Corporate Strategy and its Relationship to Sales and Marketing

A company that hopes for a prosperous future must have a sound plan. In the world of Sales and Marketing this is called Corporate Strategy.

Corporate Strategy is the overall direction of the company, defined by senior management, that takes into consideration an assessment of the existing capabilities of the company and external opportunities and threats. It usually coincides with the immediate future fiscal period or it could be developed with a longer-term view, such as a three-year plan.

It is important to understand the overall Corporate Strategy and its relationship to sales and marketing. The Marketing Strategy works within the direction provided by the overall Corporate Strategy of the company and also interacts with other elements of the Corporate Strategy.

Corporate Strategy is a combination of the following:

  • Senior Management Direction and Insights: This is provided by senior management based on their experiences and insights related to the business.
  • Corporate Product Strategy: This defines the products or services the company offers and the research and development efforts required to create them.
  • Corporate Marketing Strategy: This defines how the company will target, position, market and sell the planned products and defines metrics, targets and budgets for all marketing activities.
  • Corporate Operations Strategy: This defines how the company will manage operational activities, manufacture its products and provide the corresponding customer support and warranty.
  • Corporate Finance Strategy: This defines how the company will manage its finances, attain funding and financially sustain its operations. The Finance Strategy should include forecasts and projections and summarize costs, income and investments.
  • Corporate Human Resource Strategy: This maps the human resource capabilities within the company and considers talent management and acquisition needs to sustain growth.


Typically, companies have existing documentation regarding their component strategies. These must be considered in an integrated manner to define a coherent Corporate Strategy. The level and complexity of documentation for these strategies may vary depending on the size of the company and the breadth of its product portfolio and geographic reach. If formal documentation of these strategies is not available—for instance, as with a start-up company—the teams involved in strategic planning should consider the various strategies and decide on an overall Corporate Strategy, which can then become a benchmark to execute future plans. The SMstudy® Guide framework is a great help in this endeavor.

Finalizing the company’s Corporate Strategy can be a time-consuming and rigorous exercise that requires inputs from multiple stakeholders, particularly senior management. It is advisable to execute strategic planning exercises at appropriate and specific time intervals, such as once or twice a year, and then finalize a Corporate Strategy on which senior management and the heads of strategy teams agree. Following this process will help to ensure that the leadership team has coherently defined goals and strategies that align with the overall strategic goals of the organization.

The Corporate Strategy can be divided into lower level strategies depending on the complexity of the organization. For example, the Corporate Strategy for an entire company can be divided into strategies for each business unit or geographic region such as country, state, or city, and then subdivided further into a Product or Brand Strategy for each product or brand in a business unit or geographic region. The Product or Brand Strategy is the lowest level in this hierarchy.


Corporate strategy is an umbrella under which many components of a company plan for future profitability. When that umbrella operates at full force, the forecast calls for raining money.


Importance of Questions During Lead Generation Process

Questions are an effective tool for the Needs Assessment for Each Qualified Lead process. Asking questions is especially useful when the qualified lead does not have clearly stated needs.

Even in cases where requirements are documented, questions are an effective approach to gain a better understanding of the need or needs driving those requirements. Questions are also helpful in conveying a better understanding of the lead’s industry. Answers to the questions during this phase serve as inputs for designing, creating, or customizing a solution.

The questions asked during the Needs Assessment for Each Qualified Lead process are generally classified into two types:

Closed Questions – Closed questions can be answered with either a simple “yes” or “no,” or the answer may lie in a single word or phrase. Typical examples of closed questions include the following:

  • Is your annual revenue above $5 million?
  • Does your company use an ERP system?

Open Questions – Open questions require longer answers and cannot be answered with a “yes” or “no.” Typical examples of open questions include the following:

  • What can you tell me about your current business environment?
  • What can you tell me about your manufacturing process?

Needs assessment uses a combination of closed and open questions.

What you did not know about web analytics

Online businesses, or businesses that have websites, generally use some sort of tool to track analytics, but most of the time these businesses haven’t maximized the potential of web analytics. Analytics aren’t just to see how many people have visited your site. Companies must delve into the world of analytics and utilize all of the benefits that come from properly deciphering an analytics report in order to decrease bounce rates and increase sales.

According to Digital Marketing, book 2 of the SMstudy Guide®, a basic definition for analytics, is “to evaluate and better understand the value and impact of available digital channels and digital marketing activities. Web analytics involves the collection, measurement, analysis, and reporting of web data for the purposes of understanding and optimizing web usage. Analyzing such data helps a company to assess and improve the effectiveness of its website.”

