I’m always struck by the common complaint from business leaders about revenue-related challenges.
Broadly categorized, they are:
- Average spend per client has decreased
- Close-cycle on new business has increased
- Rates of return of previous clients has decreased
- Market share in one segment or another is being eroded by an aggressive competitor
It’s clear that the old ‘market conditions’ explanation is satisfying fewer antsy Board members these days.
Tough times call for innovation.
Because many businesses, particularly service businesses, can quickly adjust their offerings to maximize market conditions, its critical to completely understand the client experience as well as the lead-generation environment (the “what’s the market really telling us?” data).
Broad actions to implement, to jump-start innovation are:
- Create a set of KPI’s that reveal information to design outreach programs and products that will maximize future purchasing needs of your clients, and integrate these into friendly questions, administered regularly to every single client.
- Without even a cursory knowledge of individual/composite client experience, could any business credibly present itself as being service-focused (and therefore committed to performance improvement, and improving their market share?).
- Develop a system to assure regular and dispassionate analysis of data, to uncover (negative) trends as they arise. This process should be lead by senior marketing leaders, and be approached with a desire to grow, despite economic conditions.
- Keep a series of pre-visioned product lines/promotions in ‘ready-to-move’ mode, to offset unexpectedly lengthening sales cycles, reduced spends, etc.
- Hire an outsider to audit your marketing opportunities and your sales capabilities, to help identify opportunities to evolve and improve.
- Develop a system whereby you put out a request for specific ideas from staff related to specific business challenges (revenue, sales cycle, etc), and give them some guidelines as to what the company needs. You’ll be proud of yourself for hiring such an intelligent group of people
- Analyze lead-generation activity on a daily/weekly basis, to determine if, when (and why) changes to the marketing plan are occurring, and assess these changes for duration and impact on the business: Are traditional lead generation tactics drying up? Could this be indicative of larger forces at play in the market? What are the call reports of the sales team saying? What segment of your competitor’s business is growing? Are you losing to them?
- Can the sales process be re-configured to take advantage of social selling advances and improve close rates?
Net: By putting marketing and sales at the ‘tip of the spear’ of the performance improvement process, you will be well positioned to innovate in the areas of product, service, and pricing…and enjoy steady pipeline velocity.