Category Archives: Sales Strategy

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, ask for client referrals

(Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash )

Strong relationships with existing clients are crucial to your business. However, relying solely on repeat business can expose you to unforeseen fluctuations.  Economic downturns, changes in client needs, or even personnel shifts within customer organisations can suddenly disrupt your income. Extending your client base is essential for long-term success, and one of the best ways of achieving that is through client referrals.

A steady stream of referrals builds trust and positions your company as a leader within your industry. Potential clients are more likely to engage with a business visibly endorsed by the businesses already using them. Referred clients arrive with an assumed level of trust established by the positive experiences of their colleagues or associates. This translates to shorter sales cycles and less time spent convincing them of your value proposition. People trust the recommendations of those they know and respect. A glowing referral carries far more weight than any marketing message your company can create, fostering a stronger connection even before the initial interaction.

While referrals are highly valuable, there is a right and wrong way to solicit them:

Service Delivery: Start with making sure you are worthy of a referral. Exceptional client experiences are the cornerstone of this. Consistently exceed expectations, resolve issues promptly, and maintain clear, consistent communication.

Strategic Timing: Identify opportune moments to request referrals, such as after successful project completions or when clients express their satisfaction with your work. 

Streamlined Request Process: Simplify your referral process. Develop a clear, concise script for your request. Briefly outline the benefits of referrals for both your business and theirs. Offer readily accessible referral materials, such as flyers and links.

Selective Incentives: While offering a small token of appreciation can be a thoughtful gesture, building a referral program solely on incentives isn’t sustainable. The genuine satisfaction of helping a trusted partner should be the primary motivator.

Tracking and Follow-Up: Keep a record of referral requests and follow-up with thank you notes, regardless of the outcome.

Beyond that, cultivating referrals by building relationships with complementary businesses who you can mutually refer potential clients with. Network actively with industry professionals and join relevant business events to broaden your professional circle. Being an active referrer is one of the best ways of being referred yourself. Many of the major business networks build their ethos around the assumption that mutual support is better than asking without giving back.

Don’t wait for referrals to happen organically. Actively cultivate them as a core component of your business development strategy. By consistently delivering excellent service, strategically requesting referrals, and nurturing strong client relationships, you’ll establish a steady stream of qualified leads, ensuring your company’s long-term growth and sustainability. Remember, satisfied clients are your most valuable marketing asset. By leveraging their trust and positive experiences, you’ll cultivate a thriving referral program and secure a steady flow of new business.

At YBDT we work with SMEs across a wide range of industries. Our sales enablement support starts from the assumption that buying choices are made based on strong relationships. Working with many clients over the last fifteen years we have learnt that real value lies in improving sales conversion. Get in touch to book a discovery call today and book the conversation that transforms your sales.

Why specific is terrific

Have you ever played darts? As a beginner you can find yourself throwing darts randomly, and if you’re lucky you might hit the board eventually. You will however waste a lot of energy getting to the target. In business, this equates to marketing to everyone and hoping for sales. But there’s a better way: defining your target market.

A target market is the specific group of people most likely to benefit from your product or service. They share similar characteristics, needs, and desires. By understanding your target market, you can create closely targeted marketing campaigns that resonate with them, leading to increased sales and brand loyalty. Unlike B2C marketing, where you might target a broad demographic, B2B involves specific companies with unique needs and decision-making processes. Understanding these nuances is crucial.

Targeting the right audience is vital for several reasons:

  • Focused Marketing Efforts: By knowing exactly who you’re talking to, you can tailor your messaging and channels to resonate with their specific challenges and goals.
  • Efficient Resource Allocation: Limited marketing budgets demand strategic use of resources. Targeting the right companies ensures you’re not wasting time and money on unqualified leads.
  • Stronger Customer Relationships: When you understand your target market’s pain points, you can develop solutions that truly address their needs, fostering deeper and more profitable client relationships.

Before diving into the work of defining your market, you need to understand your own business. Consider your business’s core purpose. What problems are you solving for your potential clients? What value are you offering to their business? This foundation will guide you towards the people who need your solutions the most.