You can use analytics reports to track web traffic in order to determine where and how to invest marketing time and dollars. Ask yourself, “Is your traffic coming from other websites (referrals), social media or search engines (paid/organic)?” says Mike Wolfe, CEO of WAM Enterprises, a digital marketing agency. “Knowing where traffic comes from can help you understand where to invest more time and money to increase traffic.”

You can also view a visitor’s location; information that can help to build a campaign to target a specific audience. This information is helpful to determine specific geographical regions that are not showing interest in your website. A marketing team can then generate a plan to create interest in those regions. Discounts, special deals, and incentives are great ways to increase engagement and reach disengaged target areas.

It is important to know where people enter your site and where they leave it. The analytics report will show what keywords people used and the search engine that led them to your website. The report also shows how long the person was on your website and what page they exited from. This can be helpful to determine which pages are causing people to lose interest. Once this information is found, a company can update the pages to be more engaging and interesting. The report also includes where the customers go when they leave a website, so you can see what competitors are taking your business and why.

As stated in Digital Marketing, “Web analytics also enables a company to assess the effectiveness of specific mobile marketing campaigns and channels, including mobile advertising, mobile search marketing, and traditional desktop channels, and identify those that appeal to the target audience and work best for the business.”

With the help of web analytics companies can create a website that fits the consumer’s needs in order to maximize reach, reputation, and relationship with their potential or current customers.

For more resources and information visit

In a League of Their Own: The Snapchat Story

When creating an online presence, one of a marketing team’s initial steps is to explore the various digital marketing channels available that will maximize the reach of their products or services. Given the nature of the online world, which is constantly evolving, new channels are developing with greater frequency, and audiences are continuously exploring new sources of online content. Knowing this, marketers must continually assess digital marketing channels for their effectiveness.

To identify the most effective marketing channels for an organization’s products or services, marketers spend a considerable amount of time identifying and understanding the dynamics of all available digital marketing channels and evaluating these channels relative to their company’s overall organizational goals and objectives.

When first moving into the digital marketing realm, it is common for a company to veer towards Facebook and Twitter, considering their global reach. And if so many companies before them have done the same, why not follow the crowd, right? Wrong!

Snapchat is the place to be. Seriously. And here’s why…

According to Adage, “Snapchat entered into a niche that’s so forward because it’s catered towards a generation even its creators didn’t understand. It’s not that the user interface is complicated, it’s that the user interface doesn’t even exist. It makes assumptions about its users preemptively and doesn’t care if it’s shutting out an entire generation.”

The niche generation Adage refers to is the Millennials. If Millennials are your target market, which by the way, they should be considering a recent piece by Entrepreneur stating that 89 percent of Millennials use social media, then exploring Snapchat should definitely be considered.

In the initial stages of researching digital marketing channels, a company’s marketing team identifies target customers in the digital space to understand their likes, dislikes, perceptions of the company’s brand, its major competitors, their digital needs related to the brand, and how the brand may fulfill these needs. All of this information, along with Documented updates of current trends in digital marketing, should be recorded for future reference. But, how does this data lead to a successful ad campaign directed at a target audience? Exploring the many social media platforms that can engage a target audience is a good start.

Snapchat offers brands the opportunity to create their own account allowing them to be followed by their customers, but the app has also paved the way for Snapchat influencers to have great sway over their followers. Influencers, in general, are people that have extremely large social media followings and are paid by companies to advertise their brand. The use of influencers has proven to be a smart move, since, as noted by Jay Baer, president of Convince & Covert “only 33 percent of people in America actually follow brands”

In the end it’s all about reach. The more people you can reach in your target audience the better, so it is important for a company’s digital marketing team to explore all options. Maybe even if that means stepping out of their comfort zone and focus on a new avenue for social media marketing. Based on the low level of online brand loyalty, companies like Snapchat have thought outside the box to offer innovative ways to reach target audiences without a company having to push to gain followers.

For more interesting articles visit


“To Big Brands, From a Millennial: Snapchat Filters Are Where It’s At,” Jillian Hausmann, March, 28 2016.

“The Real Generation Gap: How Adults and Teens Use Social Media Differently,” Kathleen Davis, August 26, 2013.

“11 Shocking New Social Media Statistics in America,” Jay Baer.

