Voice Of Customer Identifies New Markets And New Product Applications

Voice of Customer Identifies New Markets and New Product Applications

 

 

 

 

Capturing and leveraging the voice of your customers is a powerful tool to grow your sales. In addition to helping your sales team realize explosive growth in sales and profits, it also can identify new markets.

My daughter and son in law just bought their first home. Like a lot of starter homes it has a number of fixer upper projects. Each room needed painting, the kitchen cabinets needed updated and the wallpaper in the bathroom had to go. What I learned is, as dad’s we typically get the jobs no one wants like removing layers of wallpaper.

It is a small bathroom but the first day I spent four hours removing wallpaper. I shared my frustrations with a friend and without missing a beat she said…Did you treat the walls with downy fabric softener first? What? I was using a tool to score the wall and a steamer, what will fabric softeners do? I figured it could not hurt so I tried it.

It turns out this is something home remodelers use often to make removing wallpaper much easier and quicker. I searched the Internet and there are article about using fabric softener you typically would buy for your clothing for stripping wallpaper. There is even a You tube video that shares how using fabric softener helps making wallpaper removal easier. A do it yourself website talks about using this process.

It worked so well, if Downy did voice of customer research they might offer small 4-6 ounce bottles at Home Depot and Lowes in the wallpaper isles. I would recommend they charge between $3.50 and $4.95 for these small convenient bottles to be mixed perfectly with one gallon of water when stripping wallpaper.

 

How do your customers use your products and services?

 

What problems do your products solve?

 

Could you have a new market you are serving today that you can expand?

 

Take the time to capture the voice of your customers and learn how they buy, what they need to buy, and how they use your products.

 

You may find new markets and new distribution channels for current products that can grow into profitable new business.

“Product Training” is not “Sales Training“

 

 

It’s that time of year again…

Salespeople are scrabbling to achieve their year end objectives while their accounts have slipped into a post thanksgiving day comma. Next year territory goals are distributed and some organizations recognize this time of year as ideal for training their sales teams. But most sales training seems to miss it’s mark…why?

Here’s the problem:

“Product Training is not Sales training”

I just received a call from a friend who asked if I had the time to sit in on their sales training and give them some feedback. (What they wanted was actually praise) They were very excited about 2012 and the number of new products and product improvements they were launching. So they asked their field sales team to attend training.

Sales training is a challenge as research shows as high as 90% of sales training adds no value within 120 days, and yet corporations will spend over $5 billion per year in Sales Training. Before I share what I have experienced I thought I would share some links that I thought were very interesting…

7 Reasons Sales Training Fails

5 Reasons why Sales Training Fails

Why Does Sales Training Fail?

Report: Why Sales Training Fails

Top Reasons Why Most Corporate Sales Training Fails

Why Training us Useless

All of the above and many more posts have great content and if your team is looking at making the investment in sales training I recommend you review the above.

Now back to my friend’s company…

So I attended the meeting and in terms of time allocation it went something like this;

Words from senior management – 10%

 

VP of Sales sharing his vision – 20%

 

Engineering sharing technical specifications -30%

 

Marketing sharing tools they developed (sell sheets and new web pages) – 20%

 

Other: goals, questions and answers (and kind of a bitch session)-20%

The shame was this training could have helped prepare the team to sell new products and change behaviors in the field based on a clear understanding of the market, its buyers, their buying process and criteria. Instead, it prepared the sales team to continue to play “feature and benefit bingo” with their accounts just hoping some of them can translate the list of benefits into solutions to problems they may be experiencing.

So I’m going to say it again; “Product Training is not Sales Training.”

 

Product Training is obviously necessary, however the most value you can provide your sales team and ultimately your bottom line is answering the following questions….

What problem does this product solve?

 

Who has this problem?

 

What do buyers who have that problem buy now? Why?

 

How do buyers search for solutions to this problem?

 

How do buyers state the problem in their own words?

 

What process do buyers use to solve their problems today?

 

What criteria do buyers use when evaluating products that solve their problems?

 

What is the sales process for this solution?

 

Based on how buyers are buying, what new tools do we have and when should I use them?

 

What are the various Buyer Personas and how do we approach each?

 

Are their “influencers” in the buying process? If so who and what do they require?

 

What is my market’s opportunity?

 

What is our value proposition and distinctive  advantage?

 

How do these new products fit in our overall mix of solutions?

