Why Sales and Marketing MUST Align

Let’s talk about a sales and marketing problem most companies have struggled with for years. I’m not talking about lead generation, market share, or customer retention, although it does impact each of those things and so much more. I’m talking about the chasm that separates Sales and Marketing.Take a look at a typical day in the life of both Sales and Marketing to see if you can relate…A Day in the Life of a MarketerA marketer works hard to generate leads for her sales team. She optimizes conversion opportunities across her company’s website, delivers email campaigns, builds landing pages and delivers valuable gated content. Her work generates a steady stream of leads, which she immediately passes along to the sales team. Because, after all, more leads is better, right?Our marketer toils away each day to create valuable marketing content and sales support materials. She sends emails to the sales team to notify them each new piece of content as it is finalized. She even uploads each new item to the company’s Dropbox account so everyone can access it.Ah, sweet success!But not for long…Her blood boils when she learns her sales reps haven’t even so much as looked at the leads she has been generating. She shivers with frustration when she finds out most of the sales team is somehow unaware of most of the content she has created. How can this be possible?Marketing feels undervalued and ignored.A Day in the Life of a Sales RepOn the other side of the Grand Sales and Marketing Canyon, a sales rep spends her day responding to urgent prospect requests, traveling from meeting to meeting, communicating with customers, reacting to unexpected changes with buyers – hers is a life of constant chaos and change.She often needs content in order to respond to immediate needs of her prospects. However, this leads to frustration because the materials she has access to are not the materials she needs. They are outdated or – worse yet – they don’t even seem to exist. This often means she ends up creating content on the spot. This requires time she simply doesn’t have. She can’t understand why Marketing doesn’t produce the content she needs.To top it off she receives endless notifications from Marketing about new leads she to follow up with, adding pressure to her already stress-filled day. She doesn’t have time to stay on top of communication with her own prospects, let alone a list of new leads from Marketing. Besides, Marketing leads never seem to be qualified and following up with them always seems to be a waste of her time.Sales feels misunderstood and unsupported by Marketing.Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought so.Unfortunately, this situation is incredibly common. Marketers are not alone in their feelings of being undervalued and ignored. In fact, as much as 80% of marketing leads will never be acted upon by Sales. And according to the American Marketing Association, a whopping 90% of selling content is never actually used in selling.Sales reps, too, are justified in their frustration. The CMO council found that instead of selling, sales people spend upwards of 40% of their time creating their own messaging and tools. Also, according to HubSpot, only 27% of leads sent to sales by marketing are qualified first.Pretty sad statistics, right? So why is it happening? It’s that chasm I mentioned earlier between Sales and Marketing. These two teams are disconnected in a big way and it’s taking a toll on the companies they work for.It’s time to close the gap and align Sales and Marketing once and for all. While you would probably agree, you may not fully understand why it’s so important or what you can do about it.Why Sales and Marketing MUST AlignReason #1: Your Customers See ItAccording to the IDC, as much as 57% of customers feel that salespeople are poorly preparedor not prepared at all for initial meetings.Could it be that these sales reps didn’t have the resources they needed to properly prepare for these initial meetings? After all, these meetings with prospective customers are pretty important to sales reps – they are key milestones in the sales process! The vast majority of sales reps would certainly want to be prepared for them so they could be as successful as possible. They just didn’t have the content they needed to adequately prepare.Sales reps need content to effectively engage prospects and close sales. But not just any content will do. They need content that speaks directly to the needs, challenges and preferences of prospects. And they need to be able to access the most current versions of it whenever they need it.What To DoTake the first step toward Sales and Marketing alignment and talk to the sales reps directly. Work to clearly understand the challenges they face throughout the sales process. Ask them about the gaps they see in your marketing content. Try to understand how they need to access content and when and where they need it most. Attempt to learn what marketing support has worked and what has not – and why. Listen to their feedback and list the ways you can better serve