Background:This Blog entry is the continuation of a discussion started in the Focus discussion site in response to a question that I posed "Can marketing deliver on its contribution to Challenger Sale success?".
... Continued DiscussionDave, this is a great topic! I agree with your overall assessment that Marketing will become more tactical, and Sales more strategic. I want to answer your question in more detail with the aid of a high-level review of the business processes and participants involved! However, due to limitations on response length in this forum I will describe five scenarios based on these processes. [BTW I really feel the lack of charts and graphs in this Discussion capability. But here goes, and bear in mind that my thinking is biased by my complex consulting services solution background].
Major Functions of Interest
Let’s focus our discussion on the processes that lead up to a sale within the major business functions of: Marketing, Sales, and Product. Marketing, to over simplify, deals with the 5 P’s and 7 C’s to define the “What” to sell, “To Whom”, and “Why” prospects should be motivated to buy. Sales focus on identifying sales opportunities and creating the actual sale. Product defines/develops the unique qualities of their company’s solution (with Marketing), supports the selling process, and post-sales delivers the actual “product” to client. In a Consulting Services organization this Product group is generally called Practice and performs two distinct roles: pre-sales support, and delivery of sold solution. For sake of this discussion let’s refer to the pre-sales activity as Sales Support. This pre-sales work role is really part of the sales function, performed by people from Product function.
Scenarios on Interaction of Marketing and Sales in Challenger Sale Approach
Scenario 1. Prospective Client Calls Company
Prospect is researching ways to improve her business, visits company website (found on own or referenced to by colleague). Reads material and Case Studies, impressed by message, calls 800 number to speak with one of company’s “Product/Service Experts” (PE) located in company’s Lead Generation Group. Prospect and PE talks at length. PE asks questions to develop a profile of prospect and situation and “fit” for company’s product/service. PE is developing the sales situation, may suggest alternatives. This call may end with Prospect wanting time to review the information discussed (or even sent), in which case PE arranges for a follow up call. When Prospect is sufficiently engaged and “qualified” (defined criteria) PE would introduce Prospect to Salesperson assigned to this account. For this outcome PE documents situation sends note to Salesperson, calls to discuss.
Scenario 2. Targeted Product/Service
Scenario 3. Sales Engages Marketing and Product/Practice in Developing Account Plan
Scenario 4. Salesperson Engages Lead Gen and Sales Support with Active Opportunity
Scenario 5. Salesperson Engages Lead Gen with Dormant Opportunity
Salesperson (perhaps with PE support) has been developing a sales opportunity. Unfortunately Prospect’s situation has changed and has deferred making a decision on opportunity. Salesperson engages Lead Gen to assist in maintaining contact with Prospect periodically to monitor if Prospect’s situation has changed and opportunity once again valid.
Additional Scenarios (Update)
My earlier Scenarios presumptuously prescribed how I saw Marketing and Sales interacting in the Challenger Sale world going forward. But, as we know life is not so simple and in the heat of battle people are often called upon to make decisions that may or may not be consistent with their game plan. The following two additional Scenarios might illustrate such decisions – what action would you take?
Scenario 6. Completing Delivery of a Strategic Sale, Client Request Proposal on New
You recently sold a strategic product/service implementation at a strategic client. Delivery of the product/service has gone well, it is wrapping up. Client is impressed with what you have accomplished. Following a discussion about a different business problem and how you might address it with another product/service that your company offers. Client likes the approach and asks you to provide a pricing proposal. Client has told you that she have not asked others to bid (i.e., sole source). However, your company has not classified this product/service as strategic. What action would you take and why?
Scenario 7. Same as Scenario 6, but Now It’s Competitive!
Business Model Describing Business Processes Leading to “Sale”
Managing Solution Definition (including Sales Messaging, Sales Collateral, Case Studies, White Papers and References)
Managing Brand Awareness and Development;
Managing Alliance and Partner Programs
Managing Campaign Development and Execution
Campaigns should be driven from perspective of product/service orientation. Example, if compelling reasons/insights are industry focused then Campaigns should run along industry lines. Marketing would execute campaigns for strategic products/services to drive quality leads to Sales.
