Increase Sales: Key Buying Seasons Surface In “Voice Of Market” Work

Increase Sales: Key Buying Seasons Surface in “Voice of Market” Work

Market leading organizations understand the power in understanding the voice of their customers and markets. In my last post I shared how voice of the market work helps identify key buying triggers. Understanding how your buyers buy, the journey they take today to a purchase and the criteria they must have to buy is critical to growing your sales profitably. In this post I will share how Voice of your Market work identifies key buying seasons for specific products.

 

I was hired to grow the sales for Gardner Denver in the rust belt region. Gardner Denver is one of the leading manufacturers of industrial air compressors and accessories in the world. Industrial air compressors support manufacturing plants by supplying compressed air to power machines and tools used in the manufacturing process.

 

The first step in my business development process was to meet with as many end customers as I could on four legged sales calls with my dealer distributor salespeople. While the salespeople asked questions about upcoming changes that may require new or additional air compressors, I asked opened ended question and listened for unresolved market problems and buying trigger events.

 

Working with one of my larger dealers: Atlas Machine and Supply we identified a common problem end users have every year from May through August: Moisture in their air. Industrial air compressors compress ambient air and one of the by products of this process is water. Buyers purchase air dryers to remove moisture before it has a chance to damage machines and tools. What buyers shared was during the summer months in the Midwest they experience humidity and it often taxes their compressed air dryers and it is often a challenge to find new dryers when one of their dryers fail.

 

We developed a proactive business development plan based on this common seasonal problem our buyers were experiencing. Our dealer produced a postcard mailer that was sent to all their current accounts as well as targeted new accounts they have always wanted to serve. It was a simple message asking if they would like a free audit for moisture to insure their plant does not have any manufacturing problems when the high humid months hit. We conducted a sales training meeting and trained the distributor sales team how to execute the sales process.

 

Our distributor sales team followed up with each account within seven days of the mailer and scheduled audits to insure their customers and prospects they always wanted to serve would not experience any service interruptions in the humid summer months.

 

Our compressed air dryer sales more than doubled compared to the same months the prior year and new compressor sales increased. Since our dealer sales were contacting buyers about a common seasonal problem and offering to solve that problem, buyers trusted the sales and service people. They demonstrated they knew the industry and common unresolved seasonal problems. The sales and service team was not focused on “selling” but “serving” the market. While conducting audits proactively, our maintenance mangers and plant mangers openly shared other issues they were concerned about. These “other issues” resulted in new incremental compressor sales, service revenue and aftermarket sales increases.

 

Do your end customers have buying seasons for specific products and services?

 

Who on your team is responsible for helping dealer distributors grow their sales?

 

Does your sales team proactively reach out to buyers to address seasonal buying trigger events?

 

Would your team like to double your product sales in key buying seasons?

 

As we approach a new year, there is nothing more strategic than understanding your buyers, how they buy and the criteria they need to buy TODAY. “Today” is the key word. Think about all the changes we have seen over the years in how buyers buy. If you have not adjusted your repeatable sales process in the last 12 months or created new sales tools …I promise you have a broken sales process and you are losing orders you should have won.

The voice of the customer, voice of the market work becomes the foundation of your sales, marketing and business development strategic plans.

If you don’t have an understanding how how buyers buy and what they need to buy today…How do you plan to hit your sales numbers next year?

 

 

 

Voice Of The Market Identifies Key Buying Triggers

Voice of the Market Identifies Key Buying Triggers

 

 

Companies who understand the power in the voice of their markets today realize greater and more profitable sales growth. Understanding your market, buyers, and how they buy and what they need to buy is critical to hitting your sales numbers today. One outcome of understanding the voice of your customers and markets is identifying sales trigger events.

 

What triggers one of the buyers in your market to begin the buying journey?

 

The answer to that question becomes a key consideration when developing your business development plan to hit your sales numbers.

 

In a past post I shared the work I did in the accessible van market with VMI. We sold lowered floor mini vans that were adapted so consumers in wheelchairs could drive and or ride in comfort. I launched VMI’s first retail mobility dealership Arizona Mobility Products.

