As I have been outselling sales and marketing services over the decades, it is a question I have heard both directly from potential customers and indirectly from members of my sales team. It is a good question and there is not a simple answer – but here goes!!
Firstly, knowing all your customers is a good thing! In fact, I’d be very surprised if you didn’t know your customers – your sales team would need sacking if you didn’t! Direct selling is one of the easiest ways in B2B that will expand your business. You write down a list of potential customers based on who you think should be your customer and you knock on their doors, get meetings, and learn about their needs and match with your products/solutions. We do it ourselves, it is how I started my business. Yes, done well, it works – particularly with “low hanging fruit” opportunities.
But here is the problem. We are all trying to grow our businesses. You either grow, or shrink. Most of us prefer to grow – that is what business is all about. Once you’ve started to serve well the low hanging fruit, i.e. the customers that can quickly see value in what you do versus the competition – it starts to get harder. Whilst your business is looking after its customers, you start to hire more sales people to replicate that success. And whilst that is happening the people within your customer base are changing.
You may know all your customers (again well done for that!) but as you get bigger you will find that they all don’t know you. Your products and services will evolve, they will need constant education to keep up. They will know a lot less about your business than you think they do. A new person into that business will literally know nothing about you, all they may see is an invoice or a line in a budget spreadsheet.
And the sales people you hire, they will know what they learn from you. But they won’t have all the knowledge of the founders or experienced sales people. Unless they come from selling in the same area and are vastly experienced in that – they will need education. And even if they are, things are changing rapidly in your business. They need to keep up.
So, to evolve you need to look after the educational needs of your existing and potential customers and your growing sales team. Otherwise, your business will not be able to exploit the opportunities made available to them. You invest lots of money in factories, developing advanced products, and hiring sales people. You need to make sure that everyone is educated about what is going on, usually by investing a very small percentage of turnover back in.
Time and time again have we seen a company make a new product, but failing to educate people both internally and externally about it – losing the opportunity of what was a great idea, and what should have been a good investment.
Again, as you get bigger and want to get on in an ever more crowded market place the communication of who you are and what you do needs to be clear. What does your company stand for? What is its unique selling point? What is your story? Does your web site tell the same story as your sales people do? Are we building a consistent image in your customers’ heads about who you are and why they should do business with you? Do your sales people really understand that as well?
There is no magic wand to make all this happen. But marketing now becomes import to help you understand what your company is and why others should do business with it. It helps educate the sales team to tell a consistent story about your value proposition. It helps the customers understand why they should do business with you and what is different about your offering.
Sales and marketing tools become vital resources to make tangible what you are doing. Good materials help sell your company when the sales person is not there. Many purchase decisions are made internally in the customer when the sales person is not there, and all the customer has is what the sales person has left behind. The clearer it is the faster a sale will be, allowing your sales teams to handle more sales.
As you develop your marketing materials, you also get to the heart of positioning your business and making it stand out. Even supposedly commodity businesses can use marketing and positioning to find unique angles to make them more compelling. Marketing is the creative touch to maximize the potential results from the spaces you play in.
Our company Webpac (www.webpac.com) provides marketing channels (www.webpackaging.com), and marketing consultancy to help businesses maximize who they are. We also have a complete solution for empowering the sales team with the sales tools they need to help them be prepared to win the sale (www.isalestoolkit.com). We do 3D magic to bring products to life (www.packstudio3d.com).
Webpac is helping small start-ups and billion-dollar corporations alike get results.
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