Here are some key factors to consider when defining your ideal customer:

  • Industry: Which industries are most likely to benefit from your product or service?
  • Company size: Are you targeting small startups, large enterprises, or somewhere in between?
  • Budget: What is the typical budget range for your solution within your target companies?
  • Decision-makers: Who has the authority to purchase your product or service? Understanding their role and priorities is crucial.
  • Needs and challenges: What specific pain points does your solution address for your target market?
  • Buying preferences: Businesses in every sector have their own specific ways that they prefer to buy. You need to know what that is for your chosen markets.
  • Growth stage: Are you targeting established businesses or those in a high-growth phase with specific needs?

Don’t make assumptions about your target market. You will most likely have some of the valuable resources to inform your target market definition already to hand in your business.

  • Customer Analytics: Analyse your current customer base to identify commonalities. Segment them based on industry, size, and buying behaviour.
  • Market Research Reports: Industry reports can provide valuable insights into industry trends, the active participant, and potential customer demographics.
  • Competitor Analysis: Who are your competitors and who are they targeting? Studying their marketing strategies can offer valuable clues.

As you gather data, your buyer persona will evolve. Be prepared to refine it as you gain deeper insights. The more you understand your target market, the more effective your B2B marketing efforts will be. Remember, defining your target market is an ongoing process. As your business grows and the market shifts, revisit and refine your buyer persona to stay on target for success.

At YBDT we work with SMEs across a wide range of industries. Our sales enablement support provides starts from the assumption that buying choices are made based on strong relationships and a clear understanding of your target market. A clear sales and marketing strategy is an essential step towards achieving growth in your business. YBDT will help you craft the overarching plan, without which activity will lack focus and outcomes will be harder to measure.

Get in touch to book a discovery call today and book the conversation that transforms your sales.

Aligning Your Buying and Sales Processes for Success

Traditionally, sales processes have been structured around internal goals, with stages focused on qualifying leads, pitching products, and closing deals. However, this approach can be difficult for the customer. If a salesperson offers a complex solution to a prospect who is still unclear about their specific needs there can be a disconnect between buyer and seller that leads to a lost sale, and a negative experience of seller’s business.

Aligning your buying and sales processes reverses the viewpoint. By focusing on understanding the customer’s journey, you can tailor your sales approach to provide value at every step. This builds trust and increases the chances of a successful sale.

The first step to mapping your buyer’s journey is to forget the traditional “push” mindset of sales and embracing a “pull” approach that works seamlessly with the buyer’s decision-making process. There are three recognisable steps in the buying journey, and you need to align your sales process with each of these.

  • Awareness Stage: Here, your focus should be on educating and informing potential buyers. Offer valuable content like blog posts, case studies, or webinars that address their pain points.
  • Consideration Stage: At this point you need to engage with potential buyers, listen actively to their needs, and provide tailored solutions which demonstrate how your product or service directly addresses their problems.
  • Decision Stage: Address any remaining objections or questions and offer clear calls to action. Streamline the buying process, provide clear pricing structures, and readily available customer support.

Training your sales team to prioritise the customer’s needs at every stage of the interaction will help them understand the need to take a different approach to the one they may have spent years developing. Technology can be a key tool in uncovering buyer behaviours. Use buyer intent data to understand a prospect’s interest in specific products or services. By analysing data collected from online activity, businesses can predict likely buying patterns. Matched with information from your own CRM tracking buyer interactions will enable you to personalise communications.

Developing high-quality content that addresses buyer pain points such as blogs, case studies, and email newsletters positions your brand as a trusted resource. It is vital to maintain clear and consistent communication throughout the buying process and actively look for feedback on how your message is being received, both internally and from potential customers.

At YBDT we work with SMEs across a wide range of industries. Our sales enablement support assumes that buying choices are made based on strong relationships. Working with many clients over the last fifteen years we have learnt that real value lies in improving sales conversion. Aligning buying processes with structured lead nurturing yields sales. Our three-step process for sales enablement, gap analysis, creating a tailored sales process, and targeted sales training has been proven to work effectively to generate sustainable growth. Get in touch to book a discovery call today and book the conversation that transforms your sales.

Why a staged approach to business development benefits your business

One of the big truisms of business is the need to have a strong marketing and sales strategy. But for many SMEs, the resources and expertise required to develop and execute such a strategy can be out of reach, at least at early stages of their growth.

