I’m a huge fan of staying scrappy, spending as little as possible, practicing agile marketing, and other best practices that maximize growth and scalable ROI for as little investment as possible.
But sometimes, you gotta spend money to make money.
Not always an easy decision, and not always a slam-dunk to succeed. But regularly, I find that the following 10 sales & marketing investments – when chosen and implemented properly – will more than pay for themselves in relatively short order.
Marketing automation platform
Most companies look at marketing automation as a cost. I prefer to think of marketing automation (when properly executed) as a replacement for far more expensive marketing channels and media traditionally responsible for driving the same volume of qualified opportunities to the sales team. This requires smart strategy & execution, but even the most expensive marketing automation platforms pencil out nicely when you consider the tens of thousands in media spend and marketing channel costs they can replace, with similar or better output in terms of leads, qualified opportunities and closed business.
Internal communications specialist
An attendee at the SiriusDecisions Sales Enablement Forum earlier this month described her internal communication specialist as the most important investment they’ve made in the past three years. This person drives communication & coordination between sales, marketing, customer service and other vital departments. They ensure quantity and quality of pre-campaign briefings, drive closed-loop reporting and feedback on marketing programs, and on and on. Think about the gains in efficiency this role could actually create in your organization today.
Depending on how broadly you want their advice and frameworks, the price escalates quickly. But I haven’t met many people who don’t tell me that investment pays itself back multi-fold in more efficient operations and increased performance of sales & marketing programs. At minimum, check out their blog and representative frameworks available on their site.
Freelance writer with SEO experience
There are plenty of good writers out there whose copy won’t help you much in driving search traffic. And there are other writers who will cram your content full of SEO terms, and render it unreadable. Find and hire a writer (or general content producer) who can effectively combine both. Content marketing doesn’t always generate immediate results, but over time you can grow a sustainable source of natural traffic & leads at a fraction of the cost of “real-time” lead sources. And over time, that investment continues to generate results, decrease cost per lead, and increase your ROI.
Marketing operations manager
Most modern B2B organizations have someone dedicated to sales operations, but few make the same investment on the marketing side. And yes, with marketers investing and using their own systems more often – plus integrating those systems with CRM and other cross-departmental platforms – marketing operations is becoming more and more important. Look at some of the most successful B2B marketing organizations today – DocuSign, Concur and more – and you’ll find dedicated marketing operations professionals & teams.
An effective, dedicated sales trainer can materially impact the effectiveness of your sales team on many levels – their professionalism, their consistency, their conversion of leads to opportunities, opportunities to close and more. Many organizations put sales training in the hands of managers, not a bad idea except for the fact that managers have a thousand other priorities. This too often means training gets back-burnered, or built without enough attention to detail that impacts end-results.
Do you know what’s really working? Can you establish causality across campaigns and channels? Do you know whether offline marketing is impacting online performance, and visa versa? And do you have tools that help you quickly, easily and cleanly create reports for your executives, board of directors and others who care less about the details and more about the results? Reporting platforms such as FullCircle CRM, Tableau and others are worth their weight in gold to address these questions and challenges.
It’s one thing to have the data, quite another to do something with it and about it. A good analyst can help you uncover improvement opportunities you couldn’t otherwise see with the naked eye, trends that can be exploited to increase pipeline throughput, and otherwise identify and capitalize on more strategic and tactical opportunities.
CRM administrator (with biz or strategy experience)
It’s amazing how much more effective your reps can be with someone dedicated to making your CRM more useful and efficient. Ideally, you want to find a CRM administrator who has business or strategy experience, who can effectively balance software use best practices with what’s rationally worth doing (or not doing) by reps on the sales floor and in the field. A single CRM administrator who knows what she’s doing can save your sales team hours a week, to start.
Sales enablement specialist
Few organizations even think about this as a dedicated role, but within the marketing team it can be a critical resource to ensure the sales team is operating at peak efficiency throughout the entire sales process, not just to the point where leads are handed off. This covers everything from mapping and providing sales tools at each sales stage, providing and supporting training on the industry and competitors, and much more.