Use Intelligent Sales Data to Grow Sales

intelligent sales data to grow sales

In today’s world, data is a vital element of any successful sales team—but B2B businesses should be smart about the metrics they track. Keep in mind, the goal of collecting sales data is to grow sales. It’s easy to get carried away collecting too much information, which can overwhelm a sales team.

Overloading people with data can be just as useless as giving them none. Not only does it waste time, but it also shifts the focus to the data itself rather than what the data was supposed to enable—getting more business. 

It’s common for businesses to invest in collecting all the data they can, without a clear plan for harnessing that data to substantiate decisions. While claims of being “data-driven” may have increased in recent years, according to Gartner, the reality is that only 54% of marketing decisions are being driven by analytics. This means that a significant amount of valuable resources are currently being wasted on unnecessary data collection.

This problem is only accelerating during the era of COVID-19 as more of the sales process is conducted online. According to a study from McKinsey, today’s sales leaders consider digital channels to be twice as important as they once were. With more data generated by these online interactions, it may be tempting to collect more and more data.

On the other hand, the goal of intelligent sales data is to encourage a prospect to do business with a sales rep. To accomplish this, intelligent sales data focuses on collecting data that enables a sales rep to be more relevant and useful to a prospect. With the right amount of data from the right sources, companies can implement this strategy to grow sales.

Intelligent Sales Data in Practice

Today, sales can no longer be driven entirely by intuition and a vague sense of the customer’s needs. This might have worked in the past, but as nearly 90% of sales today are conducted online, data is more readily available than ever before. Businesses need to use this influx of data effectively to ensure that they reach the right buyers online.

Intelligent sales data focus on the target market and nothing else. To put this into practice, a successful data-driven sales team will track all prospect interactions to inform the sales process. With data on what works for their target market—in terms of where prospects originated, how sales reps reached out, what transpired, and why—sales teams can make better-informed decisions in the future.

Sales should only reach out to leads that fit certain criteria. By the time a new lead is sent to sales, it should have already accumulated a sufficient score as a result of significant marketing activity. It should also be the right kind of lead in terms of the role and persona. The role, level of activity, where the lead first originated, and how long it took to convert are all the pisces of information that lead into intelligent sales data. This is how intelligent sales data increases the effectiveness of the sales department—by targeting leads that are more likely to result in sales, the sales team can reduce the amount of time wasted on unproductive leads. 

Plus, as we have shown in the Four Quadrants Model of High Growth, existing customers have proven to be an excellent source of revenue. Intelligent sales data should incorporate patterns established by current customers, which helps drive revenues. 

With the right information from several tools—including marketing automation, sales automation, and accounting automation—intelligent data can transform the sales department and increase revenues. It is critica, however, to first determine what kind of information is needed, then build our systems to gather the necessary data, and then use reports and dashboards to inform what is working and what’s not.

SOMAmetrics is a revenue-focused marketing agency, delivering high-quality leads that close faster and at a higher rate. Our proven process identifies the best targets, defines the most compelling messaging, and runs highly targeted, digital campaigns—for about 35% of what it costs clients to do internally.

Let us know if you need any assistance in designing your intelligent sales data system.

Align Sales and Marketing for High Growth

Align sales and marketing for high growth

In the new B2B sales paradigm, marketing and sales must be numerically aligned to facilitate a high revenue growth rate. 

Too often, marketing strategies are implemented without defining the specific revenue goals they aim to achieve. Valuable time, energy, and resources are wasted when marketing is not aligned with sales—in fact, 60% of respondents to a 2020 LinkedIn survey agree that misalignment could damage financial performance

Especially as more of the buying process is completed online before sales reps get involved, misalignment could have increasingly disastrous consequences for the revenue growth of a company going forward. Fortunately, a strong alignment can help a company generate 209% more revenue from marketing

Sales and Marketing: Better Together

Sellers must be aware that 75% of sales should come from leads generated by marketing. This number makes intuitive sense—revenue-driven marketers know that the point of marketing is to generate and nurture leads that will result in sales.

With greater alignment between sales and marketing, both teams are better equipped for the sales process, which results in increased revenues. Marketing will have a greater understanding of which leads to nurture, which to pass along to sales, and which sources and content are the best for their purposes. Plus, sales will increase their understanding of each lead, which will improve sales outcomes.

Bear in mind that the journey of today’s buyer is complex—buyers are increasingly looking for sellers that will provide customized solutions for their individual needs. For this reason, it is increasingly important for sales and marketing to be in conversation with one another to establish a shared understanding of the needs of each customer.

How to Achieve Sales and Marketing Alignment

As discussed in depth in the Four Funnels Framework, all revenues start in marketing and end in sales. But the planning starts with sales. 

First, a company must define its revenue goals. From there, the company can work backward to determine how many inbound and outbound leads will be required to reach those goals. By rooting the marketing strategy in revenue outcomes, the company can align sales and marketing in pursuit of a shared goal: revenue growth. With both teams equally responsible for facilitating revenue growth, the alignment between sales and marketing increases—and so does revenue. 

