According to a new survey, http://directmag.com/news/layoffs-freezes-dm-employment-0416/, by Bernhart Associates, sales tops the list of positions likely to be in the highest demand during the coming three months. Said Jerry Bernhart, "This is similar to what we saw during the last downturn [2001-2002]. Many companies apparently believe that a good way to weather an economic downturn is to increase the effectiveness of their sales force, and that's exactly what many of them are doing."
Unfortunately, simply adding bodies (and ultimately costs) to your sales force won't improve results if you don't have a marketing process in place that delivers qualified leads to all those new hires. The stronger the lead, the faster the opportunity is realized. To accomplish this feat, it is imperative that marketing and sales work together to accomplish revenue growth in a down economy.
Furthermore, focusing on improving sales is a worthy goal no matter what the economy. Companies are always well served with a strategy that enables the sales force to hone in on key prospects versus wasting time on cold calls. Analyst firm Aberdeen Group found that more than 66 percent of "Best-In-Class" companies (those in the top 20% of aggregate performance scores) use demand generation/lead management technologies to enhance sales efforts. Also, these Best-In-Class companies use lead management tools to automate actionable, timely prospect communications based on customer behavior.
For companies eager to enhance second quarter results by beefing up sales teams, implementing a strong lead management program will help solidify results. For example, creating a lead score ranking can quickly alleviate the issue of chasing incorrect opportunities by new, inexperienced sales reps. Sophisticated lead scoring models are designed to prioritize leads and determine the likelihood of each becoming a customer by taking into consideration both Explicit (BANT, demographic and firmagraphic data) and Implicit (Web site visits, email opens, etc.) prospect data. In addition, they can systematically watch for older leads that 'reengage' in the buying process and automatically notify sales, thereby helping to find opportunities that were thought to be lost.
All things considered, strategy is the key for companies to stay or move to the top in the second quarter. Increasing your sales force and not supplying them with lead management solutions can be a hard mistake in a market that leaves little room for error or rebound. Both sales and marketing will ultimately have to answer for results. A strong lead management solution can make a real difference. Have a successful quarter!