Technology companies are faced with huge changes. Customers need different solutions and want to purchase in different ways. Your costs can be large, when you retrain staff to deal with new products and solutions. Your niche may be disappearing, forcing you out of your comfort zone.
You have a dilemma - chase new customers for growth, or just stick with loyal clients that know you?
Many of you rely on a steady flow of business from existing customers; better to "land and expand" your wallet share, with less competitive pressure. Maybe.
Often (well, most of the time), you only get new business by referral: from your happy users and business partners. It can be a bit hit and miss: many customers don't really understand what you do, so they end up referring you to "bad-fit" leads - a sinkhole for misdirected sales effort.
A definite first step is understanding from your clients you "value proposition" and getting them to put some numbers behind it.
As an important background task, you still need to attract new prospects so that you can grow.
Before starting out altering anything, have a talk to several of your current customers and ask them for some help. Be Brave.
Ask them if there are any data that they used to see if their revenue or profit improved, or costs decreased, after signing on with your service. If the costs are associated costs, that's preferable - staff costs or other ways of validating more work done are ideal.
These are the basis of good case studies, which you will need to market your offer.
The Existing Client/NEW CLIENT Problem
Often, existing clients "pigeon-hole" you. Why interrupt what you do now with a new solution? The big diversity risk for them (and you) is a failure in what you are delivering now.
Technology solutions are a carefully considered purchase.
Somewhere, someone is searching the Internet for a problem they have now, that you can solve already. Are you prepared to start talking about that to the world and start to engage digitally, Millions of businesses are doing that successfully to grow.
Those are the places where you've got an opportunity!
Establish your authority online by concentrating on each major new niche. Then you can make sure that, when they've finished doing their research, they'll ask you for help, first.
You need think carefully about how to attract them, whether they are your existing customers or clients you don't know yet.
A good attraction strategy works just as well with existing clients - that's something that you can engage on with them to get their feedback. It's a genuine way to get feedback on a new solution where the client bus in as well.
What is "Outbound"?
When most sales people (and many business owners) think about marketing, they associate it with an "outbound" approach:
It works out like this: "I advertise or cold-call, and then I will be speaking to qualified buyers who have budget and timeline that I can sell to at a reasonable profit"
That conventional wisdom is breaking down badly, hence millions of businesses are moving off the outbound path.
People hate cold-calls, won't respond to unsolicited cold emails (or open them).
Some clients will respond to "let's catch for coffee" with "no thanks, we're ok now, maybe later". That's a clue that personality alone isn't getting you a sale. They need you to be the expert in their next problem.
The Value of Relevancy
If you aren't proactive with help in a problem that people are thinking about, then you're not relevant and your approach will annoy your prospect.
Why? It's probably your messaging, trying to interrupt your buyer and impose your view on them.
That's pretty aggressive - odds are, it's not sustainable.
You could think of it like this: when someone from a call centre rings your home phone during dinner, how much brain-space are you going to give them. At my house, it's a really short time.
It takes an intriguing offer, that addresses one of their "jobs to be done", to get them to engage with you.
And when you can do that, you'll have a marketing approach that's more collaborative. You'll find that your prospect wants to do some of the work you need to help you make the sale. We call that "inbound".
So, how is "inbound" different?
Inbound forces you to tip the whole marketing thought-process on its head.
Think of it like planting a garden and laying several paths through it - all signposted clearly.
The paths all take the prospect somewhere - a meeting point where they will start to talk to you about their challenge and become one of your prospective clients and help them.
Why several paths? Well, there are different people that you will engage when selling - they each have different needs that are met when they are your customers. They might have a different take on the problem, or different needs from the solution.
Because you are planning a little trip for them where they should
- uncover your insight on their challenge, so you become a "trusted advisor"
- become aware that your company and services might work together
- be enticed to engage with you when they are ready, making it easy for them (when it is their choice, they are more likely to become customers)
- chose you to be their partner
Does that apply for tech companies?
More than ever!
Remember that around 60% of time, especially with technology solutions, buyers are doing their research before they speak to a sales person.
That means you have to have a sales strategy that considers your buyers' journey.
And, marketing and sales need to be aligned to the same plan. Modern buyers will detect when sales and marketing aren't working together - prospective clients can detect message gaps as "risk" and look elsewhere.
Think of inbound as the common philosophy that links sales and marketing together.
So - what can you do if you think that Inbound might be worth looking into?
Think about what it will take to get everyone in your company playing on the same team.
Most likely, they'll need a common goal and a way to see if their work moves them towards it. It might be as simple as being able to see how many leads convert into customers, and how much revenue is generated from each lead,
That might be a hard metric to visualise: you'll need to store that lead, prospect, customer, company and contact detail in a central system where everyone can collaborate.
How could your sales and marketing process improve by being "inbound"?
First - get everyone on the same page with some fundamentals:
- What is it that you star at doing?
- If you do that, who (in your client company) becomes a hero?
- Where are you going to look for those heroes?
- What will you say to them when you meet them?
- What's the plan to uncover their goals?
- Do you have all of the information from them to solve some challenges?
- How will you be sure of getting their business?
Get organised! By having a practiced sales process helps you to "engage, qualify, propose, quote and sell"; you give the customer confidence that you'll deliver their project and make them a hero!
If you suspect that your sales strategy might need a refresh, take a look at our ultimate guide to the sales strategy refresh.
If you want an outside opinion, book a 45 minute call with Lionheart to go through your current sales and marketing practices: an experienced consultant will see how you stack up, compared to modern best practice sales approaches.