Wouldn’t it be great to answer your prospects’ questions before they even had the chance to ask them?
You can do just that; if you employ sales-informed marketing, a process we use with our clients that dramatically speeds up the time to close.
As I outlined on the Sales Chalk Talk podcast recently, sales-informed marketing isn’t brain surgery – but it is a technique that requires a great deal of work.
The key is to make a recording of every sales call your team makes, and then have somebody listen to them and write down every question asked and every objection raised by potential customers.
The next step is to work out what the answer to each of those issues should be. What was this person really asking – and what is the message we should be shaping in response?
Once you know those answers — the one true thing you can say to answer each of those questions — you can turn them into marketing content. Instead of one-to-one messaging on a sales call, you can employ one-to-many messaging through top-of-funnel marketing.
This increases the conversion rate from your sales calls because you don’t have to worry about educating your audience on an expensive one-to-one basis during each sales call.
People who get the answer they need to a question everyone was asking anyway will move through the funnel faster – and you’ll get a higher close rate and the right kind of prospects and customers because your top-of-funnel content will allow the wrong prospects to self-select out.
Orthodox business guidance tells you that you should do customer discovery interviews before you launch – our method achieves them organically every time we record and analyse a call — and we actually close revenue for a fair portion of them.
I’ve always questioned where a marketing message comes from if nobody ever talks to a customer. A good idea on a whiteboard? A piece of content that we would use to sell to ourselves?
Sales-informed marketing creates a knowledge loop whereby sales calls feed content prompts to marketing, from the bottom of the funnel to the top.
Operations hold the key to revenue rather than sales
I believe driving more revenue is 80% operations and only 20% having a strong salesperson.
Think of it as a Broadway play with the salesperson in the lead role. They might be an excellent actor who spends their time in the spotlight in the middle of the stage.
However, if you take away the audience, the set, the crew, everything that makes a play run, you’re not left with much. Just an individual screaming into an empty room.
Another metaphor is the carousel, with its beautiful horses, lights, color, and sound. None of that exists without the cylinder in the middle, where you find the grease, wires, machines and circuits.
That’s where we work, creating a revenue system at the heart of a business. The focus on a super salesperson ignores the reality that revenue comes from a series of complicated systems.
You need the selling skills – but they work well only when you have the supporting operations in place.
You need sales, not a VP of Sales
It’s core to our philosophy at Add1Zero that we don’t sell consultancy, coaching, or training in sales. Many great people do that, but what we sell is the ability to execute and make somebody more money.
Many CEOs and founders of startups have this idea after they’ve been in operation for a while. They realize they don’t want to do their own sales any more; they’re in the mid-six-figure range of annual revenue and things are good.
That’s when they conclude that they need a VP of Sales or an SDR, then they make an expensive hire and things go disastrously wrong because they have no revenue program. They have no system from which to work, and as we already said: that’s the 80!
We want to work with people who need actual sales and want to put cash in the bank.
Strategy and tactics are both key to progress
I don’t believe you should prioritize strategy over tactics, or vice versa. You need both when you are trying to drive more sales – and you can’t have one without the other.
If you have strategy without tactics, you just sit around and talk. If all you have is tactics, you take plenty of actions but many turn out to be wrong.
Where many businesses make a mistake is in doing their business plan and simply waiting for the leads to pour in. That strategy should be informed by insight gained from actual leads and prospects.
One of the clearest messages from 2020 is that we should always be learning from the evolving marketplace. You have to listen to people and develop your strategy accordingly.
Put it this way: If you only want to sell things the way you did in 2019, you’ll soon be out of business.
We now know we live and operate in a world where things can change so fast that everything you take for granted can be flipped on its head practically overnight.
The only way you can deal with that is to have precise touchpoints with customers and feedback into the things you are going to do differently now. And those things are going to change again in the future – so keep paying attention!
My favorite client success story
Our vision is that any founder we work with will never have to worry about cash flow again if they listen to us and follow our suggestions.
Our longest term client was struggling with cash flow. They had spent about $100,000 on coaches, consultants and other people who were supposed to move the revenue needle – and hadn’t.
They were doing about $200,000 of revenue and I’m so happy for them that 15 months later we helped them to break $2,000,000!
To see the joy of the founder, who finally has the business they wished they had for the last ten years, that’s the experience archetype we love to have with people.
The strategies we put in place worked and we have in short order added one zero – and that feels wonderful.
My greatest success in business so far
For me, this has to be not giving up during all the unsuccessful things I have attempted.
They say that experience is just recognizing a mistake when you make it again. Staying in the game really is the most valuable thing you can do. I am 13 startups into my journey; some have been pretty decent, others have been monumentally awful.
Today I have a great team, we’re building a great company, and that’s all down to what I have learned on the journey.
We’re running a playbook that I created because I didn’t know any better. I didn’t read a lot of books about sales but I learned things along the way, things that ended up making people money – and they liked that.
If I could give just one piece of advice…
I would urge you to seek your partners with a great deal of discernment. You can’t do everything yourself, but don’t be hasty in choosing the people you want to build your business, or your life, with.
You need people who build you up, people you build up in return, and with them you create a core partnership. This applies to your marriage, your friendships, and certainly your business partners.