 

Our team spent a great deal of our time out conducting vehicle demonstrations at consumer’s homes and our sales grew quickly. We were constantly asking questions to better understand our customers, how they shop and what triggered them to make a new purchase.

 

Consumers in wheelchairs must have a vehicle they trust and is reliable. You might say: well Mark I need that too. The difference is if our vehicle dies on the road somewhere we can call a tow truck and they will tow our vehicle and give us a ride to a service garage. Tow trucks are not equipped to accommodate a consumer in a wheelchair. Should their vehicle experience a malfunction, they are left at the point where the vehicle failed until they make alternative arrangements to be transported. Reliability is an even higher buying criteria for consumers in wheelchairs. Based on this we should not have been so surprised as we were when we kept hearing how consumers with accessible lowered floor mini vans often start shopping for a new van within three months of their vehicle warrantee expiring. When we surveyed our customers this came out loud and clear in almost every interview.

 

Our team sorted our customer database based on when vehicles were purchased and each month proactively contacted customers whose vehicle was about to lose its warrantee. We established a four-touch campaign.

 

-The first touch was a simple letter notifying them their vehicle warrantee was about to expire, share any current promotions, remind them we sold extended warrantees and suggested we quote the trade in value of their current vehicle.

 

-The second touch was a phone call, ideally from the salesperson that sold them the vehicle reminding them as a service their warrantee was about to expire.

 

-The third touch shared specific dealer incentives, rebates and once again mentioned their warrantee was about to expire.

 

-The last touch was a request for us to book an appointment to have their vehicle inspected by one of our certified service experts at no charge.

 

Identifying this buying trigger and developing a strategic series of communications, a GPS to new sales for our salespeople, helped us increase sales and build customer loyalty. As a side benefit it also provided our dealership with a supply of used vehicles that were in huge demand in this community.

 

What triggers your buyers to start the buying journey?

 

Does someone on your team Know?

 

How has your team used this information?

 

What could your team do to serve buyers who triggered the need to buy?

 

What is your team doing to make lifetime customers for your products?

 

Understanding the voice of your customers and market has many benefits. One benefit is to intimately understand what triggers your buyers to shop, to search for a new purchase. Taking the time to understand your buyers, why they buy and what they need to buy is critical to consistently hitting your sales numbers.

 

 

Who Owns the Voice of Your Market and Voice of Your Customer? ..Hint (not sales!)

 

In my last few posts I have been sharing the power of capturing the voice of your customers and voice of your markets. Understanding how your buyers buy today, the journey they take and the criteria they must have is the quickest way to increasing sales. Who should own the voice of the market and customer? The answer may surprise you: Not Sales! In this post I will share who should own the voice of the customer and share a short video on the impact this information will have.

Who owns the voice of the market, voice of the customer in your company?

Before we unpack this topic we need to understand the differences between the voice of the customer (VoC) and the voice of the market (VoM).

Voice of the Customer

“Voice of the Customer (VoC) is a marketing research technique that encompasses the collective insights of your customers’ needs, wants, perceptions, preferences and expectations.”

Iperceptions

 

Voice of Market

Voice of the Market (VOM) is different in that it incorporates input from the greater market. The market contains not only your customers, but also those who chose not to buy your solution – those who bought someone else’s product and those who just didn’t make a decision.”

On Product Management 

 

 

Capturing the voice of your customer (VOC) is critical to providing your customers the best overall buying experience and growing sales profitably. I also use the voice of the customer to help me understand how customers describe the problems my clients solve in similar markets. The Voice of the market is even more powerful because it not only captures your customer, but it also captures prospects in your market you want to serve as well as customers you once sold. The voice of the Market ( VOM) helps you scale your solutions to unresolved market problems to new customers in the markets you serve.

 

Who owns the voice of the market and customer?

 

Marketing!

 

Why?

 

A few reasons I have experienced over the years:

 

First, you want sales selling. I don’t mean to sound trite but this is about focus. You want your sales resources selling and not conducting market research. You do not want them doing any behaviors that do not align with their specific objectives and hitting their sales numbers. They need to be driving to serve their customers and solve their unresolved problems.

