• Chris DeMartine

Clear Objectives or Shiny Objects?

There's a common process across many sales and marketing organizations that begins with the four P’s of marketing (product, price, place and promotion) and ends with a problem. Ad content and sales pitches often lead with product when they should be uncovering or addressing a business need or problem. The product is a solution, and the value of that solution is directly related to its relevance and effectiveness in solving a client’s problem.


So why are so many ads focused on features and benefits? Maybe it’s just easier to push out what you know and go to work for every day, or to go a bit deeper—it’s just more naturally to think of and promote ‘we’ before truly understanding ‘you’. After all, isn’t that what market research is supposed to do—find out what the customer needs and build around that? If you’ve been around the block for any amount of time, you’ll realize that is not always the case where ‘shiny objects’ appear more appealing than clear objectives.

Defining clear objectives and prioritizing those objectives, is a necessary first step in the process of promoting your own product or service. Objectives support the broader, long-term goals of an organization so keep that in mind when defining them. For example, if the overarching corporate goal is to increase revenue by 40 percent over the next 3 years, then a supporting objective would be to deliver 23 qualified leads per month in order to achieve that. Let’s break it down:


A) Current trailing 12 months revenue = $15,000,000

B) Growth (40 percent) revenue goal for 3 years from now = $21,000,000

C) Projected attrition (10 percent) from current business = ($1,500,000)

D) New business needed to achieve the goal = $7,500,000

E) Projected average annual revenue from new customer = $25,000

F) Projected average 3-year revenue per NEW contracted customer = $37,500

G) Total new contracted customers needed to reach goal = 200

H) Average lead to contracted customer conversion rate = 25 percent

I) Qualified leads required over next 3 years to achieve goal = 800

J) Monthly qualified leads requirement = 23 ( 800 / 36 months, rounded up )


The same S.M.A.R.T. approach to goals can also be applied to their supporting objectives. So is this objective specific, measurable, assignable, realistic and time-related? The answer is yes, but something very important needs to be addressed. How much is it going to cost to get those 800 qualified leads? Empirically speaking, this is where many big picture thinking executives grossly underestimate the resources required to deliver even close to this objective. This puts marketers in a tough spot, pressed on every side from bosses, stakeholders, sales leaders, and vendors who commit to lead volumes with no guarantee of whether or not these leads are truly qualified.


Therefore, the lead generation process must begin with a clear explanation of what determines a qualified lead—and what does NOT. Unqualified leads simply do not convert at the same rate as qualified leads, and have a far greater cost when sales resources are factored in. There is an opportunity cost every time a sales resource is assigned to a lead. Fortunately, the best commissioned sales professionals are incentivized to pursue the opportunities with the greatest personal income potential. However, many organizations are structured in a way that requires rigorous follow-up on inbound inquiries. For that reason, the last thing marketers should be doing is creating distractions that lead to frustration and a lack of confidence amongst sales leaders. The definition of a qualified lead varies based on the organization, its products and services, sales process, terms and conditions and more.


Nevertheless, here are a three qualification questions to consider:


1. Does the prospect have an immediate need or problem to solve?

2. Does the prospect have sufficient budget to invest in solving the problem?

3. Are there competitive implications on doing business with the prospect?


These questions can be easily adapted and applied to any contact form on a website or landing page. Keep in mind that there will always be some trade-off between asking for too much information (lower response rates) and not asking for enough information (unqualified leads). Publishing web contact page forms with the right questions built-in and properly training live chat representatives can both be highly effective ways to get the job done right.


To sum it all up, the process of setting S.M.A.R.T. goals and objectives requires mental discipline and the ability to not get distracted by shiny objects like 'opt-in' lead generation programs built on piggy-backing principles that are applied for monetization with little thought as to the level of qualification. Most often, the top quality leads that convert are the ones that are most difficult to generate.

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