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Business Strategy

Why You Need a Third-Party Audit to Assess Marketing and Sales

Brandon Jones

You know that old joke about the patient who goes to the doctor complaining about pain all over? Using their index finger, they poke their face (“ouch!”) their knee (“ouch!”) and their chest (“ouch!”).

After just a few seconds, the doctor says “
you’ve got a broken finger.” Don’t get mad, but I’m about to suggest that your business is more like the broken-fingered patient in this joke than you might realize. Ready? Here we go: 


When your business experiences challenges and you try to diagnose the causes yourself, you’re using a broken finger to figure out where the pain is. What you really need is a doctor to look at the situation from the outside.

At Salted Stone, we emphasize the importance of discovery and assessment activities at the beginning of our engagements. We begin long-term relationships by auditing the client’s marketing, sales, and customer service practices before we develop goals or strategy. 

Typically, we identify at least one major issue that the client wasn’t aware of beforehand.  
If you really want to improve your business, getting an outside perspective on your brand messaging strategy, sales funnel, or customer service is invaluable.


Here are three good reasons why...

1. You don’t know what you don’t know. 

There’s a psychological phenomenon called the “illusion of explanatory depth.” Basically, it describes how people tend to think they know how stuff works until they actually have to explain it.

Researchers proved this by asking study participants if they could describe how everyday objects like zippers, speedometers, and sewing machines functioned. Most people said something like “of course I can.” However, when they were asked to give the details, most discovered they weren’t able to do so.  

Here’s the point: you might think you know what your business needs, but thinking you know something and knowing something are two different things.


I’m not saying that a Salted Stone analyst would be be
tter at your job than you are. In fact, I can virtually guarantee that’s not the case. What I am saying is that you’re human, which means you’ve got blind spots, and sometimes it takes an extra set of eyes to tell you what you can’t see.

A real world example: a large international in-home care provider came to us with brand troubles. Their brand wasn’t connecting with their audience, and they needed a refresh. Before we did any brand development work, we audited their sales pipeline to understand how potential customers experienced the brand.

Our analysts went undercover, posing as qualified leads connecting with franchises in several markets. We found that different franchises had vastly different sales approaches and totally distinct marketing communications. 

It was immediately clear what was really wrong with the brand: it was totally different depending on where you lived. This understanding shaped our entire approach on this project, and led us to consider things we (and our client) hadn’t considered initially.

2. You know too much about what you do know. 

Gaps are one of the major things we’re looking for when we conduct a digital brand audit. What’s not being communicated through a client’s branding, website, and content? What important information is missing? Could that missing information have supported a potential customer during the buyer’s journey?

But here’s the thing: the more you know about a subject, the more difficult the gaps become to identify.

EmpathyIf you’re well-versed in the workings of a business, you’re not going to be as good at identifying gaps as a person with a pair of fresh eyes. When you understand something thoroughly (the way we hope you understand your business) you’re always telling yourself a complete story, whether your content actually tells one or not. This is a major reason why it’s so crucial that a third party conducts your audit.

3. People won’t tell you the truth about your business. 

Interviews play an important role in our discovery and assessment process. We talk to employees, customers, former customers, and sometimes lost leads in order to gain a grounded, realistic view of a client’s actual situation.

These interviews are conducted with the understanding that we’re a third party acting on behalf of the client. We ask the subject about their experience, and most of the time they’re willing to tell us about the good, the bad, and the ugly. They’re comfortable telling us the truth because they know we’re impartial and that it won’t affect their relationship with the client. 

If a client attempted to gather the same feedback, however, it would inevitably be colored by past interactions, the subject’s desires, and both parties' expectations.


Think about it — if you got on a call with a customer and they told you about some problems they were having with your company, what would you do? You’d try to fix it immediately, right? Maybe offer some kind of incentive to make up for bad experiences? Call a meeting with their account manager?

All of these steps, while they might help save that account, would distract you from your goal of objectively assessing your current marketing or sales posture.

At the end of our discovery and assessment period, we deliver a report that contains the insights we’ll use to develop a strategy. This way, we’re confident that we’re spending our time (and your money) overcoming the challenges that are keeping you from meeting your goals.

Is your finger broken? Let us have a look. Get started with an audit from Salted Stone.

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