Author Archives: Yafit Davis

Entering new markets can be a real challenge – Why do it?

One of my big bugbears is the saying, ‘Better the devil you know’. My esteemed colleague Google tells me that the proverb is of Irish origin and has been traced back to the 1539 collection of proverbs by R. Taverner. The main point of this saying is, of course, that a new thing is unknown and therefore should be avoided as it may be even worse than the current.

Not surprisingly, this is an approach we come across a lot when dealing with business. I have written before about the fact that most established businesses rely less on new business sales and more on customer retention and referrals. This is as it should be because these are key factors in the development of any company contributing to its stability and profitability.

So why invest in opening up and developing new markets?

Indeed, there are many reasons why not to, here are a few prime ones:

  1. Hiring or developing the resources required is expensive
  2. There are no guarantees that you will get a return on your investment
  3. You might have to make concessions or changes to your product to make sure it fits
  4. Developing new business takes a lot of time and effort

However, unless you are a big believer in, ‘Better the devil you know’, there are many reasons why you should consider new markets. Here are some of my favourite ones:

Over-dependency on your current client base. Depending on your industry your clientele may be very specific and limited or it might have a wider reach. Like everybody else, some of your clients might be great and others less so but any company can change direction, fold or

  1. decide to hire someone else. If you have a healthy pipeline of new opportunities this might be less of a blow.
  2. Over-dependency on specific industries. You may well be an expert and a brand in certain industries which is great. However, as economic circumstances change, some industries may experience a decline which can put you at risk. Adding diversity to your sales can put you a step ahead of your competition and keep you in profit. Diversity does not have to mean a different industry all together but also improving your reach within your existing one.
  3. Limiting your own growth. If you only operate within one target market, you may well reach a saturation point which hampers your growth efforts. A new market can provide you with a fresh opportunity to grow and develop.
  4. Becoming a bit stale. If you always do what you have always done you cannot really expect change, even Einstein said that. Going for new markets will force you to update your products and consider how you do things which is never a bad thing.

I hope this is useful and will support you in including a plan to enter a new market sometime this year. If you do, be sure to contact us to see how we might help. We have introduced some very specific products on top of our lad generation and lead nurturing so you may want to visit our site and have a browse.

Who is your end client?

The very knowledgeable Brain Tracy once said, “Keep your sales pipeline full by prospecting continuously. Always have more people to see than you have time to see.” I agree but before you throw a lot of resources into filling up your diary and pipeline, you might want to consider who, actually, is your end client?

This is an interesting question as most people look to identify their target markets but don’t necessarily consider who their end client is in those markets. This question specifically relates to which entity you sell to and the answer is one of three:

  1. Your end client is a company, an organisation or a person who purchases your product for their own use.
  2. Your end client is a distribution channel, such as a building merchant or a department store, which sells your products to its own clients.
  3. You have a variety of products and target both clients directly and distribution channels.

Not sure? Here are some examples:

  • Which companies typically sell directly to their clients? Most companies who provide a service like IT support, insurance, telecom and marketing.
  • Which companies typically sell through distribution channels? Most companies who provide a product like manufacturers, engineers, artisan food and drink and small clothes and shoes brands
  • Which companies sell through both? Larger companies who have a variety of products, suppliers of outsourced services like security and cleaning, retailers who sell online as well as through shops

 Why is it important to understand this then?

Understanding who you are trying to reach is a key to your lead generation and overall marketing strategy. If you miss this parameter out, you might find it very hard to engage your target market. Here are a few examples of where this might affect your decision:

  1. If you are trying to reach out to companies or people who buy from you directly, you will need to assess them directly. Find out what target markets they are in, where they go to look for data, who do they trust and use this information to build visibility and trust.
  2. If you are selling through a distribution channel, you need to take into account a whole set of challenges that affect branch and product managers in this industry. Of course, distribution channels vary enormously so you will need to identify the different segments relevant to your product.
  3. If you are selling to both, you need to reflect that in your strategy and ensure that whilst promoting your product online, you are also opening doors and building relationships with the relevant distribution channels.

Sounds complicated?

That’s because it often is, putting together a sound strategy takes some brain power, knowledge and expertise. We now operate a B2B lead generation service supporting you if you sell directly or through a distribution channel. Take a look and get in touch to discuss your requirements further.