This is where a staged approach to business development can be helpful. This involves breaking down your marketing and sales efforts into smaller, more manageable steps, and sourcing appropriate support at each stage of your business journey. This allows you to start with the basics and gradually add more complexity as you grow your ability and resources. Here are the key advantage of this approach:

Flexibility and Scalability:

A staged approach to business development allows you to choose support that aligns with your current needs and budget. In the early days of a business knowledge about the basic how, where, and what of sales and marketing may be lacking. So, help with creating sales collateral (case studies, brochures, or email templates), and support with building a clear sales and marketing strategy will give you the jumping off point you need. As the business evolves, your support can adapt to address new challenges and opportunities. This ensures you’re always getting the most relevant assistance. Content Marketing campaigns, LinkedIn, and telemarketing are natural second steps. With growth comes the need to outsource lead generation and nurturing, freeing up your expert team to close deals and support existing clients.

Cost-Effectiveness:

By applying the limited resources that you will inevitably have in the early days of a business, to the specific services you need at that time you avoid the upfront, and ongoing, costs of hiring specialist staff who may not be fully utilised. By focusing on your specific needs and goals, staged support can deliver a better return on your investment. By having a well-developed strategy from the start, one which anticipates the stages of growth you will go through, you can allocate resources to activities that are most likely to generate leads and conversions.

Expertise and Guidance:

At each stage of your business development, you can benefit from the expertise of experienced sales and marketing professionals who will fit into the niches that work for you at that time. Most importantly you can benefit from guidance on developing effective sales and marketing strategies aligned with your business goals from people who have done it before and know where the pitfalls are.

Efficiency and Focus:

You started your business because you have a passion for it. Using the right support for each step of the journey means you can focus on the aspects of your business that fill your passion, while the sales and marketing is cared for by others whose passion is business development. With a well-defined plan, the right people in place working on targeted campaigns, you can achieve better results with less effort.

At YBDT we work with SMEs of all sizes across a wide range of industries. All of them benefit from our business development support. One of our key aims is to be able to support businesses in the ways they need and want. Which is we developed our staged approach to business development support. This method has supported sustainable development for countless companies over the last decade and a half. Get in touch to book a discovery call today and book the call that starts your journey to growth.

Sales enablement – what does it actually mean?

Sales enablement is about equipping your sales team with the right resources and skills to successfully engage with buyers and close deals. It is a strategic and ongoing process that aims to remove obstacles hindering your sales team’s success. It’s about providing them with the right tools, knowledge, and support to confidently and effectively engage with customers and generate profitable sales.

We can break down sales enablement into three areas. The first of these is providing the resources that will empower your team. Content, such as product brochures, case studies, presentations, and videos, as well as supporting materials such as marketing emails, is the base on which all sales plans are built. Tools such CRM systems, and other technology solutions streamline workflows, automate tasks, and provide data-driven insights to improve sales performance. The goal is to provide technology that streamlines the sales process and helps reps stay organised and productive. Ongoing training programs equip the team with the knowledge, skills, and best practices needed to effectively navigate the sales process and handle customer interactions.

Which leads us to the second aspect of sales enablement. The processes that will take initial interest to an order. Implementing a structured sales process ensures a consistent and effective approach to engaging with prospects and closing deals. Providing a steady flow of qualified leads helps sales teams focus their efforts on the most promising opportunities. Establishing a coaching and mentoring culture within your sales team allows for continuous learning and development, leading to improved performance.

The third point, and perhaps the most important, is that effective selling is a process of building and developing relationships. To yield results the nurturing process need to be made specific and based on a clear understanding of the prospects. Many companies fail to grasp this and let go of the process too soon, allowing sales to slip from their grasp. Aligning your sales and marketing efforts is crucial for developing strong business relationships. When these two areas work together seamlessly, they create a unified customer experience that promotes trust and loyalty for existing clients and gives prospects the insight into your business that they need to buy from you. This is a big area and deserves a blog to itself.

Tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) will tell you how effective your sales enablement work is, or if processes need to be adjusted. Using the data collected from client interactions to identify areas for improvement and adjust your sales enablement strategy allows for continuous optimisation and growth.

