Customer Intimacy: Competitive Advantage | Financial Gain

Alignment: Strategy - Architecture - Management

Most companies are doing all the right things, the stuff that used to work well in the world that existed then. Yet the world is dynamic and quick continuous change is the norm.

Keeping things aligned and in constant preparation is your best defence in a dynamic world.
Resistance is Futile.
Borg expression
Point solutions tend to have little effect on business success. Similar to home or car maintenance. you fix one thing, and the thing next to the fixed thing breaks down.

Like a grand piano, Revenue Generation is a system that must be kept in tune and balance to be successful.
Have you ever felt like your revenue engine was out of synch? That different parts were creating more friction and heat than power and production? There are many sources of friction and misalignment that can impede progress. Some are obvious, many subtle and insidious.

Often your people and departments are doing all the right things, yet not in the right order, or with the wrong expectations and metrics. Sequencing, timing, prioritization, resourcing, and focus are all part of the equation.

Metrics and Management don’t seem to matter much when everyone is buying, yet now that its a buyers market, execution is a problem.
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A Question of Balance

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Some questions you need to ask:
  • Are you selling what the prospect is buying?
  • Does your marketing look like happy faced consumer B2C advertising?
  • Has your category matured and narrowed drastically?
  • Are sales cycles growing in length by double digit percentages?
  • Do your sales people face increasing discounting pressure?
  • Did you used to be one of many, but now are one of many suppliers?
  • Is good enough chipping away at your market share?
  • Have your offerings become technically obsolete, yet you know a market still exists?

There are many symptoms and real problems that sales training, on line lead generation, new sales enablement tools, or a shiny new web site alone won’t solve.
If you have none of these issues, you’re to be envied. If you do, or are starting to feel like the gap between expectations and performance is offside, we might be able to help.

Strategic Alignment

  • Sales & Marketing Alignment
    Perfect alignment - would’t that be nice!

    The reality is more often than not problematic, fraught with friction and frustration. We’ve written on the topic in our blog, yet more importantly are offering onsite seminars and consultation to address and alleviate the problems.
    Common areas of breakdown are in the handoff of a Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) for Qualification (SQL) and acceptance (SAL - Sales Accepted Lead). Sales and marketing are frequently not on the same page and do not agree on what is a sales ready lead.

    Things quickly go downhill from there.

    Key Thought:

    Marketing Executives tend to do a great job of inbound marketing and lead generation, yet are increasingly held accountable for revenue generation.

    After all, what’s the value of a ‘lead’ that won’t convert to $revenue?

    A new model exists to link Marketing and Sales, and serve the interests of both worlds. The ultimate winner is the customer with better service with less friction.

    One approach is to tweak the engagement model by adding Sales Development, then support it with relevant technology (not CRM).
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  • Value
    Value is what the buyer perceives they go when the deal is done, the offering consumed. and results evaluated.

    Value is whatever “they” say it is!

    Unfortunately too many companies sell value propositions and focus on their intentionality, not the actual results.

    Value has many dimensions, starts at a high level, and is customer specific.Value is heavily influenced by Segmentation.

    In study after study, Sales and Marketing are NOT on the same page when it comes to communicating about value.

    MisAlignment creates interdepartmental friction, loss of productivity, and worse realists in diluted messaging that confuses the customer.

    Key Thought:

    You believe your organization knows what value it creates for your customers. That belief is generally based on a series of assumptions, never tested, never proven, no evidence to support that belief.

    Some executives prefer certainty over speculation.

    Have you ever conducted a simple value audit to determine the real state of play?
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  • B2B Segmentation
    B2B Segmentation is more complex, more nuanced, more niched than ever before. The elements of segmentation go way beyond simple demographics of age, gender, education, and so on. Combining Customer, Offering, and Channel uniquely segments for executing goto market planning and execution.

    Segments that are ‘fuzzy’ are too broad, and end up with messages for everyone that attract no one. One size does not fit all.

    Buyer preferences vary by offering, vertical, category maturity, channel, decision risk, value needed, competitive pressure and more. For every change in Customer, Offering, or Channel you have a new segment with a unique set of attributes to address.

    Key Thought:

    Do you match your Marketing and Sales Process to each join unique B2B Segment? How would identifying the unique qualities of each combination change and improve outcomes for your company?
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  • Buyer 2.0 Personas
    The era of sellers being the sole source of basic information on solutions to business problems has been over for a long time.

    Sellers have known this for quite a while. Most buyers know this, and believe it to be true.

    Buyer 2,0 Persona development is a cornerstone in the design and delvers of policy, process, and performance.

    If your running your business on a buyer model from the 90s, it might be time for a tuneup.

    Key Thought:

    In what way do you align your Marketing and Sales to the Buyer Persona? Is it one size fits all or dynamic and adjusting?

    Marketing messages need function at the aggregate level, an average of typical buyers in a segment.

    Yet customers form a market of 1 in most cases. And each prospective customer has unique qualities, problems, and decision making regime. Each company faces unique risks and competitive threats, situation specific challenges and opportunities, is more or less aware of problems, and of potential solutions.

    In sales situations, aggregate marketing messages breakdown, customers are not averages and probable use cases.

    How well does your company interact and collaborate at the level of the buyer? How do you know?
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  • Buyer 2.0 Journey
    Let’s not make any more difficult than it already is for the buyer.
    Many buyers are not all that good at buying stuff they’ve never bought before. By the time they get to you, they are already on the 2nd step of what is typically a 4 phase process.

    The Internet “urban legend” of 60 - 70% complete is largely meaningless. The important point is that your engagement process allow for the challenges and pitfalls in most change processes. If a prospect contact you, they are contemplating change yet may to be committed to an change.

