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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistWed, May 10, 2017 15 min read

I Finally Figured Out What's Wrong With Marketing (And Sales)

Why Are So Many People Frustrated With Revenue Generation? Why Is Marketing So Hard That People Are Angry?

Fix my marketing and salesTasks that frustrate us make us angry. When you can’t generate enough leads to hit your revenue goals, you get frustrated and angry. When you can’t close enough of your leads to hit your revenue growth goals, you get frustrated and angry. It’s a natural human response to challenges.

But there’s something different about marketing that makes us extra frustrated, and I think I understand what might be contributing to our general frustration. Let’s see if we can agree on a few components of this lead and revenue generation challenge.

First, this particular task is highly complex. Can we agree on that? We’re attempting to move another human being from their current state to some future state that includes us. In most cases, this also involves spending money to achieve that future state. This won’t be easy.

Today, marketing is highly complicated. You have to be found where your prospects are searching, you have to interrupt them and let them know you exist, you have to build an amazing website experience, you have to continually create, publish and promote educational content at a breakneck pace, and you have to nurture all of your leads until they’re ready to do business with you. And this is just the marketing side of the business. We didn’t even talk about sales and closing leads yet.

On the sales side, its only slightly better. You have to stop selling and start making prospects feel safe, you have to deliver the right story at the right time to the right person, you have to sprinkle in content of all types throughout the process, you have to get your customers to participate and you have to measure everything like never before. I’m tired just thinking about it.

And we want this to happen in the shortest amount of time possible. A quick shout out to Steve Patti, who introduced me to the idea of the microwave economy: We all want what we want immediately and we can’t wait for anything.

marketing is complex

Next, so many people appear to have figured out marketing and sales. If you simply watch their one-hour video, you’ll have the secret too. If you register for their 90-minute webinar, you’ll have all of the leads you need to grow your business. If you attend their afternoon workshop, you’ll have new customers banging your door down. If you buy their software, it’s smooth sailing from there. And in our case, if you sign up for their $2,000-a-month retainer, they do everything necessary to grow your business beyond your wildest dreams.

Take a look at these two blog articles. Both of these promise the secrets in just 800 words. This one is from the HubSpot blog: How To Build An Inbound Marketing Strategy In 24 Hours. Sounds great, right? Except there’s nothing mentioned about stories, messaging that engages and differentiation, three very big elements of any marketing strategy. Theyre also the elements that take the longest to create but always deliver the biggest lift in terms of leads and new customers.

Here’s an article from 7 Essential Inbound Marketing Strategies For Every Startup. By the way, this article is never going to rank based on the URL, so if youre taking marketing advice from this site, proceed with caution. The article basically says that if you do these seven things, you’ll get leads. It doesn’t even talk about what you’re going to say to whom and when.

So, you have people who are attempting to do something extremely complicated with challenging expectations and a limited runway, and it appears everyone else has the secret except them. This is a recipe for confusion, frustration and anger.

Let’s take a quick breath. Deep…all the way in….hold it…..and exhale. I’m learning how to meditate. Can you tell?

Let’s agree that marketing and sales come with no silver bullets. There isn’t a single tactic that is going to break up this age-old challenge and produce as many leads as you’ll ever need in the next day or two. If there was, all of the smart marketing people and salespeople out there would be doing it. Of course, they’re not. The most successful revenue experts know the secrets and none of those secrets includes quick fixes, templates, worksheets or free videos.

They know what we do, which is that it takes months (sometimes years) of hard work, iteration, testing and experimentation to create the marketing and sales experiences that produce the desired results.

Now, what do we do about it?

Have Realistic Expectations About All Of It

First, change your expectations. It’s going to take time, it’s going to require hard work and it’s probably going to require a partner with proven expertise that can be applied to your company. Its also going to require an investment. The bigger your goals, the bigger the investment. That’s fair, right? If you want to grow from $10 million to $20 million, investing a few hundred thousand in marketing seems to make sense on paper, yes?

Get Educated On The New Methodologies

One of the complicating factors today is the slew of new methodologies, including account-based marketing, inbound marketing, content marketing, outbound marketing, influencer marketing, advocacy marketing, remarketing and experiential marketing. Chances are at least one of these is new to you. Find a resource or partner that can introduce you to these new terms and help you decide if they fit your budget, but more importantly if they fit your strategy. Remember, strategy before tactics.

