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Can’t Anybody Here Play This (ROI*#@ing) Game?
Blog / Sales Management / Jun 29, 2015 / Posted by James Obermayer / 5544

Can’t Anybody Here Play This (ROI*#@ing) Game?

Casey Stengel, the baseball legend, said it best, “You look up and down the bench and you have to say to yourself, can’t anybody here play this game?”

I wonder about it when it comes to a marketing team’s willingness and ability to prove the ROI for their lead generation programs.  Can anyone play the ROI game?  It’s easy to understand why so many CEOs and CFOs think marketing is overhead at worst and a necessary evil at best — one that drains 2-15% of the company’s yearly revenue without proof it is contributing to sales.

OK, that’s harsh, but I’ve known a lot of harsh CEOs.   I trailed one as he took a visitor on a tour of his sales and marketing department and said to his guest, in front of everyone, “And this is my overhead department. “

He didn’t say, “This is my revenue generating department.”   Unsurprisingly, as of a few years later, everyone in that department had left.

As marketers, I think we only have ourselves to blame for this sort of misstatement.  After a while the company’s c-level team begins to believe that forecasts are more like fairy tales and marketing can’t prove an ROI on any of it.

Why does it matter? Until someone proves the ROI for market expenditures, marketing will continue to be thought of as a variable cost rather than a fixed-cost necessity.

The Solution Is in Marketing’s Hands – First Get the Tools!

The solution is in marketing’s hands because only marketing can figure out how to prove the ROI for its budget.  C-Level managers ask that it be done, but they have no idea how to do it.  A mechanic can’t fix your car without tools — and marketing can’t prove the ROI for its efforts without them, either.

There are two types of marketing toolsets:

  1. Those that measure results
  2. Those that improve results

I am addressing only tools that measure results. You need two tools for calculating results as the basis for your measurement reporting:

  1. A CRM System (obviously more than a measurement system).  It isn’t enough to have it; the sales team must use it.
  2. A Marketing Automation System (much more than a nurture system)

CRM systems, which have been around for 20+ years,  are evolving and it seems there are new entrants into the CRM space several times a month.  Of late, there seems to be a race for ease of use as the rallying cry for CRM software.

Personally, I judge a CRM system on its ability to tie sales to a campaign and specific inquiries (leads) and its ease of use by the sales reps.   Ease of use also means how long it takes reps to make and update entries in the system.

Some might say that marketing automation systems fall into the category of tools that improves results, but I think that marketing automation is improving so much, so fast, that it is now a basic tool as important as a CRM system.

Now for the tough part that makes an ROI measurement so evasive.

Ya Gotta Wanna Use the Tools and There Have to Be Rules

Because of the cross-department nature of lead management, tools salespeople refuse to use are, well, useless. If the sales reps won’t update and close out an entry (lead), marketing is left wallowing in self-pity — without ROI results. Common complaints from marketing are:

  • “They won’t use the CRM system properly.”
  • “They won’t use the CRM system at all.”
  • “They still use spreadsheets for reporting and pipeline management.”
  • “They won’t close out the sales leads.”
  • “They don’t tell us the results.”

Yes, these statements are true for many, but not for all marketers and salespeople.

If you want to use the tools you have to enforce the rules.  The rules are:

  1. 100% of all sales leads will be followed up.   This is both a sales-driven activity as well as a series of marketing automation tasks.
  2. Salespeople will close out all records in the CRM system and reach a conclusion (spreadsheets are no longer an acceptable tool for this).
  3. Marketing must measure campaign results for lead-generating tactics.
  4. No other rules matter.  

When the rules are followed, the CRM and marketing automation tools take on new importance, the sales manager will make quota more consistently, sales territory turnover will decrease, and the marketing department will become a fixed, necessary cost.

Oh, yeah, and marketers will be indispensable.

When this happens the CEO will look down the marketing bench and say, “Now I have people who know how to play the game.

About Author

James Obermayer is executive director and founder of the Sales Lead Management Association and principal at Sales Leakage Consulting, Inc. He is the author/co-author of four books on marketing and sales.

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