In a tough economy, it's difficult to drum up new business, which is why it's critical to maximize sales at your existing customers. However, it's important not to take your current clientele for granted. Here, The Pedowitz Group's director of demand generation offers tips on how to avoid embarrassing and costly mistakes that no VAR or solution provider can afford. -- Jennifer Bosavage, editor
Most B2B sales environments, both reseller and direct, are comprised of two sales organizations; one lands the account and the other grows it. You may know them as hunters and farmers. Most marketing organizations are built to support the hunters because the directive from the top is simply to get leads, leads, and more leads (not necessarily good, and a topic for future discussion). Supporting farmers, however is much more dangerous. If you’ve ever sent a prospecting email to a customer by mistake, you know what I mean.
As a marketer, here’s how I overcame those obstacles, managed the intricacies, and helped support the efforts of the farmers to grow revenues from the customer base. Names have been deleted to protect the guilty.
“We want to market to our customer base; we think there’s some low-hanging fruit,” says the sales VP.
Has anyone ever seen low-hanging fruit that wasn’t actually fruit? If it was that easy, why are you knocking on my cubicle?
“So you want to sell our customers additional services…” I ask.
“Yes, but mostly we want to sell to those customers we’re not doing business with,” he suggests.
“How are they customers?” I wonder.
“They’re not,” confirms my sales VP.
“Am I on hidden camera?” I glance around.
“It’s simple, we want to sell our products to those people at our customer accounts who don’t use our products.”
“Do we know who they are?”
Are you feelin’ me on the fruit thing yet?
Since we sold to large organizations, we had a serious data structure problem. I’ll try to keep the example simple.
Acme Corp. has several divisions: Glue, Rockets, and Roller Skates
The hunter rep sold a deal to Acme Glue.
The farmer rep receives ownership of Acme Corp. account.
Acme Glue is labeled “Customer” as are a few people involved in the deal. How do we deal with Rockets and Roller Skates?
How To Get the Rest of the Business
Upon handover, the reps sync up to determine who is covered by the deal (if they even know). Acme and Acme Glue are labeled “Customer,” Rockets and Roller Skates are labeled “Affiliated New,” which simply means there is existing business elsewhere in the company.
At this time, the potential of additional business is explored: How much is there? This provides a rank for the account, something like Gold, Silver, Bronze or A, B, C would work. Sales management needs to help quantify and approve of this rank as sales, marketing, and service resources will be applied accordingly.
Marketing Data Append:
Once the sales reps have exchanged and documented what they know, marketing is notified of the transition. If the account is a Gold Account, marketing then builds out the account structure more accurately and seeks additional target names within that company – especially within the affiliated new accounts of Rockets and Roller Skates.
A typical sale won’t impact everyone in a business unit. Those who are customers should be labeled as such - others can remain prospects even if you are unsure about it.
TIP: Mark the executives as customers. They are likely aware of your existence and may have approved without your knowing. They will be the first to say “Don’t these guys know we’re a customer?”
What did we gain?
1. We can reach our customers at customer accounts by strategic importance.
2. We can reach those prospects at customer accounts to either begin using or use more of our product.
3. We can reach prospects at affiliated new accounts who may or may not be aware of our successes elsewhere in the company.
4. If we have a marketing automation system we can score and alert the appropriate person based on the rules.
We will need to have messages that reference your company’s relationship with the account accordingly, and also that reference the individual relationship. We also have the possibility of the “internal testimonial” where your champion may not be able to speak feely to the public, but they can tell the story to their own company – something you can and should facilitate and leverage.
You may be aware that XYZ Co. currently helps Acme Glue reduce costs and improve customer loyalty. Please listen to this brief explanation of the results Acme Glue is achieving
I’d like to set up an appointment to discuss how we can help Acme Rockets achieve similar results.
Marketing needs to carefully and repeatedly work with sales so they understand – and buy into – what is going to happen with their accounts based on the types and ranks they give to their accounts. Consider the “sender.” Is it the rep, customer service, or marketing? Your reps will have strong opinions.
Marketing also needs to give sales a way to turn off the marketing messages. The bigger your accounts, the more restrictions your reps will run into in terms of who they can market to and when. Providing a “Temporarily Suspend from Marketing” option will give them some control over the stream of communications.
Define And Align:
The first step to boosting sales revenue is having marketing and sales agree on the definition of a qualified lead. Next, they need to agree on the different categorizations of prospects in your database, based on where they are in the buy cycle. Based on where they are will determine how and when to communicate to advance the sale.
When marketing and sales clearly understand and agree to these processes they can work together towards the same goal: closing business. The key is making sure marketing and sales clearly understand their roles in the revenue generation process so that they can be successful.
Ed Thompson is Director of Demand Generation for The Pedowitz Group (TPG), a burgeoning demand generation company focused marketing and sales solutions that drive topline revenue. TPG helps clients become successful Revenue Marketers please visit www.pedowitzgroup.com. Contact Ed via email: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter: @edthewebguy.