 

Why are funnels key to your sales success?

Just in case you wanted to know, here are a few fascinating facts about funnels:

  1. The word funnel came into use in 1400 and originates from the wine making region of southern France.
  2. The word was shaped from the Latin word fundibulum which means to pour.
  3. It can be used both as a verb and a noun.
  4. Synonymous words include mouth, pipe, siphon, tornadoes, tote and transmit

If you were ever involved in a discussion involving marketing or sales, you would have surely discussed the sales funnel. The correct definition of a sales funnel, also known as the sales-process is:

‘The buying process that companies lead their customers through when purchasing products.  A Sales funnel is divided into several steps, which differ depending on the sales model’

 The reason we liken the process of selling to a funnel has a lot to do with this brilliant quote from my favourite salesperson, Zig Ziegler:

‘Every sale has five basic obstacles:

  • No need
  • No money
  • No hurry
  • No desire
  • No trust’

This means that in order to complete a successful sale, one has to take a lead through a series of qualifying steps which eventually enables them to confirm their interest in buying our product thus becoming a customer. This process can take anything from a few hours, a few months or even a whole year depending on the complexity, cost and nature of the product.

Many books have been written about the sales process and how you should manage it through using qualifying questions, regular follow ups and trust building activity. However, the point I wanted to make here today is that the type of funnel you choose to apply, makes a very big difference to how many opportunities you identify and most importantly, to your conversion rate. To further illustrate this, let’s consider funnels more carefully. Don’t worry, in my experience, there are two main ones:

  1. A short funnel, or a sieve, is one that only goes as far as one campaign. For example, you might send out an e-mail campaign, or put out a Blog and leave it there. The problems with this funnel is that you either don’t stick around long enough to make an impact or you end up speaking to people with no real need, money of more commonly, no real desire.
  2. A Long funnel, or a marble run, is one that follows the process closely through various stages. For example, you might send an e-mail campaign, send people additional information, re-target them through additional adverts, connect with them on LinkedIn and follow up on the telephone.

In other words, you are following the funnel down, uncovering interest and desire then developing trust to ensure that budget is found.

You might have already guessed what my favourite funnel is… Short funnels are easy to create and they give lead generation a bad name. Long funnels, on the other hand, are harder to create but they are much more effective in the long term. Watch this short video to find out more about our lead generation funnel and get in touch to discuss how we can create a tailored funnel to support your sales success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The truth about the best lead generation methods…

Which method works best when it comes to generating the most leads? Would LinkedIn Sales Navigator make all the difference to your diminishing pipeline? I hear this kind of conversation and it always makes me think about our comfort zone and how it affects so many of our choices.

As I often do, I found an interesting quote to share by the motivational speaker Ogwo Davis Emenike:

‘It is better to explore a gainful uncertainty than to sit in a painful certainty’

As much as I agree with Ogwo, I also know that often it is much easier to stay in my comfort zone and do what I know. As I already alluded to, I think that the need to stay in our comfort zone dictates a lot of the choices we make. This means more than you might think when it comes to choosing lead generation methods.

Many Sales Managers and business owners I meet focus on methods and tactics when it comes to lead generation and sales. I think that this is largely due to the fact that many of us are doers and find taking action the most natural place to start. I agree that actions are key to achieving results but actions which lack focus are often a waste of time. Add to this the fact that our comfort zone often leads to choices we feel comfortable with and you begin to understand why so many new business campaigns don’t work.

I have written before and will probably write again about the frustration I feel when people put a lot of effort, money and thought into starting a new campaign, only to abandon it after two months as it did not provide them with the easy sales they were after. If you examine most of these attempts to find a magic bullet, you will find that many were based on a bad combination of focusing on actions first and making comfort zone-based choices.

The thing to remember is that any development of new markets takes time and patience. However, if you develop a strategy first, based on analysing your target market and then choose your methods and tactics accordingly, you stand a much better chance of having sources eventually. Now, I may have not told you anything new so far but maybe this idea will be one you have not considered yet: the key to engaging new target markets is to understand how they work and where they go to find the information they are after. This understanding should dominate your choice of content, platform and campaigns rather than your own preference.