It’s not enough for sales and marketing to operate in separate silos anymore—in the new B2B sales process, sales and marketing must work closely together to maximize revenue growth.

SOMAmetrics is a revenue-focused marketing agency, delivering high-quality leads that close faster and at a higher rate. Our proven process identifies the best targets, defines the most compelling messaging, and runs highly targeted, digital campaigns—for about 35% of what it costs clients to do internally.

B2B Buyers Expect Seamless Digital Sales in 2021

B2B buyers digital sales 2021

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent social distancing measures, traditional face-to-face sales have come to a temporary halt. B2B buyers and sellers alike are now forced to use digital routes instead. 

B2B Buyers and Sellers Prefer the New Digital Reality

What was originally a crisis response has now become the new normal, with many B2B decision-makers praising the effectiveness and convenience of digital sales. In fact, a McKinsey survey found that 70-80% of B2B decision-makers prefer remote digital interactions or self-service. Additionally, B2B decision-makers globally have reported that online and remote selling is as effective as in-person engagement—or even more so.

Furthermore, B2B buyers who were originally hesitant to make big purchases online have become used to the idea. In fact, according to McKinsey, 70% of B2B decision-makers are now “open to making new, fully self-serve or remote purchases in excess of $50,000, and 27% would spend more than $500,000.” Before the pandemic, the prevailing wisdom was that e-commerce was mainly for smaller-ticket items—but this has clearly changed. 

B2B sellers praise the effectiveness of digital sales, and B2B buyers love the convenience of digital self-service routes. As a result, the general consensus is that digital sales are here to stay, even after the pandemic is over. In fact, only about 20% of B2B buyers say they hope to return to in-person sales, even in sectors where field-sales models have traditionally dominated (such as pharma and medical products). 

The Challenges of Digital Sales for B2B Sellers

While digital selling is exceptional when it works as it should, it’s incredibly frustrating for buyers when it doesn’t. For B2B sellers, building seamless digital buying experiences remains a challenge. 45% of US customers still find B2B buying online more complicated than buying offline. 

In fact, many companies still lag behind in the digital transformation. Because the transition into digital sales was so abrupt, companies have struggled to make the switch. Digital sales

encompass a myriad of skills, tools, and processes that many companies didn’t already possess.

Only a third of buyers indicate that most of their existing vendors are well-prepared to support them in a virtual environment. Additionally, almost 80% of buyers have abandoned purchases because of poor website navigation, irrelevant search results, or unclear product information.

The pressure is on for these companies to catch up. In today’s world, buyers can easily switch suppliers to one that has already optimized their digital experience. 

Optimizing Digital Sales is Essential 

The rise of digital sales is raising customer expectations at a breakneck pace. 76% of customers now report that it’s easier than ever to take their business elsewhere, switching from vendor to vendor until they find an online experience that matches their expectations.

If a buyer has a less-than-pleasant experience on a seller’s website, they can easily switch vendors. In fact, 57% of customers have stopped buying from a company because a competitor provided a better digital experience.

Additionally, the demand for a seamless digital sales experience is so strong that 56% of B2B customers say they would “pay more for a better experience.”

In all, it’s clear that B2B buyers are increasingly demanding effective digital sales routes—and they will switch vendors and pay increasing prices until they find the experience they’re looking for. Therefore it is vital that B2B sellers optimize their digital sales routes and focus on their buyers’ digital experience. Companies that lag on the digital transformation risk losing existing customers and will struggle to find new ones. 

Choose the Right Market Focus for Revenue Growth

choose the right market focus for revenue growth

Choose the Right Market Focus for Revenue Growth

For a B2B company seeking to increase its revenue, the first step is choosing the right market. Market focus is the single most important factor impacting revenue growth.

There has been a shift in expectations for B2B marketing departments in recent years. Today, nearly 70% of CEOs expect CMOs to lead revenue growth for their companies. In order to facilitate revenue growth, today’s marketers need to increase their understanding of their customer bases and better anticipate customer needs. In today’s world, marketers who fail to work toward the goal of revenue growth will fall behind their competitors.

This means that today’s B2B marketers have to take things back to basics and reevaluate the fundamentals of their marketing strategies in order to maximize revenue growth—and this process starts with defining the right market.

Choosing the Right Market: Broad vs. Narrow

When it comes to determining a target market, many companies make the mistake of defining their market in the broadest possible terms. This might make sense at first glance—one could rationalize that a broader market definition will include more potential customers—but in reality, this is the wrong approach for revenue growth.

With a broad target market, marketing content will have to appeal to a wide variety of individuals with differing needs and motives for purchase. This makes it difficult for a company to demonstrate its depth of understanding of a potential client’s needs and the workings of the client’s specific industry. In addition, with an unnecessarily broad target market, marketers risk wasting resources on customers who are unlikely to purchase the product. In the end, with a broad market definition, marketers will encounter difficulties when it comes to differentiating their business from competitors.

