« Why Do Sales Managers Avoid Personal Coaching? | Main | George Patton’s Lessons You Have No Choice But to Attack, Attack and Attack. »


Are Marketing Managers Victims of Learned Helplessness? How do Marketing Managers Breakout from Being LMH Victims?

The condition called Learned Helplessness, was discovered and popularized by psychologist Martin Seligman.    He found that when he placed dogs into an inescapable environment and administered electric shocks the dog will eventually stop trying to escape.    If the dog was placed into an environment where it could escape and given shocks it would not try to escape.  It learned to give-up.  This discovery has had a major impact on human psychology.

This same issue stalks the lives of marketing and marketing communications managers the world over.  In most instances they have been placed into an environment where they have been taught it is futile to prove the return on investment for lead generating activities.  After time passes they quit trying to prove an ROI for their programs and suffer the consequences of Learned Marketing Helplessness.

Even, unfortunately,  when they change jobs and have full access to prove the ROI for lead generation, because of their "Learned Marketing Helplessness", they don't try to escape the confines of their past.   They are afraid that if they try to prove the value of their programs, someone will shock them.   

Because they will not try to prove the ROI for lead generating tactics, they spend their company's precious assets on a crap-shoot of what works and what doesn't with nary a look back to see what created, or failed to create, sales results.

Learned Marketing Helplessness Can be Broken
As an instructor at workshops and seminars, and in my articles and books,  I focus on the subject of Marketing ROI.   In most instances I am looking into the faces of marketing people who are so beaten down and restricted that they listen with hope, but have no stomach for escape. 

After these workshops, attendees will come to the podium and ask, "Is it really true, can I prove the ROI for lead generation and will people listen?"    I tell them; the problem is that they must stop asking for permission to do their jobs.  They must use the CRM (and marketing automation system) for the primary task that it was invented for and prove that:

 "Inquiries turn into leads and leads turn into sales in a predictable manner."

It is easier than they think, I tell them, but first they must believe it is possible.  With belief will come a determination to never be confined again by small thinking management. 

Now that we know the cause for an aversion to proving marketing's ROI, I challenge marketing management to break the bonds of Learned Marketing Helplessness and demonstrate the ROI for a tactic or program.  For instance, pick a trade show or a direct marketing campaign to measure.   When you prove the ROI for the first program you will be free forever from the confines of the Learned Marketing Helpless. 

Six Steps to Break the Learned Marketing Helplessness Cycle!

  1. Learn how to predict the number of inquiries needed to make quota for your sales channel (a simple formula).  Quota $/Average Sales Price/45%/Market Share % = Inquiries    45% equals the number of buyers in a group of inquiries.
  2. Create programs to support your own marketing "quota" for inquiries and qualified leads. 
  3. Ensure that sales is following up and reporting on 100% of the inquiries you give them.
  4. Use the CRM system for one of its primary intended purposes: Proving the ROI for marketing expenditures.    Report the results: The good, bad and the ugly. 
  5. Adjust your investment.  "Marketing managers must spend money on things that work and let their competitors spend money on everything else."
  6. Repeat the cycle:  Predict, create programs, follow-up 100%, use the CRM system, adjust spending, and report the results.

What do you think?  Is it time that marketing management breaks the bonds of Learned Marketing Helplessness?
About the author
James W. Obermayer is the President of Sales Leakage Consulting, Inc., and the founder and executive director of the Sales Lead Management Association.   He is a four time book author and a motivational speaker on sales and marketing topics. 

McClure, Friedman, Johnson, Nasser, & Obermayer, Find Lost Revenue, Uncover Hidden Causes to Common Sales and Marketing Problems, Solutions Press, Chapter 6, page 22 and Chapter 7, page 24, February, 2009.  

James Obermayer, Managing Sales Leads: Turning Cold Prospects Into Hot Customers, (Mason, Ohio, Textere an imprint of Thomson/South-Western, 2007) and Racom Books, page 21.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Sales Leakage Consulting Inc. * 1770 Front Street, #265 * Lynden, WA 98264
(360) 933-1652 *
© Sales Leakage Consulting Inc.
Funnel Media Group, LLC 1770 Front Street, #265, Lynden, WA 98264 306 933 1259