Best business practices include re-examining your processes and procedures to make sure that they remain relevant. This review becomes crucial during major transitions in the marketplace. As I wrote in Prepare for the All-Clear: 4-Takeaways, “your value proposition and ability to offer high-value solutions and insight may be your key to creating and closing new business opportunities. How you deliver on those exchanges will be tested. The status quo probably won’t be good enough.” What changes do you see within your markets?
Align With How Your Prospects Want To Buy
There has never been a “one-size-fits-all“ solution for business development models, and that won’t change moving forward. Selling in a transactional mode is much different than looking for predictable revenue streams. Most companies that I’m aware of are working within both of these models today — with many placing an emphasis on building their predictable revenue opportunities.
Here are more questions for you to answer. How do the prospects that you’re chasing want to buy? How much work are they doing ahead of time before they think about engaging someone from your sales team? More importantly, when your sales team does engage, how quickly are they getting on the same page as your prospect? How well does your team understand the problem your prospect is trying to solve? Finally, does your team have the right toolset to position your company as the most uniquely qualified to help these prospects solve their problems?
Situational awareness of changing buying patterns becomes the fuel for your new business development efforts.
Make Your Business Show Well
If your prospects are doing more research before engaging with you, how are they finding you and what are they seeing when they look you up? Having a website that is designed well and a great Google search ranking won’t be enough.
Providing content that shows you are qualified and relevant to the problems they are trying to solve has become table stakes for consideration. There’s more emphasis being placed on the content you are presenting, and how you present it. Creating relevant blogs, white papers, and video content have become marketing staples for the companies that I speak with.
The social media efforts of your sales team should complement, and be extensions of the overall business message. Too often I see the sales team operating in silos. They tend to operate independently and not in cadence with the overall business strategy. Often this occurs because there isn’t a new business strategy that has been effectively communicated. You can fix this today.
Structure Your Sales Efforts For Success
Sun Tzu, in The Art of War wrote, “every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought.” Your business is battling for new customers as you work to expand your tent with predictable revenue opportunities. Making sure that you are best prepared to win those battles. That may mean abandoning some of your past practices and structure.
Most print sales teams are charged with managing client relationships, looking for opportunities to grow those relationships, and finding new business. I believe that most sales teams today are doing OK with managing existing client relationships — as long as those companies and buyers continue to exist. And while they may not be proactively looking for new opportunities within those clients, they do respond quickly when new opportunities arise. The problems tend to be in finding new customers.
New business development has been extremely difficult over the years, and is made even more challenging during an economic transformation. The variables in many of the markets you are trying to penetrate have changed. The way prospects research and select the folks that they want to engage has changed. How has your sales team changed to reflect these new circumstances?
This is more than just sales training and coaching. I believe this requires a fundamental shift in how you structure the sales team. This restructuring can take many different paths. Many other industries have business development reps — those that seek out new opportunities and tee it up for the outside sales rep. There may be an inside sales rep slot that focuses on managing and growing existing business. The third category could be a new business hunter or closer. You can decide the structure based on your team, your market, and your appetite for change.
You can call each group whatever you’d like, but the essence of the role each team member plays is critical. As I’ve said in the past, the “lone ranger” model may have outlasted its usefulness.
Evaluate your position, have a clear picture of where you want to go, and engage your team to make it happen. If you have any comments or thoughts as to how you’ve approached these issues, please send me a note or include them below.
Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic advice, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.com, LinkedIn or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.