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We’re now halfway through the year - do you feel on track to achieve your 2017 sales and marketing goals? If not, these common mistakes may be the issue.

Cast your mind back to the start of the year. Fresh from an end-of-year break, the beginning of a new year is often dedicated to reviewing, planning and strategising.

But if, by the middle of the year, you’re not seeing the lead volumes or quality you expected, are seeing poor conversions, or have moved off target, now is the time to redress.

Of course, any campaign experiencing issues should be reviewed and corrected on a case-by-case basis. However these common marketing and sales mistakes are often a root cause:

4 Common Marketing & Sales Mistakes to Avoid

Mistake 1: You don’t have a detailed plan in place, mapped back to financial goals

Mapping your sales and marketing plans to realistic financial goals is essential to achieve ROI. If your financial goal (that your campaign is responsible for) is unclear or unrealistic, or marketing strategies are undefined, it makes sense that campaigns will struggle.

To avoid a mismatch and ensure you’re working toward realistic targets, ask yourself:

'Are my personas accurate?'

Understanding your ideal, best-fit customer in-depth, forms the foundation of effective inbound campaigns (and understanding buyers at an individual level is core to account-based marketing). All activity and targeting must aim to resonate with this best-fit client profile - so if persona information is out of date, misaligned or inaccurate, campaigns won’t be as effective as they could be.

If persona information is out of date, misaligned or inaccurate, campaigns won’t be as effective as they could be.

To review or develop accurate persona profiles, start by basing them on historical data; who are the customers you want more of, what industry are they in, what job titles do decision makers hold? Consider their business challenges, obstacles to purchase, behaviour patterns, demographics, goals and morivations, then align your marketing campaign accordingly.

'Am I working toward a realistic goal?'

Are your campaigns working towards a realistic revenue goal - which is itself mapped back to realistic lead and conversion goals?

Each stage of the funnel impacts on the next - you need to know you’re seeing the right traffic volume at the top of the funnel, to convert the right volume (and quality of leads), to convert the number of customers you need to meet your financial targets.

Working from the top of the funnel down, to assess what’s realistic (and where you need to improve), consider:

  • What volume of total site traffic do you see - and what % of that traffic typically converts into leads?

  • Out of these leads, what % will be MQLs (marketing qualified, good-fit leads)?

  • Out of these MQLS, what % will become SLQs (Sales qualified, or purchase ready leads)

  • Out of these SQLs, what % typically convert to customers? Does this customer number match your overall campaign revenue goal and map to your financial targets, or do you need to improve your funnel?


Of course, sales cycle lengths, traffic volumes, average order values, timescales and more will impact all of these numbers. To manage your team’s (and especially your CFO’s) expectations, make sure all of this is accurate and realistic. As mapping this can be complex, using tools like ROI calculators may help.

Related: Inbound Marketing ROI Calculator

'Is my content mapped to the buyer’s journey? Am I publishing to channels my buyers are active on?'

If you aren’t creating content that addresses your prospect’s challenges throughout their purchasing journey, your nurture efforts won’t be effective.

Both your marketing and sales teams will need a variety of content, that addresses Awareness, Consideration and Decision issues to truly offer value. This content should be positioned across the channels (and in the formats) that resonate most with your ideal buyers.

To get this right, some key considerations include:

  • Where do my buyers go to find information and help? Industry blogs, videos, particular social platforms, etc.
  • What content do they look for? Videos, guides, articles, interactive content and tools etc.

  • What content do I have, does it map to my buyer’s challenges at each purchasing stage - and am I positioning it in the right places?


Related: How To Align Business Goals With An Inbound Marketing Strategy

Mistake 2: Not aligning your sales and marketing teams

Sales and marketing alignment is crucial to effective inbound and account-based marketing strategies - and is the foundation for successful sales enablement. Yet many organisations still struggle to align their teams; only 22% of 2017 State of Inbound respondents had a formal SLA in place to align teams.

