Top 5 Strategies for Growing Your Business…Ca-ching!
More and more organizations are realizing that there’s a tremendous cost associated with losing a sales opportunity. It’s not only financial. It can also erode the confidence of your executive team, your sales professionals, and your organization as a whole. It signals that maybe your organization is not as well positioned to grow and capture new business as you thought.
So what’s the solution if you want to increase your win ratio? Be a thought leader and create a cohesive, well thought out sales management process that will position your company to win new business and crush the competition. Why should this be a priority in your organization?
If you’re doing well, you need a process and strategy that will make it easier for you to successfully manage your explosive growth and expansion. If you are losing business, it’s time to put in place a capture strategy that will help you beat the competition. Because you can bet your sweet sales quota that when you’re getting beat up in the marketplace … the competition is using a competitive strategy to beat you every time!
Remember. Nothing improves without change.
So what do successful companies from billion dollar blue chips to fledgling start-ups have in common in this regard? They’ve taken the time to create a strategic approach to selling that will differentiate them from the competition. Let’s take a look at how to grow your business and gain more market share by using this kind of strategic and innovative thinking.
Engage In Thought Leadership
Executives need to be even more effective when leading from the top in order to get the result they want in the field. Sales professionals need to have the confidence that they’re positioning the product or service in a manner that’s aligned with the corporate vision, and that they have the full support of the senior management team. This goes far beyond simply motivating the sales force.
Business owners and members of the executive team should demonstrate thought leadership. More than ever they need to effectively engage and collaborate on sale strategies specific to each customer. Using a disciplined and consistent approach to managing sales opportunities makes this role that much easier.
Successfully managing your business growth involves the adoption of a step by step approach to sales management. Facilitating collaboration, and coordinating sales activities, is essential to your success. Quickly and effectively tailoring an offering to the needs of a specific customer will put you at a competitive advantage every time. This requires the flawless execution of a strategic sales process.
A study quoted in the Harvard Business Review in 2012 found that “CEOs who put sales management at the heart of their agenda have captured astonishing growth – outstripping their peers by 50 to 80 per cent in terms of revenue and profitability.”
Sell Value to Your Customers
Relying on the old adage that says “it’s not what you know, but who you know” is a strategy that’s destined for failure. It’s over! That ship sailed yesterday.
Customers are much more savvy and “plugged in” these days. For example, with the advent of the web they can very quickly and easily assess how your proposal stacks up against the competition. They feel empowered to challenge and have a healthy dose of skepticism. And, if it’s a government contract you’re going after, there’s invariably a bid review committee involved.
I’ve witnessed too many examples of organizations losing millions of dollars’ worth of business by relying too much on relationship selling. As one CEO commented to me about a seasoned salesperson’s reliance on this method … “He thinks he can just wine and dine customers, put the contract on the table at the end of the night, and ask them to sign on the bottom line; doesn’t work that way anymore.”
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that cultivating a positive relationship with a prospect or client isn’t an important consideration. However, with ever tightening budgets and scrutiny over spending, the business value of what you are proposing just has to be front and center.
Fill the Gap with Your Strengths
Where’s the customer at? Where do they want to be? How can your company get them there? The answer to these absolutely fundamental questions will help you create a focused, tailored pursuit strategy that will meet the needs of each specific prospect. This strategy will position your company to win by identifying the mission-critical customer needs (the gap), and identifying how what you offer can help them cross the gap. A fancy name for this is “gap analysis.”
Don’t assume that the prospect has all of this figured out. Quite often you’ll have a chance to share some insights that will demonstrate to the customer that you really do understand what their unique needs are (their needs are always unique in their eyes). These insights can be centred on your company’s strengths … and ultimately give you the edge over your competition.
What are your organization’s core strengths? Take the time to think this question through as part of the development of your sales management strategy. Use the collective wisdom of folks from cross-functional areas of your company to provide valued input and ideas. Filter these ideas down to the favoured few, carefully articulate them, and capture them for future reference. Then, “cherry pick” these strengths and create a customized pursuit strategy for each and every sales opportunity. This will ensure that your organization is showcasing and articulating your key strengths in a manner that will resonate with your prospect.
Sell Solutions… Not Commodities
You probably have core offerings that most folks in your organization view as commodities. For example, depending on the nature of your business, it could be a software app, some manufactured products, or healthcare related items. One of the keys to strategically “positioning to win” sales opportunities is to revamp your view of these commodities, and articulate them in the context of “solutions” that will satisfy the needs of your customers. This is how you can effectively differentiate yourself from the competition. Positioning your offering as a solution will many times provide you with the vital strategy you need to simply crush the competition.
Brief case study:
I was fortunate enough to lead a sales effort that sold a worldwide Client Relationship Management (CRM) solution to Chrysler executives at their global headquarters just outside of Detroit. How did we win the deal?
When I first met with the senior executive responsible for the initiative he expressed some frustration. All the invited vendors were simply providing him with what he called a “bake off” list. When I asked him what he meant he told me that he had some heavy hitters (IBM; Oracle, Microsoft etc.) who provided him with checklists of CRM technical features that their “solution” would provide. His technical people were doing a comparative analysis. This bake off was clearly annoying to him. I left our technical spec sheet inside my laptop case!
Probing some more I uncovered what he was really interested in. He needed to figure out how Chrysler was going to roll-out the CRM technical solution around the world. He wasn’t looking for a technical solution. He was looking for a replication strategy. Bingo!
Within four weeks we had secured the contract. How? We focused on providing him with a roll-out methodology and put this front and center in our presentation and proposal. We relegated the enabling technology to a secondary position. We sold a solution … not a commodity. That’s the strategy we used to differentiate ourselves. You can too.
Identify Your “Win Theme”
It’s amazing how many proposals and sales opportunity presentations are simply boilerplate versions of the same, tired old ideas. There’s little if any effort or thought put into customizing the content to the needs of the customer.
What’s the key message that you need to communicate and convey that will help your company stand out from the competition? What win theme will reflect the answer to the crucial, compelling event expressed by the customer? The answers to these questions will give you the context and overarching framework needed to help you craft a winning proposal. It will, once again, be a strategy you can use to can stand out from the crowd. A win theme is the string that ties it all together.
This is not fluff!
A win theme is something that has to be well thought out by someone at a senior level who’s able to lift his or her head high above the proverbial weeds. They need to think smart, and identify how to best align their company’s offering with the needs of the customer. This is in effect a customized value proposition for each and every opportunity. It should result in a tailored, compelling message that will resonate with folks from across a customer’s organization, and up and down their chain of command.
Positioning to win is about innovative and strategic thinking. It’s about thought leadership. It’s not something that a technical team or finance team can be tasked with. Nor is it something that the Sales and Marketing VP’s should do in solitary confinement! It has to be a collaborative effort from all the key players who lead an organization.
Cutting your losses, increasing your win ratio, and maximizing your opportunities for success are increasingly critical in today’s economy. If you aren’t 100 per cent focused on winning your share of the business you go after, someone else will steal it from you.
It’s time to outmaneuver and outwit your competition and put your company at an unfair advantage. Think strategic. Game on!
By John Spencer
John Spencer is an entrepreneur and management consultant offering a unique, cloud-based approach to strategic selling. His website can be found at www.strategicpursuit.com. His most recent corporate position was as Executive Director with Oracle Canada, responsible for creating sales strategies that would position them to grow their business on a national level.