Having said that, it is also important to remember that we all have so many choices in terms of consuming information that considering a number of different touches is key. Sounds a bit like an oxymoron?  Watch our new video to see how it might be done.

 

 

 

Looking for a little inspiration to lift the doom and gloom?

Despite the news overload, it does not feel like there is much progress in our national affairs. Not sure about you, but I have been finding the whole think a little depressing.  When I feel like this, I use a trick I learned in the Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor which is a great book about positive psychology. The trick is to take 5 minutes in the evening and write three things which made you happy during that day. There are lots of versions of this, with some people finding it easy to write in the morning, others using it to express gratitude.  Whatever works for you; the point is to spend some time on thinking positive thus training your brain to prioritise positive over negative and contributing to your overall happiness.

Here are a few things that made it onto my ‘Happy List’ last week:

  1. My beautiful Mothers’ Day present from my daughter which included 10 reasons why she loves me with a few lovely surprises beyond ‘because you cook nice food’
  2. Achieving real clarity on a client’s service proposition which means they are nearly there with going to market
  3. A great referral from my BNI colleague which is exactly the kind of business I am looking for
  4. A client wanting us to increase our work for them as they feel they are getting results

I am sure you can see how doing this might help maintaining focus and keeping you going. I must admit that I did choose my ‘best’ ones for the Blog and often I have to think hard and come up with things like, ‘the sun shone’ or ‘dinner was tasty.’ The point is that it does not matter as long as you practice seeing the positive because I really believe that mindset is everything. Here is an example:

Following up from a very busy start to the year, we experienced a quiet March where we got very little enquiries. The move from too busy, to sort of twiddling my thumbs ,was hard and I found myself holding on to a mindset of blaming overall market conditions which was not helpful to say the least. Once I realised this, I decided I had to change my mindset and work out what opportunities I had, despite, and as a result of, the situation. Here is what I did:

  1. My assumption is that due to uncertain market conditions, companies need to focus on developing new business and growing their pipeline. This provides us with an opportunity to win new work.
  2. Initially we put a lot of effort into drumming this message to our target markets to develop new business though our efforts were met with little appetite.
  3. It felt like many companies wanted to see what direction the UK market will take before thinking of new business
  4. Still, I think that companies need to make a move on their new business sales but rather then hitting our head against a brick wall we chose to get in touch with people who already knew us. This meant contacting all of our ex-clients who we felt might be more open to a conversation at this stage.
  5. This approach was more effective though we have not stopped our new business development activity which is on-going.

 

The moral of my story is that even people whose job it is to develop new business can find themselves at a dead end sometimes. The point is to not let it last for long, take stock and try something else.  If you need some help evaluating your new business development approach, take our questionnaire here.

Staying focused can be hard work these days…

‘I try to stay focused on my creativity,’ said Christina Aguilera. Well, what can I say, me too, how about you?

It might have been mentioned before that we live in a very busy world which makes staying focused very difficult. This affects most people and covers all walks of life, making It one of the biggest challenges we face. Now, I cannot really help you if you are a nuclear physicist looking to get more focused but if you are looking at increasing your new business sales, I might be able to offer some advice;

So, what are the specific issues you face regarding focusing your business development?

As I see it there are three key issues:

  1. Short cuts
  2. Silver bullets
  3. Impatience

I do apologise if this sound a bit like a Haiku but it can be further explained with the following example:

Bob is a Business Development Director who has been tasked with increasing new business sales for his company. Bob has a very busy job and is bombarded with communications about how he could take his company to the next level using the latest trick every day. Bob, like many people, likes to use tried and tested tools, preferably ones he feels comfortable with. What will he do now then? Here are some options:

  1. Bob could look at previous marketing campaigns which may have worked in the past and look to re-instate them, praying they still work
  2. Bob could pursue the latest tool promised to solve all his problems
  3. Bob could spend some time reviewing and understanding his target markets and put together a structured strategy to approach them

Will you be surprised if I told you that any of the above options could still land him with no further sales?

This is the problem so many of us come across, no matter how much thought you put into a campaign ensuring your planning is spot on; you still may fail, in THE SHORT TERM. One of the biggest issues with our busy world is that it is full of choice and so we have become dependant on instant solutions that deliver immediately. But, when it comes to selling, particularly expensive stuff, it’s impossible to get immediate results and you really need to apply patience in order to get any meaningful leads.

