Casey Stengel said, “Most ball games are lost not won,” and his comment seems appropriate for most marketers’ efforts in B2B companies. Every day they are in the process of losing, and are grateful when they win one out of ten or one out of four deals.

Why it MattersI met with a prospect yesterday. They have a great product for the industrial marketplace (construction, mining, etc.). It costs three times that of the closest competitor, but the cost is made up each year through a 75% lower cost of operation and maintenance. The product pays for itself in three years and has a lifespan of ten- plus years. No brainer right? That is, if anyone knew about the product. The founders are not “sales” people but “product” people. They are not marketers either.

They have four salespeople (implied overhead) and a fledgling distributor network. They have tackled and surmounted huge technical hurtles, but they refuse to put any sustained effort into sales and marketing. (A website and postcard mailing don’t count.) They know they need sales and marketing to survive, but lack of experience and knowledge in both areas and a hesitancy to hire others to do it stall their growth.

They are losing the market share battle and are happy every time one of their $25K products is sold, and yet they hardly track the losses (bury them is more like it). The happy dance shouldn’t start until they are closing one out of ten leads (4.5 buyers in every ten leads, one out of ten is a nearly 25% market share of the 4.5 available buyers). The four salespeople are happy to report to the company president, who admittedly dislikes spending even 5% of his time on sales.

My recommendations to him are predictable:


Will he do these things? Probably half—to start. His first concern was, “What is the least expensive to do?” not, “What is the most productive to do?” He is on the path to losing not winning. I know cost is a factor in every decision, but it isn’t the only factor. Most companies are too poor to buy anything twice but that’s what most of them do. They spend the least on marketing, get the minimum return, and then complain when marketing doesn’t work for them. But then they’ll spend the least again and get the same result. Only people can save their way to prosperity, businesses can’t do it.