Forgive me if I state the obvious. Small companies typically don’t have the benefit of dedicated marketing personnel who can design and implement sales and marketing programs for them. What the large enterprise takes for granted is the missing ingredient in the small sales company, and quite often the reason for its failure to grow.
There are therefore three logical options open to the small and emerging company that has not been able to develop these resources.
- A sizeable number of them abstain from actual marketing programs pinning their hopes on the success of their struggling sales personnel.
- Yet another segment of this group chooses to outsource the marketing role by subscribing to marketing companies featuring freshly scrubbed mailing lists and emerging Internet marketing activities.
- The remaining companies resign themselves to putting any responsibilities for developing sales programs on the shoulders of their sales managers and often the account managers themselves. Fun, fun, fun!
Unfortunately, the skills and attributes that have enabled them to become successful in sales situations do not necessarily prepare them to succeed here. Many sales managers and account executives find themselves at a loss when it comes to putting together a marketing plan.
To be clear, I am referring to a plan that actually works, not a written document that ends up in the bottom file cabinet drawer, gathering dust like the previous year’s marketing plan. Part of the problem is that many of our managers do not fully understand the function of marketing and its relationship with sales. They don’t appreciate the value of an active, future-oriented market planning process. As a result, they are operating in react-mode, merely trying to keep up with changing conditions. The real challenge is becoming proactive, anticipating those conditions and developing a workable and successful plan for the future.
The question remains, how can that be accomplished?
The good news is that there are some genuinely savvy and pioneering techniques available to keep you from falling into the same old trap. These are techniques that will liberate your decision process. These are strategies that will help you take advantage of those areas in which you have a clear competitive edge, enabling you to make profitable decisions regarding your marketing activities and tactics before they are implemented.
The techniques and strategies that I refer to are template-driven and implementable within a structured architecture. By following simple, and easy to follow, step-by-step instructions, the small business sales leader or account team leader can lead the team develop in:
- Identifying successful marketing objectives;
- Developing creative marketing strategies; and
- Choosing the tactical plan that has the highest odds of success.
The beauty of using this sales plan template is that there is no need to subject yourself to “hot-off-the-shelf” cookie-cutter plans that might hopefully bear some faint resemblance to your market or target industry. You should be able to design, select, and implement plans that are completely unique to you and your company.
It becomes even easier if you can take all of the guess-work out of the process, by reducing it down to a simplified design matrix. A workable approach to such a matrix is to design it to form the basis of a program analysis discussion with the implementation team. In so doing, the team gains added confidence that your marketing and sales efforts are being maximized to deliver the highest return possible. No second-guessing!
Here is a step-by-step example of a proven approach to selecting and debugging potential target account sales programs.
- Identify your target sales objectives using quantifiable goals.
- For each objective, identify viable business strategies within your scope and capabilities.
- There are numerous tactics associated with each strategy. Prioritize the strategies and their associated tactics that appear to yield the greatest chance for success. Ideally you will strive to build your sales programs based upon specific tactics within their associated strategies.
- Before committing any further time or resources to any of these efforts, it is important to complete the program analysis discussion referenced earlier on the highest priority potential sales programs.
- The key questions to ask are as follows:
- What is your planned result? Make sure that you have assigned a worthwhile and measureable objective to any potential sales programs.
- So what? Is the end result worth the effort? If not, go back and rethink A.
- How do you know that you will be successful? What are all of the things that can go wrong and how will you plug the holes? If this is done correctly it’s a tedious and frustrating process… but critical to avoiding the unforeseen occurrences that can derail your program.
- How will you ask for commitment? Figure this out now, well in advance of the implementation of the program. Too often this is overlooked entirely and carefully managed programs result in a big turnout or a lot of fan-fare and only modest new revenue.
- The discipline is to complete this analysis and determine your odds for success, in keeping with your available resources and acceptable business practices. Programs with high odds of success may simply be too important and you only know the cost because you invested such detail in your analysis. Similarly, programs with very low odds of success my fit your budget, and the low odds will seem very discouraging at first. Keep in mind that you won’t have enough information to determine whether you want to implement a low odds program until you determine the number of suspects and prospects in your calculation pool. Low odds from a large enough pool of candidates that you can afford to reach might be exactly what you want to do.
This is a rough outline of the strategies and steps that you can use to develop a high yield-marketing plan. Upon completing these steps, you can start to put your plan into action for success! Imagine having the advantage of knowing whether your marketing efforts will work and be profitable before you implement them?