As patience really is a virtue these days, most people abort business development campaigns too as soon as they feel they have had no results and start again on another old initiative or a different silver bullet and so on and so forth. Now that sort of thing really does not help your focus or your new business sales, does it?

I don’t think there is one answer to this, as it will make me another business person offering silver bullets. All I would say, is that every business has specific needs and details make all the difference. If you want to look into this further, click on this link (preferably on your mobile) to fill in our questionnaire and we can get back to you with some ideas.

 

Why are new business sales a must in 2019?

Many people will be looking at this title and say that developing new business is always a must. Still, many companies don’t necessarily consider this an emergency, especially well-established ones. This is an important area to consider as a matter of course but I felt that there is more of a calling for it currently which is why I am dedicating this Blog to this.

Back in December, I wrote a Blog about common sense where I examined some key reasons to focus on new business development in 2019. One of the reasons, though general, is particularly important in the face of current events:

as Matthew S. Olson and Derek van Bever demonstrate in their book Stall Points, once a company runs up against a major stall in its growth, it has less than a 10% chance of ever fully recovering.

I am not sure about you, but I can certainly see a potential stall point coming up which might affect many companies’ growth. When I wrote my original Blog, many businesses were still treating the situation as one to ignore, thinking that things will get clearer in the New Year. At the time of writing these lines we are 13 business days away from the UK leaving the EU and we have no further clarity.

I have not written this Blog to join the end of the world choir and I am sure that business will prevail after Brexit, in the long term we may even be better off, who knows. Your problem as a business owner, Sales Director or senior manager is the short term. How will you navigate your ship in the stormy water of a ‘short-term economic downturn’?

There’s a lot to be said for applying some planning to this situation, whatever you call rainy day measures in your organisation. That said, many businesses feel that you can hardly plan for a scenario you are unclear about. However, there is one area you could definitely benefit from reviewing which is, your new business sales.

This is particularly important for established companies out there as over reliability on existing business can make them very vulnerable to a market downturn. As we all know, when the economy is showing signs of crisis many companies look to reduce their monthly outgoings and review unnecessary expenses. There is no telling what these might be and whether your company will be affected by it. In this situation, you might agree, there is no harm in developing some new business and growing your pipeline by way of plan B.

I cannot tell you which way you should go in terms of new business without knowing more about your circumstances. However, I can say that whichever way you choose to go, you need to consider two important factors:

  1. Developing new business can take time to mature, anything between 6-12 months.
  2. The longer you leave it the more competition you will have.

This is why I recommend that you look into this urgently to make sure that you can start widening your options and developing your sales pipeline. We have recently developed a new lead generation system we call Big ticket Leads which might provide a possible solution.  Watch this short animation to find our more.

 

About making a choice

We recently asked a carpenter to make us some shelves for our kitchen.  In the process of discussing our requirements, we went from having a few shelves for our cook books to having a floor to ceiling unit in the corner of our kitchen. That took some careful measurements and calculations then off he went to make our unit.

Some time passed and he came back to take some final measurements. It was Monday morning and I had about a million things to think about but it was then that I was asked to make a choice between a corner unit or a straight forward shelving unit. What I should have done was to ask him to leave it with me so we could discuss it but instead I felt compelled to make a choice there and then. I chose a corner unit, which came out completely the wrong shape and size for our kitchen. Not a good outcome; luckily it sorts of fits in our living room.

At this stage, I think it’s important to mention that there is never just one choice.  However, if you need to make one, here is what I learned:

  1. Immediate choices are not a must. Some things are better off being carefully considered.
  2. Making the right choice takes specific skill and knowledge. Sometimes it’s wise to involve other people who are better placed to make a particular decision.

Your business development strategy, just like many other elements, involves making choices. In order to make it work for your company, you need to consider a variety of things, such as:

  • Who are you targeting?
  • In what order?
  • What is their key issue?
  • How can you solve it?

Once you are clear on the above, you can work out what tactics to use to better connect with your target markets.  At this stage, your choice should be based on where your target markets search for helpful information. This will almost certainly not be based on one tactic, or platform but rather on a variety of tools which fit together.

