2018 promises to bring with it new ups and downs for all of us. As a potentially rather Brexit looms ever closer, the UK economy is predicted to slow, meaning all of us are going to have to redouble our sales and marketing efforts in order to keep pace.

But efforts made in the wrong way can do more harm than good, so it’s crucial to ensure your heading in the right strategic direction for 2018. Here are four of the biggest clangers we expect to see businesses dropping in 2018, and how you can avoid them in your company.

Assuming your momentum will just continue by itself

So, 2017 has been good to you? Fantastic. But if you think that means you can take your foot off the gas in 2018, you’re seriously mistaken. Building momentum is great, but you need to keep your effort investment up if you want to get the same results this year too. Make sure next year is as fabulous as this year has been:

  • Identify specific needs: You’ve already cracked your target market, you know who they are and what they need, but are every individual’s needs identical? Almost certainly not. And if you throw 10 benefits at them, and five of them are irrelevant, they’ll see your offering as 50 per cent wrong. Identify different users within the sales funnel, and target your message to tick more of their boxes.
  • Unstick stuck prospects: You know your stuck prospects; they’re those ones who have gone so far down the sales funnel but now seem reluctant to move any further. Dig deeper into these stalled opportunities by asking what needs to be done to move them forward. Build rapport, tackle objections and make sure you’re meeting all their needs to give them the shove that they need.
  • Keep optimising. Everything: Optimisation has become something of a buzz word which can relate to everything from shortening the sales cycle to ensuring you’re getting a good rank on Google. Buzz word or not, it’s never been more important to optimise everything you can. Think about your offering, your message, your knowledge of your customers and your behaviour; everything is better when it’s optimised.

It’s great that 2017 has been kind to you, but to maintain this momentum into 2018, you need to stay focused on saying the right things to the right people at the right time. Dust off your metrics, revisit your analytics and keep driving your business forward to enjoy success next year too.

Not knowing (or forgetting) your goals

Clarity around your brand and business goals are crucial for success in any business, but it’s all too easy to start the year well, and end up well confused. Hopefully, you were clear on your goals for 2017, and had set in place certain KPI’s and measurements which showed you were on track, but where are you on these now?

We’ve all been there; where we started out looking for more leads at our eshop but ended up getting obsessed with Facebook ‘likes’. We wanted to achieve a better ROI for our marketing activities but got hung up trying to get to page one of Google. It’s easily done, so don’t feel bad if you’ve strayed off track a little this year. Time to pause, reassess and realign your efforts for 2018.

Of course, if you strayed off plan, at least that means you had a plan. Worryingly, around a third of companies lack a formal sales and marketing strategy, which means they never got off plan, because they never had a plan. If this sounds painfully familiar (not pointing any fingers here), you already know what we’re going to say. Seriously, 2018 is the year to get your act together.

Marketing and Sales Mistakes

Sales not playing nicely with marketing

Sales and marketing must work well together. They should be like brie and cranberry; fish and chips; bacon and eggs. If your sales and marketing departments are more like chalk and cheese than a match made in heaven, 2018 is a time to do something about it.

According to research, around two thirds of businesses feel their sales and marketing teams are either ‘fully’ or ‘somewhat’ aligned, which is significantly less than the year before (72 per cent). Things are getting worse, not better, so it’s time to own up to there being a problem if your teams are more jelly than gelled. Here are some ideas to help you tackle this all too common issue:

  • Improve communication: If your sales and marketing teams never see each other, how can they possibly work together? Have regular joint meetings, and second people from one department to another to build mutual understanding.
  • Agree on joint goals: Make goals which are measurable, and which will only be achieved by the two teams working together.
  • Set out SLA’s: Understanding what is the remit of sales, what is for marketing and when it’s appropriate to step out of their zone will avoid conflict, and will help mutual cooperation.
  • Put feedback mechanisms in place: Feedback is a two-way process, so once a customer has been handed from marketing to sales, there should be a way to track their progress. At friction points in the sales funnel, there may even be an opportunity for them to return to marketing for a while to consolidate things.

Getting these two powerhouses of your business working in cooperation is crucial to achieving your potential. Dedicate some time and resources to improving the cohesiveness between the two, and you’ll reap the benefits.

Lacking resources and being wasteful

Under-resourcing your sales and marketing activities is a strategy doomed to fail, but does that mean you’ve got to throw money at these departments to get results? Not necessarily. Good, focused sales and marketing need not cost a fortune but should have a calculated, worthwhile return on investment (ROI) before anything gets funded at all.

Being wasteful by not understanding ROI, by spending money on poor initiatives or by lacking cohesiveness between your teams is the rapid route to disaster. For example:

  • Creating pointless marketing: On average, only 30 per cent of marketing content is used by sales. Find out what this 70 per cent is, and get rid of it.
  • Having ridiculous expectations: You can’t improve your SEO one day and see results the next. Misaligned lead-in times for marketing activities can skew ROI predictions, and lead to disappointment in the sales team too.
  • Putting all your eggs in one basket: You’re planning to spend thousands on your TV ad, but very little on PPC? Bad idea brother. Spread your resources to catch more customers.
  • Focusing too much on branding: Yes, your brand is important. Yes, you need to be consistent. But do keep in mind, it’s sales that drive branding, not the other way around. Spending should be on sales and marketing first, and pretty things later.
  • Throwing mud at walls: Scattergun marketing has no place in our modern world. There’s so much data out there to help you target your efforts, there really is no excuse for just flinging resources all over the place. Want to know what sticks? Get to grips with your numbers.

Wasting resources are absolutely worse than not having enough resources in the first place, so whether your budget for 2018 is massive or miniscule, spend every penny wisely.

In this digital age, focusing on the ‘old’ ways is never going to be effective. Now, more than ever before, you need a sales and marketing team that is one cohesive, powerful animal, ready to take on the world. It’s time to stop thinking of your people as salespeople or marketers; they need to be ‘smarketers’, or at least to have a thorough understanding of what the other team is doing, to get the most out of 2018.

Grab your flip chart, get your thinking cap on and let’s create a sales and marketing strategy from a b2b creative agency, to make 2018 the best year yet!