On the other hand, a narrower market segmentation is often correlated with an increase in revenue. Instead of trying to reach a large audience with a vague and general message, marketing content will be much more effective if it is geared towards one specific customer’s needs. 

This might seem like a counterintuitive marketing strategy—how can a business be successful by targeting a single customer? It’s important to remember that companies within a market segment are in conversation with one another. By providing solutions to one specific company at the center of a market segment, marketers can simultaneously appeal to other companies with similar needs and goals. 

Putting Market Focus Into Practice

To make this concept more concrete, let’s consider an example in the form of a hypothetical company that provides software for the healthcare industry. According to marketing expert Geoffrey Moore, there are three elements of a B2B market segment: industry, role in that industry, and geography. With this in mind, the target market segment for this company could be defined as Hospital Administrators in the United States.

A specific number of potential customers will fall into this category, which can be expanded to include more potential customers or narrowed even further, as demonstrated in the table below. 

Segment

A. Hospital Administrators in California

B. Hospital Administrators in US

C. Healthcare Professionals in US

Estimated Number

400

2,200

128,000

Key Competitors

4-6

70-120

200-300

Message

Managing value-based reimbursement

Managing value-based reimbursement

Regulations in healthcare

Conferences

3

17

211

As discussed previously, it might initially seem like a good idea to target the broadest possible market—Healthcare Professionals in the United States—because of its 128,000 potential customers. But it is vital to consider the perspective of the buyer—will this software company provide value to all 128,000 US-based Healthcare Professionals equally? In addition, what messaging and strategies will be effective to reach all of these professionals with varying job descriptions, including Doctors, Nurses, and Hospital Administrators, to name a few? 

At this point, the company faces a difficult decision: It can choose to go shallow and wide, or invest exorbitant amounts of money in building expertise in each specific profession. Most companies choose to go shallow and wide, rather than investing in a focused market—and they are ultimately beaten out by companies that choose to go narrow and deep—which explains why the costs of sales and marketing rise faster than revenues.

However, there is another option—companies can choose to go narrow and deep in one segment at a time. This is the best option for increasing revenues.

Evidence has shown that with a narrower market definition, marketers can maximize revenue growth. Instead of burning through resources to compete with hundreds of other software providers, the software company can simplify the marketing process by honing in on Hospital Administrators in California, for instance. With significantly fewer competitors and fewer conferences to attend, marketers can increase the depth of their content and differentiate their company from the competition more effectively. Plus, it is more feasible for sales reps to become experts on the issues faced by this smaller market. 

When it comes to increasing revenue growth, choosing the right market is the single most important factor for marketers to consider. With the right market, B2B marketers can use their resources more effectively to increase revenue growth.

SOMAmetrics is a revenue-focused marketing agency, delivering high quality leads that close faster and at a higher rate. Our proven process identifies the best targets, defines the most compelling messaging, and runs highly targeted, digital campaigns—for about 35% of what it costs clients to do internally.

Managing an Inside Sales Team During COVID-19

You have an inside sales team who is now working in a distributed manner, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While many companies have employees who work from home, very few have a fully distributed inside sales organization.

The question is how to manage a distributed team and ensure success during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Across the country all non-essential businesses are empty as their employees have been forced to work from home. This creates several challenges for a call team.

One of these new challenges is reaching prospects—now it is more difficult to reach people by phone, especially if they don’t have VOIP systems that can be set up anywhere. Additionally, distributed inside sales teams are not used to working from home, so it can be challenging to track team productivity. Managers will need to find a way to measure their success and productivity. It’s also challenging keeping teams engaged. Most inside sales team members sit within the same area in an office. They share ideas and hear their team members on the phone. Working from home, making dials day after day, especially when very few prospects answer, can be a very isolating experience. Putting the Covid-19 pandemic aside, sales teams are struggling to achieve revenue goals—they are finding it increasingly difficult to reach people on the phone. In 2018 over 8 billion robo-calls were sent to consumers and businesses. This, coupled with email over-exposure, has made selling more difficult than ever. 

The Fundamentals

Successful inside teams utilize sales fundamentals to ensure that they achieve their revenue targets. I will outline, briefly, these fundamentals. More information can be found in my book “Teleprospecting for Executives who Sell Complex Solutions.”

Successful teams during COVID-19:

Successful teams are driven to success by proven Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and metrics. These KPIs and metrics are built utilizing funnel math to determine the number of inbound leads (HQLs or highly qualified leads) that are required to hit revenue objectives. Once the number of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) is determined to achieve 3x the revenue objective, managers have the data required to build out other weekly and monthly metrics to achieve the following objectives:

  • Total dials/day.
  • Number of key conversations.
  • Total HQLs (high quality leads that came from the MQLs). 
  • Sales funnel, per rep, that must be built to hit 3x of revenue target. This can be tracked, each month.
  • Quarterly revenue target required to hit an annual revenue goal.