 

Do some salespeople have unique needs, areas that need improved?

 

My friend’s training, like a number of sales training I have attended over the years did not answer any of the above but did clearly share each salesperson’s goals in the next year. What I shared was how he is relying his sales team to “make it happen” and figure it out in the field. His need to feel sales was more of a science and less of an art will not be met. So he will continue to be frustrated by sales forecasts because they are actually educated guesses. What I observed, that sounded like a bitch session was actually the sales team sharing how they needed to get in shape for the market they faced today.

So how about your company?

 

How much will your organization spend in sales training this year?

 

Can your team afford not to have a return on that investment?

 

Does your sales training answer the above questions?

 

Or are you counting on your sales people to “just make it happen?”

 

Based on what I described, if you were one of this team’s salespeople, would you feel your future goals were based on market opportunity or corporate necessity?

Sales training is more than product training alone. In addition to equipping your team to win, it can also demonstrate you do have an understanding of the market and help your team see the training as something to help them make more money and not something they have to “go through” each year.

The Toughest Sale an Entrepreneur Can Make….Investment Capital to Grow

 

I enjoy sales, I really do. I see sales as the ultimate example of serving others. You connect with people in your market that may have problems your product or service can solve, and you help them solve their problems. For me it’s the ultimate rush helping clients solve problems they have struggled with and felt they must learn to live with. However there is another sale entrepreneurs have to make that is not nearly as fun and can be emotionally and physically taxing if you do not know what you are doing…raising investment capital.

Typically the companies I serve have the capital and or are self funding and I am asked to create a repeatable sales process, based on how their buyers want to buy. Then I train their team how and when to use the sales tools we create for each step of the new sales process. In one instance however, a company I was asked to turn around lacked adequate access to capital to truly scale the business. So I approached raising investment capital as I would any market with various buyer personas , but in this case what I was selling was the viability of the business and future potential. I found there are basically five ways to fund your growth and each has its own characteristics, requirements, needs and challenges. Over a three month period while out making sales calls with customers, I met with as many “potential buyers” for funding as I could to understand  shape and I even named my buyers, my ways to raise funds.( I had way to much car time, so stick with me)

Self Fund through sales revenue – “Willy Lowman”

 

State and Government Grants – “Annette to detail”

 

Friends and Family- “Have-I” , as in have -I got a deal for you

 

Angel Investors- “Michael”, like the archangel

 

Venture Capital –”Barbra”, from the show shark tank

 

The first I called “Willy Lowman” from Death of a Salesman. You are out chasing revenue, cold calling, following up on every potential lead, and networking like crazy. You bootstrap your way, working 12-14 hours a day meeting with clients who could provide that next big order. At night you stuff envelopes with letters and brochures, and scour the internet using social media tools searching for the right contact to speak with at your future targeted accounts.

Characteristics– You often find yourself bunking on friends couches and driving great distances simply because the meetings need to occur but you lack the capital to afford air flights and hotel rooms. You have a passionate connection to your product and you have the ability to sell convincing presentations that drive early orders. You may hire independent sales representatives to sell your product on straight commission, but quickly find they too require time, your most precious asset at this point.

Requirements – You have to be skilled at taking inventory of what you have to work with and leveraging it to the best of your ability while always being cognizant of the businesses cash requirements, cash flow. You personally will do without.  You need tenacity, good old fashioned (excuse the expression)… “piss and vinegar”. You will have many doors slammed in your face and you will need the ability to press on in the face of adversity. You know the “right” way to get orders, but you lack the capital today, so you do what you need to do. I have 50 other ugly truths in my eBook you can download off my blog. You have to possess the ability to create learning’s through each transaction and adapt quickly.

Need – samples, sell sheets and a clear understanding of the problem you solve, and who potentially has that problem. With some of the software out there today and help from friends in your network you can create some professional presentations and sell sheets. You must have a web site.

 

Caution – it’s not unusual to start a business this way trying to sell your way to success, however know that it is not for the faint of heart, and if you do it for too long you too run the risk of going nuts like our buddy Willy. If whatever you are launching cannot gain traction and begin to result in predictable sales revenues within 12-18 months, cut bait! Chances are you are pushing mud uphill and you have not answered one of the four questions with a yes.

So how about you…have you launched a business on shear tenacity? How did it turn out?

 

As you look back, how long were you in the bootstrap mode? (Or are you still in it?)

