A mentor of mine mentioned this truism, “you can’t afford to go to market twice!” It’s imperative to get it right the first time. However, the way that most b2b sales and marketing organizations create demand and revenue from their go-to-market initiatives is dysfunctional. They are pushing out thought leadership content (webinars, white papers and other demand gen and sales enablement content) without tying it to a big idea theme that resonates with target buyers. They don’t even have predictable insights on their buyers to increase market penetration with the right people. The results are squandered growth opportunities and millions of dollars plowed into “misfires.”
My clients who have put the right messaging, content, tools and processes in place have seen their go-to-market revenue generating capacities increase exponentially. Below, I show you what needs to change if you want to transform your go-to-market revenue performance into very exciting disruptive revenue growth for your organization or business unit.
Most Organizations Do Not Have Predictive, Observable Insights on Their Targeted Audience
Most companies are incredibly vague about their ideal clients – those with the “burning bridge” need for their solution and hence are “low hanging fruit.” When I ask clients to describe their ideal client in descriptive, predictive terms, most fall flat . . . using vague phases such as “they need our service” and “everyone can benefit from our product.” Vague targeting can be very expensive and waste a lot of precious time. In fact, estimates by Altify highlight salespeople with a quota of $1 million and an average deal size of $100,000 suffered a loss of $218,000 over the course of a year by pursuing the wrong leads and opportunities. The power of being more specific in characterizing identifiable characteristics can be a huge help in targeting ideal prospects and optimizing expensive sales resources. A short story will help make the point. I was working with an early stage firm offering outsourced IT services to small businesses. I asked for descriptive characteristics to help in targeting. There were none. Then they hired a very clever sales person, who started surfing Craig’s list for small firms posting open positions for IT staff. Bingo. His sales went through the roof. His identifiable characteristic was a small business posting an open position on Craiglist. That was a “predictive indicator” for the need for IT outsourced services.
Key Question to Answer for Go to Market Preparation: What predictive indicators can you provide to sales to accelerate your go to market and revenue achievement success?
Most Organizations Do Not Have a Big Idea Theme, Leaving Sales Reps to Engage in Point Solution Selling
Most reps are fed with product training and literature but lack a higher-order big idea theme to provoke their target audiences. They show up and share their “all about me and my solution” content, and buyers aren’t enamored unless they are lower level and adding the product as “column fodder” as part of their potential vendor evaluations. And if that’s the case, the rep is almost always late to the party. For a more powerful, early and higher level dialog, I really appreciate IBM’s new “Outthink” big idea theme that replaced “Solutions for a Smarter Planet.” With this theme, reps can talk about “Outthinking” current business problems versus talking about feeds and speeds of Cloud, Big Data, Analytics, storage, etc. We coined a big idea theme for one of our clients in the 2008 downturn, and it was a game changer in getting executive-level attention in tough economic times when lower level buyers weren’t buying anything! Click here for a more in-depth article on this topic.
Key Question to Answer for Go to Market Preparation: Do you have a big idea theme that maps to a “big problem” the customer will have urgency in solving?
Most Organizations’ Messaging is Product-Centric, Forcing Sales to Be Out of Sync with Buyers
Most selling conversations are focused around the product and services being sold. If fact, according to Miller Heiman Group, only 40% of sales organizations clearly understand a customer’s issues before proposing a solution. Additionally, according to QVidian, 58% of sales pipeline ends up in “no decision” or stalled deals because sales have not presented value effectively. As I share in my post that talks about sales being out of sync – It’s not sales fault . . . they are often fed simply product-centric content. Click here to read the post.
What they really need is “dilemma-centric” content. A wise client taught me long ago to talk with prospects about their “big ugly.” That means providing prospects with a visual depiction that puts a spotlight on their big problem and implications and talk about that until there is confirmed desire and urgency for change.
Let me provide an example of a “big ugly.” A client and I crafted a visual to show multiple siloed information sources across the customer’s environment. Different departments were using different solutions with their own data sources. And these data sources weren’t talking with one another. Consequently, the customer had multiple versions of the truth, a limited perspective of the current state of affairs across the whole company, and associated dysfunction. We really pushed into this, talking about how emotionally painful it was for all parties involved, how the current state disrupted operations, and just how costly it was in terms of time, technology and lost opportunity. Then we created a visual and a tight storyline for how we made the “big ugly” go away in a compelling, unique way with a much better platform and cross-functional data management capability – getting the customer excited about the future state and associated benefits.