 

“Diluted Sales focus causes diluted sales results.”

– Mark Allen Roberts

 

Second, you want unfiltered feedback from your customers and markets. What if the reason why buyers don’t buy is the most common reason: the buyer-felt sales did not adequately understand the problem to be solved so they did not trust their proposal to fix the problem. Will sales tell you that? Maybe but it would be a difficult thing to share. For example, what if “the why “your customers do not buy more is they were unaware of the new products you introduced over a year ago?

 

Third, your customers have a relationship with your salesperson. It would be very difficult and uncomfortable for them to share concerns directly with the salesperson that calls on them. However your customers will share feedback if asked correctly to give them a better overall buying experience.

 

Forth, your salespeople are trained to sell. Great right? Not when it comes to understanding your buyers and how they buy. Your sales people may hear something then start selling instead of actively listening and capturing the entire thought. The quickest way to shut down a good voice of customer, voice of market conversation is to try to sell through objections the buyers shares.

 

Marketing owns the voice of the market and voice of the customer.

 

If you are like a number of companies you may not have marketing team members experienced conducting interviews. If that is the case I highly recommend you hire a 3rd party to interview your customers and markets. This is by far the best method of gathering what your buyers need and how they buy today. The outside 3rd party will interview your customers, customers you lost, and prospects you always wanted to be customers. Another approach would be to have a senior member of the leadership team conduct these interviews. As VP of sales and marketing I would often conduct this research.

 

The only companies you  should never interview are new companies who are currently at some stage of the sales process. You do not want anything to interrupt the flow of the sale through the funnel. I have seen companies inexperienced with this process call prospects they are quoting in an effort to help close the sale faster and lose the sale entirely.

 

Make sure when working with a 3rd party you are clear about the deliverables.

 

Possible market work deliverables include:

  • Present raw data
  • Map buying journey
  • Identify buyer personas
  • Prepare a summary report / Identify shifts and trends
  • Prepare a summary report and recommendations based on the raw data

 

When I conduct customer and market voice research I present a summary report and recommendations for a specific project fee based on the number of people interviewed, the time to accomplish the project, and how the customers and markets are interviewed. Some clients ask I personally meet with 2-5 of their customers so the cost is higher than a phone interview due to travel expenses.

 

I feel I need to warn you at this point: In this capturing voice process you will hear a number of great things, things that will make you proud of your team. You will probably also hear things your customers believe to be true (their perceptions) that may or many not be true. Keep in mind your customer’s perception is their reality and that is what you must use in your strategic adjustments.

 

After the market work your team will be nervous. Sales, marketing, operations and even quality will be nervous about what your customers and markets share. As the leader in the organization you must set the stage for this exercise. When I work with teams I have four meetings:

 

  • Project launch meeting with senior management team – I share what we will be doing, how we will do it, who we need to speak with and what some outcomes may be. I emphasize this is not a witch-hunt, but an opportunity to learn how to make strategic adjustments that insures we all hit our numbers. This meeting is about education and expectations

 

  • CEO/President/VP of marketing/VP of sales – In this meeting I share my summary report and some specific customer interviews with raw data and recommendations, adjustments to sales process and needed new sales tools. This meeting is about understanding opportunities not finding a throat to choke. We decide what we will share with team and in what depth.

 

  • Senior leadership team – present summary of finds and recommendations without specific customer interviews. I ask the CEO and other leaders to prioritize the action items and commit to investment if required in this meeting. This meeting is about gaining team understanding and commitment tied to outcomes and shaping a plan to meet what buyers need today.

 

  • Sales VP, Marketing VP, sales and marketing teams– present findings and design a new sales process and list new sales tools needed. Conduct 3-4 sales trainings over 6-8 months and provide coaching as needed. This first meeting is about applying the work your team has committed to do and reinforcing new behaviors. This is a great team building exercise to tear down any silos that have developed over the years. Following trainings are to reinforce new behaviors and coach team members through any difficulties they are experiencing.

