I’m a supporter of a mid-table, average football team, and as all of our supporters have been aware for several seasons, there are two ingredients for success which both need to be in place: good players, and good management. It’s no good having one without the other (and my team is certainly lacking in one of those at the moment). This is a relevant analogy for sales and marketing, because many companies simply don’t get the balance right between the raw material for sales and what you do with it. They’ll spend £500,000 a year on paying and supporting half a dozen salesmen, but only £50,000 on giving them sales enquiries to work with. Football fans will see this as the equivalent of getting in Sven-Goran Eriksson to manage Notts County. The result is that the sales team fight over a handful of second-rate, unqualified leads until they move on to another company where they hope they won’t be as bored or frustrated.
Giving the sales team a decent opportunity requires investment in advertising and promotion, but only the most successful companies seem prepared to buy the quality raw material. Maybe now that advertising results are so much more measurable, more companies will feel confident enough to redress the balance.