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The Green SheetGreen Sheet

The Green Sheet Online Edition

December 13, 2010 • Issue 10:12:01

Ensuring sales and marketing success in 2011

By Peggy Bekavac Olson
Strategic Marketing

The fourth quarter is typically when companies develop business plans and budgets for the coming year. But for many businesses, sales and marketing planning is difficult. They struggle to create plans for growth that are actionable, easy to follow and aligned with business strategy.

The reasons companies struggle include the absence of a clear plan for growth, gaps in sales and marketing skills, a lack of sales and marketing alignment and a shortage of resources needed for execution, such as staff and money.So what can you do if your payment company is struggling with these types of problems?

Four key best practices

Here are four key sales and marketing planning best practices:

  1. Base your sales and marketing efforts around a clear and singular view of the buying process (the "buyer's journey") rather than focusing on the mechanics of your internal sales cycle.

  2. Identify the number of prospects needed to funnel enough buyers through the steps of the buyer's journey.

  3. Create a detailed, coordinated sales and marketing plan that identifies the tactics capable of moving buyers through these steps.

  4. Measure the actual progression of prospects on the buyer's journey so tactics that work can be fortified, while those that don't can be shelved.

Let's look at some specifics on addressing the difficulties around sales and marketing planning.

Remedy the situation

Bring key members of your team together in a planning session to:

  • Review corporate strategy, define business objectives and develop revenue goals

  • Outline or diagram the buyer's journey or funnel process for your business

  • Review your marketing mix (product, price, place and promotion) and select the best possible tactics to employ from both sales and marketing perspectives to support each step and accelerate the buyer's journey in an integrated approach (this can include advertising, events, publicity, social media, direct mail, telemarketing, email marketing, content marketing and so much more)

  • Describe what success looks like for every tactic chosen by setting goals and objectives and developing metrics

  • Predict potential gaps in sales and marketing skills, effectiveness and resources for every stage of the buyer's journey and identify ways to shore them up

  • Develop budgets and secure funding for all tactics selected

  • Objectively and systematically review your plan to gain across-the-board agreement before rolling it out companywide

Once your plan is approved, have your sales and marketing leaders create detailed timelines, deliverables and milestones for each campaign, activity and initiative in the plan. This helps ensure that only approved activities receive needed human and financial resources. This rigor brings complete transparency, accountability and alignment into the planning process by providing all stakeholders full visibility around objectives and schedules.

Next, take all necessary actions to prepare for the execution phase, such as securing any new employees or vendors to support your efforts or conducting training to improve sales and marketing skills. You'll want to manage and fine tune the implementation of your sales and marketing plan throughout the year, reviewing your progress at least quarterly and adjusting the plan as needed.

Need more help?

Take a look at some of my previous articles in The Green Sheet for additional help. "The annual marketing plan," Dec. 14, 2009, issue 09:12:01, and "Sales and marketing: Allies, not foes," May 10, 2010, issue 10:05:01, contain great tips to help you effectively tackle important aspects that affect the sales and marketing planning process.

To start the year off right and make sure your plan is solidly in place, you may even want to seek professional help and guidance. Sales and marketing planning is critical to achieving your business and revenue goals, and there's no time better than today to get started.

Having a clear plan for growth that everyone in your organization understands and can execute on, securing adequate staff and financial resources, addressing deficiencies in sales and marketing skills, and aligning sales and marketing will plot the course for your success in 2011. So what are you waiting for? It's time to step up and plan to get results. The Green Sheet, Inc.

Peggy Bekavac Olson is the founder of Strategic Marketing, a full-service marketing and communications firm specializing in financial services and electronic payments companies, after serving as Vice President of Marketing and Communications for TSYS Acquiring Solutions for more than five years. She can be reached at 480-706-0816 or peggyolson@smktg.com. Information about Strategic Marketing can be found at www.smktg.com.

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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