“Sales is a lagging indicator of success” – I heard someone utter that phrase the other day and thought, “Huh. I never thought of it that way, but it’s true.” A sales person will disagree (they always disagree when you try to take credit away from their efforts), saying that sales is a (or the) measure of success. But when you truly dissect it, new customer acquisition or gaining a larger share of your customer’s wallet doesn’t happen unless everything else is tuned correctly – so your sales revenue really is the downstream measure of how successful everything else is.
Reviewing Sales & Marketing’s Processes & Materials
Part of the work we do with clients involves performing a review of their sales and marketing processes and materials. We look at and consider their:
- Messaging – how they describe themselves, their services, and their products to the marketplace.
- Target customer – both the company profile (for B2B) and the actual buyer persona (B2B and B2C) and how well they understand those customers and their pain points, motivations, and decision processes.
- Differentiation – why their target customer might consider them to be a better alternative to similar products or services.
- Value proposition – how their customers assign value to their product or service (regardless of what our client believes).
- Brand approach – how they present their messaging and differentiation in words, images, video, etc. in a manner that resonates with their target customer (ideally on an emotional and logical level).
- Packaging – their approach to the pricing and organization of the bundle of products, services, and add-ons that a customer would purchase and how that aligns with the value their customer assigns to the product.
- Sales & delight process – the actual engagement touch-points, tools, and processes they use to help a prospect through the journey of becoming aware of their offerings, learning about the offerings, consideration, competitive comparison, purchase, use, feedback, delight, and additional purchase.
Helping Our Clients Grow
When a client wants to grow (sell more), we first identify the bottlenecks and broken processes, because if all seven areas aren’t in alignment, opportunity will continually leak out of the customer acquisition process.
We have worked with several clients where the aforementioned review process reveals that no amount of marketing or sales training (sales management additional sales staff) would greatly impact revenue. Why? Because their customer satisfaction level was so low that their sales reps couldn’t provide reference customers to prospective customers and the brand reputation was being damaged with every public interaction on social media.
Another client needed to tweak their messaging for better alignment and had to really reconsider the way they packaged their products and services – while the current packaging approach made perfect sense to them, it was creating enormous confusion for their prospective customers (and slowing down sales).
In another instance, we ended a client engagement because while they were very well aligned across the key areas, their product just did not work the way customers wanted it to or believed it should. No amount of marketing or sales would help them in their long-term growth plans until they fixed the product.
What You Can Do
If your sales levels or profitability is not what you want, resist the temptation to look at just the sales people or sales manager. Sales is truly the lagging indicator as to how well you’re doing in lining up processes to best address your target customer, packaging, and product with your messaging, differentiation, and customer value proposition.
Sometimes it’s helpful to get an outside point of view on the quality of your alignment and where bottleneck(s) might need fixing. Let us know if you’d like a quick (free) phone review or to talk about a deeper review by using the contact form to reach out.
And if you found this helpful, please leave us a comment.