Successful teams also track leads through the sales funnel to determine the number of quality leads that are coming into the sales organization. Leads should be given statuses that makes sense to sales. I use the following statuses:

  • Untouched: Lead has never been contacted.
  • Pursuing: Lead has been called with no connection.
  • Contacted: Someone answered the phone, but the person wasn’t the right contact and/or couldn’t move the sales process along.
  • Key Conversation: The sales rep had a quality phone call with a decision maker or influencer, which leads to a HQL or another call or a demo.
  • HQL: Rep has qualified the lead and it is ready to be converted to an opportunity.
  • Disqualified: After 10 attempts, or other issues, the lead has been disqualified. It is good to have disqualified reasons, such as a wrong number, no contact, etc. 
  • Nurture: Leads that aren’t ready to purchase now will be put back into the buyer’s journey. 

Teams should ensure that everyone has built a quarterly GOSPA or other mini-business plan that enables them to track their own success. Each manager should meet with each team member weekly to track how reps are doing against their plan. Weekly team meetings should be held to review issues, highlight successes and to train the team. These can be done through any web meeting service.

Managers should hold a daily morning check-in to see how team members are doing during this pandemic. I recommend that these be group meetings. Managers can take a temperature check of team morale, address issues with systems, and determine what each team member has planned for the day (number of demos, scheduled calls, contracts to write-up, etc.). These daily check-ins allow the team to meet as a team and provide ideas on how to work from home and stay engaged, each day. My team members came up with a few suggestions, including using a timer to ensure that reps are taking breaks, eating breakfast and lunch and are exercising; doing deep breathing techniques to stay alert; and stretching regularly to ensure that reps are leaving their chairs, regularly and throughout the day. 

Additionally, in a successful team, marketing should be working hard to write content that will attract buyers. Now more than ever, search is the way buyers get their information. Your company should be writing content that makes your company a thought leader in your space, so that HQLs flow into sales. 

It is the manager’s responsibility to keep the team engaged and to solve problems as quickly as possible. During this unique period, managers may find that they are in back-to-back web meetings. They need to ensure that some of these meetings are with individual reps and with the inside sales team. 

This is not an easy time for anyone.  Keeping the team engaged, and providing the tools that they need, will help your inside sales team to meet their objectives and stay in good spirits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more about sales metrics and KPIs.

Five Factors Affecting Revenue Growth

five factors affecting revenue

A study by Bain and Company shows an alarming trend: the cost of sales and marketing is growing faster than revenues. Half of the companies surveyed experienced their sales and marketing costs rising faster than revenues. Ironically, when companies achieved high growth, their costs of sales and marketing, as a percentage of sales, remained flat or even declined.

This study, along with others, proves a fundamental shift in the B2B world: Buyers have dramatically changed how they buy, while sellers continue to sell as they always have.How do sellers adapt to the changing demands and preferences of the modern buyer while pursuing continuous revenue growth?

Through the Five Factors that accelerate revenue growth; these factors are:

Factor 1: Chose the Right Market Focus

This first factor advocates that you select, market, and sell to the right industry segment for your unique business’ products and services. Of all of the five factors, this segmentation and focus has the greatest potential to increase or decrease your revenue growth.

Factor 2: Remove Friction from the Sales Process

The old selling process is being replaced. Today’s buyers want to work exclusively with vendors who align their selling process to the buyer’s preferences. Buyers prefer to research and reach out to companies that the like. To capture the attention of this new brand of buyers, sellers must align their sales and marketing processes with their buyer’s expectations and preferences.

Factor 3: Tightly Align Sales & Marketing

To achieve high revenue growth, companies should perceive their marketing and sales efforts and departments as intimately linked. If your marketing and sales teams see themselves as a united force, at least 75% of your leads should be directly generated by marketing.

Factor 4: Leverage  Intelligent Sales & Marketing Data

With the overwhelming amount of data present in sales, you must be careful to only provide sales reps with intelligent data. Intelligent data is numbers and figures that enable sales reps to be relevant, engaging, and convincing in their interactions with buyers. The targeted capabilities of intelligent data enables your sales team to more effectively speak to leads and prospects, increasing the likelihood of their conversion into buyers. 

Factor 5: Manage Sales & Marketing Operations by Metrics

Most B2B companies today track some form of metric, but usually only in regards to sales departments. To generate revenue growth at a faster rate than costs, companies should invest in tracking the performance of their marketing campaigns. Factor 3 informs us that marketing is just as important, if not more important, than sales at generating leads and revenue growth.

In short, buyers are demanding more from sellers. They want a real partner that can ceaselessly add value to their own offering, enabling them to renew non-stop their own competitive advantage. In other words, they want to work with a top tier provider. This is no easy demand—which is why, for most B2B companies, the cost of marketing and selling is growing faster than revenues.

To fully learn how to best leverage these Five Factors to reduce your costs and grow your revenue, download our full whitepaper. 

FREE VALUE PROP ANALYSIS

Validate the Effectiveness of your Value Proposition.

When your company’s messaging is not clear or compelling, it is difficult for your customers to find you and see you as a solution. Validate that your value proposition is powerful and compelling with a FREE Value Prop Analysis. 

