Business-to-business commerce suffers from stagnation problems that do not affect B2C, where brands quickly feel the effects of a disinterested target audience, particularly in the age of social media.
In B2B, clients are more patient and value long-term relationships. However, they tend to place their business partners in silos: this means that increasing your sales necessarily involves reinventing your brand strategy.
Is stalled growth really the sales team’s fault?
The company I’m going to tell you about is a good example of a situation remedied by enlisting our services. This company was a good size, had been operating for several years, and had the human and material resources it needed to meet clear objectives. However, it had seen its revenue drop consistently over the previous five years. The decline was slow: just a few percentage points per year. Not enough to cause panic and lead to a re-examination of brand strategy, but just enough to cast blame on the sales team. This is a common story in many organizations.
As soon as we began working with them, we could see that the sales team was unable to produce the results the management wanted because the offer was poorly defined, poorly expressed and poorly communicated. How can you expect a sales team to be high-performing and develop their market under these conditions?
The basics: re-examine the whole marketing cycle
At Solocom, our method of analysis systematically re-examines the client’s overall market approach, looking beyond individual people. We analyze brand discourse, company discourse, marketing tools, but also the on-the-ground approach. Our philosophy consists in revisiting all of the brand’s points of contact, leaving no rock unturned.
In our example here, the website was outdated across the board, and totally out of sync with the company’s product / service offer. The logo had aged poorly and was neither specific nor original. The brochure added nothing to the conversation, and presented information that was almost useless to customers. Also, consider this: why print a costly brochure with factual and technical elements and no brand message, when these could be displayed on the website at a fraction of the cost?
Finally, when wrapping up our analysis of all of their communications materials, we found that these materials were most often produced by freelancers. Never the same ones, with the main factor being price. This was a great recipe for inconsistency in the message, from one element to the next.
A rock in the shoe: a value-added service is difficult to sell
Consciente de la nécessité d’innover, l’entreprise venait de lancer un nouveau service. Celui-ci était complexe à vendre sans aucun outil de communications pour le décrire correctement. De plus, le cycle de vente de ce nouveau service était beaucoup plus long que le reste de l’offre de l’entreprise : de 6 et 18 mois, lorsque toutes les autres ventes de produits étaient presque instantanées.
Pour l’équipe de ventes, il était clair que le manque de formation et l’atteinte des objectifs à court terme sur tous les autres produits de l’entreprise étaient totalement incompatibles avec les attentes liées à ce nouveau service qui, en bout de ligne, était acheté par un autre niveau de décideurs chez les clients. Quand, de plus, la rémunération des représentants est reliée au volume de ventes traditionnelles, lancer un nouveau service est une mission tout à fait impossible.
Focusing the entire company on its ethos
In spite of all this, the company was still bringing in tens of millions of dollars in sales, and was making a little profit. How long would this last? To reverse this trend of decreasing sales, the management decided to contact us.
Putting our method to work, we developed a brand strategy focused on our client’s ethos. We adapted the service offer in strategic areas of activity and provided recommendations for developing the market and restructuring the sales force, by focusing on levers of growth.
As a result, the company saw a soaring increase in sales, with more than 13% growth in the year after these changes were introduced. So how about your positioning? Is it solid, and does it generate profits? Is your company living up to its full potential? To find out, give me a call.