 

What did you find the hardest part of this phase?

 

What advice would you give someone who has desperately tried to scale their business, their dream for 18 months with no success?

The key to funding I have learned over time is to truly understand where your company is on the business growth continuum. Is your business pre-cash, do you have a few customers, some revenue… but needing capital to scale, ….?

Once you clearly understand where your business is, you can connect to the right kind of funding. As you move from self funding / friends and family to Government Grants to Angel investors to Venture Capital, you must clearly understand where you are at and what your buyer (investor) requires.

What I have experienced is friends and families are investing more in you and your abilities than the business. They are looking at your past success and your personal abilities. They have a personal relationship with you.

Government Grants/ other Grants are focused on answering a specific issue. You must be skilled at writing grant applications and clearly answering how your product falls into their grant offering.

Angels fund from small $20k investments up to $2 million from larger angel funds. Angel funds are groups of angel investors who pool their monies and invest in companies. Sometimes members of the fund may also wish to make “side car” investments in addition to the fund investment. Angels focus on;

  • proprietary product and or technology
  • leaders ability to lead organization, monetize opportunity
  • the market and your product solution’s potential
  • your team and its ability to execute
  • your exit plan, who would be potential buyers, or do you plan to go public

Venture Capital traditionally invests in opportunities over $2 million. They are industry specific and the cost of their funds in terms of equity in your business is often much greater. They are focused on return on their investment. They have specific business valuation models and your engagement with them will feel more like a business transaction than a relationship. VC’s will receive 1,000’s of pitches each year and only work with a select few companies that match their criteria. I recommend you watch the show Shark Tank and pay attention to the discussions, the interaction as it will prepare you for possible discussions you may be having should you pursue VC funding.

If you are an entrepreneur and feel the next step to truly scale your company is funding, make sure you understand where your company is at, and what type of funding source best matches your needs. If you are like me, you will find it the most challenging sales process you have ever experienced!

Why Can’t Salespeople Sell New Products?

The CEO said…” Why can’t my salespeople sell new products” ? I hear this frustration from business leaders often. The assumption is the salespeople are not capable, but the reality is they can sell new products if they are provided a strong value proposition and sales tools that guide potential buyers through their buying journey. If your new product or service clearly provides four yes’s then it will not feel like pushing mud uphill during launch. However far too often new products are thrown over the wall from engineering and product management and sales are told …”just make it happen”.

The reality is you do not want your salespeople spending time figuring out how to sell the new product.

Salespeople follow the path of least resistance to revenue.

If your new product lacks a clear value proposition, sales tools designed for specific buyer personas, and a history of poorly launched products your launch may be doomed.

Equip your sales team to gain new product sales velocity by clearly understanding the problem you are solving for your buyers and the buying process and criteria they use to solve their problems.

How successful is your team with new product sales launch?

 

Does your new product offer a quick path to revenue or does it feel like pushing mud up hill for your sales team?

 

Can you afford to have your salespeople figuring out how to sell a new product while your core product sales suffer?

 

Are new product sales an Art or Science in your organization?

Is your Market Strategy one of a "Hawk" or a "Dove"? …

 

Market leaders understand the importance of working their plan, and they do not focus on “crushing” the competition, but they do passionately serve their markets. (Doves) Market losers focus their energies on “beating”and “crushing” the completion and have little understanding of the problems of their buyers as their entire focus is on their competitor(s). (Hawks)

Doves strategically and passionately set out to solve their buyer’s problems. Hawks try to swoop in and destroy competitors who may or may not be perched with an understanding of buyers, their problems and buying criteria. (they are only as good as their competitors…who chances are do not understand their market) Ironically, Hawks actually believe their competitors must know the market or they would not be trying to “beat” them.

The trouble occurs when you chase the quest to destroy competitors you fly even closer to your competitor and farther away from understanding your market.

 

One of the benefits of working with a variety of business leaders is listening to their stories. Recently I met with an entrepreneur who shared how he learned one of the most valuable lessons in business strategy  long ago when he served the Marriott Corporation. He described their training and one of their sessions was called “Hawks and Doves”. In this exercise they broke off into small groups and were presented a business challenge. Predictably, everyone fell into the trap of wanting to attack and crush the competition as a Hawks. Admittedly there is a sense of machismo ego in being a Hawk after all. However the problem with being a Hawk is there are always Eagles who can swoop down ( out of seemly no where) and destroy you. Doves however are singularly focused; serving the needs of their market.

