One of the recent trends facing B2B companies is the shift in power back up the corporate ladder. In the past a mid-level manager may have had the authority to purchase your product or service. That responsibility now exists farther up the food chain where you may or may not have relationships.
So how do you get the ear of the executive suite? In the March issue of Harvard Business Review, authors Philip Lay, Todd Hewlin, and Geoffrey Moore cover this topic in their cover article called “Provoke Your Customers“.
The article talks about changing how you sell – from solutions-based to provocation-based. You need to sell by understanding your client’s “critical issue” beyond what your product or service provides them. What are the bottom line issues that their business faces and how are you the company to solve it?
Once you identify that critical issue, you need to find a path to the executive in charge. Unfortunately, your current point of contact may be a hindrance since most people don’t like admitting they no longer have the influence they once had.
This is where your sales training goes beyond the typical lead generation. The authors go on to talk about the importance of using your referral network to get you a meeting. My advice to you is opening your pitch with “this is going to benefit your bottom line” – as return on investment is critical now more than ever.
People mistake marketing as the final product people see. In fact, it is the thinking and knowledge behind the final product that shows you know how to market smarter.
If sales aren’t improving then marketing must not be working. It seems like this is the simplest equation in business, but business is never that simple.
Marketing’s role is to drive leads by changing perception, creating desire, communicating a point of difference and enhancing a brand.
Marketing’s job is to get a positively predisposed audience to call for more information, look for your product on a shelf, walk in your store or visit your web site. From there it is up to you.
So how do you know if marketing is doing its job? Set up a tracking system.
Today there are many tools available to help you set a benchmark and track your marketing efforts. Here is a list from typically least expensive to most expensive;
Asking how a person heard about you
- By formalizing this process you will be able to gain significant insight on what marketing tools are working
- When people request more information from your web site have a question that prompts them to tell you how they heard of you
- Google has a free web analytics product that provides you good insight into how people are coming too your web site
- More robust analytics products exist, but these can get costly
Discreet URL/Phone Number
- Track activity of a specific marketing tactic by driving it to a specific URL or 800-number
- If Public Relations is a tactic you use often, using a clipping service to track stories is useful in justifying the expense
- Conducting online searches also help track where your company has been mentioned in the news
- Use promotional offers tied to specific marketing tactics
- Offer will determine the expense of this endeavor
- Annual tracking surveys will identify changes in awareness, perception and usage
Over the next few weeks we will discuss how to implement these tracking programs.
Warning: If you find out marketing is doing its job then have to look at your operations to see why sales aren’t meeting your goals.