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  • Mike Piddock

The top 10 issues we see in sales & marketing GTM approaches (& how to fix them)

Whenever we secure a new client our first process involves a thorough review of the existing sales and marketing processes, infrastructure and the activities of the people on the teams. Across a range of verticals and business sizes, some fairly consistent themes crop up.

It’s rare that we see them all in a client, but typically a handful of these issues will be present and very often these drive the next stages of the project.

We thought it would be helpful to share the most common problems we’re seeing, and perhaps provide food for thought for what you can fix directly, and what we look to support.

A lack of basic integrations between key systems The absence of basic integrations between email outreach tools, data sets and CRM systems almost always results in disjointed workflows and missed opportunities for streamlined operations. What’s more, without accurate consistent connectivity between the platforms, it becomes much harder to keep your SDRs accountable and enhance their productivity through things like task management and analytics tracking. In larger businesses, this problem typically arises if sales and marketing are separately building their own tech stack, or where IT teams maintain strict control of software integration and prevent these functions from implementing what they need, as quickly as they need it. In smaller companies, the problem is more likely a lack of integration experience or expertise, or simply a lack of time to focus resources on this. However, it’s fundamental that these integrations are put in place, and very often the internal case for the work can be made by focusing on the risks of not doing it - in particular the GDPR implications of not having a coordinated set of data passing between platforms in the right way.

Poorly defined processes at the interfaces between people and technology

With the rise of tools like Make and Zapier handing integration functionality back to the business, we are seeing more and more companies (particularly tech companies) getting a handle on integrations. However, where many of these companies still have a blind spot is the “integration” with humans - particularly salespeople and SDR teams. Without clear processes to manage the interaction between people and technology, efficiency plummets. Yes, this is a case of using technology - such as utilising advanced inbox management features, and auto-rotating email accounts to manage replies and optimise email deliverability - but it’s also a training issue. Too many salespeople are just expected to figure out the quirks of the company’s CRM approach, self-train on data enrichment based on what someone else in the team does, or manually build call lists from haphazard data exports. Put simply, it needs to be someone’s job to make sure every interface between technology and people is designed, optimised, documented and drilled into every member of the team (continuously).

Neglecting email deliverability optimisation Assuming all the right systems are in place, connected, and the processes to align human activities with the stack, we then turn our attention to tuning the engine. The first place we look is at the fundamentals of the outbound approach - what channels are being used, and are they set up correctly? In the vast majority of cases, optimising email deliverability has been completely overlooked, leading to low engagement rates as emails are getting trapped in spam filters, very often with the client not knowing this is happening. Why is this critical area ignored? Usually, it’s a case of the sales and marketing functions being problem-unaware, and so not knowing that it needs to be done, and not realising the value of getting this right. The fix is fairly simple, and modern email tools like Smartlead allow the easy management of multiple domains, integrated email account warming, and can help assess sending reputation to maximise deliverability. In fact, we think this is so straightforward we’ll help you do it for free. Just complete this form.

Lack of segmentation and personalisation in campaign data It’s all too common to see companies diving into the messaging and crafting copy, without first considering the importance of the data they have, and, crucially, the data they don’t yet have but could get hold of. As a result, audiences are not properly segmented and as a result, creating personalised campaigns at scale becomes harder, resulting in generic messaging that fails to engage. Using robust segmentation to tailor messages based on criteria like industry, company size, growth, technology stacks and job title can significantly increase the likelihood of the messaging landing. Beyond this, data around buying signals or triggers takes targeting to the next level, landing the right message at exactly the right time with individual prospects. Finally, a huge amount of personalisation data can now be gleaned using tools like Clay and PhantomBuster, and used judiciously, can massively enhance response rates at scale. It’s no surprise that this is one of the main areas of focus for us with almost every client, as it’s nearly universal in being the place where the largest gains can be made when data is enriched systematically and scientifically.

Underuse or poor use of email and telephone platform features A lot of our clients have already bought technology and data platforms like Apollo, Cognism and ZoomInfo, and many are using them alongside CRMs like HubSpot and Pipedrive. But having had the very convincing sales pitch, they’re left to fend for themselves with a set of high-powered tools which can do a million-and-one things they do not need, and probably overlooking the small bunch of features that do the thing that will make the most impact. Investing in specialised tools for email sequencing, data enrichment, mailbox verification, auto-dialling and copy generation makes sense, but while many platforms will list these features as available, they’re likely only the market leader at one of them. Hence, technology and vendor selection needs to follow a thorough review of the go-to-market approach and be architected in line with this. Then, and only then, can the right features be engaged to deliver each part of the overall process.