As Hawks, you rely ( focus) on your prey,… in a way you are counting on their smarts, their understanding of the market….a follower strategy.

This entrepreneur went on to share how when Marriott would have a location oversold they would have a network of other hotels they would send customers to. On the surface this may seem odd, right? However Marriott is and has been consistently one of the top hotel chains in the world. Their quality and service are consistently recognized as market leaders.

Market leaders serve their market.

Market losers focus on killing competitors.

When I wrote “are you a Pit Bull or a Poodle?” I shared the tenacity entrepreneurs must have . They have a  sence of ownership and not a victim out look. However I do not want to leave you with the impression that means attacking and chewing up your competition. Pit bulls have a fierce tenacity and jaw strength that insures when they clamp down on unresolved market problems and they do not let go.

 As Pit Bull entrepreneurs you clamp down on your commitment to solve your buyers’ problems with your product or solution, but do so with the market serving strategy of a Dove.

How about your organization…..

Is your focus that of a Hawk or a Dove?

How’s that working for you?

Does your mission statement sound like a Dove strategy but you work for a Hawk?

 At the end of the day, it’s about your team’s intentional focus. Are you focused on serving your market or destroying the competition?

Pick wisely…

Leaders, Help your Team Bust Through Sales Roadblocks by Becoming a “Reductionist”

 

 

I don’t care what business you are in or plan to launch there will be unforeseen roadblocks. There is a direct correlation to the effectiveness and thoroughness of your marketing prior to launch and the number of roadblocks your team will face after launch. If you intimately understand your market prior to launch your roadblocks will be few and often easy to overcome. If you launched on brash Hubris and gut…well get ready for a number of roadblocks and possible detours. While your team is plowing ahead, you as the leader can add the most value by becoming a “Reductionist”.

So you have launched your new product or service and your team is marching, attempting to execute the strategic plan and yet they keep facing roadblocks, unforeseen obstacles that are inhibiting sales. As the leader you have the ability to see, from 45,000 feet what is occurring and help shape and even change the plan. You see roadblocks that may feel unique to one salesman across your entire team and you can prioritize them based on impact to your bottom line.

I had a wise mentor named Hugh tell me once…” ya know Mark there are three kinds of information; Good, Bad, and none, leaders understand the difference and quickly gather what they need to make decisions that have the most impact” In one of my very first posts, I put it another way as well;

Market Leaders Know what they know and they know what they don’t know.”

One of the steps in my last post about trying to “manage fruit ripe” was; “Help your team identify common roadblocks and help create sales tools to help them break through them.” I am a big advocate of focusing on your gifts as apposed to your personal short comings. Too much time is wasted trying to make people gifted at selling also become “strategic market planners”. Luckily entrepreneurs by nature are gifted at creative problem solving so use your gift to help your team.

I often hear entrepreneurial leaders comment in frustration…” why can’t Bill see that the real road block is……and not …..?” Here’s why…

Your salesman Bill is focused on goal achievement (what you pay him to do). To Bill his market is defined by his last sales call. You however have the ability to review data from all your salespeople, customers, non customers, and potential customers to better shape a strategy that will add value to your bottom line.

You must look at the current sales process and seek out roadblocks, places where the process of the sale stalls, or what I often call…” goes dark”.

 Once you identify these common stalls or sale loss points you must prioritize them and build sales tools to help your team keep the sales conversation flowing. This will do two things at a minimum;

First, it will improve your inquiry to lead to sale ratio.

Second, by understanding how your buyers buy and providing them the perfect tool at the perfect time, you show you know them.

Buyers like to buy from people who listen and understand their problems.

Help your sales team break through the common roadblocks and you are on your way to improved results and overall morale.

If you chose to instead say things like;

 You need to overcome that objection

Or

“I can’t believe you could not sell through that…”

Or every salesperson’s favorite…

I don’t pay you to bring me problems I pay you to bring me orders…just make it happen”

If this is your leadership, then you are not positioning your team or your company to be the dominant leader in your market.

Find out quickly what you know and gather what you need to know.

Take that information and boil it down, become a reductionist for your team.

Create strategies and tactics based on market truth.

Constantly assess, test, and modify until you consistently overcome the roadblocks in the way of achieving your sales objectives.

So how about your organization…does you have leaders good at being reductionists?

