Deborah Austin Many companies will fail to meet sales goals for 2002's first half -- the soft economy less to blame than inadequate planning for lengthened sales cycles and shrinking sales-lead pipelines -- suggests marketing consulting firm VisionEdge Marketing, Austin, Texas. In a recent VisionEdge survey the most-mentioned business-objective obstacle was a long sales cycle. Half of the respondents said their pipelines lacked enough leads to support January through June sales goals. Other survey findings include:
Forty percent received 2002 marketing-budget approval in December/January -- too late for strategy launches to impact first-half revenue. Nearly 33% lacked an approved budget as of Jan. 31; only 25.7% had an approved 2002 budget in time to plan and implement.
Fifty-two percent are targeting higher revenue goals with a budget equal to or smaller than last year's. After mid-2001, businesses focused on expense reduction -- slashing marketing budgets and headcount, closing deals already in the pipeline -- says Laura Patterson, president, VisionEdge. Re-revving marketing engines will take time; companies with customer- and value-centric approaches should fare best.