According to Sales for Life  “Companies with a sales enablement solution increased win rates 28% and reduced ramp-up time by 25%.”

For your sales and marketing teams to succeed, they must work together - content creation, persona focus, lead qualification, lead nurture - all of these actions and more must be founded on shared insight and collaboration if either team is to achieve their goals. Technology plays a huge part here - the right technology (such as an integrated marketing automation and CRM platform) will give sales and marketing teams the tools and shared lead insight they need to improve processes.

Considerations for effective sales/marketing alignment includes:

  • Having an integrated marketing automation and CRM platform in place for seamless closed loop reporting 

  • Ensuring sales and marketing are agreed on campaign KPIs and goals, including persona profiling

  • Ensuring sales and marketing are agreed on lead ‘definitions’ - what qualifies as a ‘good fit prospect’ and at what stage should marketing hand leads to sales?

  • Marketing using sales insight to inform relevant content hubs that address buyers’ challenges throughout their buyer’s journey

  • Sales having access to marketing’s lead insight to hold more progressive lead interactions and conversations

  • Ensure that both teams meet regularly to review.


Related: Why Sales Enablement is Key to an Account-Based Marketing Strategy

Mistake 3: Not anticipating strategies for growth

It’s easy to become complacent if you are on target to achieve your goals; but, it’s important to try and stay ahead of the game. Things are always evolving - are you on track to achieve next year’s goals as well?

It’s always wise to take the time to test out new tactics and lay a good foundation for next year’s revenue. Here are a few areas for growth that you may want to consider.

Account-Based Marketing. If your marketing and sales teams are aligned and you’re developing a good nurture-pool of relevant, quality leads (as in an aligned inbound campaign) you have the opportunity to identify the most appropriate (high value, high propensity) leads for account-based marketing activity.

According to Sirius Decisions “84% of B2B marketers believe ABM provides significant benefits for retaining and expanding current relationships”

Account-based marketing is a more personalised, targeted approach than inbound and works to develop mindshare and relationships with specific individuals within your most relevant target accounts. Because of their targeted nature, ABM campaigns are often more resource heavy; for example, content should be personalised specifically to address key stakeholder’s business challenges. But, as ABM campaigns are tailored to appeal to high-value, high-propensity accounts, they often achieve solid ROI.

Related: 5 Account-Based Marketing Investment Considerations

Investing in Video Content: In the recent HubSpot State of Inbound 2017, video was predicted to be “one of the top disruptors” of 2018. Accessible and memorable, video is an increasingly important content format to add to your campaigns, from vlogs to how-to videos, to case studies, webinars and more - and is only set to increase in popularity.

Correctly implemented, video can form an integral part of your content strategy, making your messaging and brand more accessible, memorable - and helpful at every stage of the buyer’s journey.

Related7 Video Content Creation Tips

Mistake 4 - Not considering personalisation

As we can see with account-based marketing, considering personalisation and context in your content is increasingly important. If you’re not starting to incorporate personalisation into your strategies for more relevant content, you’re missing out.

Of course, personalisation is relevant to more than just account-based marketing campaigns. If you can enhance personalisation across your activities (such as through using smart lead flows or landing pages that recommend new content for leads uniquely, using segmentation to better personalise your workflows, or trialling chat to engage with site visitors in context with their challenges) you can help prospects through the buying process faster (shortening your sales cycle) and build stronger relationships with them.

Related: Why B2B Marketing Personalisation Should Be A Priority

Considering next steps

As marketing technologies and strategies evolve, it’s not uncommon to find strategies in need of review.

If you find you’re not quite on track to achieve your goals, it is of course best to review and analyse your campaign in-depth to find what’s not working and why.

But in light of the above, it will also help if you ensure you:

  • Review your campaign to ensure you’re working towards realistic targets

  • Have your (up-to-date) target persona front of mind at all times - remember persona research is never complete

  • Ensure marketing and sales are closely aligned

  • Consider trialling relevant new tactics and growth strategies
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