Simple, right? WRONG!  Doing this right takes some skill and research. It might take some time to put together and you might have to ask an expert. But done correctly, it will work much better than applying the latest craze which everyone is talking about.

Our Big Ticked Lead Generation system was designed to provide a means which may be right for you if you operate in the B2B market and have a complicated, long sales process.  Check our website for more details or give us a call to discuss further.

One trick ponies and comfort zones

Our fixation with not being a ‘one trick pony’ in business, is apparent in the examples below:

  1. Famous last words: Some of you may remember Stuart Baggs, ‘The Brand’, who famously told Lord Sugar during the Apprentice show in 2015: ‘I’m not a one-trick pony, I’m not a 10-tricks pony. I’ve got a whole field of ponies, waiting to literally run towards this job…’ This approach kept him going for quite a few episodes until Lord Sugar decided to fire him.
  2. Synonymous with failure: According to an article I read in The Story Telling Blog, in the 1800s small travelling circuses without big headline acts or a menagerie of exotic animals were known as dog and pony shows. The very average acts on the programme were derided as ‘one trick ponies’

No one, it seems, wants to be a one trick pony, with only one talent, one skill and one way of standing out.  I would go further and say that in our fast-developing world, it is very hard to keep growing your company based on a very limited offer. This is why so many companies look to acquire additional talent through acquisition and joint projects. Appealing to new markets and developing new products all depend greatly on demonstrating relevant skills and knowledge. In the world of business, ‘a field of ponies’ is therefore definitely better than a ‘one trick pony’.

Why not apply this to your marketing strategy, then?

In my experience two main factors affect your marketing strategy:

  1. Looking for the magic bullet: so many people I come across look to over-simplify their marketing approach by believing that they must choose one discipline to promote their organisations.
  2. Staying within your comfort zone: Knowing what you are good at and how you wish to come across, is very important. Still it’s easy to confuse this with only choosing marketing strategies we relate to and understand.

It might surprise you to consider that the important choices to make in your marketing strategy relate to your target markets and the priority in which you want to approach them. The tools and platforms you wish to use can vary and are driven by where your target markets choose to consume information, and not the other way around.

When considering how to approach your target market, it is therefore very important to keep an open mind and not try to limit yourself to your own comfort zone. Having realised this ourselves, we have joined forces with Make Digital Work to create a cross platform product aimed at starting sales conversations. You can find out more about this here.

3 tips for making a quick start on new business development

If you want some good advice, listen to the American tennis player Arthur Ashe, who said, ‘Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can’.  When it comes to developing new business, this is sound advice, particularly when so many people are looking for a magic bullet that will get them off to a flying start. Often, the answer is actually much closer than you imagine and comes from utilising what you already know.

Doing what I do, I often stand at the starting line with a new client, looking down the track we have defined to be his new target market.  People laugh when I tell them that despite putting together a sound strategy, in reality we don’t really know how it will go until we start. This can be a little daunting for companies wanting return on their investment. The process of developing new business is slow by definition, as you are venturing into markets you where you are not known, and that is not an easy concept for the board to come to terms with.

So, what can you do to try and speed things up?

The answer to that is threefold.  Using the words of Arthur Ashe:

  1. Start where you are: This applies to the strategy stage when it is really important to use your current market knowledge to propel you on to the next market. If you are already successful with hospitality, you may want to look at a related market such as facility management rather then going for insurance. This means that your current success will be easier to demonstrate and your market understanding will be much more relevant.
  2. Use what you have: The key to an accelerated sales process, is using known contacts who can introduce you into the new market you are developing. It might sound obvious, but I don’t actually meet many people who do this. It’s much easier to buy a database and call everyone but results will be much slower. Get everyone in your company considering old contacts they may have and referral partners who can help; you will amazed by the value of what you can gather using your own resources.
  3. Do what you can: So many people I meet give up too soon. Getting into a new market is not easy and you may feel that you are better off staying where you are, which is fine. But if you are going for a new market, make sure you are prepared to chase people and keep following up until you get a sensible answer.

I hope this is helpful and will make some difference to your plans for achieving world domination this year. If you need some help with additional resources, a good plan or lead nurturing, check out our website or get in touch