Attention Entrepreneurs; You Can’t “Manage Fruit Ripe"

 

 

 

They say that which makes us strong can also be our biggest weakness. Entrepreneurs are no exception to this rule as our driven, confident, and focused nature can often inhibit new product success. Entrepreneurs often have such confidence in their personal abilities based on past success they take shortcuts in launching new products and when sales fail to meet plan they believe they can “manage fruit ripe.”

“When it comes to new product sales; you can not manage fruit ripe”

 

After my last post I had a number of people reach out to me saying: “ Ok we get it, we should do research prior to launch …but what should we do if we are in a launch that is not hitting plan?” As I have shared in past posts…I have made a number of mistakes over the years.I have kicked off new products and then had to figure out how to make it work; “make it happen ” on the fly.  So I thought I would do a follow-up post and share what I said to those who contacted me directly.

Entrepreneurs who launch on gut and not market truth often start trying to “manage fruit ripe”. They are so tied to their  plan their failure to achieve goals has to be a sales problem. Based on my experience, over 90% of new product sales falling short of plan are not the result of “poor sales execution” but the result of not having good current data  and or understanding of your market, and is actually a marketing problem. Without current accurate market data one if not all of your four P’s of markting are probably wrong. Entreprenuers are smart people. If given good information they make decisions that grow businesses profitably. If given old or wrong market data one or more of your four P’s will be wrong.

As the owner, leader,you are the boss… so if you want to try to manage the fruit (sales) of your new products ripe… go for it. I have seen many try ( heck, I have tried) and I have yet to see this approach correct new product sales below plan and create sales velocity. 

If you find yourself in a launch based on gut and old or poor data, what should you do?

 

  1. Assess what you have learned ( experienced) during launch so far
  2. Conduct win loss interviews
  3. Identify common roadblocks to sales and bust through them with new sales tools
  4. List what you still need to know and assign priority and timelines
  5. Adjust your strategy based on the current market data you gather
  6. Test new strategies before you scale them
  7. Repeat what works
  8. keep asking questions, determine why customers are buying and not buying
  9. Challenge your four P’s of Marketing ( at least one is off)

 

( or put another way; get the data to answer the four yes’s …as quick as possible)

 

 

So how about you…have you launched a product without having four yes’s first?

 

What did you experience ?

 

What corrective action did your team take?

 

Does it take longer to do research on the front end? Or fix roadblocks during launch?

“Pushing Mud Uphill” …Launching a New Product or Service Without Four Clear “Yes’s”

launch new products like pushing mud uphill

One of the most exciting things you can do in business is launch a new product, service, or entire business for that matter. As high as six out of ten US adult consumers are thinking about launching a business at any given time. If you chose to take the leap yourself, you will experience what I refer to as the “50 ugly truths…” but in so doing you will become stronger, and if you survive you will ultimately help people solve problems.

I can’t imagine anything more rewarding than helping someone solve a problem they thought there was no solution for. If this is true, then why do over 70% of new products (businesses) fail?

They fail because they failed to answer “yes” to four simple but key questions.

Question 1

Do you clearly understand the problem you are trying to solve and does your product (service) solve that problem completely? (if you have already said “no” stop, gather more data)

Question 2

Are there enough people, a market of people, with this problem to meet your desired ROA? ( if your answer is “I think so” stop and validate)

Question 3

Do the members of the market you validated as big enough have the ability to pay to solve their problem? (there are all kinds of problems we all have, but we are not willing to pay to fix)

Question 4

Are the members of the market you validated that is big enough, with the problem you solve, and ability to pay, “willing” to pay now? (there are many problems we have, and we have the ability to pay for, but not the willingness to pay for)

If you answered “Yes” with current market data (not data from three years ago when you first came up with this idea) go for it!

But remember; An Idea is not a product and it’s definitely not a Business.

Where most entrepreneurs blow it …as Jim Collins refers to it is; Hubris. They believe because they have launched products in the past and they were very successful they trust their gut and intuition that there new endeavor will also be a huge success.


So what happens if you launch based on emotion and Hubris?….

Your sales may come, but slowly

You will miss ROA targets

Need to add investment, instead of cutting bait

Your sales team (who trusted you) will push mud uphill each day…the good ones will leave due to frustration

You strain your entire organization (who is probably already multi tasking) morale suffers

You demonstrate to your market you do not know them

Personally you will become frustrated, aggravated, distracted, and you will loose focus

How can I rattle the above off so quickly?…Because I have done it. I have experienced the rush of growing companies by launching new products and or new divisions and when I find what feels like a huge unsolved problem in a market ….I get excited (emotional).

