Some ideas on transforming from a reactive to a proactive sales approach.
At SBR Consulting we help clients achieve their revenue and profitability targets by helping them transform their sales capability.
Often when we understand the trigger that has caused our clients to need to transform it is because of reasons like “the flow of inbound leads has dropped off” or “not enough people are buying from us anymore”… i.e. it’s time for them to start to learn at all levels of the organisation how to sell…proactively.
The reasons for this need to proactively drive growth vary across the different clients that we work with, for example:
- With a lot of the technology clients that we work with they were riding a wave of market driven growth that has started to turn. They were growing by 20% YOY because the market was growing at 20% YOY. As the market slows so does their own growth and therefore in order to keep shareholders, stakeholders, bosses and owners happy they have to start winning share from the competition and outperform the market.
- Sometimes they originally had something which was genuinely different and unique to sell eg a technology or specific insight/expertise. But as we all know “bleeding edge” becomes “leading edge” and then we are onto “commodity” (at least in the eyes of the customer) as new entrants start to roll out similar sounding propositions.
- Sometimes they are still doing well but they changed ownership and there is a new investor that is pushing them to move further forward faster.
All of the above come down to the same issue and question, “how do we proactively engage rather than rely on new prospects and customers coming to us?”
On this basis I thought it might be useful to share a few thoughts over a few posts on what can be done to get on the front foot both from the organisational and the individual perspective in terms of the following high level themes:
- PROPOSITION – What do you do for your customers? How are you different?
- PROFILE – How well defined and clearly understood if your ideal customer/set of contacts?
- PROCESS – How do your customers buy so that you can map your process to theirs vs expecting them to map to your sales process?
- PEOPLE – How do you work with your people to coach and develop them to engage proactively both in new business and account development?
- PROPS – What tools do you use to maximise the efficiency and effectiveness of your selling time?
Starting with proposition here are some thoughts from our perspective – it would be great to hear anything that you would add…
In a reactive sales environment people have done a huge amount of the thinking and joined many of the dots on their own before they engage with the selling organisation i.e. they have a clear idea on what they want and why they want it.
In a proactive sales environment it is essential to understand what you do from the customers perspective so that you are able to approach them with a sales value proposition that focuses on why they should buy from you not just what you can sell them. The ability to engage with customers in the early stage of their buying cycle and take them from what we would call the stage of satisfaction with their existing situation to the stage of realisation is fundamental to a proactive approach.
We wholly subscribe to the idea that a value proposition must be clear, it must be concise and it must compel the customer to want to give up some of their valuable time to spend with you. We’re relying on a strategy of hope if we aren’t enabling our teams to identify the value zone of a target customer through effective pre-approach so that they can approach with a hook that has the correct bait on it!
The simple tried and tested framework below is a great skeleton to build on and serves as a useful test throughout the sales cycle of whether you are articulating your proposition from the customers perspective or your own!
WE BELIEVE THAT WE CAN HELP YOU TO….(INSERT RELEVANT BUSINESS ISSUE/OUTCOME THAT YOU WILL HELP THEM RESOLVE)
BY….(INSERT A QUANTIFIABLE MEASURE BASED ON THEIR STATED GOALS OR YOUR PAST PERFORMANCE IN THIS AREA)
THROUGH OUR ABILITY TO….(INSERT RELEVANT CAPABILITIES THAT WILL HELP ACHIEVE THE OUTCOME)
This proposition can then be delivered proactively in a number of ways in a well structured campaign to get access to the right people in the right organisations – a topic that I will highlight some key points on further in the next post.