Dont be One of the Three, Start Your Startup with SMstudy

How can you keep from being one of the three?

A stat being tossed around a lot these days is that three out of four startups fail. Such odds even seem favorable when compared to direr (and possibly more realistic) observations that “nine out of ten startups fail.” Neil Patel made that claim on, suggesting that “entrepreneurs may even want to write their failure post-mortem before they launch their business.”[1]

What causes these failures?

A look at more than one hundred essays by the CEOs of failed startups two years ago revealed to “that the number-one reason for failure, cited by 42% of polled startups, is the lack of a market need for their product.”[2] Most inventors and innovators imagine that they are providing something people need—the next best mousetrap. Yet, according to these CEOs, there was a clear misalignment between imagination and market reality.

How can someone avoid that threat?

A look at other items in the poll—pricing/cost issues, poor marketing, ignoring the customer and mistimed product launches—provides a clue. The one thing that all of these threats have in common is that they are sales and marketing issues. They are all things that are discussed in SMstudy’s Marketing Strategy, volume one of A Guide to the SMstudy® Sales and Marketing Body of Knowledge (SMBOK® Guide).[3]

Marketing Strategy has an entire section titled “Analyze Market Opportunity,” which would definitely help avoid the problem of having a product without a market.  Pricing and cost issues can be addressed with knowledge gained from the section on “Determine Pricing and Distribution Strategies.”

The book discusses PESTEL Analysis, which entrepreneurs can use to evaluate macro-environmental factors such as political,economic, social, technological, environmental and legal factors that affect the successful and timely launch of a product or service.

Writing about “Ten Essential Startup Lessons” for Entrepreneur, John Rampton includes as his number 7, “Become a salesperson. If you want your startup to succeed, then you must sell. You’re going to have to market the company’s product to employees, investors and clients.” Then he asks, “But did you ever take a ‘Salesperson 101’ course in college?”[4]

The complete SMBOK® Guide is more than just “Salesperson 101.” It includes books on branding and advertising, digital marketing, corporate sales and market research. For the inventor, innovator and entrepreneur, the six books that make up theGuide give insight and direction for turning their product or service into a business—a business that has customers.

Offering some “Startup Advice” on, Mark Suster says, “When you start your company the very first question you need to ask yourself is which kind of customers do you want to serve.” He discusses going after elephants—what others call “whales”—when one really needs to hunt deer. It’s a great analogy and explains one of the reasons startups often have “suboptimal results.”[5] Defining the market and identifying market segments is covered at length in Marketing Strategy.

A Guide to the SMstudy® Sales and Marketing Body of Knowledge by SMstudy is not a collection of inspiring or amusing anecdotes about sales that hit the stratosphere; they are practical, process-oriented collections of processes and best practices that help companies create and develop sales and marketing plans and departments that succeed.

SMstudy also offers courses online and in mobile apps that put the information entrepreneurs need where they are when they need it.

How can you keep from being one of the three . . . or one of the nine? Start your startup with SMstudy.


[1] Patel, Neil. (1/16/15) “90% of Startups Fail: Here’s What You Need to Know about the 10%.” Retrieved on 2/12/16 from

[2] Griffith, Erin. (9/25/14) “Why startups fail, according to their founders.” Fortune. Retrieved on 2/12/16 from


[4] Rampton, John. (7/25/14) “Ten essential Startup Lessons That You may not have Learned in College.” Entrepreneur. Retrieved on 2/11/16 from

[5] Suster, Mark. “Startup Advice.” Retrieved on 2/11/16 from

Five Exceptional Examples of Product Placement in Hollywood Movies

postThe European Union defines product placement as “any form of audiovisual commercial communication consisting of the inclusion of or reference to a product, a service or the trademark thereof so that it is featured within a program.” Product placement is one of the most effective methods of advertising because it has a viewing audience of nearly 100 percent. While TV advertisers lose many viewers who take breaks during commercials, movie viewers pay attention to product advertisements because they are engrossed in the film. The growth of product placement in movies has been phenomenal over the past decade. The U.S. is the largest and fastest growing paid product placement market. It generated revenues of $1.5 billion in 2005, $2.9 billion in 2007, and $3.7 billion in 2008.

Lets look at five exceptional examples of product placement in Hollywood movies that stood out in terms of seamless integration with the storyline and benefit to the brands.

