I love to read. Not just any book, but a good book written by someone whose passion oozes from the pages of text and I found that in Revenue Disruption, by Phil Fernandez, President and CEO of Marketo. For those of you who haven’t read the book, and are interested in the latest thinking in sales and marketing strategy and customer advocacy, I highly recommend it.
After reading the book, I was inspired by what Phil had discussed and thought there needed to be a section of the book dedicated to the “global” nature of sales and marketing strategy. That said I give you a proposed Chapter 28 to Revenue Disruption:
Aligning Global Strategy with Execution
As companies continue to seek new opportunities abroad, gaining alignment amongst their teams is essential. This alignment isn’t easy and takes better communication, better collaboration and an improved understanding of regional culture and target market. When done well, the results can be impressive.
Unfortunately, lack of alignment between sales and marketing organizations can limit the team’s ability to reach their full potential and most importantly handicap a company’s potential to effectively meet their internal revenue targets. Although most executive teams understand this basic concept, most underestimate the need to have deep conversations about how to provide an internal framework to address such challenges.
When implementing marketing strategy outside of a company’s HQ, it’s imperative to do more than just translate the same collateral used by their HQ teams. Marketing materials and approaches will need to be different from region to region, and country to country. The most important first step is to truly analyze the target market, competitive landscape and decide if the target market is truly ready for the solution. If deemed appropriate, the marketing and sales teams should move forward and begin to build-out a mini-business plan that provides the framework for active discussion and collaboration. Gaining insight from both of these teams is critical, if the company wants to have a success roll-out into the new country. In addition, the company should also begin to think about the best ways to protect the corporate brand and ensure it is not misused after entering the new market.
Today, most companies utilize spreadsheets and emails to manage this global conversation. However, leading organizations are turning to a new breed of cloud applications that help their distributed teams collaborate and debate the best approach to entering a new country. The main reason this is critical is simple – if what is dictated from headquarters doesn’t match the region’s sales and marketing team’s expectation, the result may be the opposite of what is expected. Instead of having a tight rein on the corporate positioning and brand, salespeople in other regions take it upon themselves to “fix” the marketing to be more appropriate for their needs. That said if a company provides a flexible framework for these teams to collect and disseminate market data, in real-time, marketing teams can introduce new content, collateral and sales tools to continue to improve the overall sales process and customer experience.
A 2010 IDC report cited what it named the 80/20 rule, stating “up to 80% of the content [that] marketing generates is not used by sales, even though a lot of it is specifically created for sales and channel enablement.” This is interesting not only because the Marketing teams are creating content that the Sales teams don’t find useful, but if this is the case, chances are any multi-lingual content your company is producing isn’t used effectively as well. In short, if you aren’t creating an environment that allows the teams to test, implement, and retest, then your company is at an extreme disadvantage. It is a waste of time, resources and effort.
Worse than not localizing at all is when marketing materials have been machine-translated. In these cases, they are not only poorly translated, but the person at headquarters who had them translated actually thinks they have delivered something usable. While they check a box completed on their to-do list, the unfortunate marketing and sales representatives in the other regions are left to fend for themselves.
Interestingly, CMO Council’s Marketing Outlook 2011 study showed an increased need for a localized approach to attack markets across the globe and an increase in leveraging technology to do so. The study states: “with more than USD$1.5 trillion spent on marketing and communications worldwide, there are significant incentives for marketers to evaluate the optimal structures, approaches, strategies, tools, platforms and processes for globalization and multi-market localization.”
Clearly, the desire to market globally is omnipresent, and with ever increasing budgets to reach new customers in multiple regions, the challenge isn’t “if”, but “where”, “when”, “how” and “what”. The answers to these questions aren’t easy, which is fundamentally why alignment between a company’s marketing and sales teams is not only important, but also absolutely critical. Companies that have a culture that encourages an agile approach to “going global” will not only limit their initial market entry investment exposure, but the team will also be able to learn more about the market, customers and partners faster. This new learning will save the company not only a significant amount of future investment, but also a tremendous amount of time trying to find the right product/service-market fit.
This new approach does mean adapting marketing and sales programs and customer support materials to better reflect the preferences of customers in the new target market. Adapting to these preferences is beyond being polite; it can be a competitive advantage. If you knew that customers were six times more likely to purchase when they see localized marketing, would your company spend a bit more time thinking about how to get these same prospects to convert to customers and adopt your product or service?
A good salesperson is described as a “problem solver,” constantly testing new techniques, messaging and content. Often, they are a company’s front-line and have the latest qualitative prospect conversion data points that are critical to your company. He/she is expected to do whatever is necessary to move their deal along and they should. However, they also need to remember that they are part of the larger team and feed this new learning, what “is” working and perhaps more importantly, what “isn’t” working, back into the marketing framework, so the broader team can adjust their thinking, process or customer-facing content. Now, imagine if a good salesperson doesn’t believe they have proper marketing materials to support their efforts and especially in their native language. Any frustration and annoyance quickly becomes a workaround, which doesn’t match the marketing strategy you planned – ultimately, not a great situation for the company. Ultimately, the goal is to give the global sales teams materials that actually match their customers’ preferences. The only way to achieve this goal is to ensure there is a corporate culture that encourages a framework for learning, testing and retesting.
The speed at which all of this learning happens truly depends on the company, their willingness to encourage cross-functional learning and perhaps as equally important, the company’s ability to invest in applications that facilitate this global communication and collaboration. With so many multi-lingual marketing materials being created and localized, leveraging a global translation management solution will move the process from emails and spreadsheets to an automated system that improves team accountability and collaboration. Fundamentally, this new approach will help your company implement marketing strategies quicker and more cost-effectively in each target market.
Lastly, all marketing and sales initiatives, whether it’s marketing automation or project management, must be measured. Long gone are the days when marketing was purely an art that supposedly couldn’t be measured. Besides making marketing and sales more efficient and more effective, cloud applications have dramatically shifted the speed at which a company can enter new markets and above all else, measure the effectiveness of multi-lingual programs and support global customers and partners.
After all, as the old adage goes, if you aren’t measuring your global programs, how will your company ever know what to improve?