Have you ever seen a sleek and bewildering sales pitch?

Besides the fabulous animated pixels that fire up your imagination, it all seems to be cleverly bundled into an unforgettable name that rings with authenticity and is without a doubt, brilliant marketing. It might have just been launched online, five seconds earlier, but you are now convinced on the way to execute your next marketing initiative.

Then the unfortunate day arrives when the sales organization is not buying the marketing vision. No metrics were set up before going down the path to blowing away your limited budget. Sales are disgruntled. After all, you could have invested in a hockey box that could have closed a client with deep pockets. You could of, you should of, but where is the proof that would have worked any better?

This speaks to the importance of defining the objectives of a campaign or marketing initiative with metrics. Before launching any campaign, make an agreement between marketing and sales of what defines success to ensure buy-in on the metrics set.

By initiating a collaborative approach between sales and marketing from inception, you can accomplish a positive sum experience with true alignment. If this is not done you will always be fighting a zero-sum game. This is an important lesson, as sales live and die by quota. Marketing experts, being well-heeled in analytical data, can create a storyline that is far more flattering to a marketing decision made and a budget spent than a sales department that fell flat of an assigned budget in a specific fiscal quarter.

On Thursday, I had the privilege of being part of an Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) Roundtable on ROI, facilitated by Bob Becker, founder of marketing-services firm SMA. It was an excellent mix of specialists from large corporations such as HP and Symantec, to small businesses in specific verticals such as health. One marketing professional always asks her end customer sales team, “If you didn’t do this what would be the effect?”

She bases her decision on the team’s sales quota and with a simple question makes both sales and marketing accountable for campaign outcomes. Many organizations will measure different outcomes. A financial outcome is harder to track than an awareness outcome that is based on how many clicks, and how many conversions received from such efforts. Yet with some marketing analysts the preference is financial based metrics rather than reach based metrics. Reach metrics are more common. Radio, print and, run of Site (ROS) are factual based on audience. However, you are still being picked up by the anonymous rather than understanding the opportunity lies with Mr. Brown from ABC Corporation.

Today there are myriad hosted, cloud-based services for driving metrics. From Google’s suite of analytics offerings to sophisticated predictive behavioural analytic solutions, it’s easy to believe there are no excuses for not understanding what works to make intelligent marketing investments. However, as stated earlier, your data is only as good as what is entered and given we are all human, behaviour will always dictate success. Our roundtable host, Becker, mentioned in his early years at Colgate Palmolive, you required two years of sales before entering into a marketing role. Experience helps you to not only recognize the urgency to track results but the need for proof points that make both sides of the organization accountable. Knowing the pain of not meeting targets is good, but not good enough.

For better alignment with sales, consider discussing the campaign objective that sets the agreed upon metrics to report out ROI. We all know the frustrating variables with tracking sales. Reps change, hunters (your best reps) don’t have time to record information into your CRM; everyone has a different definition of what kind of lead the campaign brought in, or worse, multiple departments are involved and everyone is tracking separate metrics. But not tracking at all is asking for trouble.

Collaboration and the infamous CRM becomes the catch-all for everything. When it all goes right, it’s simply part of your job.

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