  1. Wilson (Movie: Castaway) “Castaway” took the concept of product placement to another level by using a brand name for a character. When Chuck (Tom Hanks) gets stranded on an island, he finds a Wilson volleyball from one of the boxes that was in the plane. He paints the ball and turns it into a friend and companion named “Wilson.” One of the original volleyballs used in the movie was auctioned for $18,500 to the ex-CEO of FedEx Office, Ken May. Wilson launched a joint promotion at the time of the films release boasting the fact that one of its products was co-starring Tom Hanks.
  1. Sears (Movie: Man of Steel) The 2013 blockbuster “Man of Steel” holds the record for the most occurrences of product placement in a movie. Apparently, the producers signed around 100 deals with promotional partners. One prominent example of product placement in the movie is a Sears store. Supermans father uses Craftsman tools and works at Sears. One scene includes a Sears store being blown up. Sears used this opportunity to create a Guinness World Record for the largest number of people assembled in one place dressed as Superman by gathering 566 employees in Superman costumes at the companys headquarters.
  1. McDonalds (Movie: Pulp Fiction) – The 1994, Quentin Tarantino movie “Pulp Fiction” is arguably one of the best movies ever made. One bit of iconic dialogue centers on McDonalds. While discussing cultural differences among nations, Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) reference the Quarter Pounder and Big Mac.
  1. Omega (Movie: Casino Royale) Product placement in James Bond movies isnt new. Omega is one brand with a long history of association with the Bond films. It started in 1995 with “GoldenEye,” in which Pierce Brosnan wore an Omega Seamster Quartz Professional watch. The trend followed as Brosnan flaunted different models of Seamster in later films. Daniel Craig, the current 007, has also worn the Omega Seamster in all of his Bond movies and even mentions the brand name Omega in “Casino Royale.”
  1. Starbucks (Movie: Youve Got Mail) The 1998 romantic comedy “Youve Got Mail” famously placed two brands in the storyline–AOL and Starbucks. In the movie, Tom Hanks is shown drinking coffee at Starbucks and even makes a reference to the coffee giant in the dialogue: “The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who dont know what the hell they are doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self: Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino.”

Effective Methods of Determining Sales Force Size

In most companies, the sales force is the most critical part of the business; thus determining the sales force size is critical in planning for sales governance. Although the corporate sales team is one of the most valued assets of the company, it can also be expensive to maintain. Increasing the size of the sales force may increase sales volume but at a higher cost to the company. It is therefore necessary to determine the optimal sales force size. The size of the sales force will also affect territory design.

The three most commonly used methods to determine sales force size are as follows:

Breakdown Method

This is the simplest method among the three. In this method, each member of the corporate sales team is assumed to possess the same level of productivity. In order to determine the size of the sales force needed, the total sales figure forecasted for the company is divided by the sales likely to be generated by each individual.

However, this method fails to account for differences in the ability of salespeople and the difference in potential of each market or territory. It treats the sales force as a function of the sales volume, and does not take profitability into account.

Workload Method

The workload method is also known as the buildup method. In this method, the total workload (i.e., the number of hours required to serve the entire market) is estimated. This is divided by the selling time available per salesperson to forecast the size of the sales force. This method is commonly used since it is easy to understand and to recognize the effort required to serve different categories of customers.

However, this method also has some shortcomings. It assumes that all accounts in the same category require the same effort. Other differentiating factors such as cost of servicing, gross margins, etc. are not considered after the accounts are categorized. It also assumes that sales persons are equally efficient, which is generally not true.  One way to overcome this shortcoming is to adjust the sales force size, determined in the last step, for efficiency. The sales force can be classified into different categories based on their efficiency and the actual number of sales persons required can then be calculated with this adjusted number.

Incremental Method

The incremental method is the most precise method to calculate the sales force size. The underlying concept is to compare the marginal profit contribution with the incremental cost for each sales person. The optimal sales force size as per the incremental method is when the marginal profit becomes equal to the marginal cost and the total profit is maximized. Beyond the optimal sales force size, the profit reduces on addition of an extra sales person. Therefore, sales people need to be added as long as the incremental profit exceeds the incremental cost of adding sales people. The main shortcoming associated with this approach is that it is difficult to estimate the additional profit generated by the addition of one salesperson and is therefore difficult to develop.

Thus sales force needs to be properly organized, motivated and compensated in order to have the right size to do the workload, alignment to cover all needs, and keeping them happy and selling. At the end of the day, they are the ones who get the customer to give up their money for the company’s product or service.

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