your sales reps.One strategy I like to use is asking sales reps to write down questions they frequently receive from prospects. Then, use this list of FAQs as a list of content you can create to directly support the sales reps the next time they encounter such inquiries.The important takeaway here is that marketers can take the first step toward Sales and Marketing alignment by starting a simple conversation with sales reps. Just ask them what they need and work out a way to deliver it.Reason #2: Lead OverloadWhen Sales and Marketing aren’t aligned, inefficiencies are bound to happen. Like the examples given above, chances are pretty good that Marketing is delivering leads that Sales will never touch. With increasing adoption of marketing automation platforms and their ability to help marketers do more than ever before, marketers are capable of generating a lot of leads. That’s great. What’s not so great is when they just pass them all along to sales.Why is this such a problem? When sales reps are given more leads than they are physically able to follow up with, they become saturated… and those leads get neglected Here’s an example:Let’s say you’ve been striving to reach a lead generation goal of 30 leads per rep per week. That sounds great! That is, until you learn that each rep typically has about two hours per week to follow up with leads and each lead typically requires about 20 minutes of follow up time. You now realize that each rep has the capacity to follow up with just six leads each week. You have been working hard to send them 30.See the problem here? In this scenario, you would be sending them 24 more leads than they can physically handle. Every. Single. Week.What you thought was great marketing success was actually overloading sales. And it was leading to neglected leads.What To DoAs the previous example briefly mentioned, one of the first steps in solving this problem is by talking to your sales reps and Sales leadership directly to understand the realistic number of leads each rep can follow up with each week. Then adjust the number of leads you deliver accordingly.This doesn’t mean you aim try to generate fewer leads. Not at all. Instead, it means you might need to nurture them and better qualify them before handing them off to Sales.More work for marketing? Perhaps. But wouldn’t it be worth it if your work was actually used? By nurturing leads before handing them off to Sales, you increase the chances of the leads you deliver actually becoming customers.On average, according to a Demand Gen Report nurtured leads produce a 20% increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads. What’s more, companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more leads that are truly sales-ready. Even better – they produce these leads a third of the cost of companies that aren’t so great at lead nurturing.Invest some time in better understanding Sales and each rep’s capacity for following up with leads. Then refine your lead nurturing process to improve the quality and rethink the quantity of leads you deliver to sales.Reason #3: Revenue Gone to WasteWhen sales reps spend time searching for or creating content, this not only duplicates the efforts of marketing, it also pulls them away from important sales opportunities. And those wasted opportunities add up to wasted revenue – lots of it.Consider this: A study by IDC found that by saving a single sales rep just 60 minutes of prep time each week, a company could realize additional revenue generation $300,000 or more per rep! In a company with just 10 reps, that’s $3 million each year. If you’ve got 100 reps, that’s a staggering $300MM per year.If just 60 minutes of prep time can translate into $300,000 in revenue, just imagine how much potential revenue is wasted in your organization as sales reps struggle to find the content they need.What To DoClear out the clutter. As you work to build a better relationship with your sales reps and establish more frequent, meaningful communication, look for ways you can reduce the clutter – in both of your lives.Quite often, technology can help here. There are apps available today to help manage content. Anything from Google Drive to Basecamp, Dropbox to Salesforce – any number of tools can serve as a virtual marketing library for your content. Each one is available anywhere and on any device with an internet connection so sales reps should have no problem getting the content they need whenever they need it.If you can commit to making only the most current versions of content available in this marketing library, ask your sales reps to also make a commitment. Ask them to retrieve these up-to-date versions of content whenever they need to use it – instead of using outdated content stored elsewhere or creating their own.Close the gap between Sales and Marketing. Reach out to Sales to better understand their challenges and needs. Work together to better serve your customers. Sure, it will improve your business and probably increase revenue, but it will also improve your workplace happiness, and can you really put a price on that?

