Minding The Don’ts Of Automation: 6 Faster, More Expensive Ways to Waste Marketing & Sales Investments

Published: November 29, 2011

1. Reinforce the silos

Wasting dollars is proportional to how siloed marketing and sales operations are. When the two work from different playbook pages, poor results are guaranteed.

Encourage both to share golden oldies from the vault of pointed fingers. Marketing’s hits will include, “We deliver tons of leads, and sales doesn’t do anything with them; we never get any lead feedback; and we never get credit for leads we source.”

Sales will counter with its number ones, “We don’t get enough leads; these aren’t real leads; and I called three times and didn’t hear back.”

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As for the CEO inclined to align, hands off! Be like the head of an auto racing sanctioning body and “let the drivers race.” This will assure a fun-filled crash fest and deliver high, but expensive, entertainment levels.

2. Encourage creative and unfettered shotgun targeting

Why should marketing and sales be required to agree on a precise definition of the target market?

Let the two groups seek opportunities wherever their hunches take them. Some may think the market is broad, and — who knows — they may get lucky. Others may see narrowcasting as the right strategy.

Leaders should encourage these diverse targeting approaches and say, “Why not? Nothing else seems to be working.”

3. Keep the definition of a lead fuzzy and self-serving

A critical success factor in wasting dollars faster is ensuring marketing and sales have their own ideas about what a lead is.

Incented to deliver volumes of prospects, marketing defines leads as information inquiries or folks scoring high in a marketing automation app. Nevermind that no one has called to verify authority or need. Sales defines a lead as a short-term buyer, one a rep can easily contact and quickly move to the win column. Anything else? Not a lead!

Imagine marketing and sales joining arms for a song-and-dance around Fred Astaire’s “you say tomato, I say tomahto.” Results may plummet, but both are enjoying the ride.

4. Invest and measure based on the wrong metrics

Accelerate budget burn with a focus on reducing the cost-per-lead. This brings into play the “penetrate and radiate” strategy as this approach negatively impacts areas beyond budgets and metrics.

For example, lowering lead costs drives up the volume of so-called “leads” and floods sales with hundreds of raw, unfiltered names. Rep time is consumed following up on unqualified names, and marketing suffers as its credibility drops even further. 

Side note: Focusing on lowering cost-per-lead is one of the strongest ways to get less bang for your lead gen buck.

5. Pick one contact medium, reach out a few times, and give up

Does this sales rep lament sound familiar? “I got this hot lead and left three voice mail messages. I didn’t hear a word back, so I guess they’re not interested.”

This is a strong tool in the dollar-wasting arsenal. Highly-compensated “hunters” often have an expectation that a marketing-generated prospect is sitting by the phone waiting for a call that will result in a near-term deal. When they don’t get the expected result, they move on.

There may be a temptation to deploy an integrated multi-touch, multi-media, multi-sales cycle approach that engages via the phone, personalized emails, voice mail and direct mail. Be warned: this approach will result in qualified opportunities.

6. Focus exclusively on short-term leads

Careful! Long-term lead nurturing can be a land mine on the road to wasting dollars. Why? With a relatively small incremental investment focused on realizing the value of long-term leads, it’s possible to as much as double program revenue.

Ignore this impulse and focus exclusively on short-term leads — those expected to close soon. In six months, when the CEO calls and says, “Hey, I thought we were engaged with this company. I just saw that we lost them to a competitor,” the rep can sheepishly look at the floor and say, “They weren’t going to buy last quarter, so I stopped working with them.”

Don’t be dismayed when applying these six worst practices. Keep the faith. Implementation will not only guarantee wasted marketing and sales dollars. It will ultimately deliver lost deals, missed quotas and declines in revenue!

Dan McDade is President and CEO of PointClear, LLC, a prospect development firm that helps B2B companies drive revenue by nurturing leads, engaging contacts and developing prospects until they’re ready to purchase. The Sales Lead Management Association named Dan one of the 50 most influential people in sales lead management in 2009 and 2010.   Dan’s first book, The Truth About Leads, is a practical, easy-to-read book that helps B2B companies focus their lead-generation efforts, align their sales and marketing organizations and drive revenue. He can be reached at dan.mcdade@pointclear.com

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