending money on marketing if you’re not measuring the ROI (return on investment)?

What could you be doing? Well, you could start by checking out Aldonna Ambler’s aka “The Growth Strategist” marketing grid. Aldonna is famous for saying to her mid-market clients, “Pick a few key marketing tactics and go deep with them.” Be clear about the results you’re expecting i.e. what’s a qualified lead versus just someone who’s window shopping. Then check your results and see what fish are attracted to the bait.

No matter what, don’t launch any new marketing initiative without a plan in place to track your results!

If your answers are mostly D’s, you definitely need to take some “think” time this planning season.

You especially may need to re-evaluate your approach to marketing. To begin with, you might be wasting a lot time with the wrong people.

Do you really know:

  • Where your prospects hang out?
  • What appeals to them about what you’re doing and what doesn’t?
  • How they find the services that you sell?

Does your team? Check out our strategic planning process to get the ball rolling. On first glance, it may seem intimidating but give us a call and we’ll schedule a time to talk about your strategy – and your approach to the market. I guarantee you’ll start thinking differently about your approach, gain insights – and see additional possibilities for new sales and growth.

And if your marketing firm isn’t willing to have a conversation that involves measuring them and their results, you’re definitely with the wrong firm. Time to sit down and have an expectations exchange!

If your answers are mostly E’s…We REALLY need to talk…

Sounds like a re-evaluation of your plan might be in order. There’s still time. Reach out and get in touch!

And remember…

Whichever category you are in, this is a great time of year to step back, reassess and prepare. Companies who are well positioned, enlightened and proactive will win hands down in the year ahead. Wouldn’t it be nice to be one of them?



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