Instead of gathering current market date, I used to move into; validate my gut mode.

Instead of admitting what I did not know… and finding answers…I relied on past experiences to get me through the unforeseen roadblocks.

I have felt the emotion that builds, and heard that little voice in your head that says; “I don’t care what engineering, marketing, operations, and sales thinks we should do, or the more information they want to gather…we need to launch before someone else beats us to market”

What I lacked back then was a filter…simple filter that quickly cuts through the emotions and feelings and quickly lets you know if you have an “idea” or a “business”. The above four questions are the filter I recommend everyone use PRIOR to launching your new product, service, or business.

How about your company….

Have you ever had to push mud uphill?

While your team loyally pushes mud uphill, what is the opportunity cost of their time?

Do you have other questions to add to the filter to insure the products you launch do not fall into the 70% of those that are an expense without a ROA?

Again, having launched products, services, even new businesses in my career I understand that inner rush of adrenaline that makes your creative juices fire on all cylinders…I do. Maybe it’s an age thing…but I now highly recommend a pause, a strategic pause, before you launch and ask yourself the above questions.

To insure you maximize your percent of wins and your ROA for new products, make sure you use a filter, get the four “yes’s” prior to launch.

If you do not use mine above, I have also used the economic value added model back in the day. This model helps insure decisions are not made of Hubris.

Whatever you do, do not rely just on your gut, and or your key accounts, friends, and family members saying “go for it”.

If you would like to read more about this topic, I recommend you read;

Tuned In

How the Mighty Fall

Delivering Happiness

Sales is a Science When You Have Strong Marketing….an Art When Your Marketing Sucks!

  

 

 

 

 

 

Is sales and “art” or a “science”? It depends….is your marketing strong, or does it suck?

 

In my last post: Is Sales an Art or a Science I shared how I opened a recent presentation to business owners and their senior leadership teams with a question;

Is Sales an Art or a Science?

 

The responses were pretty predictable;

Felt sales was a science: 30%

 

Felt sales was an Art: 60%

 

Felt sales was both an art and a science: 10%

 

This was interesting, however I heard the soft comment I was waiting for: “It Depends…on your industry, team’s training, product, price, availability of sales tools, your web site….” (Perfect! Now we are going to have a discussion!)

Then they asked me…what did I think? Art or science? I said “yes” as sales is often both. I find where sales falls in the spectrum with art on one end and science on the other depends on the organizations competency in marketing.

Marketing? Yes, because the fundamental job of marketing is to have an intimate understanding of your market, its buyer’s problems, and how they set out to solve those problems. Competent marketing teams clearly understand the buying process, cycle and criteria. They create tools to help buyers buy.

Market Leaders

 

If you have a strong competency in marketing, you know your market, and its problems that need to be solved. You know the buyers; you have clearly stated buyer persona’s and you understand the buying process. Your message is clear and does not require a translator (salesperson) to help buyers understand the problems your products or services solve.

Market leaders have such a clear understanding of the buying process their sales is more of a science. The art in the sale for market leaders is the salesperson’s ability to ask open-ended questions and apply proven sales tools for the right step of the buying process that keeps the conversation moving to a sale.

In market leading organizations, sales are 80% science and 20% art.

 

Unfortunately less than 10% of organizations would be considered Market leaders. Those that are, dominate their markets.

 

 

 

Market losers

 

If your team lacks a competency in marketing you will experience it for yourself on sales calls. Your team plays; “ feature and benefit BINGO” in hopes they rattle off all your features and benefits and at some point your buyer yells “BINGO” as they put the pieces together with the problem they have, and they understand how they “think” you solve this problem.

 

Market losers really do not know the problems their products solve for their buyers, the buying process, or buying criteria. In most cases their products were built from the inside out and marketing was tasked with “creating the need” for their products…losers! 

Market losers launch products and believe they can “manage by objectives” and meet their goals by managing key performance indicators created without any knowledge of their market. 

Market losers  have high turnover as they replace those who fail to hit goal, and skilled team members leave to join market driven teams.

Market losers have websites that talk about their company, years in business, and they prepare the feature and benefit BINGO card for their buyers and salespeople.