 

The number and severity of the adjustments needed will depend upon the market and customer feedback as well as the senior management team’s prioritization; most teams learn a few opportunities, misperceptions of customers and make 2-5 strategic adjustments and add new sales tools. It is not unusual teams create a project roadmap with phase gates to tackle findings. You can have a senior manager lead the project internally or I have been hired to hold team members accountable to their assigned deliverables.

 

Once your team understands the voice of your market and voice of your customers you have the foundation for a strong plan to hit your sales and profit numbers.

 

Does your team understand the voice of the customer?

 

Does your team clearly understand the voice of your market (s)?

 

Who owns the voice of the customer and market in your organization?

 

When was the last time you gathered this information?

 

Are you sure your brand is in sync with your customer expectations?

 

How often do you feel you need to gather this information?

 

Market leading organizations achieve their sales and profit goals on a consistent basis.

They accomplish this by spending time understanding how buyers buy, what they need to buy, and why they don’t buy.

 

They take current market data and adjust their plans to better serve their current buyers and markets.

 

Would your team like to realize a 10X sales increase over the next 6 -8 years, and or a $38 million sales increase in 18 months like the companies I have shared recently? If so, it involves capturing the voice of your customers and voice of your markets which is a key part of the no smoke and mirrors process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Yeti Realized Sales Leadership Nailing Their Value Proposition

How Yeti Realized Sales Leadership Nailing Their Value Proposition

 

 

In my last post I shared a process to conduct a value proposition audit. The goal of this exercise is to insure the value proposition your sales team is communicating still resonates with your buyers. Once you understand how your buyers buy and key buying criteria you can shape your value proposition so it instantly connects with the buyers in your market. One company who has done an excellent job of this is Yeti.

 

 

Ryan and Roy Seiders identified a market problem they understood intimately. The coolers on the market were just not holding up for outdoor adventurers. The lids would cave in, handles would break, and latches would snap off and gave them a bad overall experience. Could Colman or Igloo or others owned this market for high-end coolers? Yes…if they were listening to problems their users were having. They both were in the market long before Yeti.

 

Like Gunner Kennels, these two brothers set out to solve a market problem. In 2006 they were on a focused and simple mission…

 

Build a cooler we’d use everyday if it existed. One that was built for the serious outdoor enthusiast rather than for the mass-discount retailers. One that could take the abuse we knew we’d put it through out in the field and on the water. One that simply would not break.”

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The more intimately you understand the problem to be solved the clearer your value proposition will be. Just as I shared how InVue has a simple yet clear value proposition, so too does Yeti.

 

What started out as a quest to make an indestructible cooler has led to other products the market needed when they searched for problems to solve. Each of these products are designed based on customer feedback.

 

“ We decided early on product innovation would come from necessity and first hand experience”

 

Once they solved the problem for outdoor enthusiasts they asked themselves who else might have similar problems and they share this …

 

We are so glad we were not the only ones looking for a Yeti. Today it is the cooler of choice for outdoor enthusiasts, pro tailgaters and back yard barbecue kings.”

 

As the company continues to solve unresolved market problems I believe they will add other buyer personas to their list. For example, my son is a police officer and he and all his other officers use Yeti to keep their coffee warm and their drinks cold.. As my son puts it…

 

“I can put some ice and a beverage in my Yeti rambler and I will have ice cubes in my drink at the end of an 8 hour shift.”

img_0023

 

I now see road construction crew members, firemen and other service professions paying a premium to solve their problems with Yeti products. Knowing Yeti you will soon be seeing other indestructible products for service professionals who work outdoors.

 

When you understand the problems to be solved the burden is on you to communicate how you solve them. Yeti does and excellent job in their point of purchase that only a market leader would do.

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So how about your company and your market…

 

What unresolved problems are your buyers facing today?

 

Are you going to build a category based on an unresolved market problem?

 

What if your competitor finds it before you do?

 

Is there any reason why you would not want to do a value proposition audit to find unresolved market problems?

 

Fix Sales Problems: Do You Understand What Your Buyers Value Most?

Fix Sales Problems: Do You Understand What Your buyers Value Most?