YBDT’s sales enablement programme is built on our own experience of lead generation and improving sales conversion for our clients. By helping you build an understanding of your markets and then creating the processes that support your sales growth we can support you in creating content, generating, and nurturing prospects and guiding your team towards improved sales conversion.

YBDT’s business development process has supported sustainable development for countless companies over the last decade and a half. Get in touch to book a discovery call today and book the call that starts your journey to growth.

What makes a business development plan strategic?

We have applied the teachings of military theorists to business since the time of Sun Tzu. When thinking about our business development plans one of the most useful quotes comes from Heinrich von Bülow, ‘Strategy is the science of military movements outside the enemy’s range of view, tactics within it’.

So, in business,

  • Tactics are how we carry out our business development.  for example, Emails, telemarketing, content, or social media.
  • Strategy is what supports these activities internally, away from the client’s view.  For example, preparing to communicate effectively with target audiences and making sure the business is ready to take on new customers.

There are some key elements that makes a business development plan strategic:

Clear Vision and Goals

A strategic business development plan begins with a clear understanding of the company’s overall vision. What does the organisation aspire to achieve? These overarching goals serve as the compass, guiding the company’s strategic direction and decision-making.

Comprehensive Market Analysis

A strategic plan must be grounded in a thorough understanding of the industry, market trends, and the competition. This involves conducting market research, analysing competitor strategies, evaluating consumer behaviour, and identifying emerging opportunities. By understanding the external environment, businesses can proactively position themselves for success.

Data-Driven Decision-Making

Strategic business development is not about guesswork. A strategic business development plan should incorporate data analytics to inform decision-making. This includes tracking key performance indicators (KPIs), analysing market trends, and understanding customer behaviour. By understanding the data, businesses can optimise strategies, identify areas for improvement, and allocate resources effectively.

Resource Allocation

Sustainable growth requires effective resource allocation. The plan should clearly define the resources required, financial, human, and technology, and outline how these resources will be allocated efficiently. This assessment will help you identify areas where you may need to invest or partner with others to support your growth initiatives.

Implementation Plan

A well-crafted implementation plan outlines the steps involved in executing your strategies, assigning responsibilities, and allocating resources. It should include timelines, milestones, and success metrics to track progress. It is essential to identify and mitigate potential risks that could upset your plans. Contingency planning, expecting the unexpected, is vital to ensure the successful execution of your business development strategy.

Continuous Monitoring and Evaluation

Business development is a continuous process. You will need to consider how you will monitor progress, evaluate the effectiveness of strategies, and make the necessary adjustments. This ensures that the organisation remains on track towards achieving its goals.

One important point that we only briefly touched on its collaboration and partnership. You may well not have all the resources and skills with the business to carry out your strategy. By working with YBDT’s proven sales enablement process you firstly have our support to create a finely tuned business development strategy. We will guide you towards the overarching plan that touches each part of your customers’ journey.

You then also have the option of using our team of experienced professionals to support the implementation of that plan will ensure that you have the best opportunity to convert prospects to loyal long-term clients.

YBDT’s business development process has supported sustainable development for countless companies over the last decade and a half. Get in touch to book a discovery call today and book the call that starts your journey to growth.

Your planning needs support to be truly effective

Recently I have been supporting a small business who sent me a lovely testimonial about our time together.

“You gave us a safe space to take a step back and reflect on our business, the customers we have and identifying who our ideal customers are. As a small business which has seen rapid growth, we’ve never reflected on this in any structured or facilitated way before.”

As well as a great endorsement of our services, it highlighted a crucial point about how you create your plans for business development. An outside perspective is invaluable, it provides the “safe space” to step away from the routine and examine your goals and vision with someone who can help you be objective about them, and has the expertise to set strategic goals, identify key risks and opportunities, and forecast finances. No matter how well you know your business, an external voice in the process will ask “but have you thought about…” in a way that you simply won’t from your position up close and person with the day to day running of the business.

Other reasons for turning to an external consultant for support with planning your strategy for growth include the ability to access to data, research, and planning tools that you may not be able to find on your own. This allows for more sophisticated and fact-based planning. Having a professional advisor involved in the planning process helps to keep you focused and accountable. Consultants keep things on schedule and follow up on progress.

