Planning for revenue growth is one of the most critical components in today’s business world – it is also one of the most misunderstood elements.
The two key aspects of your Growth Plan are: first, developing it and then executing it. Very few companies succeed in both.
You can make a start to your growth plan by getting to grips with the changes and disruptions that are taking place in customer buying patterns – here are two key items of published research:
Mastering the new reality of sales by Dianne Ledingham (Partner in Bain & co)
Consumer Buying Decision Process
Buying patterns have changed significantly, but have you changed your methods of engaging with customers?
Bain & Company surveyed 550 sales executives in US-based B2B companies and found disturbing results (1):
- 60% said their companies do not consistently do a good job of aligning offers to target customer segments.
- Only 40% said their sales reps have a strong understanding of their company’s differentiation.
- Only 35% said their marketing and sales organisations have strong operational alignment.
- Almost one-third said the majority of their reps do not have the requisite skills.
- Three-quarters have made significant investments in technology—but less than a third have realised marked improvements in sales effectiveness from those investments.
The major disruption that’s taking place is evidenced by delayed decision making by your customers. When buyers finally emerge to make contact with suppliers, they are better armed than ever – about their needs, your offers, how your existing customers are using your solutions, and what your competition is offering.
Here is a key finding reported by the Harvard Business Review (2):
“customers completed, on average, nearly 60% of a typical purchasing decision—researching solutions, ranking options, setting requirements, bench marking pricing, and so on—before even having a conversation with a supplier”
What can you, do about this?
It is essential to have an integrated customer engagement approach between marketing and business development (sales). This integrated approach places the client at the centre of all its activities to seamlessly take a prospective customer from initial awareness, through to becoming a loyal customer.
If “60% of the journey of discovery” has already been completed by the customer, then its hard to create real value as they already know what they want. There is only one real lever of negotiation left – Price. is is far from ideal and will eventually lead to commoditisation of even premium offerings.
Most successful companies are influencing the “60% of this journey” using strategies such as setting a Customer Agenda, or harnessing their Centres of Influence to shape the customers requirements into their sweet-spot – before initial contact is made.
- “Mastering the new reality of sales”whitepaper by By Dianne Ledingham, Mark Kovac, Laura Beaudin and Sarah Dey Burton, Bain & co, April 09, 2014
2. “End of the Solution Sale” whitepaper published by Harvard Business Review (HBR) based on the study of 1400 B2B customers in the Corporate Executive Board study, July 2012.