Failure to convert sales targets comes with a multitude of excuses. The market doesn’t want it. The procurement process slows everything down. We haven’t got enough resources on the ground.
This excuse-culture is stopping you from facing facts and dealing with the core of the issue. The Bridge Group identified that sales productivity is the #1 challenge for almost 65% of B2B organisations, so a failure to face-in is the market norm. Whilst there is no doubt that external factors play a role, a focus on these will pacify you from embracing the state of the market and act as a blocker to future sales success.
So, what does it take?
Velocity, focus and momentum
This must run through every contact you make, every minute of time you spend and every decision.
If you do not step back and identify your focus now, you will never fulfil your ambition. If you are going somewhere and you are off course by just one-degree, after one foot you will miss your target by 0.2 inches. This is trivial, but if you are a rocket going to the moon, you would be 4,169 miles off.
It is vital this is identified early, in order to scale. As you hire, grow and expand into new markets one misalignment will stunt your growth. In order to identify your focus, you need to consider the who, the what and the how…
How do you start to identify focus?
Who are you targeting?
Sales can feel like a challenge – when nothing seems to be getting you results and the market is working against you, the natural response is to widen your pool. Stifled by fear, you react to the market and believe by putting out enough noise something will stick somewhere.
It is vital to identify where you are today and what can you really deliver before ascertaining precisely who this would be for. This is not as binary as assessing the industry or sector – this is the start, but it is right down to company or individual mindset.
Apple is a prime example of this – their sales strategy does not just apply to groups of people but to an ethos. It is this that caused the company’s valuation to increase six-fold in the last 10 years. The same is true for B2B sales – if you are trying to sell a blockchain platform directly to an insurance company, for instance, will they be receptive or are they likely to be stuck in their old ways?
Finding an acute focus will minimise opportunity cost and allow you to focus on dominating with one type of client, as opposed to being mediocre for all.
What are you selling them?
Once you have identified the exact mindset you need to tap into, this will bleed into your entire business, from pricing to proposition.
If you are trying to sell to people with the mindset of a laggard, a forward-looking pricing strategy will bewilder them. If your key-stakeholder is the pre-occupied founder, a technological conversation will lose them.
Once you have identified your focus, you will no longer be reactive to the need of the prospect; you know what drives them, and everything within your business will instil urgency within them.
This focus will minimise the resources you are wasting. You will not need to spend days on proposals, presentations and research that will never land you the deal, and you will not need to develop the new feature that will never impact what they are driven by.
How are you targeting them?
With a sharp focus in mind, this will bleed into every action, responsibility and timeframe you must meet to hit your target.
If you took on the long-jump without working out the steps backwards, how would you ever reach your target?
- Work backwards from the 5 year vision; what does this mean on an annual basis, a monthly basis and a weekly basis
- Instil a culture of responsibility and accountability: if everyone pulled in the same direction and hit small milestones in line with the end-target, what might it change about your results?
- Be pro-active. Know your sales-plan for each individual stakeholder, own the process, obsess over their needs and do not let anything external stop you from winning.
It is easy when trying to hit sales targets to try and pick whatever low hanging fruit you can find and let that define your focus. However, this is not the right technique – careful thought must be applied to the who, the how and the what.
From reviewing sales strategy for a multitude of B2B tech firms, using a third party perspective leads to a very honest (and often brutal) diagnostic. This, combined with a rigorous analysis of the market and competition is imperative in order to develop the long-term success of your company’s sales strategy.