Is Your Business Ready for Marketing?

B2B Marketing: Get This Right FirstBusinesses turn to marketing to drive revenue, but are you really ready?

Before investing in marketing you must ensure other key areas of your business are ready first.

  • Your Product or Service. If your offering isn’t ready for the market, your marketing will not solve your problems.
  • Your Sales Organization. If your sales organization is not ready to sell your new offerings, your marketing will not solve the problem.

Sales Readiness

If marketing is driving demand for a new offering but sales is not ready to close on opportunities, the immediate impact of your effort will be lost. The impact doesn’t stop there, the lost credibility also hurts future opportunities.

As a buyer, I have experienced this multiple times. When an organization begins marketing an offering and the sales team has been armed with the standard set of sell sheets but cannot answer additional questions, it becomes clear it isn’t a core offering yet.

Not only does this hurt the company’s chances on selling this offering, it also hurts their chances of selling future new offerings until I see they have had the time to polish and refine them.

Product and Service Readiness

Similarly, sales cannot sell an offering that your are not ready to deliver on. Products that are released before they are fully tested, if sold, undermine the trust sales has developed with your customers. The end result is an unhappy customer and a broken sales relationship.

This may seem like a small business or startup problem, but it can be seen in a wide range of organizations.

  • New Releases. Even large B2B companies have struggled with new products released without adequate sales education or before they were ready for the market. Consider, for example, the Cisco Cius tablet for business, which some publishers have listed as a top product failure of 2011.
  • Educated Buyers. As buyers take on more of the burden of research and education, sales must be ready to followup with a conversation that is relevant to a more informed buyer. Ardath Albee’s (@ardath421) post What Happens When Inbound Marketing Works illustrates this nicely.

In Summary

  1. Make sure your product or service is ready.
  2. Next, check that the sales organization is ready.
  3. Finally, start your marketing.

Your Turn

What companies have you seen attempt to fix their product or sales problems with marketing? Share your view in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).

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  • http://Social-Tango.com Billy Delaney

    The heart of the matter in a few words. hard to get these days. Thanks! I am in the very effort of getting my product ready and marketing ready at the same time. Like chasing cats to round them up. I liked this post a lot.

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Thanks Billy! Yes, getting ready to market the product that is still being developed and shifting… Good luck getting those cats corralled!

  • http://www.WaxingUnLyrical.com/ Shonali Burke

    Well said, Eric! Yes, #thatisall. :)

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Thanks! :-)

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  • http://www.kilkku.com/blog/ Ville Kilkku

    I fully agree that the trio of product/service, sales organization, and marketing are all needed for a successful launch.

    However, I am not at all sure that a ready product is the first step before others: in fact, the process has to run somewhat in parallel, and the real difficulty lies in finding out exactly how much in parallel all three areas can proceed.

    I come from a B2B investment goods background, so the reality I am used to is long periods of development and long delivery times (for machinery that can cost millions, take months to manufacture, and take weeks to install). Now, if a new product has to be 100% ready before sales, there will be a gap of several months after the development is done and before the first delivery. This is simply not good business. However, selling too early risks incorrect specifications and delayed or unsatisfactory delivery. It is finding the proper balance that is difficult.

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      A little clarification it seems: Your business better be ready to deliver on the promises your sales team makes. If your business is custom software development, you never have the product ready, you simply know that you can deliver what is being sold.

      In the product space, if you can sell with only major features and details specified, then go for it. But if you are selling vapor and the business isn’t committed to making the investment to deliver a real product when it is sold, you are headed for trouble in a hurry.

      Unfortunately, I still see this out of balance too frequently, and a couple recent conversations sparked my post / rant.

      As always, thanks for the comment and perspective, I appreciate it!

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  • Anonymous

    You’ve lived in silos too long Eric. Marketing’s job is to make the product saleable. That includes pricing, specs and giving sales people everything they need to be ready to sell.

    What you’re talking about is marcomms – communicating what has already been agreed. It is only a small part of marketing.

    • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

      Peter, you are right, this is a silo perspective in many ways, and it would better have been labeled advertising (although that is too limiting) or promotions (but not promotional). My primary point was highlighting the tendency to “sell” something that you are not ready to deliver against, or create demand that you are not ready to fulfill. Although done carefully, this can be a useful tactic, if done to cover the shortcomings in other areas, it can easily backfire as well.

      Thanks for the reminder, I will work to dig out of my silo now! :-)

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  • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

    Yeah, I couldn’t find an example of one when I was writing this, but I’ve had a few of those myself. I’m pretty certain that’s what they created the Report Spam button for in our email clients. At least that’s what I use it for.

    Thanks for commenting!

  • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

    The challenge, as you well know, is the way marketing is often measured internally. That is leading to the distribution of budgets based on “lead gen” results.

    I don’t disagree with your point of view, but I think this deal highlights the general trend in the industry and marks an opportunity for publishers that strike a different relationship with their audiences and marketers that are willing to focus on creating demand instead of building a “lead database”.

    Thanks for adding the perspective of 2 million buyers in a single comment! :-)

  • http://b2bdigital.net/ Eric Wittlake

    Thanks Dennis. Yes, it will be interesting to see what happens. Not QuinStreet does have some editorial, but it certainly doesn’t have the respect that Ziff’s editorial team has had in the past.

    Your equal value comment could spark another whole post! :-)