Beyond Thunderdome: 5 Myths You Can’t Believe in the Coming Economic Depression

There is no way to sugarcoat this, world economic markets are screwed. It’s one thing to have fun with The Funnelholic, but I can’t ignore what is happening right now. All of us in the B2B marketing and sales media need to band together and provide tips to one another on how to keep be successful and even keep your job in these hard times. I have already begun — see 3 Changes Marketers Must Make to Survive in This Post-Apocalyptic World.

We will figure out what to do, but we can’t live in fantasyland. We won’t be able to make the necessary adjustments if we don’t swallow the reality. And by the way, we should assume the worst and create a plan that we can execute confidently. My buddy Steve puts it simply: “Mad Max” time.

It’s on the forefront of our minds, and I am not sure any of us has the answers. I certainly don’t. Here are 5 myths you will hear in today’s Mad Max landscape and why you can’t believe the hype:

  1. “Everyone always needs leads”: It’s what the lead-gen guys always turn to for comfort, but it’s not entirely true. If this really is a depression, more and more companies will go out of business, more and more will not spend money, and you will have less and less sales guys and thus need to spend more and more on leads because there are fewer leads available.
  2. “Target the CFO. He has the purse strings”: Not this again. I went through this with startups I was advising in the 2001 debacle. Guys, the CFO doesn’t want to talk to you unless you are IBM, Oracle, or (insert gigantic blue chip here). You are wasting money and personnel trying to reach this Holy Grail. In ’01, I had security startups asking for CFO leads. (I had to pick myself up off the floor every time). Realism is the key here: I know the CFO carries the purse strings, but time and money is your enemy here. Putting this restriction on your lead definitions is not the right decision. Sales guys need to identify pain and need and work their own way into the CFO office.
  3. “Prosperity is just around the corner”: If you know anything about history, Herbert Hoover is reviled for his many quotes in the face of the Great Depression. The best way for all of us to do our jobs the best we can is to understand reality. Hope is one thing, but to market and sell effectively in these times, we have to make the proper adjustments. You can’t just find ways to figure out how to get someone to buy your product, but in some cases you will have to find a way to get them to buy at all.
  4. “Marketers have to quantify their ROI to keep their jobs”: This is controversial, so let’s see if I can explain it. When this economic disaster really hits, you are not going to want to see the ROI numbers. ROI can be difficult to quantify for marketers because they can’t control what happens in the sales cycle. Despite the coming apocalypse, marketers need to be judged on their JOB: the number of opportunities and opportunities created, not what happens downstream in the sales process.
  5. “Now more than ever you need qualified leads”: Ok, this is true but it depends on the qualified lead definition. Lead definitions actually need to EXPAND a bit as organizations cut budgets, so your classic definition of budgeted project becomes harder to find. Your sales guys will be sitting on their hands. You will need to evangelize and sell economic benefit regardless of whether there is a budget.

Look, I want to be reassuring. Scaring people is not the idea here. Grounding our ’09 strategies in reality is.

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

  • One thing that’s interesting about downturns — though I’ve never seen an apocalyptic one — is that they tend to increase the likelihood that companies will outsource. It gives them more flexibility, while letting them focus on their core capabilities.

    It strikes me that there is an interesting opportunity for companies lead gen/lead development to now move to an outsourced model in a much bigger way.

    After all, very few companies actually specialize in this. They want to act on the sales-ready leads, not cultivate the uncultivated ones. So I am curious to see what will need to happen for this to become as common as outsourcing payroll processing to ADP or Paychex. Not sure what will it will take, but the coming downturn may actually be the right time to rethink one’s current arrangements.

    Not that you are disinterested, but what do you think?

    Britton Manasco
    Illuminating the Future