BY FAISAL HOQUE
If your business-to-business (b2b) company’s revenue generation is built on converting a few random cold calls into prospects and/or selling the same stuff to the same customers over and over again, it’s time to do something different.
You’ll know that you’ve created a scalable sales model when:
- You can add new hires at the same productivity level as the entrepreneur or the sales leader.
- You can increase the sources of your customer leads on a consistent basis.
- You have a sales conversion rate and revenue that can be forecasted consistently.
- The cost to acquire a new customer is significantly less than the amount you can earn from that customer over time.
- Customers get the right products in the right place and at the right time.
The harsh reality is that the average U.S. company loses about 50% of its customer base every year, which means creating a path forward that must include a plan for repeatable, sustainable b2b sales is no longer a luxury — it’s a must-have.
Here are four ways to start doing this today:
Define and design your authentic purpose.
Every company needs to pin down “why we do what we do.” That’s the company’s North Star, guiding every aspect from recruitment to customer management to product development and sales.
A strong purpose drives growth and profitability. For instance, an investment in the Stengel 50 (a list of the world’s 50 highest-performing companies) over the past 10 years would have been 400% more profitable than an investment in the S&P 500.
In order to achieve sustainable success, companies must repeatedly reexamine their sense of purpose and make sure the organization serves it well. An authentic and inspiring purpose allows for:
- A constant, consistent sense of focus
- A strong emotional engagement both within the company and with its customers and partners
- Continuous, pragmatic innovation
Sales and marketing experts often talk about “unique selling propositions,” or “USP,” which Entrepreneurdefinesas the “factor or consideration presented by a seller as the reason that one product or service is different from and better than that of the competition.”
A company’s authentic purpose gives rise to its USP. When a business has a clear vision, it’s easier to create products and services of value. Revlon founder Charles Revson, for instance, always used to say that he sold hope, not makeup.
Start right now by examining your USP. Differentiation comes from packaging your know-how (i.e. your intellectual property) into repeatable products and services that solves critical customer problems.
Take an honest look at your current sales process.
“You can’t fix what you don’t know is broken,” is a quote found on motivational posters and mugs, and it’s very relevant for B2B companies that want repeatable sales, but that don’t know how to go about getting them. Take an honest look at what you’re doing now, including the last 7–10 deals that closed.
Where did the customer come from? What steps were taken to close the deal? How did the customers interact with your company? How long did it take? How much time elapsed between each of those steps? Use the answers to analyze your process and ferret out the gaps (i.e., a lead nurturing and closing process that takes too much time, or not enough regular customer touchpoints). Then, come up with a plan that addresses these issues as a first step in the right direction.
Start right now by assessing your current sales process, asking yourself the above questions, and honing your process in a way that better meets customers’ needs while also contributing to your firm’s bottom line.
Energize your customer renewal and order upsell process.
B2B companies have a stable of customers that they sell the same stuff to over and over again. In many cases, customers don’t even knowthat they could be buying more (and different products/services) from you because they have no idea that you carry them. Unless he’s visiting your frequently-updated (uh-hem!) website on a regular basis, for example, that electrical contractor probably doesn’t realize that your distribution firm recently added kitting services to its lineup. Someone has to tell him, and that step should be part of your firm’s order upsell approach.
An often-overlooked aspect of the sales cycle, upsells and renewals are both strategic sales processes that help you grow revenue and gain more market share. Ignore this aspect of your B2B business and it will quickly fall prey to the statistics (50% of buyers exiting annually) and a host of competitors that are pretty good at bundling products, switching up their offerings, and upselling goods and services.
Start right now by coming up with a list of additional products and services that can be upsold to customers who are already buying from your firm on a regular basis.
Show-and-tell customers that you care about their businesses.
Every B2B company is operating in a world where just “providing” products and services isn’t enough to create a sustainable sales channel. Where companies in the past may have been able to get away with putting their needs (e.g., revenue growth) ahead of their customers’ needs (e.g. readiness and current state) technical and application support), this attitude just doesn’t cut it anymore.
To truly become your customers’ trusted advisor and partner — and to keep them coming back for more and referring your firm to others — you have to care about their business as much as you do yours (if not more than). When clients pick up on this, their loyalty levels rise exponentially and everyone wins.
Start right now by reaching out to a handful of customers to ask them what their biggest pain points, and then think of three ways to either directly or indirectly help them address these issues.
Copyright © 2018 by Faisal Hoque. All rights reserved.
Faisal Hoque is the founder of SHADOKA and other companies. Shadoka enables aspirations to lead, innovate, and transform. Shadoka’s accelerators and solutions bring together the management frameworks, digital platforms, and thought leadership to enable innovation, transformation, entrepreneurship, growth and social impact.
Author of “Everything Connects — How to Transform and Lead in the Age of Creativity, Innovation and Sustainability” and “Survive to Thrive: 27 Practices of Resilient Entrepreneurs, Innovators, and Leaders”. Follow me on Twitter Faisal Hoque. Use the Everything Connects leadership app and Suvvive to Thriveresiliancy app for free.