 

In my last post I discussed the need to quantify the value the buyer experiences to increase your sales. In a typical sale the buyer has three options; the buyer buys, the buyer buys but not from you, or they do nothing. Market leading companies make it their job to understand their buyers’ problems and what they value most. When you clearly understand the market and problems to be solved creating a value proposition that instantly resonates with buyers is easy.

What is the buyers’ cost of doing nothing?

What do your buyers value most?

Let’s say you sell products that prevent people from stealing products on display in retail stores.

Having served this market back in the late 1990’s we asked a lot of questions and what we found back then was:

  • If a product is behind the counter because the retailer is concerned with theft, sales decrease 50% to over 75%
  • If a product is out ‘LIVE’ on the retail shelf without any mechanical security device or security tag you can expect over 50% theft
  • If product is behind a counter the overall customer buying experience is poor (this costs you a sale now, and more concerning with future purchases)

But that was old school…. check out this market leader in helping large retailers increase their sales!

InVue’s value proposition is focused and clear.

Their value proposition demonstrates they know their customers, their customers’ problems, and they have solved those problems completely.

“InVue develops and markets security products that enable retailers to openly display their high theft merchandise with confidence.”

They not only control theft, they help their customers increase sales as they share below.

“Displaying high value accessories next to hot selling smart phones and tablets will increase your accessory sales over 20%.”

This is a great example of a B2B company that took the time to do their market work and understand the buyers and the problems they want solved. When I speak at conferences I often have someone challenge me; “ I understand this knowing your buyers stuff when it comes to B2C products but I don’t see how it applies to B2B” My answer is it is absolutely critical to understand your buyers, the buying process they use and the criteria they must have to make a purchase. This is the case in B2B and B2C. B2B companies who do the market work prior to launch realize greater sales increases and higher profits.

 

How about your company?

 

Are you solving buyer problems?

 

What process does your team use to identify buyer problems?

 

How is your sales performing to plan this year?

 

The reason why some companies consistently achieve and surpass their sales and profit objectives is they understand their market, buyers and buying process.

Want More Sales? Learn to Pull the Trigger


Let’s face it, the market’s completive and everyone is out to make more sales and trying to hit their sales plan. We have heard for years: a sale is about being at the right place at the right time with the perfect solution. Most salespeople work their market like a bread route hoping to fall upon, or fall into an urgent problem someone is willing to pay to solve. How do market leading teams create repeatable sales velocity each year? Why do market losers keep kicking their sales team’s in the butt and getting no where when market leaders hit plan year after year? It’s because market leading sales teams have learned how to “Pull the Trigger”.

One of the industries I served was handicapped accessible vehicles. It was a really rewarding job helping those with physical challenges drive again with a lowered floor mini van they could drive from their wheelchair or a stowage lift fitted to their current vehicle. I was tasked with growing our sales in the face of a huge dominant market 800lb gorilla that seemed to have a media and advertising budget that was limitless. Our team was forced to sell smarter since we would never have the marketing budget of our competitor who seemed to spread a blanket over all trade publications, the web, trade shows and even local TV advertising. The first thing we did was start interviewing our past customers and current customers to understand their buying process. We needed to know what made them buy, why they bought, why they chose us and so on. In doing so we identified events that cause (trigger) this market’s buyers to seek a new handicapped accessible vehicle. We found trigger events like;

  • a recent injury
  • a medical condition
  • completing rehabilitation and needing new transportation
  • caring for a parent or other loved one in a wheelchair
  • military veterans returning home with physical challenges
  • past customers who have experienced a change in their physical condition
  • tax returns, customers receiving tax returns and they waited for their tax return to be a down payment on a handicapped accessible vehicle
  • aggressive OEM automotive rebate programs
  • their current vehicle needing an expensive repair
  • their current vehicle breaking down and leaving them stranded or missing work or important medical appointment
  • their current accessible vehicle moving out of the manufacturers warrantee

There are ways to reach each of the above consumers who are experiencing what I call a trigger event however we were forced to eliminate those that required large marketing budgets. So we reviewed our interview notes and found one of the most common trigger events was buying a new vehicle just before the manufacturers warrantee expired. We also saw a high correlation of sales when the OEM manufacturer offered new car incentives like rebates or aggressive financing programs. We created a very simple letter that said we see your vehicle (based on our sales database  and service records) was about to go out of the manufacturers warrantee and shared any OEM automotive rebates or finance programs currently available. The results?… After about 90 days our quote volume tripled and after six months our averaged monthly sales revenues doubled.

