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Help Answering the Hard Question

By Mike Pinckney

Help with Answering the Hard Question



“I have listened to every call and went through all of our leads. What we are doing is not working. What am I doing wrong?”

The first thing you feel is that everything that you have worked so hard on is now in jeopardy of getting demolished. So, you are immediately on the defense.  

The classic marketing retort is that “it needs more time to work” and “you need to be consistent.”

Yes, there are blocking and tackling rules of marketing, but the landscape rapidly changes and with more information comes the ability to pivot.

We can’t hide behind proxy metrics to prove we are right and they are wrong. The person’s pain is real and often times those statements can lead us on a wild voyage, but if approached correctly their insights can be extremely valuable.  

The mission is to peel back the pain points and figure out what the game plan is to move the conversation forward. This is a unique opportunity to secure your place with the person vs. getting defensive and destroying your equity.

Begin with easy open-ended questions:

  • “Interesting, can you elaborate?”
  • “What kind of leads have you been getting?”
  • “Has there been any market conditions that have changed?”

The purpose is to get the person in an open state of mind.  

We know all leads are not created equal and therefore should not be treated as equals. We know what they are saying is that they don’t have enough leads and what they are getting is not great. But, what we don’t know is the “why”.

Dig a little deeper.

Do you have a new lead scoring system?

What bottom of the funnel offers are working? Which ones are not?

What sales technology are we working with when evaluating those leads?

Did you have any personnel changes?

Can we quickly revisit your key metrics and what success looks like?

A lot of these questions should have occurred on the front end before developing your strategy, but when faced of these types of questions it is best to reset and establish a new baseline. The problem might be that a new competitor came into town or maybe they lost personnel and in turn it hurt their lead handling and closing ratio.

The answers will tell us all sorts of things and it might tell us that marketing isn’t the problem. We all hope for that one, but often times it’s a combination of a lot of different things that are acting in coordination with one another. There are reasons for something happening or not happening and that journey is unfortunately not linear or in a silo.

You want to look at it from all perspectives and with a very critical eye. We start with a strategy and then with more information we make data driven decisions. The job is to ask the right questions. The death of any plan is to fall too much in love with it.

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat” – Sun Tzu

Which one are you in right now? You have to not only ask them hard questions, but you have to look at yourself and ask the questions.  

To start…breakdown the leads and assign what we got out of each effort. The numbers hold the key to improved performance.  

Some additional questions to work through:

1) What were your pre-awareness tactics? Were they effective? Did the strategy and tactics line up?

2) Did you take a digital field trip to experience what people experience when shopping your customer?

3) Did you look at Google Trends to find more specific search data from the local market?

4) Did you test the campaigns? If not, start testing—don’t just make a change, test the variation. There is no way to know the right or wrong for your specific test—these should be the ideas for you to test.

5) Did you think about mobile? What looked good on desktop might not work on mobile? Did the campaigns translate to mobile?

6) Are you doing video to help with lead conversion? We can’t avoid doing video anymore and hope to stay relevant to the audience. Have you created enough video content and lots of it to help conversions?

The above is just the start to get to the right side of the information. The question of your customer not getting leads is just a symptom of something that might be going on elsewhere. It is just your job to find it or face the typical result.

“There’s a thin line between being a hero and being a memory” – Optimus Prime


For more answers to your biggest sales and marketing questions, download our Sales and Marketing Success Guide here!