What can the losing football coach teach us about making your sales quota?

How many times have you heard the losing Football Coach take the blame for a disappointing or underperforming team by saying, “I take full responsibility for the team’s performance and I need to do a better job putting the players in a position to win the game?  

In other words, he is saying that the players can only do so much on their own, but before that, it us up to the Team Leadership to devise and implement a winning scheme to achieve the objective…otherwise, the players are sunk!

As sales and marketing professionals, I think we can all identify—players on the field feel like they are facing an all-out blitz! Sales Plans are unattainable! The sales team is not making quota! And most frustrating of all, there are not enough decent opportunities to sell to!

So who’s job is it really to put the players in a position to win the game? Who is responsible for coming to the podium to explain why the team lost this year, and how we’re going to fix it for next year?

Is it the VP of Sales? It used to be.

But he or she now must be joined at the podium by a friendly and familiar face that has some new plans and programs to make sure that next year’s outcome is better. Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for The Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)! 

How are today’s marketing leaders accountable for revenue goals?

Consider this:

  1. 85% of B2B phone calls places by Sales Professionals go to Voice Mail and are never returned.
  2. According to Marketing Sherpa, B2B Buyers find the Sellers 80% of the time, usually online, and most often through their marketing content.
  3. Hubspot cites direct and indisputable correlation between the number of Blog Posts that a company creates and the number of inbound leads that they receive. 

These facts cited above speak to the fundamental changes in the customer and prospect buying process—prospects are avoiding the interaction with your professional selling team until the very end of their buying process.  

But do you know what the prospects DO want?

Your free content, advice and expertise. 

They prefer to shop at their own pace, leveraging their web browser to consume various forms of educational content. It is then, and only then, when you have proven your expertise as an organization that they will agree to speak to one of your sales professionals.

Putting the players (not just sales anymore, but sales and marketing) in a position to win requires a fundamental change to the “Go to Market” model. “Darkening the skies” with additional sales reps has rapidly diminishing returns if the reps are not getting in the door to speak with prospects. Companies are reallocating their customer acquisition spend accordingly, spending more on content propagation, and less on direct sales channels.

 Here is what the best CMOs are doing to enable their sales teams:

  1. Producing a steady flow of quality, thought-leadership content (White Papers, Infographics, Blog Posts, Case Studies) focused on the problem areas of their key buyer personas and ideal prospect profiles.
  2. Promoting it through consistent execution of campaigns , both outbound and inbound, leveraging its blog, email, SEO optimized landing pages, and social media.
  3. Leveraging marketing automation to convert this activity to Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs). Most top performing companies make this a key performance indicator for their marketing leadership—this is where the marketing to sales handoff occurs. From here, the sales team has been put “in a position to win the game”, and it is up to them to execute.
  4. Preparing talk tracks, or Playbooks for the sales team to continue the discussion with the prospect in the most impactful way.

What we are talking about is a fundamental shift in the way that buyers want to proceed through their buying process, because it’s not about you anymore. Today’s B2B company must adjust their selling process to coincide with this new buying paradigm. This is the new normal, and it is imperative to make the necessary changes to you go to market plans.

The only constant is change, the winning strategy of yesteryear will not be the winning strategy of tomorrow. Just like winning football teams are in a perpetual state of adjustment to get the right match-ups, call the right plays, and put their players in the best position to win. We too must adjust. 

The winning playbook is getting clearer and clearer, but it is up to us to execute, and the clock is winding down.

B2B Marketing Zone