The reading level for this article is All Levels

#1: Lack of Attention to Image

I’m so tired of hearing that it’s what’s inside that counts. That might be true at a philosophical level but try that line when you are scribbling a change of address across your three year old business card while your future customer stands waiting. In Malcolm Gladwell’s[1] new book Blink, he talks about the kind of thinking that happens in a blink of an eye. When you meet someone for the first time, or walk into a house you are thinking of buying, or read the first few sentences of a book, your mind takes about two seconds to jump to a series of conclusions. The same conclusions are drawn by your customers when the see you, your business card or website for the first time. If you are satisfied handing out outdated or poorly produced marketing materials to prospects, don’t expect to get the job.

#2: Marketing Only When There Are No Sales

It’s embarrassing that companies wait for the slow times before they jump into action and begin marketing. Marketing is like sales, it’s a process not an event. There is a cycle involved which requires time to play it out. To grow your business, you need an ongoing, targeted marketing program you can manage year-round. This does not suggest you should be marketing just for the sake of marketing. Marketing only during the slow times dooms you to living on a cash flow roller coaster that can destroy your business. Since customer attrition is inevitable in any business, without an ongoing marketing program, your clientele will shrink until you’re forced to close your doors.

#3: Ignoring Current Customers Opportunities

I’ve been in sales management and I have been in marketing management and one thing is clear to me: sales people in general much prefer to sell than to manage the accounts. The problem is that growth requires giving lots of attention to creating new accounts but that can be a huge distraction from what’s already in your hands. Mining established accounts is not only the fastest way to new sales it’s also the easiest. The sales cycles are very short, the customers are open to meetings and calls and the hard work of negotiating price has generally be dealt with. In many cases it is far better to employ account managers skilled at deepening existing relationships than hiring more sales people. As your business grows, you may become so focused on getting new customers that you overlook current customers. That is a major mistake, since it generally costs more to win a new customer than to “resell” to an existing one.

#4: Lack of Testing and Measurement

What makes you so sure you can sell your product or service? Are you focusing on the right business pain? Have you packaged everything in the best possible way? Before committing lots of cash to launching your sales campaign, do some market research. The Internet is your best source of published information. You can use chat rooms to get instant feedback and input without spending a dime. Ideally, you can test the market using surveys or focus groups among members of your target audience. Testing can keep you from making costly mistakes based on false assumptions about your product, service or customers

#5: Lack of Focus

Often, sales and marketing departments fail because they try to tackle too many types of prospect opportunities on a limited budget. Going after everyone who will listen is a shortcut to failure. On the flip side, when you narrowly focus your marketing efforts on a qualified target audience, you’ll get spectacular results. This will also make it easier to craft your marketing and sales communication to be clearer and digestible. Create a profile of your best prospects, and make them the focus of all your marketing efforts.

#6: Under-Spending and Lack of Process

These to issues are commonly interlinked. If you don’t have a specific sales process outlining the steps that your sales people will need to take you will have a messy and inefficient system of closing business. It’s just as important to set aside marketing funds as it is to create the processes you’re going to need to drive sales. Create the sales process and support it with sufficient marketing dollars to make it become a powerful ROI component to your business.

#7: Relying on Traditional Channels To Get Leads

Traditional advertising is more visual and thus more tangible for most businesses. It’s also much easier to pick up the phone reorder a Yellow Pages insert than it is to develop and manage a referral campaign. It’s only natural to rely on the marketing tactics you’re most comfortable with. If you like meeting and talking to new people, you may focus on networking. If you’re shy, on the other hand, you might rely solely on direct mail. Behavior like this is not only lazy it’s dangerous. It also prevents you from exposing a full range of prospects to your products or services.

#8: Overlooking Inexpensive Technology and Tools

Contact management software and e-mail marketing are just two options that can streamline your marketing efforts and improve your productivity. Without a good contact management program, business contacts may be lost and call-backs missed. Don’t overlook these valuable tools that can help your business grow.

[1] Author of bestseller, The Tipping Point.
You can contact Richard at

This Business article was written by Richard Banfield on 3/18/2005

Richard is an experienced marketing executive, entrepreneur, coach, speaker, workshop leader, writer and business development person. He has served in a broad range of positions such as Founder, CEO, CMO, VP of Web Channel, Director of Business Development and Sales Manager. Richard currently runs Fresh Tilled Soil drives growth in companies by building sales and marketing systems that continually generate leads and sales.
He also lectured on the subjects of marketing and online advertising and have authored guides to sales, account management, global business development and marketing strategy. His career as a communications leader started as an officer in the South African Defense Force and since then he has spent the last decade building and running businesses, including four technology start-ups in the online media, printing, and software industries. He has also raised institutional and private financing, started businesses from the ground up and coached others to do the same.
You can reach Richard at