Author: Fergus Gregory, Managing Director, Scaleup Advisory
Word count: 820
Time to read: 4 mins
Macroeconomic uncertainty creates challenges and opportunities, so what can sales teams do to maximise performance and results?
Collingwood Advisory Director Fergus Gregory share’s his thoughts on what the highest-performing sales teams are doing to build a resilient sales strategy with Raoul Monks of Flume Sales Training and an audience of salespeople at AEO Forums 2023.
Key takeaways from the discussion:
1. Get set up for success
The best sales leaders carve out more time to think, plan and review than their peers. This becomes even more critical as pressures mount.
It is important to get your ideal customer profile (ICP) straight, and prioritise clients for whom you can best drive results long-term, even if they’re not your current biggest spenders.
By dividing the market into priorities or tiers, media businesses can see more clearly where they should allocate their time and resources, and work out the best way to test new products or models with the market. Prioritise the Bellwethers and high-growth potential clients.
2. Start the relationship as you mean to go on
Be multichannel as a salesperson: You will likely recommend a multichannel solution for your clients, so ensure you and your team are eating your own dog food. For a sales team, that’s an appropriate use of every channel the client can engage with; including phone calls, events, face-to-face meetings, social, email, text messages, video calls and even good old direct mail. No one channel is the magic bullet, a combination of all – and persistence – is usually what pays off.
3. Think long-term, deliver fast
The clients interviewed at AEO Forum said they expected those selling to them to take greater ownership of client success than in the past. They are more likely to see you as a strategic partner if you start the relationship on that footing.
Show the client the journey you want to take them on and what good outcomes look like in the long-term. But remember to arm your sellers with more condensed ‘easy to buy’ packages that can help the client get started on the journey.
4. Take control of the sale – from initial contact to renewal and upsell
Guide the client through the purchase journey: The key to this is having a compelling ‘why’ they should need to engage with the next stage of the journey. Whether that’s an initial call, a proposal review call, or a renewal call. Great sales teams make every interaction worth paying for in itself. So spending time selling the next stage of the process is as important as having a compelling pitch for your product; if your client can’t see value in the next conversation, they are unlikely to become a long-term customer.
Don’t wait for the objection: It could be a complicated decision-making process, or finding a new budget. Seek to bring common objections/blockers up before the client. Make a list of typical objections/blockers to sale, develop discussion guides around each. In addition to flushing out uncertainty early on, it helps position you as an equal partner invested in mutual success.
Show the client what value you add: You have unique insights that the client is unlikely to have. Yes, they should be closer to their customers, but you spend every day speaking with their competitors as a sales team. Use this to highlight common challenges and showcase what the best are doing. You position yourself as the expert and can help de-risk the deal.
Take risk off the table: derisking the purchase is vital – arm your team to show clients what a long-term partnership looks like with you. Work to define clear, realistic outcomes and use previous results to challenge the client where their expectations are unrealistic.
Use case studies/war stories: Show how you achieved the best outcomes, and support any challenge you might need to make. Where appropriate, introduce your client success and commercial content team before closing the deal, which can add significant value to the process and peace of mind for clients.
More Haste, less speed: Follow up fast but with purpose. Nothing new in needing a prompt follow-up after a call, but it’s still surprising how few salespeople do that. Enabling it is vital for leaders, but it’s not just about speed. In a world of ubiquitous meetings/zooms/notifications and the flood of messages, those follow-ups need to be meaningful, or the client will quickly forget you. It’s more important than ever to demonstrate why clients need to act now and that you lead by example.
Agree on the next stage of the process on your call, then follow up with timely, concise information to remind the client of the compelling reason to move the decision.
Collingwood Advisory’s Sales Strategy and Development programmes are helping media entrepreneurs and their teams to accelerate growth and improve quality of earnings. Book a cup of tea with one of our team to find out more.
Fergus is an experienced B2B media business leader who has spent over 15 years in the world of media, subscriptions, and events.