Companies run marketing plans, promotions and campaigns in order to increase sales in international markets. How do they measure success? Using just one metric: sales. But there are many sub-processes and steps that lead to a sale that are often overlooked.
We agree that sales are the ultimate goal in a for-profit organization. Sales and profits allow companies to reinvest in people and technologies, allow for projections and anticipate more growth. There’s no question about that.
With respect to the international trade arena, marketing and sales have become the driving force in a company’s expansion. They are also responsible for defining and implementing the business’ global export marketing plan, which is expected to increase sales. Still, companies repeatedly jump into the global export market without a clear roadmap. Without a proper plan they, of course, fail to achieve the expected results.
But there is no magic here. In order to plan for and achieve success, marketing and sales departments must work as rigorously as the production department. Processes should be defined and implemented. Sub-processes and steps should clearly set forth the way in which each prospect should move through the pipeline until the point of contract signature and repeated purchases.
Marketing and sales programs require that sub-processes and steps be precisely identified, defined, monitored, analyzed, adjusted and maintained. But why?
Information is the Basis for Informed Decisions
In order to fully understand the marketing and sales processes so as to make informed decisions with respect to next steps, companies must analyze data.
In today’s business world, there is no lack of data. It’s available. But companies need to agree on how to allocate resources in order to analyze it. Whether or not one initiative worked better than another must be a management decision based on data.
Companies in the international trade require a professional global export marketing plan that includes well-defined steps and benchmarks (or key performance indicators, KPIs) with respect to how to proceed.
To read more about the similarities between the lean journey in manufacturing and the lean journey in sales and marketing, check out our white paper, A Lean Revenue Production Process: From “Raw” Leads to “Finished Sales”.
Marketing and Sales as a Production Team
Despite the fact that the concepts of “processes”, “evaluation of results” and “control” are close to the hearts of technical professionals running technical companies, usually the marketing and sales processes lack the level of detail that is expected from other areas within the company.
The sales and marketing departments, which are vital to the existence of a business, may run without expectations or clear benchmarks but they won’t achieve their full potential. Jobs in sales and marketing are considered entry-level positions perfect for recent graduates, neighbours or acquaintances. Individuals without previous experience in the relevant field, join organizations without receiving a clear path that will help them to succeed in their positions. Marketing and sales talents are left to each individual’s skillset, resulting in cycles of “trial and error” with no methodology or “lessons learned” from any of the company’s past experiences.
When marketing and sales are handled by seasoned sales professionals, consistent results are achieved without problem or issue. These expert professionals are left on their own to design the processes with minimal involvement from senior management. This is because they know that the only result that matters is winning the final step in the process: the sales. However, should something go wrong at any given point along the way, the responsibility falls squarely on the sales department, which is a very heavy weight to carry.
In the same way that an organization has a clear understanding of its production process, they should also understand the detailed level of work involved in acquiring new leads, converting them into contacts, engaging them in dialogue and winning the sale. In order to obtain new clients, a company requires the use of a specific methodology to move prospects through the sales pipeline. The process becomes key.
A Process Approach to Global Export Marketing
Informed decisions should be led by global export marketing strategies driven by objective information. A well-defined process approach should be adjustable based on each sub-process and step along the way. If done correctly, this approach will:
- provide a benchmark used to identify problems as soon as they appear;
- identify potential issues along the process;
- monitor small steps;
- allow for continuous learning as part of the same process; and,
- establish the basis for a better final outcome.
The best end results are achieved by businesses that establish their own marketing and sales processes that are based on informed decisions – so a sales increase can be fully-understood and repeated.
There are remarkable parallels between the lean journey in manufacturing and the lean journey in sales and marketing. To read more about the similarities and how they can be applied to your own company’s processes, check out our white paper, A Lean Revenue Production Process: From “Raw” Leads to “Finished Sales”.
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