It continues to be a mystery to me how businesses and, in particular, the people responsible for marketing and sales in those businesses, seem to be lacking in the ability to create demand for their products or services. Putting issues created by a global pandemic aside for the purposes of this article, although most of my clients have successfully pivoted where that has been an issue, let’s explore why this might be so.
Firstly, what’s my personal experience of the problem? My only ever full time job was in a top 10 accounting firm. As a raw trainee at first and for 13 years a partner heading up the tax team across the south of the UK, I had to learn for myself how to find and win new clients. Then, when I left that career to start my own training and coaching consultancy some 20 years ago, there was again a burning need to build a following that generated income to pay the mortgage, school fees, et al. You know what? It was never difficult and please note that it’s an introverted accountant making that statement so, I would suggest that if I can do it, anyone can.
I’ve recently been running bite-sized “lunch and learn” training for a number of clients and a popular topic is “Lead generation and networking skills”. One of the questions I ask the delegates early on is:
“If you had to win customers/clients this month in order to survive, what would you do?”
Guess what? Everyone, no matter how inexperienced they are in business development, comes up with the right answer. How interesting.
In other words, people know what to do. However, for some reason, they are often beguiled by marketeers to believe it is some kind of dark art. Don’t be fooled. It’s really very simple. Here’s the process (which you already know). I’ll use a hunting comparison too, which I find helps put it into perspective. If you’re not a carnivore, you can use the equivalent foraging language, but the process is exactly the same:
|Step||Client/customer||Hunting for food|
|Identify target||Specify your perfect client/customer. Not everyone with a pulse, but where’s the sweet spot?||Be clear on exactly what you’re hunting and what it looks like.|
|Learn about them||Understand their world intimately. Their language, challenges, fears and needs.||Get to know their migratory habits, daily routines and unique traits.|
|Work out where they are||Where do these targets hang out, what do they read, where can I find them?||Where do these animals congregate in numbers and when? What are their watering holes?|
|How do I reach them?||What methods/channels are best to reach them? Web, SEO, networking, direct mail, targeting?||Choose the hunting method, select the hunting team, strategy and stalking tactics.|
|How will I bring them home?||Clarity of compelling message. Why choose you? What’s the USP/SCA?||What weapon works best – gun, spear, net, hook?|
If you aren’t filling your pipeline with demand, may I suggest that one or more of these elements isn’t effective enough and needs a re-think.
Many people choose to adopt a less considered strategy. I describe it like this – “shoot a gun into a tree and see what falls out” – and they are surprised when there is little response. That frustrates me, especially when I believe they know what to do. For example, a client asked me a question yesterday: “Our marketing and sales strategy isn’t working. Should we just give it to an agency to sort out?” The answer of course, after helping him realise that they knew what to do but they just weren’t doing it, was “no”.
It is perhaps important to say at this point that I have only ever worked in the B2B world and, I am sure, much of what I say would need some alteration if you sell to consumers, but probably not as much as one might think.
In conclusion, the key message I want to leave with you is this. You almost certainly know how to build up your pipeline with good qualified leads. If you aren’t busy managing demand, it’s probably because you need to:
1. Make someone truly responsible and accountable for driving/conducting activity and
2. Ensure all those tasked with doing the marketing/selling are being proactive rather than reactive, doing all the things they almost certainly know they should be doing.