Anyone who hires a new business development manager is serious about sales results. No company hires a sales professional just to tick boxes or fill desk space. You don’t need another friend around the water-cooler (although it’s always good if you like the folks you’re working with!) You’ve made a hiring decision because you want to see some serious sales change.
Whether you’re starting a new business development campaign, or furthering your customer retention/account growth, don’t forget to start with a sales and marketing strategy. Good sales strategy is informed by what’s happening in the marketplace, to ensure that your sales are progressing in the right direction.
You need market intelligence.
The excellent news is that there has never been a better time to be in sales and to gather market intelligence. The internet is literally a goldmine of information, if you know how to search. You’ll be amazed at what you can discover.
Some companies miss the importance of what an informed sales and marketing strategy can deliver to their sales results – ‘Just go out and get me some sales!’ Sure, you can tell your sales people to head out into the wilderness armed with paper darts. If they’re any good, they’ll probably bring in some sales. However, it won’t be anywhere near as good as if you took the time to invest in a strategic understanding of what you’re trying to achieve.
As a business development agency, we get this a lot. All clients are on a budget, and just want some sales results as soon as possible. To deliver the full value that you deserve from your sales campaign, your sales people need to have a strategic understanding of the landscape that you’re asking them to walk into.
To help you get started, here are 10 vital items of market intelligence you need to know before starting your sales campaign:
One – Who you are
If you don’t know who you are, what you stand for, what you do well, where you fit into the market – it’s going to be very hard to differentiate yourself from all the other offerings out there.
Sometimes it can be hard to see the wood for the trees. Get some outside perspective to help tell your story if you’re wondering how to articulate who you are.
Two – Who are the ideal customers that you want a lot more of?
Do you have detailed customer personas for your ideal customer/s?
Do you know where they are, what they do, how many staff they have?
You can drill right down into their type of day, what they eat for breakfast, what they think, what they dream about. The key thing is – know who you’re looking for when you’re looking for customers.
Three – What ‘hair on fire problems’ do you solve for your customers?
‘Hair on fire’ problems are super-urgent issues that your customer just can’t wait to sort. They are a screaming priority over anything else that’s happening, eclipsing any other issues.
Understanding your customers’ pain points and then creating solutions to their urgent problems is the surest way to grow your sales – by helping them put out the urgent fires!
Four – What features and benefits do customers value the most?
If you know what parts of your offering customers value the most, you’ll have incredible insight when you’re making decisions about product, pricing, distribution, investment and sales – both now and in the future.
Get some customer feedback to discover what your customers love about what you do. You may just be surprised!
Five – How long has it been since your business analysed the competition?
Naturally, you want to spend most of your time studying your customers. This is where you’ll get your insight on what you should be doing to help them and grow your sales.
How long is it since you looked at the competition? Even if you’re the best in your market, it pays to lift your head up occasionally to see what’s happening in your industry. If it’s been more than six months, there could have been a lot of change. In some industries, three months could be more appropriate.
Check how old your market intelligence is before you go relying on it too much. If it’s too out of date, time to have another scan around and check if your intel is still correct.
Six – How aligned are your business offerings to meet market demand?
Once you know who you are, you need to know what the market wants.
If your offering is a match for the market’s demand – you’re on to a winner!
Is anyone else in your industry meeting market demand better than you? Can you discover how they are different? Once you know this information, you can make decisions on how you might position yourself when you’re talking with customers.
Seven – What competitor products/services are currently the most successful and why?
Understanding this could give you enough insight to launch a whole new range of products and services! Checking social media is a great way to get an understanding of what features in your industry are helping your customers to solve their problems right now.
Eight – Is your price right?
Is your price right for solving your customers’ problems? There’s a famous saying from Warren Buffet that ‘Price is what you pay, value is what you get’.
Even if your price is high, is it as high as the problem the customer will be left with if they don’t buy from you? Knowing how much it’s worth to your customer to solve their urgent ‘hair on fire’ problems is key to getting the price right.
Nine – How do you compare online?
Yes – social selling. Before your customer makes a buying decision, it’s a sure thing that they will check you out online. Make sure your company’s marketing and communications are supporting your sales efforts. Your messaging should be aligned across all your channels, in any pdfs, brochures, social media posts.
Customers check social media to validate that you really are who you say you are, and that you really can do what you’ve said you can do. So, make sure your online assets are all singing from the same song-sheet and you’ll create a veritable symphony of sales messaging.
Ten – How does your after-sales strategy support customer success?
How are you looking after your customers once they purchased? Do you continue to relate to them, or are they simply relegated to an automated messaging system?
Even if you are using an automated email sequence to keep in touch – please, please make sure that it is personalised and that the emails are spaced at different frequencies. Make sure you factor in a telephone call or a social media message too – it’s always good to show your customers that you care.
Now that you’re at the bottom of the checklist, how did you do?
Create a list of priorities and tick them off one at a time to make the changes you need as you grow your market intelligence and grow your sales.