Trigger based marketing and sales increases quote volume and closed sales revenues.

Triggers are nothing more than occurrences that define conditions that warrant action. Good trigger-based marketing strategies leverage these occurrences to present solutions at the right place and time. The two key factors to trigger based marketing and sales is timing and relevancy.

What are the triggers that make your buyers want to take action?

Below are some other industry examples I have experienced to help get your trigger list started.

Training Seminars – new employees joining the team, employees being promoted, large companies publicaly missing a revenue objective, merger or acquisition, competitor launching innovative product or service they should have launched

Snack foods – Super bowl, Fourth of July, back to school

Loss prevention industry – new product with high value with small shelf footprint launching, packaging change like videos moving from cassette to DVD, Compact Discs in 12” cardboard packages moving to just the CD jewel case, new store opening in high crime area, local crime reports

Consulting services – new executive, merger or acquisition, dip in quarterly earnings, high sales turnover, high executive turnover

Pension and 401k industry– sale of a business, employee buy out, April- right after business owners had to pay taxes that could have been avoids with a properly designed defined benefit and or defined contribution strategy

Mechanical equipment – plant expansion, new plant manager, new plant, and state grant awarded for job creation, landing large high profile customer, change in technology, and change in government regulations, current equipment failure, incentives for energy savings equipment

Physical fitness – consumers turning 50 years of age , mothers who just had babies

Tanning Salons – weddings and prom’s

Window cleaning – sale of a home, graduation parties, wedding announcements

Understanding your market and specifically your buyers and their buying process is key to trigger based marketing and sales. While market losers keep cold calling, hoping to fall into an opportunity your team will be targeting known buyers with a high probability of having a problem you can solve and they are urgently seeking to solve it. With technology today you can establish alerts through Google Alerts that will send you a message when a trigger event occurs.

What events trigger buyers to take action in your industry?

Is their an industry that trigger based marketing and sales would not work? Why?

Trigger based marketing and sales is not expensive and will produce measurable sales increases once you identify the leading buying triggers and refine you message and sales tools to solve those buyers problems.

A “Market Opportunity Profile” Insures Your Sales Team Hits Quota

A “Market Opportunity Profile” Insures Your Sales Team Hits Quota


By Mark Allen Roberts

How prepared are your salespeople to “hit their sales numbers“ this year?  Studies indicate as high as 70% of salespeople will fail to make sales quota this year. One leading reason is they do not adequately understand, identify, and prioritize potential sales and new opportunity accounts in their territory. One “old school” tool I provide my salespeople is a Market Opportunity Profile that takes the guess work out of sales achievement.

A Market Opportunity Profile is a living sales road map that insures your team meets and exceeds sales quota and creates sales velocity in the future.

Market leading sales organizations provide sales territory plans that include Market Opportunity Profiles.

What does a good Market Opportunity Profile include?

  • sales by current customers, ideally over the past three years segmented by product groups
  • current customer list segmented by A, B and C customers with sales history
  • identify elephants, rabbits and squirrels in each territory
  • targeted A accounts positioned for growth, with growth strategy and tactics
  • list of potential new customers in territory
  • new potentials ranked by dollar opportunity and probability of having problems your product or service solves
  • list of known market influencers (influencers your clients turn to)
  • list of new products that will be introduced , and when
  • new product sales targets by current customer
  • new product sales targets by net new customers
  • current and targeted new clients by physical location
  • sales goal by current customers
  • sales goal for net new clients
  • sales goal new products or services
  • activity profile based on known product sales cycles
  • activity profile based on new product launch(s)
  • salesperson input in each category

This sounds like a lot of work, however once you create this tool it will create a profile of the market your salesperson serves, and will build a living document to create meaningful discussions with your salespeople. Your sales by current customers /current products, current customer/ new products, new customers/current products, and new customers / new products must exceed your territory goals. You can create Market Opportunity Profiles with the help of your salespeople to make sales less of an art and more of a science.

