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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistThu, Apr 13, 2017 12 min read

What Should You Do If You Missed, Just Made Or Exceeded Your First-Quarter Revenue Targets?

Today’s Inbound Marketing Is Designed To Help You Respond Quickly To Business Performance

Inbound Marketing Revenue Target AttainmentThe first quarter wrapped up a few days ago. Perhaps you’re wondering how you missed your targets so badly and what you’re going to do about it. Or maybe you just barely made your numbers and wished you had exceeded them by a little wider margin. Or you might have exceeded your targets.

Either way, this is the perfect time to assess your situation and make sure the second quarter shows improvement. Even if you did great, now is the time to make sure you continue moving in the right direction. 

At Square 2 Marketing, we’re all about helping you hit your numbers and having conversations around missing, just hitting or exceeding targets. We work with clients to make sure they’re meeting or exceeding their numbers every quarter, and we know how to respond regardless of the situation.

Here’s how we respond to all three situations.

You Missed Your First-Quarter Revenue Targets

The first place to start is with questions. Why did you miss them? Were they set too high? Did you have enough leads but couldn’t close them? Did you not have enough leads? Where the leads poor quality? Does any of this sound familiar?

What To Expect When You're Expecting Results From Inbound MarketingOnce you identify the root cause or the disease vs. the symptoms, you should aggressively and quickly start looking for solutions. Assuming the targets are not set too aggressively, let’s work through some of the possible fixes.

You don’t have enough leads or the leads are not the best quality. It’s basically the same issue; you don’t have enough quality leads to work them through your sales process and close enough new customers to hit your goals. If this is your situation, here are a couple of solutions to consider.

What role does your website play in the lead generation effort? You should be getting 1% to 3% of all visitors converting as leads from your site. You should have a site that gets visited between 5,000 and 10,000 times a month, regardless of your business or industry. If these numbers are off, your marketing is letting you down. At 10,000 visitors and a 1% conversion rate, you should be getting about 100 leads a month. Putting improvements in to fix this is not complex, although it might take a few months.

The fix above for the lead generation challenge has three subcomponents. First, you might need a website upgrade so that visitors get a more remarkable experience, one that encourages them to convert from visitor to lead. Second, you need to make sure that website is found when prospects do their searches. Third, the website is going to need a constant stream of fresh, educational and compelling content to drive people to move from anonymous visitors to leads.

If you’re getting leads from your website but they’re not ready to buy, don’t trash them as “bad leads” or poor-quality leads. Not being ready to buy does not make a lead bad. It means the prospect is early in their journey. This signals the need for more strategic lead nurturing programs.

If you have a robust database of people interested in what you do, you can create a series of more targeted and directed emails that help work prospects through the sales funnel and more proactively push them down into the bottom, where they’re now ready to speak with a rep. This approach can be implemented quickly and usually produces results quickly, if you have the database to work with.

Creating, sustaining and growing a steady stream of high-quality and qualified leads is half the battle, but it’s a non-negotiable. You must have this to hit your goals. However, it might not be the biggest issue. We’ve seen plenty of companies with massive amounts of leads still miss quarterly numbers.

You Just Made Your First-Quarter Revenue Targets

Inbound Marketing Sales Process ImprovementIf you just made your numbers, you might be relieved but know deep down it was too close to call. Let’s look at your situation more closely. Why couldn’t you close more opportunities? Was it price? Was it sales process related? Did you have several opportunities delay or go underground?

Marketing is usually only half the challenge; the other is sales. If your sales process isn’t firing on all cylinders, it’s going to be tough to hit your numbers. Here are a couple of fixes if you think the sales process might be at the root of your target achievement challenges.

Are you using technology? Marketing and sales both need software to make it easier to execute, measure and fix issues. Marketing automation gives you data on the performance of your marketing so you can upgrade what’s underperforming. However, sales software like CRM makes the management of your sales process more obvious, makes the sales rep’s job easier when it comes to tracking and deal management, and gives management unmatched insight into what’s moving deals forward and what’s causing deals to stall.

More importantly, if this sounds like your company, it might be time to look closely at your sales process. What are your salespeople doing? What information are they sharing? Is the process strategically designed to make prospects feel safe? If not, it should be. Two factors must be in place to get a prospect to say “yes.” First, they have to feel that your company is the safe choice. Second, they need to have acute pain.

If you’re closing a low percentage of opportunities, if opportunities are taking too long to close and if prospects are going underground, you need to look at your process. Break it down into its smallest components and evaluate how each makes your prospects feel. For example, if you give them a big legal contract at the end, they’re going to feel anxious, need legal counsel and might consider your company difficult to work with. They’re not feeling safe.

Here’s another one. If you need two weeks to get references back to your prospects and then it takes another two weeks for your prospects to get in touch with your references, that’s four weeks tacked onto your sales cycle. Try using video to eliminate those four weeks and shorten your sales cycle dramatically.

These inbound sales improvements put in the foundation for repeatable, scalable, predictable sales target attainment. It’s hard work, but the payoff is major.

You Exceeded Your First-Quarter Revenue Targets

Inbound Marketing SuccessGood for you. If this success was the result of hard work, strong planning and solid execution, congrats! If it was because you landed a big deal that fell in your lap, sometimes being lucky is half the battle, but luck can’t be replicated. If this is the case, you need to take some direction from the commentary above.

It might also mean your targets are too low. I know, don’t tell your boss, but if it’s easy to exceed your goals by significant margins then they’re set too low. Consider increasing them in the second and third quarter, see how you do then and proceed accordingly in the fourth quarter.

You might also want to look at market conditions. Did something take place during the first three months that made it easier? Did a competitor stumble? Did you do something unique that’s a one-time event? If what contributed to you exceeding your numbers is not going to continue, then you run the risk of falling into a false sense of security.

This is a wonderful quote that has stayed with me over the years: “It’s not about how you got knocked down; it’s about how you get back up and recover.” If the first quarter was disappointing, get back up and do something different right now to make sure the second quarter finishes with a different outcome.

Marketing and sales adjustments have the potential to impact results today. Change your sales process and close more deals. Enhance your sales process with content, and shorten your sales cycle and close more deals. Publish more educational content on your website and generate more leads. Enhance your website’s ability to get found and get more new visitors. Do all of that and you see a compounding affect that can drastically improve your ability to hit those revenue goals. This is how you need to be thinking about the second quarter.

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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.