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The Plan For Marketing To Drive Sales

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When working with companies that want more from their marketing, the first thing I ask to see is the plan. Why? I want to see what they are trying to accomplish… it is that simple.

You need to know why you are doing something before you do it.

The hardest part is to truly quantify the “why” in any marketing plan. Being a process, metric, and sales driven marketer, I find myself always asking the question “So what is all of this going to do for me?” and more often than not, getting blank stares back.

After working with companies of all sizes, I have found the companies consistently hitting sales goals from marketing programs have one thing in common – a demand generation plan. The reason comes down to three questions that this process forces you to ask:

  1. What is the measurable goal of what we are trying to do?
  2. How does this drive sales?
  3. Do we have what we need in order to execute?
     

These questions serve as the backbone to understanding how your programs impact the top line. I can say this from first hand knowledge: If you can’t answer these questions before you start executing marketing programs, then your marketing strategy is actually just hope, wrapped in a beautiful powerpoint.

Here is why these questions are so important:

1) You have accountability for a number… much like a sales rep.

Whether or not you hit it is another story, just having the accountability is a monumental behavior change for most marketing departments. When you have a number, “nice-to-haves” are moved aside for “must-haves” and execution is a top priority.

2) You get a fundamental understanding of the marketing and sales process.

By knowing how leads come into the system, move to opportunities, and then are closed by sales reps, your mindset will change… I can almost guarantee it. I have seen this change entire quarterly plans from top-of-funnel initiatives to move-the-pipe strategies once the data was in front of the team.

3) You clearly see the gaps BEFORE you start.

Without fail, every single time I have run this process I find a gap in either the people, platforms, or program dollars needed to execute. This is a good thing. Now I can state before we start, “Here is what we are going to accomplish, but here is what I need in order to do so.”

So where do you start?

1) Start from the sale and map out your process by working backwards.

Sales —> Opportunities —> Lead / Target

Make sure you map out the different types of sales teams and potential marketing teams involved in handling the leads, opportunities, and sales. It does make a difference.

2) Put numbers to each step.

I would advise to just take a macro level snapshot for a quarter or two. You will get % conversions between each step (e.g. Lead / Target —> Opportunity).

3) Apply the numbers forward to your upcoming quarter.

Put in the upcoming sales target, then work with the % from step 2 backward to get the leads/targets you will need.

4) Determine if your new programs are going to make the cut.

Can you actually generate the number of leads/targets?

Should you work on improving conversion rates between the steps?

Should you work on getting bigger deals into the pipeline?

This really gives you the true sense of what you need to do because you now have a much more concrete “why” behind it.

You can make this process as complicated as you want, but my recommendation is to start simple. It can overwhelm you quickly if you get too deep too quickly. Remember, the goal of this part of the process is to see if your programs are actually going to drive sales. So take a realistic view on things to determine if what you are going to do will make the right impact.

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