Or…

You can take the goal given to you, divided by the number of salespeople you manage, possibly weighted by sales history, and throw it at your sales team and tell them to “make it happen” like most companies did last year and had 70% of their salespeople fail to achieve sales goals.

What does your team provide salespeople to create a roadmap to insure sales goals are met and exceeded?

Does your team provide a Market Opportunity Profile? What does it include?

What % of your sales team achieved or surpassed sales goals last year?

What % of your sales team is at 50% ( or greater) of their sales objectives mid year?

They say if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Market Opportunity Profiles create a snap shot of how to achieve and surpass sales goals based on your market knowledge when created. As your team executes their plans, you will create additional learning’s by salesperson, account and territory. Who knows, after a few years of blowing your goals away corporate may just ask what you have been doing, and once you are promoted, you can use this process to create market driven sales goals instead of boardroom extrapolated goals pushed down.

Is “Mullet Marketing” Hurting Your New Product Sales Launch?

 

“short in the front…all business in the back”

The product everyone has been so excited to launch is now in the hands of your sales team.

 

You thought this day would never come fast enough as your life has been a series of meetings, planning, possibly training and now your “birthed your baby”. However if you are like 90% of the organizations out there you are practicing “mullet marketing” and  you are missing ( falling short) of your new product launch sales goals and making that baby uglier by the day.

 

Why do new products fail to hit sales goals so often? The answer is often “Mullet Marketing”.

 

I was flipping channels the other day and a comedy was on from the 1980’s and the main character had a mullet haircut. As the character explained his hair cut was; short in the front and long ( all business) in the back…and it struck me how this is how most companies launch their new products.

 

Teams build a new product and or service and they rush to market so as not to miss a perceived window of opportunity. They feel their idea is so brilliant that how could it not be a huge profitable hit? They leap from idea to tactics. ( no strategy because they have not done the market work)

 

Then reality hits and the Silo’s form as everyone spend time and energy trying to cover their tails….

 

Product Management

“We talked to our key accounts and they said it would be a hit…must be a sales execution problem

 

Marketing

“ we hit our timeline on the web content, ads, and brochures and coffee mugs… must be a product design issue…”

 

Engineering and Design 

“ you’re lucky to launch anything given the terrible product requirements we received, luckily since marketing and product management dropped the ball we designed something even better than what they were asking for…”

 

CFO

“ we conservatively invested $xxxxxxxx expecting a strong ROI and we are not hitting anywhere close to the numbers we were given and I’m looking for a throat to choke

 

CEO

“ we are having a tough enough year as it is, we were counting on this new products revenue, don’t tell me why you can’t hit your numbers…”just make it happen!”

 

 

So what happened? You thought your new mouse trap was going to take the market by storm.

In the majority of cases it is the result of; Mullet Marketing; a short amount of effort before launch then all hands on deck after launch to figure it out and drive revenues. Teams that practice Mullet Marketing often measure each silo’s specific goals without a cross functional goal that defines a win for the team.

 

Market leaders understand the importance of marketing and product management prior to product design and definitely prior to launch. Market leaders spend time with customers, as well as non customers to understand the market. They clearly identified the market problem, the product requirements, buyer personas, buyer criteria and buying process.

 

Market losers believe they can “baffle the market with their brilliance” and we often hear this product is so smart …”even a monkey could sell it.” They spend very little time in the market doing their research and as a result spend a great deal of time and energy ( and more $’s)  trying to drive revenue after launch.

 

So what kind of marketing is your organization practicing?

 

Just as a mullet hair cut stands out in our society today, companies practicing “mullet marketing” stand out as market losers in the markets they serve.

 

Have you ever seen mullet marketing work?

 

Who in your organization is held accountable to “figuring it out” and or “making it happen”?…after a mullet marketing product launch?

