Marketing as a function has many responsibilities, most of which are aimed at creating sales opportunities and improving the probability of closing sales for the company. This makes the Sales Team an important customer of the Marketing Team.
In most companies, the pressure of producing sales results is constant. The financial strategy for a company begins and ends with the sales forecast and results. This is why management typically puts a heavy emphasis on leads, using the number collected as the primary measure of trade show success.
For those reasons, most companies would like to believe there is a correlation between actual sales results and event marketing activity. For a handful of companies, this is possible, but for most others it is misleading and impractical.
Leads vs. Sales Opportunities
For companies that take orders on the trade show floor, the situation is clear. The measure of success can be demonstrated based on the total value of the orders written. For many others, sales occur long after the event is over. Oftentimes the target has been contacted in many different ways making it difficult, if not impossible, to track. Add a multi-year sales cycle, such as you find in many industries, and the influence of a marketing event becomes obscure.
Of course, there is a great deal more to be gained at trade show events beyond generating leads. But for our purposes, we will focus on the link between Marketing and Sales. At worse, this link is perceived as a “disconnect.” At best, it is believed that Marketing can have a direct influence on the level of sales.
For example, a call center might be known as a marketing function, but if they write orders, they are a sales function. Therefore, it is worth considering if a trade show effort should be evaluated on the ability to generate bona fide sales opportunities for nurturing and closing by the Sales Team.
The most basic question that must be answered by the Sales Team is, “What do we want a qualified visitor to do as a result of engaging with us at an upcoming show?” The answer must be a specific step that is feasible and takes a target more deeply into the normal sales cycle. From this, the probability of a sale can be projected.
So it follows that the simplest measure of success might be how many real sales opportunities were generated by the specified activity at this event.
Estimating the Value of Sales Opportunities
To go a step further, we can place an estimated value on the sales opportunities generated by gathering some additional input from the Sales Team. To do so, you will need to know the following:
- What is the estimated percentage of your committed leads (committed to the follow-up action as defined by Sales) that eventually result in a sale? This may be referred to internally as the “close ratio” or something similar. Ask Sales for this number.
- What is the average value of a sale that results from a committed lead/visitor from this show? Again, the Sales Team would have this information. Make sure you understand what this value represents. Is it the value of the initial contract or the value over a number of years? Is annual service fees included in this evaluation process?
In planning for next year’s event cycle, take time to make an appointment with the Sales Team and jointly define the measures of success for your event marketing program. Effective targeting and attraction are prerequisites to a rewarding sales interaction.
Offering an engagement with a call-to-action that moves a desired target to the next step in the sales cycle bridges the Marketing and Sales functions. Engagement should result in moving well-targeted individuals directly into a critical step in the company’s sales cycle. Prospects reached through marketing activity must commit to a step, as in a call-to-action that Sales agrees is important to the process. If this agreement is reached, the proverbial gap between Sales and Marketing should be erased.
In summary, keep the emphasis on selling and focus the marketing activities by:
- Defining and finding the appropriate targets.
- Engaging and interacting with these targets so that they take the specific action your Sales Team defines as a critical step.
Then count your success by the number of sales opportunities generated, and assess the value of your investment using the estimated value of those opportunities.
Exhibitus makes your company’s success our top priority. Contact us today to speak with our Results Division (hyperlink to the Results Division landing page) if you are looking for additional ways to align Marketing with Sales.