Archives for posts with tag: Buffer

The role of marketing is to generate demand for a product or service, and positively influence the chances of a sale or a satisfactory exchange. The role of production or operations is to have it ready so that when a sale happens you can deliver.

Stand and deliver, as the highwaymen and a certain 80’s pop band used to say.

This is not as easy as it sounds. It’s helpful to know your sales cycle, the length of time between when you start creating the demand and the customer wants to buy. Sometimes the sales cycle is miniscule, like in ecommerce, so you need to be ready to deliver on the upsurge in demand. Otherwise, goodwill wanes proportionally to the amount of time you have to wait after you’ve placed your order.

Last year I ordered a rather nice brand-name top from a website I’ve used for a couple of years. They used to send me a daily email with their offers. They complete on value and totally wing the service and delivery side. I ordered the top the 3rd week of February and it arrived the second week of May. I don’t know why it took so long; the possible reasons are many. Once I got the top I unsubscribed and they get no more business from me.

In the business to business world, it’s also helpful to know how long it will take you to build your product or service, and also how long it will take for your people to be able to deliver and support the product or service. If you’re lucky, you can do some of these two things in parallel and save a bit of go to market time.

 

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I recently wrote a post on the successful sales manager’s magic word. That word was buffer.

It might also be prudent to offer a suggestion on what the successful marketing manager’s magic word is.

That word is buffer, as well. In fact, building buffer is a pretty good mantra for everything we do, from all types of work to how we manage our leisure time, our coffee appointments, our train departures and our meetings.

Just as the successful sales manager builds buffer around a team target that’s lower than the sum of the individual rep targets, so too should the successful marketing manager build buffers around the different marketing initiatives, especially around demand generation which in B2B circles is so essential to the successful sales manager, relying as they do on a steady stream of leads from marketing.

If you have a team of individual outbound ‘demand gen’ reps working the phones, make sure that the total of their individual targets is more than the team or company total. Similarly, if you have a range of outbound activities planned for the quarter, make sure that the sum of the targets for each of those activities – in terms of leads, opportunities and resulting revenues – exceeds the team or company total. You need to insure yourself against activities not happening or underperforming, or a rep underperforming, getting sick or leaving to give you a back-fill headache.

Remember to go back and measure the actual performance against target too, for the previous period. Then over time you can improve and be able to refine the amount of buffer you need to build into each area.

Even the best laid plans and estimates go awry. Give yourself some buffer, to make sure you can over-deliver on your promises.

What’s the successful sales manager’s magic word?

Buffer.

Building buffer buys benefits for the sales manager.

I mean buffer in a money sense, not a time sense. Building a buffer into deadlines is always wise, regardless of your profession, to insure against the inevitable slips, trips and falls on the journey.

You should always have a buffer between your team target and the total of your people’s individual targets, because not everyone is going to hit target every month. Even in well-performing companies you might see a third-third-third split between those above target, those around target and those below target.

For example, to keep the maths easy, let’s assume you have 5 sales people on your team, each with a sales quota of $1,000,000 per year. Industry variances aside, your team target should be in the region of $4,000,000. Similarly, your sales director, if they have 3 managers with the same team target reporting into them, should have a sales organisation target of around $10,000,000. And so on, through the roll-up to the top person.

You want your people to hit target, and your Director wants you to hit target. That’s how successful companies retain successful sales professionals, rather than creating a constant need to replace churning staff.

Notice that I’m not talking about forecast buffer here. Building padding into your forecast makes it really difficult for the company to do meaningful measurement and planning.