    The term Buyer Journey makes one think of Columbus or Lewis & Clarke, not a preferred phrase.

    Yet it does describe the fact that in order to buy, the prospect has to buy-in to you, your offerings, your company, and the value they expect to receive. Every decision to buy, is a decision to change, and change for many is risky, painful, and very emotional.

    Key Thought:

    Buyer’s in general are not all that good at buying stuff they’ve never bought before, so they averaged down in so many ways. The preferred process is the RFP or competitive bakeoff, which drives vendors to the bottom. In the absence of a time relevant compelling reason to change, the risk of change means the status quo will prevail.

    What is it exactly about your marketing AND sales process that builds value, trust, and enough confidence for the prospect to buy?

    Note: Superior product and technology is not process.
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  • Engagement Model

    Engagement Model

    At a very high level your sales model is essentially Find, Get, Keep.

    Of course that’s easier said than done, which is why I’m saying it.

    Fancier language might sound like Conversion, Penetration, and Retention, or describe it as Customer Acquisition, UpSelling/Cross Selling, and Customer Loyalty.

    All great terms for Find, Get, Keep.

    Find is mostly a marketing function, yet contains the intersection of Marketing and Sales.

    In many companies its an unmanaged intersection, has many accidents, creates tension, and produces more than a few casualties.

    Sales Process

    Once leads are qualified by Sales Development, and handed off to Sales for pursuit and closure, the next level of fun begins.

    There are many different sales processes applicable to different situations.
    Our preference are for process that is:
    • buyer focused
    • value driven
    • structured with stages & steps
    • decision oriented
    • heavy on qualification
    • productive
    • software supportable
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    Reality in B2B!
    Marty Tascona
  • Roles & Talent

    Roles

    The era of Inbound Marketing has led to greater specialization in the customer engagement model. People have become information obsessed, while at the same time highly risk averse. Longer sales cycles are the norm, placing a premium on incubation and qualification.
    In the old days, it was all about the close. Today its all about keeping prospects informed and engaged while they sort things out. You’ve got to be in it, to win it!

    Sales Development Representatives are the new link between Marketing and Sales.

    Talent

    With role changes the need to realign the talent pool becomes necessary.

    Talent requirements need be adjusted for:
    • category maturity
    • stage of business cycle
    • risk in the purchase decision
    • complexity of the sales cycle
    • knowledge requirements

    Key Thought:

    Too many companies hire to the “DO” standard in that they define roles and hire talent that can do the job.

    Use Goals and Achievement drivers to build a culture and company that will Excel at Achieving for your customers.

    Aspirational goals give people something to live up to - help them become something they want to be.
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  • Stage of Business Cycle
    The business cycle tends to follow 4 discrete phases naturally beginning with startup, followed by rapid growth, then decline, followed by a profitable focus of the company into a very mature market.

    Each stage drives strategy, talent selection, sales messaging, process, productivity goals, and management options.
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  • Productivity and Performance Alignment

    Productivity

    The use of dashboards and KPIs has risen dramatically over the past few years. Qualify varies dramatically from system to system. An excellent approach will vary between Lagging & Leading Indicators, while assessing the Quality of what happened in relation to Forecasts for achievement.

    Well run companies have systems that measure Revenue, Cost, and Profits against set targets, AND agains specific target segments, offerings, and delivery modes.

    Performance

    Performance in poorly run companies tends to follow the cash drawer model. Meaning if there’s enough cash in the drawer, they’re doing pretty good. Either make the revenue number or checkout.

    Systems like these founder in difficult market times having not established productivity targets against which to measure performance.

    Performance in sales is generally tied to compensation and motivation.

    Weak productivity measures negatively impacts performance, motivation, and morale.

    Key Thought:

    You get the behaviour you incent.

    The carrots and sticks model of incentives must link the interests of the individual with the interests of the organization.

    When its all about the company, and all failure is punishable, most of the salesforce will quit, yet stay on your payroll.

    And that’s expensive.
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  • Coverage Model
    The Coverage Model reflects the range of Channel Choices you’ve made, or must make about how your company will bring their offerings to market.

    Most companies underestimate the challenge of full market coverage, and tend to be too narrow in their channel choices.

    Profits vs Reach tends to be the central conflict, with Speed vs Control forming the secondary argument.

    As a result of poorly conceived channel strategies, many excellent offerings are lapped in the market, and have market share capped early on and quite easily by companies more aggressive and considered in their channel choices.

    Key Thought:

    Speed is more important than perfection. General Patton in WWII was the most feared US General because he knew he could use speed to invade and overtake the enemy with a well prepared fighting force.

    If military analogs leave you cold, give “Eating the Big Fish” a read, an excellent book by Adam Morgan.

    The underlying credo is that “Its not that the big eat the small, its that the Fast eat the Slow”.

    Words to live by.
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  • Resource Allocation
    Resource Allocation is driven by things like market size, coverage design, buyer preferences, the buyer’s journey and more.

    Most people underestimate and under resource their sales force size, budgets, pre-sales and post sales people. It is very rare that too many people are hired.

    Key Thought:

    Correlating resources to performance expectations is only possible with some understanding of market size.

    Market Research is pretty darn useful for this information. Business goals made in the absence of market size info tend to be wishful thinking.

    In high demand high growth markets, not knowing might work for a while. From a strategy and value creation perspective, not knowing is flying blind. It will eventually crash the ship.

    Market Sizing supports the notion of Yield, Performance against Potential, and serves everyone’s interests.
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Value, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder.
Anonymous