These Five Factors Are Affecting Revenue Growth

five factors affecting revenue growth

A study by Bain and Company shows an alarming trend: the cost of sales and marketing is growing faster than revenues. Half of the companies surveyed experienced their sales and marketing costs rising faster than revenues. Ironically, when companies achieved high revenue growth, their costs of sales and marketing, as a percentage of sales, remained flat or even declined.

This study, along with others, proves a fundamental shift in the B2B world: Buyers have dramatically changed how they buy, while sellers continue to sell as they always have.How do sellers adapt to the changing demands and preferences of the modern buyer while pursuing continuous revenue growth?

Through the Five Factors that accelerate revenue growth; these factors are:

Factor 1: Chose the Right Market Focus for Revenue Growth

This first factor advocates that you select, market, and sell to the right industry segment for your unique business’ products and services. Of all of the five factors, this segmentation and focus has the greatest potential to increase or decrease your revenue growth.


Read more

Factor 2: Remove Friction from the Sales Process

The old selling process is being replaced. Today’s buyers want to work exclusively with vendors who align their selling process to the buyer’s preferences. Buyers prefer to research and reach out to companies that the like. To capture the attention of this new brand of buyers, sellers must align their sales and marketing processes with their buyer’s expectations and preferences.


Read more

Factor 3: Tightly Align Sales & Marketing

To achieve high revenue growth, companies should perceive their marketing and sales efforts and departments as intimately linked. If your marketing and sales teams see themselves as a united force, at least 75% of your leads should be directly generated by marketing.


Read more

Factor 4: Leverage Intelligent Sales & Marketing Data for Revenue Growth

With the overwhelming amount of data present in sales, you must be careful to only provide sales reps with intelligent data. Intelligent data is numbers and figures that enable sales reps to be relevant, engaging, and convincing in their interactions with buyers. The targeted capabilities of intelligent data enables your sales team to more effectively speak to leads and prospects, increasing the likelihood of their conversion into buyers.


Read more

Factor 5: Manage Sales & Marketing Operations by Metrics

Most B2B companies today track some form of metric, but usually only in regards to sales departments. To generate revenue growth at a faster rate than costs, companies should invest in tracking the performance of their marketing campaigns. Factor 3 informs us that marketing is just as important, if not more important, than sales at generating leads and revenue growth.


Read more

In short, buyers are demanding more from sellers. They want a real partner that can ceaselessly add value to their own offering, enabling them to renew non-stop their own competitive advantage. In other words, they want to work with a top tier provider. This is no easy demand—which is why, for most B2B companies, the cost of marketing and selling is growing faster than revenues.

To fully learn how to best leverage these Five Factors to reduce your costs and grow your revenue, download our full whitepaper.

Read more about revenue growth strategy here.

FREE VALUE PROP ANALYSIS

Validate the Effectiveness of your Value Proposition.

When your company’s messaging is not clear or compelling, it is difficult for your customers to find you and see you as a solution. Validate that your value proposition is powerful and compelling with a FREE Value Prop Analysis. 


SCHEDULE NOW

The Four Quadrants Model of High Growth

The Four Quadrants of High Growth

The Four Quadrants of High Growth is a highly effective sales strategy that enables B2B companies to optimally deploy their limited marketing and sales resources to maximize revenues. The model divides a company’s total addressable market—first vertically into two halves of customers and non-customers, and then by product into existing products and new ones.

Unlike other segmentation strategies that mostly focus on non-customers and can be difficult to implement, this system ensures that Sellers look at the entire potential market for growth–including their existing customers, and new markets that they can enter.

https://www.somametrics.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=4484&action=edit
SOMAmetrics Four Quadrants – click to enlarge

We discuss each of these highly targeted strategies in the sections below:

The end result is four quadrants representing different levels of risks and relationships:

  • Quadrant 1: Increase customer base using the Four Funnels Sales Methodology.
  • Quadrant 2: Make it simple for existing customers to order more of what they already use.
  • Quadrant 3: Sell to current customers products they are not currently using by upgrading, up-selling, and cross-selling new products.
  • Quadrant 4: Selling new products to new customers. This is the same as entering a new market.

Quadrant 2 has the lowest perceived risk from the buyer’s perspective, followed by Quadrant 3. Quadrant 4 has the highest risk since there are no references yet, and Quadrant 3 is selling to non-customers who don’t really know the company. What we need to do in terms of marketing and selling is, therefore, quite different from one quadrant to the next.

In Quadrant 2, the seller hardly needs to educate customers on the company or product since they are already very familiar with both. At the other extreme is Quadrant 4. This is a totally different market from the one(s) to which the seller has traditionally sold, and the likelihood that Quadrant 4 buyers have adequate familiarity the company or its products is quite low.

Therefore, using the same approach for all quadrants will not work—marketing and sales efforts will likely be overkill in Quadrants 2 and 3 while insufficient in Quadrants 1 and 4.

