Spend Less to Sell More?  Really??

Spend Less to Sell More? Really??

It seems counter-intuitive, but the key to growth is to spend less money.  Think of all the things your business is supposed to do to generate revenue.  Build awareness. Create personas. Generate leads. Qualify opportunities. Nurture customers. Make offers. Target. Prospect. Introduce. Differentiate. Connect. Resonate. Overcome. Demonstrate. Assure. Close. All this should sound familiar and seem logical.  But, it’s based upon a fundamental flaw.  It’s almost all noise.

The business world is filled with noise.  The things mentioned above only add to the din – more noise. This is because there is an inherent bias toward doing, and doing more – not listening.  Listening as in gaining unfiltered, unbiased, genuine, honest, empathetic, strategic and deep understanding of a customer, and of all customers.

Listening should be at the heart of all sales and marketing, but almost all the things we see, in our experience, are geared toward telling.  For example, most sales tools and presentations focus on the solution, and are written from an “us” vs. “you” point-of-view. They largely ignore the problem-side of the equation, and customers largely buy in order to solve problems.  How can you help a customer recognize the problems they have, see that those problems are worth solving, understand the value of solving them, and feel assured that you can do it with tangible results?

This gets more complex when you acquire other businesses or expand your products and services.  Now, you can solve a bigger set of problems.  Do customers understand what that bigger problem is, and how your entire business can deliver a higher-level value to them?  Do you understand how they understand?

Strategy is easy.  Great strategy is not.  That’s because great strategy requires listening.  And, great listening results in something simple, yet powerful.  Targets, value, promotion and tactics follow accordingly.  To build a truly great organization, one that is disproportionately valued – and valuable – requires:

  • Understanding the world the way your customer understands it
  • Investing in problem-side substance – what, where, when, why, how, how much
  • Elevating skills-sets – probing, understanding, elevating, connecting
  • Filling your sales and marketing with the substance customer’s crave
  • Establishing direct feedback loops and listening posts throughout your sales team, customer base, and prospect set

At the core, it’s about great listening that yields great strategy, great substance and great execution.

‘Invisible Engines’ of Revenue Growth

Every business has an invisible engine.  Like any engine, it turns energy into two primary things: useful work and unseen waste.  The best gasoline engines are about 25% efficient – 75% of the energy becomes heat and 25% propels the vehicle forward. For business, the question becomes how much energy is generating growth, and how much energy is wasted.  For businesses making acquisitions, the question is how to combine engines and make them more efficient. 

How efficient is your revenue engine?  Win 1 out of 4 deals: 75% waste.  A 2% response rate: 98% waste.  Connect the two: A 2% response rate that generates a 25% win rate yields .5% results, 99.5% waste. Most revenue engines are extremely inefficient. It’s like burning money in a barrel that generates massive heat and little or no motion.  You may be wondering – well, not us.  We’re doing well.  The key question is, why are you doing well?  And, could you be doing even better if your engine were humming along with far greater efficiency?

There’s a wrinkle that makes this analogy more complex, but we’ve seen it to be true, and it likely explains the 99.5% waste-yet-doing-well phenomena. The truth is: the engine you think is propelling your business forward is often not the real source of growth.  You’re thinking of the engine you see – sales and marketing people and programs and pipelines.  There’s a hidden engine most businesses don’t see, manage or fuel – this is the true source of revenue.

Good customers find you.  They weed through the marketing noise to figure out what you really do, and how you can help them.  They hold off talking to salespeople until they absolutely have to.  Then, they buy for reasons that truly matter to them.  They see and experience the true substance – the real value – of your business.  They tell others. They expand their investment.  This is the invisible engine.

The disproportionate growth opportunity is to align the visible and invisible engines – and make them run, as one, with far greater efficiency.  This includes uncovering:

  • Your best and most valuable customers, and how they found you
  • The true substance they seek and value they found in you
  • The triggers that compelled customers to take immediate action, to change the status quo
  • Natural growth paths for customers to do even more business with you
  • Sales and marketing waste; investments that generate heat but little or no motion

The key is to find ways to see and fuel the engine no one sees.

Forget Everything Else: Substance Sells

Many will tell you something different. But, the largely unrecognized truth is that substance sells. Not benefits. Not emotional connections. Not great experiences.  Not even great products and services. Customers, investors, recruits and sales teams all crave substance.

You need substance to realize a benefit.  Otherwise the benefits are just words. You need substance to form an emotional connection.  Otherwise the desired emotional connection is just marketing noise. Great products, services and acquired businesses have no value if they’re not used, and no one will use them if they’re not understood. Substance is at the core of it all.

What does your company, product or service really do?  And, what will your company, product or service really do – for me – the customer?  That is substance.  Answering this question gets harder and harder as the richness, sophistication and price-tag of your offerings rise.  Answering this question when you merge two or more companies – along with their offerings  raises the degree of difficulty even higher.

The strategic value of your business is the substance challenge and the opportunity.  What do the many products, services, technologies, features, advantages, uses, examples, benefits, business units and companies add up to?  And, how can that be made simple, clear and compelling:

  • As an entire company, including your acquired business
  • Within your key product lines, services, solutions and business units, in ways that can stand alone and also reinforce your company value
  • Across your sales teams, elevating skills sets and arming them to engage in a higher-level and more strategic dialog with customers
  • Throughout your marketing, providing simple yet compelling, plainspoken yet desirable substance to feed your promotions teams and investments