Investing Money in 2014 and 2015 for Retirement – An Old Pro’s Viewpoint

In 2014 and maybe 2015 and beyond, investing money will be tougher and putting together the best investment portfolio might mean investing money for safety vs. higher investment returns. The best investment ideas are slim pickings. There is very little that is normal in today’s world of finance. My reasoning and background follows.In 1971 I had my Masters in Business (finance) and knew nothing about the investment world or investing money. Actually, I found it quite embarrassing, because adults that I would meet in the business world thought that I might have the best investment ideas in my pocket – due to my education. The years that followed were not the best investment environment, and I became a stock broker in Columbus, Ohio in 1972. I learned real quick what my job was really all about: selling investment ideas… SELL the sizzle NOT the steak… I was informed by my sales manager.Forty years later, investing money is a game that I find has changed little. It’s all but impossible to find the best investment, and the world of investing money is primarily a sales game aimed at uninformed investors (more than 90% of the investing public). I once read that NOW is always the hardest time to invest money. I’ve seen difficult times in the markets for over 40 years and I’ve NEVER repeated that phrase until now.At this time, I am afraid that it is really true. Allison and I have three children, who are all basically 30-something and trying to make it in a difficult world. Investing money for retirement is not an option for them. It is an absolute necessity if they don’t want to work for the rest of their life. Many folks my age are covered by pension funds plus other entitlements, but that’s not the norm for 2014 and beyond. Now, let’s get down to business and talk about investing money in 2014 and beyond; and the best investment ideas I can muster as an older (but still on top of my game) retired financial planner.If you have a 401k at work participate in it, and take maximum advantage of your employer’s matching contribution if your company offers this feature (it’s free money). Investing money here is automatic and almost painless. This is one of the best investment ideas available for accumulating a nest egg for retirement. Plus, the tax advantages will put a smile on your face each year at income-tax time.Open a Roth IRA with a major NO-LOAD mutual fund family and start investing money each month through their automatic investment plan. Enter “no-load funds” into a search engine and you’ll see some of the biggest and best fund companies at the top of the page, names like Vanguard, Fidelity and T Rowe Price. Give them a toll-free call if you have questions – like do you qualify, how much can you invest a year, and will they send you free literature. A Roth IRA (or Roth 401k if available) is one of the very best investment ideas for accumulating money for retirement. A Roth account (IRA or 401k) is TAX FREE investing, as long as you follow the rules. Tax free is as good as it gets and difficult to find.Mutual funds are the average investor’s best investment vehicle because they offer both professional management and instant diversification in the form of a managed portfolio of stocks, bonds, and money market securities. When you invest money in a fund, you own a very small part of (own shares in) a very large investment portfolio. There is always a cost for investing money in funds. All funds charge for yearly expenses. This can amount to less than 1% a year in NO-LOAD FUNDS, with no sales charges when you invest money and no extra ongoing management fees. Or, you can pay 5% in sales charges off the top when you invest money, 2% or more for yearly expenses and 1% to 2% in additional management fees if you work through a sales rep (financial planner, adviser, or whatever).One of the best investment ideas for 2014, 2015 and beyond: keep your cost of investing money as low as possible. This could make a difference of tens of thousands of dollars over the long term. A dollar saved is a dollar earned.Do all that you can to learn about investing money; and especially learn about stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Once you understand stocks and bonds, getting a handle on mutual funds is a piece of cake. What are the investment options inside your employer’s 401k plan? The vast majority of them are likely mutual funds – mostly stock funds, bond funds, and/or balanced funds (that invest in both stocks and bonds). There will likely also be one or two safe investment options that pay interest: a money market funds and/or a stable account.Investing money successfully in 2014 and beyond could be very difficult due to today’s investment environment. First, record low interest rates mean that safe investments that pay interest are paying close to nothing. Second, bonds and bond funds pay more interest, but when interest rates go back up to normal levels they WILL LOSE money; that’s the way bonds and bond funds work. Third, stocks and stock funds are pricy, having gone up in value and price well over 100% since 2009. In other words, best investment ideas are few and far between.Here’s the best investment strategy in 2014 and beyond for beginners who want to start investing money for retirement and keep it simple. In a 401k and/or Roth IRA account invest (monthly or each payday) equal amounts into a stock fund, bond fund, and money market fund. If your 401k has a stable account option use this instead of the money market fund if it pays more interest.Mutual funds are always one of the best investment ideas for most investors – if you invest money in low-cost no-load funds. (Your 401k plan should have no loads, sales charges). When investing money for retirement in 2014 and 2015 keep three factors in mind. Two of these always apply: keep costs low and invest money across the board in all three fund types listed above. Your third factor is to give money market funds equal weight in 2014 and beyond for added safety. Normally, you would give them less weighting.

US Markets in green on Friday; Dow 30 up over 345 points, Nasdaq Composite, S&P 500 up nearly 1%

US Markets were trading in the green on Friday with Dow 30 trading at 30,678.80, up by 1.14%. While S&P 500 was trading at 3,701.66, up by 0.98% and Nasdaq Composite 10,690.60 was also up by 0.71 per cent

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US Markets in green on Friday; Dow 30 up over 345 points, Nasdaq Composite, S&P 500 up nearly 1%
Earlier today, Indian stock markets ended the week on a winning note. It was the sixth straight gains for equity markets. Source: Reuters
US Markets were trading in the green on Friday with Dow 30 trading at 30,678.80, up by 345.25 points or1.14 per cent. While S&P 500 was trading at 3,701.66, up by 35.88 points or 0.98 per cent and Nasdaq Composite 10,690.60 was also up 75.75 points or 0.71 per cent. A Reuters report said that today’s strength was on the back of a report which said the Federal Reserve will likely debate on signaling plans for a smaller interest rate hike in December, reversing declines set off by social media firms after Snap Inc’s ad warning.

Source: Comex

Nasdaq Top Gainers and Losers

Source: Nasdaq

Earlier today, Indian stock markets ended the week on a winning note. It was the sixth straight gains for equity markets. The BSE Sensex ended at 59,307.15, up by 104.25 points or 0.18 per cent from the Thursday closing level. Meanwhile, the Nifty50 index closed at 17,590.00, higher by 26.05 points or 0.15 per cent. In the 30-share Sensex, 13 stocks gained while the remaining 17 ended on the losing side. In the 50-stock Nifty50, 21 stocks advanced while 29 declined.