By segmenting our total addressable market into these quadrants and optimizing our messaging, offerings, and resources for each, we are more likely to maximize revenues at the lowest costs possible, thereby maximizing our net income.

This approach is one of the foundational strategies of the Predictable Revenue Model; it’s designed to position a company to achieve a consistent High Growth rate.

Strategy Matters

Companies that out-perform their competitors do so primarily because they execute a defined strategy. They don’t try to go after everyone with the same message, product, or offering. They segment — then tailor everything they do to fit that segment.

Segmentation makes it easier to isolate the right opportunities for a given company and highlights the right strategies to win those opportunities. Because you have the right message and the right offering for the right customer, you can shorten your sales cycles and increase your closing ratios. Effective B2B marketing naturally leads to effective B2B selling.

This is the essence of strategy – focusing limited resources on the best opportunities in the most optimal way to maximize results.

This strategy makes the segmentation process more intuitive. It also makes execution simpler and more full-proof.

Each Quadrant is Different

We all know that if we really want to sell our products and services, we have to tailor them to our customers’ preferences. What we tend to forget is that this is just as true regarding how we market and sell our products. We must tailor our sales and marketing according to how customers want to buy.

Marketing/selling to existing customers is totally different from marketing/selling to non-customers. And even for existing customers, the kind of marketing/selling necessary to get them to order more of what they already purchase is different from the strategy that gets them to try new products they haven’t used before. We know this is true from our own direct experience as customers.

Sometimes the right strategy is just to automate and make it simple for customers to order whenever they want. Why slow them down by having them talk to a sales rep?

At other times, there is a great need for consultation before sales can happen. Case studies, demos, and references are all a necessary part of reassuring a skeptical buyer that she won’t regret her purchase. And while the high-powered consultative sales rep is essential with a new customer buying for the first time, he would be expensive overkill for a simple reorder of a product a customer has purchased dozens of times before.

The essence of this approach is matching a company’s limited resources to the type of selling opportunities a company has and doing this as an everyday process – increasing sales, while keeping the costs of selling low.

  • There is only so much you can sell to existing customers. And sooner or later, for one reason or another, you are going to lose some customers. You must acquire new customers not only to continue to grow but also to replace those you lose. That’s what growth in Quadrant 1 is all about. What is the best way to achieve this?
  • Quadrant 2 is about customers who buy a given product. Your goal is simple — get them to buy more of what they are already buying. How do you get them to do that?
  • Once you have maximized your revenue from Quadrant 2, the only way you can get more business from existing customers is to get them to buy some of the other products you sell. That is how you get growth in Quadrant 3. What is the best way for you to do that?
  • And if you are very successful and grow fast, you will eventually saturate a given market segment and can’t sell more there. You will need to find a new market segment where you can continue to expand, which is what Quadrant 4 is about. How do you do that?

When you look at it this way, it is apparent that your sales and marketing strategies in each quadrant need to be sufficiently different.

However, it is not just the strategies that need to be different. Systems, processes, assets, and people you use in each quadrant also need to be optimized for that quadrant to achieve the best result in that quadrant. Just as you look for a specialist when you want to see an eye or heart doctor, you also need specialists if you need to grow each sector on a consistent basis. You need people who are experts in each quadrant.

End Goal–Predictable Revenue Growth

If you have one-size-fits-all marketing and sales strategy, you will see mixed results. You want reliable, predictable revenue growth. That is why you have to optimize sales and marketing for each Quadrant.

We discuss these highly targeted strategies in the sections below:

Quadrant 1: Increase Customer Base

Quadrant 2: Increase Usage

Quadrant 3: Introduce New Products

Quadrant 4: Enter New Markets

Setting Effective Revenue Targets for Profitable Growth

setting effective revenue targets for your company

Recently, we posted an article on the top reasons why companies miss their revenue targets: Not setting effective revenue targets at all; Low quality of sales pipeline; Insufficient size of sales pipeline; Low closing ratios; and slow conversion of sales to revenue.

In this article, we will explore in some depth the first of the five reasons: Not setting effective revenue targets.

It has been our experience that the degree to which CEO’s are directly involved in setting effective revenue targets and how much effort and time senior management spends on this critical issue make the difference between meeting revenue targets consistently and missing them more often than not. This becomes more apparent as we investigate the process for effectively determining and defining the:

  1. Ideal growth rate for your company over the next 1-2 years
  2. Key Market Segments
  3. Foundational targets for each segment
  4. Operational numbers and metrics
  5. Schedule (Timing) of these Numbers
  6. Right Type and Amount of investment required
  7. Organization-wide commitment necessary

We will discuss each of the above in some detail next.

Determine the Growth Rate to Set Your Effective Revenue Target

We believe that the first mistake many companies make is in what they choose as their benchmark revenue year. Most automatically set their previous year’s revenue as the new benchmark. Others set a rolling average of the past three or five years.

Our recommendation is that a company should always use its highest historical revenue year as the benchmark, regardless of when that occurred or what special circumstances led to that.  Such a policy re-enforces a mindset that if a company was able to achieve something once, not only can it achieve it again, but can also surpass it next time.

