Want more qualified sales conversations? Give marketing a quota…and some writers

Several years ago, we made some significant investments in marketing after we’d purchased a marketing automation system, and the idea was to gain as much market traction as possible. 

We were able to achieve over 15,000 hits to our website, and we were being featured in some big national publications. So from a branding and awareness perspective, it worked fantastic!

But how much of that exposure translated into leads and sales? It’s hard to say—we did grow the company, but not by a factor that justified the marketing expenditure. 

So we made a few big changes that have helped us achieve the growth trajectory that we want:

  1. We gave our marketing executive a quota
  2. We committed to content marketing

The problem that a lot of companies still have is that marketing thinks its purpose is branding and awareness, measured through increased traffic to the website. But that’s just not enough—it has to translate into appointments with qualified prospects and sales conversations.

The first key to making this work is hiring a marketing leader that has his/her effectiveness ratings tied to lead generation and revenue growth—similar to a commissioned sales person. 

What happens when you make this shift?

  1. Your marketing staff will now be focused not only on increasing web traffic to your site, but the RIGHT web traffic. Who cares if it’s less? Less is more if there are more qualified leads for salespeople to follow up on.
  2. After several months, we were able to track a significant uptick in the number of SALs (or Sales Accepted Leads) we got on a monthly basis. That means sales conversations with a minimum level of qualification. 
  3. Our marketing leader is always thinking about how to get value added content in front of our target audience and how to best get them converted into leads for sales people. They don’t get paid on increasing traffic, they get paid on conversion—big difference.
  4. Marketing works in tandem with sales on an ongoing basis. Our sales people know what is being published, where it’s going, why we’re publishing it, and how it can be used to get involved in sales conversations. 

Pulling this off does require that you have some analysis and measurement tools in place, but ultimately the calculation is simple and predictable. In other words, how much are we spending to get leads, how many of those leads convert into appointments, how many of those appointments convert into opportunities where you’re competing for a deal. 

If the thought of going on a commission structure is frightening to your marketing department, maybe it should be! Our marketing leader views it as a significant opportunity because he can see the impact that his efforts have on our revenue growth—and that’s been missing from marketing departments since the beginning. 

The second key is stepping up to the content creation requirements in terms of staffing and work priorities.

Generating leads requires creation of lots of quality, long-form content. If you are not staffed for it, it will be impossible to keep up.

Companies are hiring publishing experts to run their content marketing divisions. This means journalists, editors, media and production crews, designers, and more. Every company engaged in content marketing must consider itself a publisher and media company.

If you make these adjustments, you’ll be glad you did—It has made a major impact for us.