Managing Sales Territories
Sales Territory development and assignment should follow product /service orientation. Example, if compelling reasons/insights are specific to Electric Power Utility Industry then would not expect to see Banks or Manufacturing companies in the territories. This should roll down to the salesperson assignment decision. Assigning a salesperson with great banking credentials in this example would not be my first choice. Territory development could be a challenge for Sales People and first line Sales Managers who historically have felt more comfort in having a huge territory, full of “potential”! This is where Marketing would have to refocus Sales back to the corporate strategy – focus on those accounts where you have proven unique strengths. A complexity in Managing Sales Territories can arise for companies who have many products/services where some are industry oriented, and some are function oriented. Can one salesperson assigned to a specific account handle both; does it weaken the salesperson’s credibility with clients to sell both; and should two or more reps be assigned along product/services lines? I have seen all forms over the years.
Managing Accounts (and Contacts)
Accounts are assigned to Sales Territories based on logic including account’s industry, whether existing or new account, perceived potential for on-going and new business, and consistent with the overall business strategy – is this account likely to be receptive to the insights/compelling reasons that we can offer. (For this discussion refer to such as strategic accounts). One of the most important deliverable from this process is developing and executing a plan for the account (“Account Plan”). Marketing and Product/Service people who would participate in developing and executing Account Plans are scarce resources. They would want to focus their time and efforts only on strategic accounts. Sales people have been more inclined to chase accounts of doubtful potential. [A friend of mine observed that while salespeople had a clean plan for the road ahead, but they chased every jackrabbit that crosses the road in front of them!] Hence a bit of good constructive tension between the Account Team participants!
Managing Sales Leads
This process deals with generating sales leads, maturing Leads, and when they meet an agreed upon criteria passing them over to the assigned salesperson. If the salesperson accepts the Lead then it becomes an Opportunity and salesperson is responsible for its successful resolution. This process should be used in context of a campaign. A campaign could be across a large group of clients, or focused on a single account driven by the salesperson’s approved Account Plan. Dave, your thought about having a Campaign to keep some contact and awareness going in a dormant account (or dormant part of large account) is good example of an account based campaign. This capability is a scarce resource in most organizations. It needs to be focused on generating quality leads for those strategic products in strategic accounts. All will be watching to ensure that this is the case. [BTW: This is a “red hair step-child” process that I have seen passed back and forth between the organizations of Marketing and Sales].
Managing Single Sales OpportunitiesOnce a Sales Lead has been accepted by salesperson they take ownership of it as a Sales Opportunity. Salesperson then moves the Opportunity through company’s defined sales process. This is where the salesperson puts the Challenger Sale skills of “Teach”, “Tailor” and “Take Control” to effective use. Product/Practice people provide sales support at various points throughout the sales process, with emphasis on tailoring the message to the particular account. They may in fact already have profound knowledge of the account. Product/Practice will be motivated to spend their time on opportunities for strategic products/services in strategic accounts. This is where sales managers excel by bringing coaching and innovation to their sales people on key opportunities with priority on strategic product opportunities in strategic accounts.
Managing Sales Forecasts
For this discussion let’s focus the process that forecasts the date and value of the expected sale (signed contract or other legally binding commitment on part of client). Let’s leave the revenue flow forecast from the sale, and from on-going projects to another topic (I started one a couple of months ago). The sales forecast is primarily a responsibility of Sales. However, Product/Service management will want to “review and comment” since this forecast is likely input to their revenue forecast process. Marketing will want to periodically review the forecast to observe what is being sold to whom. Marketing should become concerned if there are a high proportion of non-strategic products/services being sold to a large number of non-strategic accounts. But then … so should Sales Management!