With the benchmark set at the highest historical revenue, the next step is to decide the rate of increase over that revenue base to discover your effective revenue target.

For discussion purposes, let’s say that a Company ABC did $50 million in its best year some years back, and the executive team decided to surpass that by 20% this year, or target $60 million in revenues.

Define Key Market Segments

Most companies sell a wide variety of products to a wide range of customer. At the same time, they tend to see these customers as  a single large market.

We can usually tell that a company sells to a number of different market segments when we tend to get ambiguous answers to simple questions. For example, when we  ask, “What is your average selling price?” and the response is, “It depends. It can vary anywhere from $10,000 to $500,000”; or “What is your average sales cycle?” and we hear responses like, ”Well that depends too. It can vary from 3 months to 24 months…” we know the customer base is made of more than one segment.

This typically happens because, initially, the company built a capability aimed at a specific group of customers, but later sees that the same capability can be sold to more customers outside of the original customer group. From the company’s point of view, it is essentially the same capability. However, customers use that capability for different purpose, have different levels of need for it (for some it is mission critical while for others it is back-up, and still others use it for convenience), and even different buyer roles. Hence the wide range of average sales price, sales cycles, and closing ratios.

A firm should to be able to confidently say, “For customer group A, we will target our average deal size to be X, and our average selling cycle to be Y, and our closing ratio to be Z”. Segmentation of its market is the key to such precision.

SOMAmetrics helps companies analyze their data and arrive at clear segmentation of their market.

Determine the Foundational Targets for Each Segment

The next task is to set the foundational targets for each market segment. Below is a sample list of foundational assumptions:

 Segment A B C Total
 Targeted Revenue ($) 30,000,000 22,000,000 8,000,000 60,000,000
 Avg. Selling Price ($) 100,000 50,000 10,000 53,333.33
 Avg. Sales Cycle (months) 9 6 4 6.33
 Avg. Closing Ratio25%20%30%25%
 Sales needed 300 440 800 1,540
 Sales Qualified Leads needed 1,200 2,200 2,667 6,067
     
     

From the above chart, the company knows it will need 1,200 sales opportunities or Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) for Segment A in order to reach its $30million effective revenue target based on a $100K average sales price and 25% closing ratio.

The question here is where will these 1,200 new SQL’s come from.

Determine Operational Numbers

For most b2b companies, revenue has long lead-time measured in months if not years. The longer the sales cycle time, the more a company must frequently track and know its operational numbers so it can make adjustments early enough to make any difference.

Revenue is the final output that results from the interactivity of number of chained input factors. Before revenues happen, many other output factors must happen—each with its own interacting chain of events.

The tough part is usually getting the right quantity and type of the input factors at the right time at each link of the chain. For example, if the company doesn’t get the right amount of SQL’s, it will not make enough sales to reach its effective revenue target. SOMAmetrics uses the Four Funnels Framework to manage these operational numbers.

Traditionally, companies try to reach their SQL numbers with the combination of leads sent from Marketing, and sales reps doing their own phone prospecting. The hope is that somehow, from these two activities, the sales reps would generate their own Sales Qualified Leads to stoke their sales pipelines.

Both of these approaches tend to have shortcomings. Marketing should and will generate leads. However, there is very little to indicate whether these leads are hot, warm, or cold. It now becomes the sales reps responsibility to first determine that before proceeding.

At the same time, most sales people we know hate making cold calls and avoid doing so. They are even reluctant to call on leads provided by Marketing because many of these are rather cold.

Contrast that with a professional Teleprospector who actually loves making 60-90 dials a day, sees it as a challenge to break into an account, find the decision maker, engage her in a two-minute conversation to get her attention and interest, schedule a call with the sales rep, and then moves on to the next call.

Now, this is very different. This is a warm or even hot lead and the sales rep will jump on it, preferably within the next 48 hours.

The ideal best practices would be for Marketing to send warm leads to the professional Teleprospector whose main job now is to qualify these warm leads and makes sure it is a Sales Qualified Lead before passing on to the sales rep. Now, sales reps have a steady, well-stocked pipeline of qualified prospects on which to call at any given time.

Assuming that only 10% of the leads that Marketing provide turn out to be Sales Qualified Leads (SQL’s) ready to be passed on to sales reps, then the company must generate five (5) Marketing qualified Leads for each SQL.

The completed operational numbers look like this:

 Segment A B C Total
 Targeted Revenue ($) 30,000,000 22,000,000 8,000,000 60,000,000
 Avg. Selling Price ($) 100,000 50,000 10,000 53,333.33
 Avg. Sales Cycle (months) 9 6 4 6.33
 Avg. Closing Ratio25%20%30%25%
 Sales needed 300 440 800 1,540
 Sales Qualified Leads needed 1,200 2,200 2,667 6,067
 Marketing Qualified Leads needed 12,000 22,000 26,667 60,667
 Marketnig Impressions needed 600,000 1,100,000 1,333,333 3,033,333

Determine the Scheduling of Operational Numbers

Now that we have determined the Operational numbers the next step is to make sure the right amount of the right type of numbers are available at the right time. This is about scheduling or timing, and probably where many companies lose control over their revenue targets.