 

For market losers 80% of sales is an “art”.

 

The CEO and CFO of market losing companies go crazy because there is a lack of predictability, and they can not “manage” their way to market leadership. In this model your salespeople need to disregard what marketing does provide, and listen to their buyers, understand buyer problems, and create their own sales tools that discuss how their product or service solves those problems.

The danger in this model is sales may be promising things your product does not do, and the message varies by salesperson and thus is not repeatable.

 

From my experience, I would say about 50% of the companies out there are Market losers.

 

They build products because they can and not because they should. They are sales driven or bottom line driven. They have high turnover and ironically the salespeople they are letting go today won awards for sales performance two years ago….so what changed?

From my experience 40% of companies are somewhere in between but striving to improve.

They often launch a product that becomes very successful and then have a series of launches that fail. As they grow, the leaders who knew the market are now “managing the business” and lose touch with the market and its problems. They forget it was their understanding of market problems that caused their success and often fall into the trap that they think it was their personal brilliance and or hut spa.

As I closed the discussion I asked everyone in the room to do two things in the next seven days….

  1. Go out and meet with your customers and ask questions about their business and the problems they are facing, and how they try to solve those problems

.

  1. Look in your top salesperson’s trunk of their car and or lap top and see the tools they are using

 

The good news is everyone can become a market leading organization and realize higher than market average profits, lower turnover and increased shareholder equity. When you clearly understand your market and buyers, and create sales tools to help buyers move through their buying process, you create a win-win-win.

So what kind of organization do you work for? Market leader? Market Loser? Or someplace in between? Why?

 

Is Sales an Art or a Science….it Depends on Your Marketing

 

 

Is Sales an “Art” or a “Science”?

 

There is no general answer that applies to all organizations as it depends…..it depends on your team’s demonstrated competency in marketing. (Believe it or not)

An “Art “implies creativity as well as varietability and” science“is about process, method and constantly assessing and experimenting with process, and managing  the process.

A number of clients over the years have stated their needs as; “I need you to create a repeatable sales process for our team”. However, in most cases they lacked a clear understanding of their market, buyers, buyer needs, probelms, and the buying process. They wanted me to study their “sales super star” and replicate them throughout their team. However sales processes built from the inside out produce marginal sales increases and often increase the gap between your team’s “sales speak” and “the buying process”. What you need to do  is create Sales Velocity.

So what sould  teams desiring  to be market leaders to do?

I was asked to speak at a conference recently for business owners and their senior teams. Prior to my presentation, I reached out to the organization’s members and asked;

“In the areas of marketing and sales what topic would you like me to discuss?”

I could have discussed a number of topics, but I wanted to provide their members the maximum return based on their needs.  I was interested to see if the recent and current economic environment in any way changed what I typically here when I ask this question.

The responses varied from;

How do we get our salespeople to sell new products?

 

How do we motivate our salespeople to focus on opening new accounts?

 

What is the best way to measure the ROI of marketing?

 

How do we align sales and marketing to reduce waste and increase productivity?

 

What is the best marketing vehicle to drive sales now? Quickly?

What is my take on “social media” and it’s ROI?

 

How can I be assured my next investment in a new product launch meets goal ?

 

I felt I could speak for a week and not do justice to all the  questions independently,  so I grouped the responses into two buckets;

What is marketing and how can it impact sales in a way that produces the greatest overall return?

 

How do we create a repeatable sales process that works, has an immediate and long term impact?

 

I shared my findings with the event coordinator to insure the direction I was taking would serve his association and his goals. He shared that the two topics I chose were like thorns in the side of his membership as they keep bubbling to the top of discussions. So I asked questions to better understand past discussions and he shared two comments his owners and senior leaders shared in private;

“Our salespeople are just not working hard enough, I know times are tough, but for what I pay them they need to sell through those objections”

 

“I think a large % of our overall marketing spend is a waste, fluff, and does not provide the return any other expenditure would be required to produce.”

 

Interesting…..

So I decided to open this presentation with a question for the room;

Is Sales an Art or a science?

 

Before I share where this discussion went….

What do you think?

Is sales in your organization an Art or Science? Why?

 

If you could pick Art or Science, what would you prefer sales to be in your organization? Why?

 

I will share in my next post the results I observed and any feedback and comments on this post. I will also share the desired state and my answer to this question.