Oxymoron: Comprehensive Sales and Marketing Plans (Comprehensive?)

Today I was browsing a website that lists member requests for assistance with various business issues.  I have never really taken the time to look at what type of requests are on the list, but for some reason, I was curious today.  It was laden with the usual requests for IT system selection help, recommendations for attorneys, etc.  But for some reason, the one that really stood out to me went something like this:

Comprehensive Sales and Marketing Plan

Member is looking for an updated/more comprehensive version of a sales and marketing plan. Any suggestions would be helpful. This member would like to achieve a better planning tool ffor their directors to create and use more effectively.

Is it just me, or does anyone else see the oxymoron in the phrase “Comprehensive Sales and Marketing Plan?” 

There are plenty of ways to develop a “Comprehensive Sales and Marketing Plan”, but the problem with most that we’ve seen is that they aren’t comprehensive at all.  Almost by definition, a “Sales and Marketing Plan” ISN’T comprehensive, because the focus is on only two elements within a business: Sale and Marketing. 

Far too often, Sales and Marketing exercises tend to become  internally-focused idea generation projects that are used to determine budgets, with action plans for how to spend the budget added in for good measure.  There are two significant stakeholders that are missing from the exercise:  the Customer and Operations, and this represents a “slight problem.”

Many planning methodologies fail to collect meaningful insights from existing Customers.  Our research has shown, for instance, that for Customers that have defected to a competitor, over 60% indicated they were Satisfied in a their most recent “Customer Satisfaction Survey.”  Customer Satisfaction means “shopping for the next best deal” and has nothing at all to do with Customer LOYALTY. 

While it’s one thing to fall short of understanding the Customer, it’s quite another thing to develop a Sales and Marketing plan without adequate operational involvement.  Yet, this is done as a matter of routine within most organizations that have the best and brightest minds working in Sales and Marketing.  The notion is that Operations will somehow rise to Deliver whatever the Marketing Plan dictates, and that Sales will sell.

Far too often, the result of a “Comprehensive Sales and Marrketing Plan” is a plan that costs real money communicating capabilities that don’t quite exist to potential new Customers, all the while forgetting about the needs of existing Customers and how to build Loyalty based on Trust. 

Comprehensive Sales and Marketing Planning cannot possibly be effective unless Customers and Operations are integrally involved in the Process.  It starts with knowing what Promises can be Made and Kept that are important to the Customer.  These are “Strategic Promises” or “Brand Promises” that have been studied sufficiently to ensure that they will build Customer Loyalty, enhance Market Differentiation, and Improve Profitability.  When Organizations have clearly articulated Brand Promises, building a Sales and Marketing Plan is easy.

The hard part?  Figuring out which Promises can feasibly be Made and Kept that will yield Customer Loyalty, Differentiation, and Profitability.  And actually, that’s not too hard either, if the CEO makes the decision to become Promise-Driven.  Without executive leadership towards a simple method to manage Customer expectations and internal spending initiatives, functional managers will do what they always do:  propose solutions for the business that happen to fit their view of the world. 

A business built on optimizing each functional area fails because there will never be agreement on how the overall Operation should function to meet a Customer’s need.  Localized optimums simply don’t work, and only the CEO can dictate a different path.

That’s why I’ve recently coined the term “Chief Promise Officer” to explain what the CEO’s role is in the organization in terms of creating a foundation that all functional areas must work to build upon.  In an upcoming post, I’ll explain the Chief Promise Officer role in greater detail.

Greg Lins
Customer Experiences Inc.

View Greg Lins's profile on LinkedIn

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2 Responses to Oxymoron: Comprehensive Sales and Marketing Plans (Comprehensive?)
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