Marketing has its own lead-time. Prospective customers will likely need to see quite a bit of a company’s message before they start doing anything about it.  Teleprospectors typically have to make several calls into a company before they reach a decision maker. These two cycles together can take up anywhere from six to twelve weeks before a Sales Qualified Lead emerges from a given campaign.

Also, personal selling is a labor-intensive process. It takes a certain time out of each day for a sales rep to make a sales call on a prospect, send out a summary letter and next step statement, arrange for demos and other proofs, prepare proposals, and take care of any other steps necessary to turn a prospect into a customer. Also, depending on the closing ratio, this must be done with many prospects in order to produce one customer.

What typically happens is that activities tend to be done in bunches rather than steady streams. Marketing spends months preparing for a large campaign, launches it, collects a ton of leads, and then sends to the reps. However, the reps can only call on so many leads at any given time. The rest get cold and hard to work with.

Scheduling the Operational numbers means that marketing campaigns go out on a regular schedule feeding Marketing Qualified Leads to the Teleprospecting team, which feeds Sales Qualified Leads to the sales team on a regular basis.

The SOMAmetrics Four Funnels Framework is designed to ensure proper operational scheduling.

Determine The Right Amount and Type of Investment Required to Reach Effective Revenue Targets

As many executives know, revenue is not free. It is typically purchased—either through acquisitions, hiring of more sales reps, increased marketing presence, or some combinations of these. To earn more revenue, a company will likely need to spend more.

But more importantly, it needs to make the right spending decisions.

One thing we come across often is that companies believe that if they hire more sales reps, then they will build more revenue. They justify this saying that they need the “presence” and that hired sales reps will also be required to prospect their own leads.

We question this line of reasoning. Our experiences tell us that most sales reps do not like to prospect and will likely not be productive unless they have a full pipeline of well-qualified leads to work on. The company has just added to its fixed cost without really looking at the return on that investment.

We believe that there is significantly better return on investment when a company reallocates its budget to Teleprospecting activities, thereby significantly increasing the productivity of its smaller sales team.

In the example below, the first column shows the cost of a single sales rep assigned to the fictional Segment A we looked at above. The rep has a base salary of $60k/year, which comes to $72k/year when fully burdened. The rep sells $900K of goods per year and earns $90K in commissions. This brings his total selling cost to $162K/year, and the net contribution to the company is now $738K for the year.

Lets assume that there are five sales reps assigned to Segment A and their totals are shown in the second column.

 Sales Rep (Quantity) 1 5
 Base Salary ($) 60,000 300,000
 Burden20%20%
 Total Cost ($) 72,000 360,000
 Commission10%10%
 Avg. Sales/year ($) 900,000 4,500,000
 Commission paid ($) 90,000 450,000
 Total direct sales cost ($) 162,000 810,000
 Total contribution ($) 738,000 3,690,000

Next, let’s explore a different sales strategy.

Let’s say we want to determine what would happen if the company let go one of the reps and instead utilized the services of a professional Teleprospector. At this point, the company released $162K per year it would have paid to the fifth sales rep, but also lost the $900K it would have received from that rep, or net negative of $738K that year it would need to get somehow to come to par.

 Teleprospector Fee ($) 96,000
 SQL/s per month 8
 SQL’s per year 96
 Avg. Pipeline ($) 9,600,000
 Deals 24
 Revenue ($) 2,400,000
 Commissions to sales reps 240,000
 Total contribution ($) 2,064,000

The new numbers are dramatically different. We paid the Teleprospector $96K and obtained about 8 Sales Qualified Leads each month, or 96 for the year, resulting in a sales pipeline of $9.6 million. Recalling that the closing ratio for Segment A was 25%, this pipeline converted into $2.4 million in sales.

The company was able to realize 267% increase in revenues by better utilizing the remaining four sales reps, since they were adequately fed quality pipeline by the single Teleprospector.

The company spent an extra $24K and increased its revenue by an additional $1.5 million ($2.4million-$900k). That is a 6300% return on that extra $24k—a smart investment.

While there is a point of diminishing return here as in all things, this example illustrates how companies can significantly increase revenue by shifting their costs to where they can get better return on the same dollars spent.

Make the Commitment to Reach Your Effective Revenue Targets

The analysis has been done, and the plan has been written and re-written.

What is left is the commitment to make the hard decisions, choices, and changes necessary to execute the plan and reach your effective revenue targets. It is always hard to make changes. People are affected by change, and many people have been with the company for a long time.

Conclusion

None of the steps outlined are easy or quick and dirty. They will likely take weeks of planning, sharing notes and ideas, and careful preparation to ensure that the management team has fully thought through the steps and stands confidently behind the numbers. And, in the end, act decisively and boldly.