Outdated or ineffective copywriting practices

One of the biggest issues with email copywriting is that no sooner than an approach works then every sales and marketing team the world over piles on and renders it ineffective. The proliferation of LinkedIn gurus, AI-generated guides and (yes we’ll admit it) outbound sales agencies means the half-life of a good email structure is shorter than ever. You only need to look at your own inbox (or spam folder) to see how many emails are starting “I noticed that {something about your business you could scrape from anywhere}” or second emails that are “Just circling back…” or calls to action that ask an open question like “Is that something that would be useful?” Yes - this playbook worked for a bit, but it doesn’t work as well any more. So the only trick is to keep moving forward and to keep learning from testing and refining the approach. Often, the very best insights come directly from SDRs having live conversations with prospects and being able to dig deep into their challenges and how they articulate them. What doesn’t change is that people buy things that solve their problems - we just have the make sure we truly understand those problems to create copy that lands.

Lack of coordination across the sales team and SDR activity While we addressed the challenges in creating the basic interfaces between technology and people, very often there’s a need to support a far larger set of processes around the people and the teams they operate in. Where these haven’t been properly defined and designed, at best companies risk running inefficiently, and at worst create scenarios where the sales, SDR and marketing functions are actively harming themselves or each other. Whilst not directly related to technology, very often technology can be used to reduce administration workload, simplify or completely automate some activities, and create a structure for accountability and measurement. For example, implementing an automated round-robin system to assign positive replies to SDRs evenly ensures efficient handling of responses and lead ownership. Like copywriting, team coordination is not a task that, once completed, can be left to run in its own accord. Whilst automated rules can be put in place upfront, an onus needs to be placed upon continuous improvement through training, and fine-tuning based upon user feedback and data.

Not using notifications and data for day-to-day operations One of the most powerful tools in driving intra-team and inter-team coordination, and maximising the effectiveness of technology and people interfaces, is real-time communication through channels like Slack or MS Teams. And while nearly every client we see has adopted one of these instant messaging platforms, they’re very often missing a trick by not tapping into the power of instant automated alerts. Not leveraging automated notifications and alerts means potential delays in responses to prospects, and balls being dropped. Conversely, a steady flow of positive alerts and updates helps both coordinate a (possibly distributed) team and create a sense of positive momentum around key sales activities. This includes alerts around replies, intent signals and leads being generated, as well as pipeline progress and proposals being viewed and signed. Alongside instant messaging alerts, a well-constructed notification process will integrate with CRMs like HubSpot to create tasks and enrich core data, which in turn can drive email sub-sequences or social media/telephone outreach.

Inadequate and messy tracking, categorisation and handling of responses

Not tracking, categorising and handling inbound responses properly can result in strong leads being ignored, lost information that would otherwise help to refine outreach strategies and missed opportunities to apply alternative tactical approaches. It’s almost impossible that any company wouldn’t be applying some sort of lead tracking methodology, so we’d never be starting from a blank sheet of paper (but sometimes that can be more challenging). However, invariably the approach taken doesn’t cover the wide range of eventualities or response types systematically. Here granularity in response categorisation is key, with each group clearly defined and triggering an (automated) set of activities, tasks and reminders. Increasingly AI can be used to have these processes begin as soon as the response is received, without any human effort. Furthermore, AI tools are becoming smart enough to handle a significant part of the follow-up as well, including copywriting, helping to create a structure where real people can focus on the critical parts where they add the magic.

Insufficient investment in professional or outsourced support Trying to manage all aspects in-house without professional support can lead to subpar results, but we would say that wouldn’t we? So let’s justify that statement… Perhaps the biggest driver for outsourced support is accessing a wide range of skill sets in a “fractional” way, without having to commit to hiring and managing multiple full-time employees to cover each of these tasks. Just looking at this list of ten issues, to get across them successfully we’d typically look to deploy:

  • A senior sales leader to set top-level strategy, market analysis and needs definition

  • A mid-level RevOps specialist to design and integrate the tech infrastructure

  • A mid-level data analyst to source, enrich and maintain prospect contact information

  • A senior marketing leader to determine messages, campaign strategy and write copy

  • An SDR team lead to write scripts, objection handling and manage outbound activities

  • At least one SDR to test messaging and integrate telephone and social selling

  • A senior project manager to organise, track, report and generally coordinate all this activity

This is a diverse set of skills and rare (if not impossible) to find in a single individual, hence an effective outbound function would need to hire multiple people to cover all these activities. Or, an existing sales team may recognise some of these as gaps in what they’re doing, but not feel they are large enough to warrant a whole extra person. In many cases a fractional team will offer the highest level of expertise in each field, resourced at a level that fits businesses of all sizes. So why not reach out?


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