« September 2004 »
1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30
September 30, 2004
Entrepreneurs and Finding the Right Balance of Marketing and Sales Operations
Topic: 3) Ventures
Two recent articles and a couple of sales and marketing meetings related to eCommerce and software businesses led me to write this blog entry. In the first article I read, comments were made that even companies like McDonald's are having trouble getting their marketing dollars to rise above the nit. In the second article, Phillip Kotler (marketing academic and guru) characterized the world as still using old marketing concepts. He went on to mention that companies haven't yet figured out how to combine technology with high-touch marketing. Kotler's core point was that businesses don't spend enough time 1) getting a map of the customer's mind and 2) mapping back how a company's processes and operations should be optimized about customer awareness, preference, and choice. In any case, both articles touch on getting through noise and the relationship of customer prospects with business operations.

Now entrepreneurs are generally very concerned about marketing and sales so this is not new news. However, I often find that entrepreneurs are often stretched and need to make choices quickly. Based on a typical psyche of entrepreneurs where they are more inclined to try to maximize all resources at their disposal as opposed to taking a trustee's primary orientation of protecting assets, well this just fuels the need to make quick, and sometimes improper, decisions.

Where things can go awry is in the implementation of marketing and sales operations, and I'll only address two activities for brevity: cold calling and networking. A popular saying is that networking is the most effective way to generate sales. While I think this is true, I think that such thinking ignores some underlying core concepts. Better understanding the core concepts is helpful because a spectrum of marketing and sales techniques may be used in an organization.

On one end of the spectrum, cold calling operations are generally better for those types of offerings that are more commoditized, common, and well-defined. Cold calling operations are also better for those cases where the customer's problems are not that confidential. Thus, as you can imagine, since customer prospects can be contacted at any moment by telemarketers (aside from do not call regulations), if the prospect has a common and well-defined problem, there is very little risk to having an unknown, telemarketer give the sales pitch to them.

On the other end of the spectrum, problems of an infrequent nature and with a confidential slant to them (e.g., merger integration, company turnaround, new business launch) - these types of problems are better matched to sales and marketing processes involving networks. Use of networks and trusted people are the people that get invited to the party. Since problems faced by customer prospects are more confidential and infrequent, networks serve as feelers into the marketplace for suppliers.

So this is just another way of thinking about sales and marketing. At which end of the spectrum do your products and services sit? Do you have multiple products that require different operations? Does a blend apply? What should the balance be?

Steve Shu
Managing Director
S4 Management Group

Posted by sshu-s4 (c) S4 Management Group LLC at 11:04 AM CDT
Post Comment | View Comments (2) | Permalink

September 30, 2004 - 3:26 PM CDT

Name: Vivek Bhaskaran
Home Page:

I run an online (internet) only business (online surveys) and one of the things I learnt recently the hard way was the effect of "touching" and how to manage the online comminication with your potential clients effectively.

Instead of sending promotional marketing material when users signup, we are moving more towards building technology solutions that figures out what a customer did when he came to our site. Then we profile that -- and then email the customer how to get to the next step... -- this includes links to articles, and other help material to help the customer though...

This has turned to to be more profitable and we can see our conversion rates changing!!! ;-)

Vivek Bhaskaran

Online Survey Software

September 30, 2004 - 4:28 PM CDT

Name: sshu-s4
Home Page:


Great comments. eCommerce and doing business online are an interesting animal to talk about. For eCommerce sites, it is very desirable to look at the cost of:
a) increasing average orders
b) generating incremental, targeted traffic
c) increasing conversion rates

As you point out about increasing conversion rates, this is a really valuable thing to focus on. My experience has been that there is a gap in making technologies that measure and monitor what customers do while at online websites very broadly accessible.

Steve Shu
Managing Director
S4 Management Group

View Latest Entries