Sales Leads, Appointments and Granfalloons

Generating sales leads that are actually followed up by sales is a basic business process that is broken in most companies. The reason is that marketing and sales are part of a Granfalloon. Kurt Vonnegut defined a Granfalloon as “a group of people who outwardly choose or claim to have a shared identity or purpose, but whose mutual association is actually meaningless”.

I love this line from Neil Rackham (author of SPIN Selling) during his keynote address at the 2012 International BMA Conference: “These are two functions with an identical mission, so how can they be like ships passing in the night?” The functions Mr. Rackham spoke about are marketing and sales.

I had the opportunity to speak with SiriusDecisions’ Tony Jaros and he agreed that companies do not truly align, and enjoy the benefits of that alignment (which SiriusDecisions estimates to be up to five times better results—yes, five times) unless the most senior management in companies get on board. And that is whether the company is big or small.

The way I put it is that nobody ever builds a statue to a committee, so waiting for marketing and sales to “work it out” is doing the same wrong thing and expecting different results—and it ain’t going to work!

You can read more about this in the white paper Point C: From Chaos to Kickass. But, in summary, here are the three things companies must do to improve return on marketing and sales investments:

  1. Agree on your market, media and message. In the white paper I explain this in detail, and provide a mini-case study to substantiate, the value of this step. Basically, you have to answer these three questions:
    1. How do we define our market?
    2. What constitutes a good lead?
    3. What is it that we sell (if you say “a solution”, it’s your turn to drink a shot)?
  2. Measure what matters. I provide another case study that focuses on what happens when companies do not:
    1. Measure steps in the marketing and sales process such as the percent of marketing qualified leads that become sales accepted, the percent of sales accepted leads that become sales qualified and then the percent of sales qualified leads that close as a win—and each hand-off creates a lead purgatory that is incredibly expensive for your company.
    2. Ensure that leads are passed back for reheating, nurturing or re-qualification rather than having them simply stalled out in the pipeline which is usually a black hole.
  3. Deliver fewer, more qualified leads to sales. Another mini-case study and the following which creates challenges in most organizations:
    1. Marketing is paid, in fact rewarded for, lead quantity and not lead quality.
    2. Technology pushes more, poor quality, leads to sales faster and more efficiently than ever.
    3. Over one-third of sales reps will miss quota this year. Part of the reason is too many poor quality leads.

In addition to other colorful quotes from Winston Churchill, he once said: “I never worry about action, but only inaction.” The challenge now is to turn head nodding into action.

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