(This is the second post in my series about using product knowledge to create better sales enablement and jumpstart a repeatable sales process. Read the first post, on the overall topic.)
“I Need Better Leads!”
Does your salesforce complain “We don’t get enough leads from Marketing, and the leads we get aren’t any good?”
I’ve heard this a lot from sales teams.
But what does this complaint really mean? It simply means the leads they are getting don’t need or want your solution. They don’t have the problem your product solves, or they don’t have it badly enough to spend money to solve it.
If this is happening – and often it is – your company will have a hard time making the number of sales you need to be successful.
Marketing Uses Product Knowledge To Know Who To Target
The job of Marketing is to find people to buy your product. Marketing drives programs to create awareness, interest, desire, and get prospects to take action. When prospects come in via this pipeline of marketing programs, they are handed over to Sales, who then continue the sales process.
So why isn’t Marketing finding the right people in their lead generation activities?
The fact is that Marketing doesn’t decide who to target. The fact is that Marketing doesn't decide who to target with their programs - defining the ideal customer and segment is #prodmgmt's responsibility! Click To Tweet
The definition of the ideal customer – the demographics, the characteristics, the industries – comes from Product Management.
- Product Management does the research to determine that there is a problem that can be solved.
- Product Management validates that there are enough people in the market who need your solution and who will buy it.
For Marketing to be effective, Product Management needs to communicate all this “market segment” data to Marketing. Sharing this knowledge with Marketing is a fundamental step in a successful sales enablement program.
You’d be surprised – or maybe not – how often Product Management does not communicate this information to Marketing effectively. And so Marketing does its best to find who they think might be good prospects. But without the knowledge that Product Management has, they are inevitably going to be off, often far enough off that the leads are not good.
Imagine your product is a project management tool. It has a lot of familiar project management features, and that’s what Marketing knows. So, they market your product to project managers of all types. That makes sense, right? They aren’t marketing to non-project managers.
But it turns out that not all project managers need a tool like yours. In fact many of them only need a much simpler and cheaper tool. Do you want that lower-priced segment in your lead pipeline? No, you do not. But if Marketing only knows “project management” that’s what you’re likely to get.
Improve sales performance by getting better leads
There are a lot of ways to improve your sales performance, but Step One is improving your lead quality.
And Step One of improving your lead quality is making sure that Marketing knows who to look for. And that’s up to Product Management.
Three Things You Can Do Today
Here are three things you can do to help Marketing find and collect the ideal prospects for your sales team.
(Note: There’s actually a step 0. Product Management must know the characteristics of your best prospects so that you can communicate them to Marketing.)
- Assess if you – Product Management – are giving Marketing the market segment information they need. This can include:
- Their demographics (i.e., mid-sized company, number of projects, types of projects, how many project managers.
- The specific types of problems they they face (heterogeneous projects that all require separate treatment, lots of conflicting information in their existing project management approaches, importance of having a cross-company or cross-enterprise dashboard or reporting, and so on).
- How the other alternative solutions might be failing them.
- Review your company’s marketing message around your product. Is it crafted so that the people who have the specific problems you solve are moved to action? Are undesirable prospects less likely to take action? Is it targeted toward the right segments (e.g., mid-sized companies with x projects and y project managers)?
- Step into a relationship with Marketing where you share this information continually. The expertise of Marketing is to find and attract leads who fit a desired profile or persona. It’s Product Management’s responsibility to define that profile.
The next post in this series covers another critical component of sales enablement:
- Make sure Sales knows how to qualify their leads effectively, discover the details of the prospect’s problem, and communicate those findings to the sales engineers.