Sometimes, we get so busy working IN our business that we forget to work ON our business. When that happens, it helps to step back and take an objective look at what’s going on around you. And one of those areas of your business that most often needs a fresh set of eyes is business development. If that describes you, here are some ideas for conducting your own marketing & sales audit and getting back on track.
- Get a group of outsiders to take an overall look at your “visual presence.” This includes your logo, colors, fonts, marketing materials, website and everything else. Is your look fresh and current or old and outdated? If it’s been more than 10 years (maybe even 5!) since you last refreshed your image… it’s time to take a look at it. Note: no logos are timeless.
- Now, line up all your marketing materials together – ads, biz cards, collateral, proposals, website, trade show booth, etc. Do they look like they came from the same company? Or is there a certain ‘randomness’ to them that does not support your brand? What you’re looking for here is that they are all current and consistent.
- And while you’ve got the outsiders gathered, ask them to surf your website and give you their feedback. Is it easy to navigate and find what they need? Is your contact information on every page? Does it look ‘homemade’… or did you invest a little in making a good appearance? Nothing will harm the perception of your firm more than a lousy website.
- Speaking of harming the perception of your firm – get rid of your Gmail or Comcast email address… NOW! Spend 50 bucks and get a real email address. The generic ones make you look cheap and unprofessional!
- Is there just one idea per ad? Is the headline a ‘benefit’ and not the name of your company or a product? Is there a call to action? Do you list contact information?
- Use fewer words… ‘nuf said.
- Take a look at your competitors’ ads? Do your ads look like all the rest – or do you stand out?
- Are you consistent with your email? Is the content promotional and focused internally (not good) or filled with usable information and problem-solving ideas? Are you measuring and testing? Is there an easy way to opt out?
- Are you using social to just promote your firm or are you trying to engage clients and prospects with good information and ideas? Do your social sites connect to your website – and vice versa?
- Look at the date of your latest blog post or tweet… are you consistent and frequent? If you’re going to do it – do it right. Create an editorial calendar and stick to it!
- Is ‘content marketing’ part of your plan? If so (and it should be), are you providing beneficial content for your clients and prospective clients as a way to build credibility and differentiate your firm? Are you mixing up the delivery vehicles – articles, blog posts, white papers, case studies, eBooks, webinars, etc.?
- If your content is at all “salesy” – erase it and start over.
- Lead generation: are your marketing tactics generating new leads (online, via email or over the phone)? Are you immediately capturing the lead information and putting it into a CRM system (yes, you need one!)?
- Lead nurturing: once in your CRM, what are you doing to stay in touch with these leads on a regular basis? To qualify them and start to build relationships?
- Database: In addition to your new leads, what are you doing to re-ignite the old, cold leads that have been sitting in your database for (gulp!) years? Much of that old data will be no good – when you find bad data, get it out of the system.
The Sales Team
- Does each rep have a reasonable number of clients – not too few that they’re bored and not too many that they can’t cover them all?
- Are your reps “hunters” (targeting new clients) or “farmers” (maintaining/growing repeat clients)? Or both? And both are important.
- Do your reps have assigned ‘territories’… as defined by geography, size of clients or vertical markets served? Having clearly defined parameters eliminates any conflicts and ensures the appropriate focus.
- Look at your current presentation and cut out 50% of the words. Then take out another 50%. Your goal is to create a visually compelling presentation… not a bunch of words that you read to the audience. “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.”
- Talk about how you help clients, not just what you sell.
- Have a longer version (for in-person) and a shorter one (for virtual presentations).
- Practice… practice… practice…
- To make sure your sales rep is representing your firm that way that you want, have him/her present to you like their job depended on it – because it should!
Sales Rep Preparation
- Training: about the industry, your company, your competitors and your products
- On-going development: selling skills, industry updates, etc.
- Tools: CRM system, laptop, smart phone, virtual presentation software (like WebEx, GoToMeeting, etc.)
- Subscriptions: make sure to fund industry magazine subscriptions… you want your reps to become ‘students of the industry.’
- Know this… there are no perfect comp plans, but work on one that serves both the company’s and the rep’s needs.
- Sales reps like instant gratification… so pay out monthly if you can.
- A good comp plan will drive behavior – so make sure the plan is aligned with your goals.
- Make sure you create a plan that you can actually implement… that you can easily get the data you need from accounting, etc.
Other sales reps
- Make sure your PMs/PDs are trained to up-sell and cross-sell.
- When appropriate, have the outside reps take a senior executive along on sales calls – there is strength in numbers and in that level of seniority.
- Have the sales rep take along other team members – PDs, marketers, analysts, moderators… not only does it help those team members to better understand what sales does, but also to better understand clients’ needs.
- There are four distinct parts to a pitch:
- Who you are (name and company)
- What you do (e.g. full-service research firm)
- Who do you do it for (your target market(s))
- What’s different about it / Why they should care / How they will benefit
- Write it from their perspective; e.g. don’t talk about the methodologies you use… talk about the kind of business problems (their business problems) you solve
- Do you have a marketing & sales plan in place? Is it based on strategy? At the very least, do you have a calendar of events that you can stick to?
- Can you articulate HOW you are different than your competitors (“We do good work. / We have great people. / We really take care of our clients.” does not count – everybody says that!)? Once you can articulate a difference, it should become the centerpiece of your marketing message.
- Are you measuring your marketing and sales? If not, how do you know if it’s working?!
- For marketing:
- When all else fails, ask everyone, “How’d you hear about us?” then track the results.
- Are you doing simple A/B testing of emails, ads, etc? It’s an easy way to get better at marketing every day.
- If it’s not in place yet, set your business up on Google Analytics today to measure activities related to your website!
- For sales:
- Revenue (of course): vs. goals, vs. last year, overall and by client.
- Activity: # calls, # presentations, # new prospects, etc.; if Revenue is off and you’re not tracking Activity, you won’t know what to fix.
- Pipeline progress: Suspects / Prospects / 1st-time Clients / Repeat Clients (or however you define it)… is the total number of firms in the pipeline growing and are they moving closer to the smaller end?
- Develop a simple, daily marketing & sales calendar
- Develop a simply dashboard for measuring your marketing & sales
- Develop a basic budget tracking sheet to make sure you’re staying on plan
- Most importantly, block off a little time each day to focus on marketing & sales.
Remember, every so often, take the time to step back and take a good, hard, objective look at your marketing & sales efforts… as though you were doing it through the eyes of your clients. Then react to what you see, tweak what you’re doing and your results can only improve.
Good luck and good marketing.
For more ideas on enhancing your marketing & sales efforts, download our free eBooks at http://www.HarpethMarketing.com/eBook/.
Steve Henke is President of Harpeth Marketing, a consulting and services firm that works in the market research industry to help their clients improve outcomes and increase revenues. To learn more, go to www.HarpethMarketing.com.