 

Have you been in a meeting of the silo’s…how did that turn out?

 

Market leaders understand the importance of spending the most time and energy prior to launch to enable and empower their sales teams to win new product sales.

 

“Clean Sales Management” …the Secret to Profitable Sales Growth

 

 

As the leader of your sales team are you able to quickly identify market shifts, buying process changes, and the needs for new products and or services? Or do you, like 90% of the sales leaders out there seem to be playing catch up, always chasing what you should have done? “Clean Sales Management “is a practice, a methodology, which entails gathering market information in the market, belly to belly, if you will, with buyers. When you practice clean sales management you will find your sales team seems always ahead of your competitors in sales, new products, as well as overall customer satisfaction.

Like a number of us I set out in 2011 to become healthier. I drifted from my workout plan and I found myself being less intentional about what I was consuming to fuel over the last three months. I found a number of articles on “eating clean” . The basic premise of eating clean is to consume less processed foods and intentionally set out to eat foods that are closest to their raw natural state. For example, we should consume raw broccoli and carrots instead of popping open a can and quickly microwaving this canned, processed, solution. It’s about staying away from consuming junk food.

As I thought about eating clean it reminded me of how I have found the most success in leading sales and marketing teams when I was out in the market, intentionally consuming feedback from buyers directly with my teams. When I would struggle in my sales and marketing leadership is when I was so focused on forecasting and CRM system stage reports that I failed to have an intimate understanding of what was going on in the lives of my markets and the problems of our buyers. Sure, my sales teams participated in weekly conference calls provided weekly call reports, and one on one calls with my team members, however I see now those communications were processed.

Developing sales plans based on phone conversations with your salespeople is “sales management junk food.”

I heard it once “salespeople are like water and they will take the path of least resistance to a sale” and what I have experienced is they strive for quick fixes and shortcuts, often band aides to cure gapping wounds in the repeatable sales process.

When you practice clean sales management you;

  • Are in the market more than behind your desk
  • observe your salespeople in action, with buyers
  • know why buyers buy from you…and why they don’t
  • compare sales report data to what you observe at the source ( raw and unprocessed)
  • stop looking for a salespersons “Ass to kick” and focus on solving problems
  • identify the injuries to your repeatable sales process as the shifts occur and adjust so they do not become gapping wounds
  • become stronger at conducting business triage
  • find your leadership is stronger due to your direction being driven close to the source
  • meet and exceed your sales goals
  • meet and exceed new product sales goals
  • poor performers are eliminated from your team quicker
  • buyers trust your overall organization more
  • sales are more profitable
  • gather sales representative data points and build sales tools that address trends as apposed to chasing each salesperson’s perceived needs based on the last buyer they spoke with

 

So how about your organizations…are you ready to practice Clean Sales Management?

 

How often are your sales leaders in the market working with their teams in front of buyers?

 

Do you and or your sales leaders feel chained to your desk at corporate analyzing CRM updates and creating forecasts no one ever hits?

 

Do your competitors keep beating you to the sale with new products and or services?

 

Do you believe your sales team provides “raw” feedback or “processed “information based on what they think you want to hear?

One resolution I ask each sales leader to practice is to intentionally set out to work in your markets, belly to belly with buyers to insure you practice clean sales management.

Miracle on 34th Street and The Golden Rule Of Sales


Miracle on 34th Street and Lessons in Serving (not Selling) your Customers

It’s the holiday season and my family and I are watching our favorite movies on television; Home Alone, A Christmas Carol, A Wonderful Life, Christmas Vacation, and the classic…Miracle on 34th street. A clip ( the one above) caught my attention as a sales lesson we can all learn from this movie that was released in 1947.

The Golden Rule, applied to managing people, helping buyer’s solve their problems, will never let you down.

Does your sales team set out to passionately solve your customer’s problems or just hit their numbers …selling what’s in their bag?

If it’s the later, you may want to watch A Miracle on 34th Street at your next sales meeting. It’s often not about doing one big thing, but an overall culture of doing many little things , very well.

Golden Rule of Selling :Serve your customers….Don’t Sell Them.

Merry Christmas!