This is the first installment in a four-part series on how marketing can power your sales engine. In this first post, we’ll discuss how certain B2b businesses were able to thrive during tough times by avoiding quick-fix gimmicks. In the next post, we’ll cover what exactly successful companies do to thrive during times of chaos. Then, we’ll cover staying relevant and creating awareness through consistent engagement. In our final installment, we’ll explain how to actively engage your clients and prospects to increase sales!
Owning or running a B2b business is complex. We have to optimize processes and systems like accounting and HR, inventory and distribution, marketing, and sales to sustain and grow business.
The Good News
Business success is relatively easy… Simply sell more than you spend and you make a profit. The main thing that stands in the way of achieving and building upon that success is people.
To actively improve sales, you need to manage the people who sell your products. Their goal is to convince a client or prospect (who you can’t manage) to actually engage with them in a human-to-human relationship (H2H.) They are hoping the prospect or client will get to know, like, and trust them enough to buy from your company. Sales teams are generally a mix of people with different backgrounds, strengths, motivations, personalities, and that’s just the beginning.
Your salespeople have to deal with a set of diverse personalities, motivations, and needs (clients, past clients, and prospects.) Each of which is at a different point along the buyer’s journey (from lead, to prospect, to consideration, to making a buying decision.)
Success happens when you take control of what you can, to achieve your desired results.
Aligning all your salespeople into a cohesive system is a challenge. Only about 22% of salespeople will actively manage data with an ERP or CRM (Forbes.com), leaving them to engage with each client in their own unique style (and different contexts.)
All the training in the world, will not assure that your salespeople will deliver your messages to the right customer at the right time (which aligns with where buyers are in their journey.)
What if I told you that you already have in your possession, the fuel that will build and enhance relationships between your salespeople and your clients? That will ultimately grow your business.
The Search For The Easy Button
Business, on any given day, can be a challenge. Over the last few years we have all faced unprecedented challenges. We’ve all been rocked by things out of our control, like a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, remote work, supply chain shortages, and more. Then, take into account that our customers probably faced those same issues as well, and we all had a recipe for disaster looking back at us.
People were scrambling to adjust to some very new ways of working. Some watched while sales, staff, and even companies they worked with disappeared. We all had to take a step back, take a deep breath, and evaluate the past, present, and future of our businesses.
In the haste to control the situation, some turned to gimmicks in search of a quick fix, only to watch their situation go from bad to worse.
The Leaky Bucket
What worked before was quickly replaced by a new normal (whatever that is?) Everyone was jumping on zoom to try to maintain and build new relationships. It had its advantages (convenience) and disadvantages (add a dog, or kids doing homework, along with technology issues.) The novelty quickly wore off. Staring into our computers, we all became Zoom-bies (burnt out and less engaged.)
We watched as some businesses struggled (and even closed up shop) while others prospered like never before. Why?
Those who struggled did not have the systems in place to deal with a quickly evolving marketplace. Then, factor in that it was not an optimum time to invoke or implement change. Many of them tried everything to bail the water out of their sinking ship using a leaky bucket. They said to themselves…
“What we need… is MORE leads”.
Leads vs. Prospects
Leads are a myth. A lead is anyone with a budget who could potentially use your product or service. Whether they WOULD use YOU is a whole different story.
Communicating with a lead is nothing more than a cold call.
During normal times, we are lucky to get 10% of cold leads to ever pick up a phone, open an email, or respond to a message After all that effort, only 1-2% of THOSE who engaged with us would potentially buy something. It has always been a numbers game.
Then, factor in working from home, people changing companies, and just the sheer volume of people trying to do the same thing, and it’s clear why this was not a winning strategy.
Have you seen an uptick in people cold calling you?
Prospects, on the other hand, should be the real target. The companies that thrived through the chaos have been actively nurturing them all along. Prospects are those who are aware of your business and are already engaged in a sales journey (from lead, to prospect, to consideration, to buying decision.)
In order to nurture prospects, it takes H2H interaction. You cannot automate or outsource every part of that process. Yet, amid all the confusion and despair, people were looking for that elusive quick-fix.
Cue The Gimmicks
Some marketing and sales gurus were preying on fear by promoting that they had secret access to the EASY Button which will generate more sales.
They convinced people that their tactic could solve their problem. Their answer was to reach a bigger audience through emails, social media, video, SEO (search engine optimization), or even a new CRM or ERP with integrated marketing.
This is called B.S.O.S. (Bright Shiny Object Syndrome.)
Some companies even turned to advertising. Google and Facebook can and will drive traffic to your website, but if you are in a B2b business, it simply won’t attract the RIGHT buyers (HINT: that is not where your audience is hanging out.)
MORE TRAFFIC does not
necessarily lead to MORE SALES
Companies were hoping that their bright shiny object would entrance leads to only pay attention to their business. Then, needy customers would beg, and pay anything for YOU to solve THEIR problems. Alas… it was just another myth.
Don’t you wish it was that simple?
All of those gimmicks simply did not live up to the hype.
More noise did not equate to more sales. Noise may create attention, but that is not a system. A buyer’s journey can take months to years, and it takes multiple touches to nurture relationships by creating awareness, inspiring them to learn more, and finally convincing them that you offer them the right solution, at the exact time where they are ready to make their buying decision.
The bottom line is… In order for clients and prospects to choose you, it will take time, conversations, and building trust!
What did the successful businesses do
differently to prosper during those challenges?
In the next blog post in this series, we will look at what the successful companies did to not only survive but THRIVE through the chaos!
I would love to hear your thoughts on what you can do to secure business success. Are you overly focused on quick fixes and gimmicks? Comment below and share your thoughts, ideas, or questions about thriving in times of chaos.