Developing a business plan can be a time-consuming process, and devoting the time that is needed while also running a busy company can be challenging. As the client we quoted at the start of this piece told us, it is the ability to step back and reflect that is one of the most important reasons to introduce an external voice into your planning. That outside perspective brings fresh insights, challenge assumptions, identifies gaps, and offers an alternative view of the business strategy and plan. When it comes to bringing your plans to life, an external consultant will also be likely to either have or be able to connect you with the people and resources to make implementation of your plans easier.

Working with YBDT’s proven sales enablement process gives you our support to create a finely tuned sales strategy. We will give you the overarching plan that touches each part of your customers’ journey. You then also have the option of using our team of experienced professionals to support the implementation of that plan to ensure that you have the best opportunity to convert prospects to loyal long-term clients.

YBDT’s business development process has supported sustainable development for countless companies over the last decade and a half. Get in touch to book a discovery call today and book the call that starts your journey to growth.

Is your buyer looking for choice or value?

At YBDT we are increasingly taking notice of our clients’ buying process ensuring that it fits with our sales process. The main reason for doing this is that it has a great effect on how successful we are at converting the sale and also on how frustrating the journey can become if the two are not aligned.

In our previous Blog, we talked about the fact that the buying journey is not linear and can be affected by many factors which make it twist and turn. Today, I wanted to cover buying styles and how they should affect your sales approach. The inspiration to this blog came from an excellent book called, How Customers Buy and Why They Don’t by Martyn R Lewis who I strongly recommend.

In the book, Lewis refers to two axes which shape buying styles, solution V product and choice V value. In this blog, I will discuss the difference between choice and value.

  1. Choice buying style: Buyers defined by this style believe they know what solution they are looking for either because they have bought it before or because they have gone through an extensive research and consideration process before going to market. Either way, these buyers believe that as they know what they are looking for, they will only engage with suppliers who offer the product they are in the market for, allowing them to sort and select the best offer.
  2. Value buying style: Buyers defined by this style are looking for added value to help them define the product they are looking to buy.  This is because they are buying a new product which they are not familiar with or they are looking for some innovation to help them solve an issue they can’t solve internally.

Many companies who have educated their sales team on consultative selling may well discount the choice buying style all together. The truth of the matter is that, if your key target markets are dominated by the choice buying style, you need to learn to work with it or you will be out of business.

That said, you always have a choice as to which companies you work with. You will need to make sure you have the right business development strategy allowing you to generate enough of the right leads to ensure you can close enough sales though. More about this another day.

So, what can you do to make sure your sales process fits with the right buying style? Here are some key things to consider:

  1. Make sure you are clear on the buying styles that dominate your market as well as the individual sale you are working on.
  2. Make it easy to buy from you, so if they are looking for choice, ensure you have clear proposal documents that can be sent on request.
  3. Equally if companies are looking for value, make sure you spend the time with them to understand what they are looking for and create tailored propositions.
  4. Shifting companies from one buying style to another is possible too, you will need to understand their motives and get to know the people involved well. You will also need to be patient.

You might think that this stuff is fairly standard, and like a lot of sales theory, it is.  Still, it’s very easy to get too involved in your own sales messages, forgetting that if they are not buying, you are not selling. Keeping to the status quo is one of the biggest reasons for unsuccessful selling and taking some time understanding your buyer could just be the edge you need to improve this. It’s all a numbers game in the end.

If you have found this useful you are welcome to contact us to book a discovery meeting to discuss your specific sales process.

Why the buying journey is not linear

The customer’s buying journey was historically seen as a straight line, with perhaps a few twists in it. The client arrived at the start and left at the end of the process. Contrary to this belief, several factors mean that you can’t assume that your clients’ progress through your sales process will be linear:

  1. Customers are complex and unpredictable.
  2. They are influenced by a variety of factors, including their needs, wants, emotions, and experiences.
  3. Many of the customer experiences in the B2C world are now influencing behavior in B2B settings.

Customers have more information and choice than ever before. Thanks in part to the easy availability of information and comparisons online, customers can easily research products and services from multiple sources before making a purchase. This gives them more control over the buying process and allows them to move back and forth between different stages of the buying process at their own pace, often with multiple potential suppliers. A customer who is new to a particular product category may need to spend more time researching and learning about their options, before committing to later parts of a sales process.

