Howdy folks! Nick here. If you are responsible for generating quality leads on an ongoing basis or your organization is struggling to hit its lead conversion goals, this is for you.

Let’s talk about operations’ role in marketing and sales, and why these three departments (notice I said three, not two) need to be more closely in contact with each other than most businesses think is necessary. The best way to talk about this topic is with an example, so here comes a story.

We have recently been working with a medical practice here in Austin that opened in early 2019 and has steadily gained steam and visibility. Let’s just call it Awesome Medical for now. Awesome Medical has a specific niche, making it easy to define audiences and key terms for those audiences. We have a moderate, but healthy, digital marketing budget of about $6K per month. Based on the lead flow we are generating, even a 5% closing rate for this client would mean at least a 5X return on investment, which should be very encouraging and exciting; and I mean actual leads – form submissions and answered phone calls that last more than 60 seconds. 

Acknowledge The Difference Between Marketing and Sales

But there is a problem. Despite the form submissions that ask for a specific doctor or define a specific need that is exactly what Awesome Medical provides, an entire month flew by without a single new patient scheduling an appointment with them. So, what does that mean? There are a few different reasons on the table:

  1. These are not real leads (think rogue, automated bot form submissions).
  2. The wrong audience is responding to our marketing efforts.
  3. There is a missing piece or pieces of information for the lead to close that has yet to be known or identified.

Resolve these three issues and, obviously, Awesome Medical blows past their conversion goals. The less obvious answer is how. So, let’s start with the overarching issue before we address each item above.

Establish Standing Weekly Meeting Between Teams

All three departments have to talk to each other on a regular basis. Although it seems elementary, it amazes me how many businesses and not-for-profits, even moderately successful ones, will go weeks, even months, without having standing weekly meetings with their department heads about the impact of marketing on their business. 

The biggest challenge working with a marketing agency is typically involving that team in those key, regularly recurring meetings with the folks from all three of these departments. I always know we are going to run into serious problems with a client if we can’t secure at least bi-weekly meetings to discuss wins, challenges, and updates around how sales, marketing, and operations are interplaying with one another. The example with Awesome Medical being a perfect Exhibit A.

In Awesome Medical’s case, we, the marketing agency were hired to build a brand and drive actionable leads from digital ads and organic search. Although successful in generating them, converting those leads to scheduled visits have failed and it took over a month for that information to make its way back to Alter Endeavors. Many marketing, PR, advertising and social agencies would simply shrug at this point and say, “Hey, that’s your problem. We achieved what we said we would, and we don’t have any control over that.”  Although they are not wrong, this sentiment often leads to the business owner or CEO killing a productive marketing strategy because they interpret the situation as a failure of the marketing agency they hired.

Tackle the Problem as a Team

In reality, unless a marketing agency was hired to provide fractional CMO services (to serve as the Marketing Director for the business), it’s up to the directors of the organization to organize a team comprised of sales, marketing (including someone from the marketing agency) and operations to walk through the sales process in a situation like this to discover the following:

  1. Is the marketing agency reaching the right people?
  2. Is the sales flow optimized to close the deal (this is a whole blog topic in itself or go read So You’re New to Sales by Bryan Flanagan)
  3. What KPIs are being monitored and measured to determine where the ultimate conversion (sale or donation or whatever equivalent) has occurred?
  4. Are there missing marketing materials or platforms that need to be crafted or built for a more persuasive (i.e. effective) process?
  5. Is the operations contact communicating the marketing messages throughout the organization? Is there a buy-in? How are they telling the story internally?

Also, is the operations team tracking metrics that will help sales and marketing convey the uniquely better qualities of their services or products? Throw me an email or call me at 512-400-4074 if you want me to unpack this more for you.

At Alter Endeavors, we fight for these recurring ‘sync’ meetings with our clients, making the meetings a required component of our engagement.

When we talk about an ecosystem, we mean the brand in its entirety, not just the marketing piece. Isolate any one department, and you put the entire system at risk of failing to generate business sustaining lead flow. If a brand’s leadership team cannot make the time for regular meetings to review the interplay between marketing, sales and operations — it is either growing at a much slower rate than it could be and/or losing out on significant amounts of revenue. 

Check back soon for a follow-up and hear what happens with Awesome Medical.