Key Question to Answer for Go to Market Preparation: Can your sales reps paint a visual picture of your target customers’ “big ugly,” and confirm the emotional, operational and financial costs of the situation?
Most Organizations Are Pushing Out Sales and Marketing Content Without Any Validation
I attended an industry event and watched a head of global sales enablement for one of the largest technology firms talk about creating sales-ready content. Their work and diligence was awesome, to say the least, but their blindspot was strikingly familiar. When I asked how they validated their content, I was met with a blank stare. They didn’t, and unfortunately, this is normal.
The situation gets worse when non-customer-facing marketing staff is producing the content. When we work with clients to help ensure they “hit the mark” with their go to market messaging, we validate concepts and content with key audiences – industry analysts, sales professionals and last but not least the sales reps responsible for delivering it.
A validation discipline can also help overcome internal politics. We had done some messaging strategy for a very large technology services provider, and the CEO wasn’t happy with the messaging strategy. When we showed him the validation work we did, and how the message strategy was resonating with the target audiences, he quickly changed his tune and got on board. Without good validation, internal opinions can rule the day and cause a lot of strife. I often say the customer’s opinion is the most important opinion for go to market success.
Key Question to Answer for Go to Market Preparation: Do you have a plan in place for validating your message strategy and content with target customers, key analysts and sales leaders?
Most Organizations Lack the Tools to Communicate a Quantifiable Business Value Proposition
It baffles me how often I see organizations going to market without having figured out if their solution really delivers a positive ROI. To make this point, I was working with a business leader who was having an internal battle about their product pricing strategy and price points. After working with him and reviewing the business benefits being realized by their early stage beta clients, we discovered literally a negative ROI associated with the customer’s total solution investment (including customer internal and vendor costs). This was actually perceived as good news, helping our client know they needed to reset their pricing strategy before they got too much egg on their face when going to market.
Aside from not knowing the economic value proposition, I don’t know why more organizations don’t supply their sales professionals with the ability to quantify value for their customers. A friend of mine and expert in the business strategy execution space highlights that a strong business case is one of the top drivers for organizational change. And we all know that many deals end in “no deal.” Without a solid business case, there should be no confusion as to why. I also see a missed opportunity in helping customers see, quantifiably, just how far off industry benchmark they are in relation to key business processes, and how much that is costing them. It’s not rocket science to get smart people together, develop a framework, conduct a study against it, and offer it to clients so they can see their “big ugly” in a quantifiable way.
Key Question to Answer for Go to Market Preparation: Will your reps be enticing their prospects with a quantifiable value proposition, or will they be speaking to features, functions and less tangible benefits like everybody else?
Most Organizations Do Not Have a Dynamic Sales Playbook That Can Be Optimized and Changed to Hit Revenue Objectives
I often talk to sales reps who stayed up late surfing “the portal” looking for content they can use in their meetings. Unfortunately, most sales portals are like graveyards with lots of old, sub-rate content to wade through when looking for the one or two “money slides.” Most reps give up and craft their own customer content. What a pity. They don’t have the content development and design skills to make the content come alive, and waste valuable selling time taking matters into their own hands.
To counter this situation, many organizations are trying to mobile-enable their reps with the customer and internal-facing content they need to be successful. I have been working with clients to introduce a dynamic mobile playbook in the form of an HTML5-based app with native apps for iPad, PC, and Mac. It’s been a huge boon in helping reps have distilled, current, sales-ready, best-of-the-best content in real-time. . . in-between meetings, sitting in the client lobby, in front of the client, etc. This is the ideal way reps should be working and accessing information. The cool factor is the content can be updated real-time to keep the content within fresh and evergreen, driven by sales rep feedback and analytics.
Key Question to Answer for Go to Market Preparation: Will your reps be able to find, focus on and leverage awesome content to prepare for and improve their selling conversations?
With my LinkedIn community – Go-to-Market Sales and Revenue Enablement Group – you’ll learn more about the big ideas, messaging, content and tools that can improve the performance of your sales teams and drive disruptive product revenues from your current pipeline.