The rate and pace of change in customer buying behavior and print capabilities has accelerated. As you examine the relationships you have with your best customers today, take note of the things that may have changed over the last several years and what you can learn from them. Also look at the strategies you use to get new clients — is it as effective as it once was? In a transitioning marketplace, leaders are working to make sure their view of the landscape is clear and their plans on point.
Think about your competitive marketplace. Are today’s competitors the same that you competed with years ago? What has changed? How about equipment — how has new technology changed the playing field and your marketplace? These are a few of the things that sales leaders are examining to make sure that their strategy is not only current, but that will continue to deliver a competitive advantage in their marketplace.
Your best clients
Your best customers rely on you more today than perhaps they ever have. As they look to re-emerge into the marketplace, they seek your trust, intuition, and your proven execution capabilities. Your trusted advisor status with this group is paying dividends. Whether it’s repeat business, or new opportunities, you’re first in line with this group.
While all of that is good, building out new business opportunities with new clients continues to face headwinds for many. And given that for most sales teams, their best customers represent perhaps only their top 7 to 10 clients, new business is vital to continue to fuel the business.
What are you selling
New technology has leveled the playing field and brought in more, and different competitors than in the past. Your clients and prospects have more options today than ever before. Sales leaders are taking this opportunity to re-examine what exactly they are selling. Some are focused on selling execution excellence, while others earn business by doing a deep dive and helping solve business problems for their customers. Wherever you are on the spectrum, it’s important that you have a clear message, a differentiator, that makes a difference in the markets that you competing in.
Prepare your team
It may be time to also re-examine the KPI’s for your sales team. In most organizations, they start keeping score with how many estimates and how many orders came in a daily, weekly basis. The fact is, the work that is being done in the weeks and months before those estimates come in has never been more important. Most CRM’s have a sales pipeline tool that allows a team to track their meaningful conversations and status of their business development efforts. Trello boards are also being used in a similar manner. How many meaningful conversations, ones that will lead to good business opportunities did you team have this week?
Add these to your scorecard:
- Take note of what is changing, or has changed with your prospect or client;
- Identify the sales strategy that you’ll use for this account;
- Track the meaningful conversations that take place.
Yes, you need estimates and orders coming in every day. That’s not the question. But if that is the sole focus of the sales team, then they may be apt to be chasing opportunities and jobs, versus developing accounts that can deliver on-going business over the longer-term. Here’s a good test to see where your sales team is. Look at your top 10 to 15 accounts. How many of them are relatively new clients vs accounts that have a 10+ year relationship with your business? How many newer clients you have at the top of the list can be reflective of your business development effectiveness. Again, this is not an either or question. The fact is that you need both.
If you’ve worked on something like this in your business, or if you’ve participated in such a review, I’d appreciate your comments as to how it worked for you. What did you like about it, and what you would do different in the future?
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.
Originally published in Printing Impressions