Start Looking At Revenue Instead Of Leads

I know, it’s easy to talk about leads, but revenue is where the big impact becomes a reality. We just had a new client tell us that they found out about us at a session I did at INBOUND 2016, which was six months ago. Attributing that revenue to that event and that specific marketing activity is key to creating a repeatable, predictable and scalable revenue machine. It’s going to be just as important to track back every single touch point for that new client. What did we do that made her comfortable and safe enough to sign with us?

Even Though Strategy Is Hard, Don’t Skip It Or Think It’s Good Enough

Marketing Strategy As GPSThis idea is hard for a lot of people to get their heads around. But marketing and sales tactics are like the mechanics of operating the car, and the strategy is the GPS directions. You can’t get where you’re going without both.

You’re trying to get from New York to Philly. You don’t know how to go. You’ve never been to Philly before and you don’t have a map. You don’t have road signs, a GPS or directions. It’s like your business. You’re trying to go from $10 million to $20 million, but you’ve never been there before and there is no map or directions.

If you get in the car, there’s a small chance you might find your way to Philly by accident. You know it’s to the south, but that’s about it. Your business is similar. You might get lucky and get there on your own, but the chances are small. You have all of the tools. The car can get you there, you have gas, the car runs and you know how to operate the car. But without those directions or a GPS, the chances are slim.

Your business has the tools, too. You have a website, email list, social accounts, CRM and maybe even some content. Just like with the car, you have most of the tools you need, but without the directions, map or a GPS, you’re probably not going to get there.

Think about marketing and sales strategy as your GPS. Once you get that set up, its smooth sailing. You get there on time, quickly and easily. Of course, even a GPS runs into challenges sometimes due to road closures, traffic or old data in the system. So while there are no guarantees, you know it’s going to be easier with a GPS than without one. That’s why you need to invest money, time and brainpower into your sales and marketing strategy before you even get into your car.

Hire Experts, And Don’t Go With The Cheapest Option

If you needed surgery, would you pick the cheapest doctor? Would you pick the doctor with the most famous patients? Would you pick the youngest doctor? Of course not. You’d pick the best doctor for the operation. You’d get some recommendations, you’d speak with each of them, you’d evaluate their qualifications and you’d select the one that made you “feel” the best. In other words, the one you’d be safest with.

We went deep into how complicated the revenue generation exercise is, but people still pick the cheapest option when it comes to getting help. Ultimately, this usually delays your results as they figure it all out, produce less-than-expected results and, in some cases, end up with you telling them what to do. If you knew what to do, you wouldn’t have hired them. You’re going to get what you pay for, and cheaper isn’t usually better when it comes to professional services firms. Would you hire the cheapest lawyer, accountant or architect? I wouldn’t.

Stay Involved — This Is Strategic

The fast track to disappointing results is leaving this strategic initiative in the hands of junior team members. Even executives who might not share your big-picture vision for where you want revenue generation to go can quickly torpedo the effort. This isn’t about writing a whitepaper or publishing blog articles. This is about creating a scalable, repeatable and predictable revenue generation machine. How much more strategic can it get?

Whether you do inbound, outbound, upbound or downbound, I’m not sure it matters. Today’s revenue generation demands a much more thoughtful and systematic approach. Start with strategy, mapping out what you are going to say to whom and when. Then move to creating a remarkable experience online and offline, one that is filled with educational content. The more you help, the more you’ll close.

Take a more quantitative approach to revenue. Get comfortable with the numbers in both the marketing and the sales stages of the funnel. What gets measured gets done. If you’re tracking conversion rates on the sales-qualified leads to sales opportunities, you’re going to get more sales opportunities. If you’re tracking the conversion rate on those opportunities to proposals, you’ll be doing more proposals. And if you track your close rate on proposals submitted, you’ll be closing more new customers. Guaranteed! No fancy templates, worksheets or videos to watch, just solid execution and thoughtful approaches.

Square 2 Marketing – Innovating Marketing And Sales To Match Today’s Buyer Behavior!


Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.