With the market changing, the demand for finding new customers will be a priority for many sales teams if they are to deliver planned sales goals.
The conventional approaches of finding new customers in B2B Sales, such as cold calling, has for some time now become increasingly difficult for salespeople to complete. With many decision-makers currently working away from the office, the task has become near impossible in some industries.
Salespeople are traditionally strong at signing business, once they have a sales-ready lead to close. This trait comes from the emphasis companies place on existing customers, achieving repeat orders, cross-selling, and up-selling to them. They are an audience that has already gained trust with the company, has confidence in what is being represented to them, and are willing to move forward and sign orders. Companies value their loyal customers and invest in maintaining their customer base.
Signing new business has many other hurdles to overcome, and many salespeople do not have the experience, the confidence, or frequency of opportunity to craft the skills required. You can spend onerous hours in sales training, coaching, and working with them, but it will not deliver the outcomes. The lack of results is not the fault of the salespeople for the following reasons.
Companies have not prepared themselves sufficiently to be good at new business. It is not in their culture or DNA to pursue new business as they have relied heavily on organic growth. Good markets over the past years have afforded them the luxury of growth with little effort. Growing business today is more challenging and relying on word of mouth is not sustainable.
For some industries, new business is how they survive. Their products require a continual flow of enquiry, and they have honed the skills extremely well. However, taking a salesperson from that environment will not guarantee your sales results as there is a lot more required than simply hiring a deal closer.
The other challenge for companies is the reluctance of buyers to speak with sales until they are confident in the company and the products and services suitability to their requirements. There is less demand for solution selling with the internet answering many of the questions that just a decade ago, salespeople prided themselves on having the answers too. Salespeople have been replaced with an abundance of technical information online.
Smart companies and business owners have discovered that it takes more than just sales when finding new customers. The heavy lifting is done by marketing agencies or in-house teams in creating sales-ready leads. They understand the cost of acquisition of a new customer is higher in the first year. Still, with good customer retention, that cost becomes reasonable each following year of the customer relationship.
Marketing has matured from posting a few photos on social media and creating colourful brochures and product sheets. Today, marketing is the engine that drives sales and opens the doors to finding new customers. They do the heavy lifting of creating awareness and building the relationship to deliver sales-ready leads.
Marketing has the ability, more than sales, to align with the new buyer process. The new buyer process is online research, online evaluation, and shortlisting of potential solutions and providers. Marketing can reach out to more prospective customers and consistently provide the messaging and information that will engage them to the point of shortlisting.
The key is to align marketing and sales to create a seamless experience for prospective customers.
For success in finding new customers, sales management needs to have a well-developed sales plan that establishes the number of new customers required and what revenue needs to be achieved. This plan is going to be the purpose of marketing and what all things will be measured against.
The next phase is to develop a marketing strategy that establishes the profiles of ideal customers. Sales cannot abdicate responsibility completely to marketing; they need to work in harmony together. They both have a vested interest in getting this right.
Understanding the profile of the customers, their buying reasons, their concerns, and barriers to proceeding with a purchase. The information that is characteristically held by experienced salespeople intuitively selling in their market. Communicating that knowledge to marketing can be a challenge, and it needs to be filtered for personal preferences and selling habits. In the event of broadening the targeting to new channels or verticals, research will be imperative.
Targeting new customers can be expensive, and you need a laser approach to manage the costs. Companies cannot afford to take a general spray approach hoping something will stick.
Before you can start to find new customers and increase sales, you need to have a very clear understanding of who your customer is, or want them to be. What do you offer to potential customers, and importantly, what does your competition offer the market. Where are the gaps for a new entrant, or how can you shift customers from competitors to your company.
In other words, you need to do some market research — whether that means hiring an outside firm to do the legwork or doing it in-house.
Attracting more customers is really about knowing what problems exist and having a solution that customers are willing to pay for now.
Researching existing customers can be done relatively easily. You have considerable information available to you through their buying habits, where you are shipping products to, and what is their expectations of service. They are already open to conversations and willing to share information.
Depending on the questions you are exploring, your market research can be quite simple or may involve more extensive interviews. These can be qualitative studies on how prospective customers feel about your business, products, and services. This style of research can be expensive and may need a budget allocated for an external company to complete the work for objectivity.
For simple and inexpensive research, it can be done relatively easily by sending surveys to your existing customers using one of the many online survey tools, such as SurveyMonkey.
You can learn more about your target market and your market share by using third party information of research firms on market size and demographics. Validating obtainable market share is important before spending money on marketing campaigns.
It would be best if you scrutinised your competitors. Not just the ones you identify, but who do your customers see as competitors. What is their offering to the market, their price point, and why are their customers loyal to them.
It is important to identify which products and services appeal to which audience. You can get to know your target customers and segment the market in any number of ways, including industry, business services to their customers, position titles, geographical reach, role responsibilities, etc. It is important to understand their buying patterns and typical decision-making processes such as tendering vs. direct selection of preferred suppliers.
Determine which key messages and value propositions matter to each potential market. Explain to customers how your business can assist them to solve their problems. You need to know why they are in the market looking. The value proposition has to be written clearly.
Once you know which prospective customers you are targeting, then its time to set out the marketing communications plan of tools and campaigns of how you will reach them.
For marketing to be effective in today’s market, your website is pivotal. It must convey the messages and provide access to the information that will assist customers in engaging with your company. The development of technical papers, product brochures, and other information is vital to your story of finding new customers.
In B2B Marketing, you have a number of different campaign disciplines you can apply:
- Search Engine Optimisation of the website
- Google Adwords
- Email Campaigns
- Content Marketing
- Marketing Automation
Each is having their merit of how they will support you in finding new customers and create sales-ready leads. Click on the links to find out more about each marketing service that is focused on lead generation.
If you would like to discuss your specific situation and the new sales environment, please reach out to us to organise a zoom conference or telephone conversation.
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You may also be interested in reading these articles:
- Real Cost of Sales Growth Strategies
- Removing the Barriers to New Customer Acquisition
- Breaking Through the Sales Revenue Barrier Barrier
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