Sales

Feeling opportunistic? How marketing can support deal flow outside the planned pipeline without going nuts.

By March 2, 2020 No Comments

Feeling opportunistic? How marketing can support deal flow outside the planned pipeline

In an ideal world, all prospects would come through planned channels from target personas in your positioning frameworks or companies on your ABM list.  However, business is rarely that predictable. B2B startups and companies needing cash flow often have to close deals outside standard product lines or industries when opportunities arise.

However, marketing teams asked to constantly pursue these activities produce ill-planned, reactionary campaigns that threaten morale. Many marketing campaigns take months, or even years, to plan. Marketers can’t always whip up high-quality, in-depth content pieces and creative on the fly for every revenue opportunity or last-minute event, without losing focus and getting burned out.

But when marketing refuses to support these last-minute opportunities, it creates unnecessary friction with the sales team and harms sales and marketing alignment.  Marketing gets accused of not being “team player” and an impediment to sales. Reasonable flexibility is the key. 

Achievable marketing support for opportunistic sales deals

Here’s how you can keep a great relationship with sales and executive leadership in a climate of opportunism without losing your marketing marbles. 

  • Set boundaries.  With executive and sales leadership, agree on how many last-minute requests marketing can reasonably accommodate. Let requesters know how much lead team you typically need. A ballpark range is fine. 

If you are getting barraged continuously with urgent requests, ask for more resources or outsourcing budget, especially if your team helps close of one these ad-hoc opportunities.  

  • Communicate the impact on scheduled campaigns.  If marketing must deliver outside planned scope without additional resources, there will be a negative impact to the schedule. Communicate the ramifications, so everyone understands the compromises that have to be made. 

If you can get additional budget in these situations, have a list of outsource marketing agencies or freelancers available who understand your messaging and brand guidelines.  They can often help with a tight deadline, especially if it’s outside the busy trade show season.  

  • Loop in compliance. If you’re in a regulated marketing environment, such as medical devices or government services, be sure to sync with your legal and compliance teams on their turnaround times. 

If you cut procedural corners to deliver content, you are risking a lawsuit or fines, which can negate any revenue gains from a quick sale. In many companies, this is also grounds for dismissal.

  • Create a menu of quick turn deliverables. Assuming you have a brand style guide and messaging, some pieces are relatively easy to deliver in rush scenarios. Present sales with a list of content pieces and campaigns that marketing can create with deliverable timelines for each item. 

Focus on pieces and campaigns that your team can create in less than two weeks without sacrificing quality. 

For example:

DeliverableTimeline (in business days)
Add a new offering web page2
Create and distribute social posts2
Write and upload a new blog post3
Write and design an e-collateral piece5
Set up a LinkedIn sponsored content campaign5-7
Write, design, and print a sales slick10-14

Sample quick-turn marketing menu

 

  • Create an urgent action playbook.  Just as your public relations team has a crisis management plan, your marketing team can have a quick delivery playbook that springs into action. Outline how individuals can submit last-minute requests, who will communicate the delays to planned projects,  and who will execute each step of the rush deliverable.

A bit of upfront planning makes pressing requests manageable.  

Rather than hope, there will never be an urgent request from sales or leadership, plan for it. Marketing will be seen as team players at the ready to do everything they can to help close deals. 

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Chris Slocumb

Author Chris Slocumb

Chris is the founder and president of Clarity Quest Marketing, where she leads a talented group of marketers and designers helping healthcare and technology companies achieve marketing and business goals. To learn more about Chris' experiences and qualifications, visit our leadership team page.

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