External factors can also affect your clients’ willingness to make the buying decision. Unexpected events, such as a change in market circumstances or other reasons why budgets would reduce will alter their ability to buy. Many purchases can be quite complex. Personally, a car or a house, or in business, a capital spend may mean that customers go through a longer and more involved buying process. They may want to gather more information, compare different options, and negotiate with sellers. This can lead to a more non-linear buying journey, as they may find themselves involved in different stages of the sales processes of several vendors.    

All this means that your sales process has to be sophisticated enough to provide content and support at every stage of the journey. Make sure that customers have access to the information they need at each stage, whether they are researching a product, comparing different options, or making a purchase decision. Collect data on customer behaviour and use this data to refine your marketing and sales strategies. Above all, be responsive to customer feedback. Listen to what your customers are saying and use their feedback to improve your products, services, and customer experience, and those of your competitors.

We all need to be aware of the non-linear nature of the customer buying journey and adapt our marketing and sales strategies accordingly. This means being present on the channels that your customers use and providing them with the information they need at every stage of the journey. It also means being flexible and responsive to customer needs, even if it means changes to your own internal sales processes.

Work with YBDT to create a clear structured sales process. We will give you the overarching plan that touches each part of the customer journey. Using our team of experienced professionals to support your implementation of that plan will ensure that you have the best opportunity to convert prospects to loyal long-term clients. YBDT’s business development process has supported sustainable development for countless companies over the last decade and a half. Get in touch to book a discovery call today and book the call that starts your journey to growth.

The buying journey can be a twisty road

When planning our marketing strategy, we should always stop and look at the process from the potential customer’s point of view. The way customers experience the buying journey has evolved significantly away from being simply a linear progress to decision making. It has become a dynamic process covering different touchpoints and channels. Understanding and catering to this journey is crucial for businesses looking to thrive in a competitive marketplace and needs to be a key consideration when planning your sales and marketing strategy.

The traditional stages of the buying journey are still very relevant, but each has a couple of new bends in the road.

Awareness

The buying journey starts when the customer becomes aware of a problem or need within their business. This often occurs through various triggers which can include personal experience, but increasingly awareness is prompted by marketing messages. So, at this point it is essential for businesses to create brand visibility and provide valuable content to capture the prospect’s attention. Content marketing, such as blog posts, social media content, and informative emails play a vital role in helping potential customers discover your brand and establish the business as a trusted source of information.

Consideration

Once the prospect is aware of their problem or need, they enter the consideration stage. They are gathering information, comparing products or services, and collecting insights from various sources. Businesses can influence customers during this stage by providing detailed product information, offering educational content, and showcasing the unique value their solutions provide. Testimonials, case studies, and comparison guides can be powerful tools in guiding customers toward your offerings.

Intent

As customers gather information and evaluate their options, they develop a clear intent to make a purchase. At this stage, they might be seeking specific details, such as pricing, warranty, or delivery options. They are ready to decide but usually need something that provides them with comfort that they have made the right choice. Providing transparent pricing, clear calls-to-action, and responsive customer support are good ways to encourage the buying decision.

Purchase

This is where the customer commits to the product or service, and you convert them to a sale. However, the journey doesn’t end here; it transforms into an opportunity for businesses to build on the one-time purchase and create a long-term client. The most important aspect of this stage is providing a seamless, positive buying experience for your customer.

Loyalty and Advocacy Stage

Customers who have had a positive experience with your brand can become loyal customers and advocates. They not only continue to buy from you but also recommend your products or services to others. Cultivating this loyalty is an ongoing process that involves maintaining high-quality products, exceptional customer service, and personalised communication.

Understanding the customer’s buying journey is essential for any business looking to build long-term business relationships. It’s no longer enough to focus solely on the purchase stage; you need to engage with customers at every step of their journey, from awareness to purchase and beyond. Working with YBDT to create a clear sales and marketing strategy will give you the overarching plan that touches each part of the customer journey. Using our team of experienced professionals to support your implementation of that plan will ensure that you have the best opportunity to convert prospects to loyal long-term clients. YBDT’s business development process has supported sustainable development for countless companies over the last decade and a half. Get in touch to book a discovery call today and book the call that starts your journey to growth.