Salesman, handshake, courtesy of Microsoft ClipArt

Acquiring new customers

Health Warning – Selling still required!

It is now common that businesses of all sizes choose from a wide range of mechanisms to generate contacts who might have the potential to become new customers.

In a recent informal poll on the LinkedIn IoD group there were 41 unique responses to the question “What approach do you use to acquire new customers?”  The poll provided a range of options, most people ticked three or four and the scores were;

  • 40  word of mouth referrals
  • 34   face-to-face networking
  • 14   public speaking
  • 12   social media
  • 10   website
  •   8   PR/writing
  •   2   Direct mail
  •   2   e-mail marketing

It is of course a good thing that mainly as a result of technology we all now have so many options for the way we engage with our markets.  However, a common problem we see is a misinterpretation of what a contact made through, for example, networking, social media or website enquiry, actually means.

All too often what is simply a very early stage contact is seen as a hot prospect to become a new customer.  Of the various options outlined above face-to-face networking followed by social media carry the greatest risk of providing misleading messages.  The other party is polite, enthusiastic about what you are telling them and says how you must stay in touch.  They may even promise to introduce you to someone they have referred to but usually someone who remains unnamed.

Don’t delude yourself!  All of the above is a perfectly valid approach to creating initial contacts, step one in a sales prospecting cycle, but that is all it is; step one.  From this point onwards the hopeful supplier must deploy sales and selling strategies and techniques if the potential in that contact is to turn into an actual revenue generating opportunity.

Salesman, handshake, courtesy of Microsoft ClipArt

Face to face selling is still very much alive!

Simply being active on social media, attending lots of networking events or rejoicing at the number of unique views of your website is not bankable.  To generate revenue that you can bank you need to sell – sorry; probably not what you hoped to hear but it is a fact – turning suspects into prospects and prospects into customers is only possible through a rigorous process of sales and selling.

And be careful what you say.  If you are the person hoping to gain a business opportunity from or via the other party then you will typically have only a limited time to get them sufficiently interested to agree to a longer meeting.  Even if they don’t actually ask, they will want to know an answer to “What do you do?” before they agree to meet you again or introduce you to someone they know.  The answer should not be a stream of the things you do or even your perception of the benefits or value you deliver; reading this may help you to understand why.  This also looked in some detail at this issue in your initial conversation.

I wish you happy hunting.

Business growth

Business Growth

Are you an owner manager or business leader, looking to take the next step?

As your business grows, so too the C level team may need to evolve; focusing more on strategy and less on operations, or delegating specific functions. Sometimes, trying to achieve this on your own can be frustrating and risky, requiring a steep learning curve.

In such times of change it can be more cost effective to use external resources to provide the particular skills to successfully design and implement the changes as they are likely to be significantly different to the skills required to maintain the new environment.  An interim appointment is often ideal for these circumstances.

We can work with you and your top team to develop strategic and tactical (sales) plans for:

Growth: providing support, advice and guidance for directors and owners who are dealing with the many problems arising from growing a company in today’s tough business environment.

“Performative has helped us to refocus on our current products and also to look at new markets and we are working as a board far more efficiently.” Director, International Mailing company.

“The work done by Performative created a great foundation for what is now a very successful business.” MD, IT Solutions company.

Succession: If business success has been heavily reliant on your involvement, it is natural to be apprehensive when handing the reins to others so you can devote more energy to the future of the business and coaching your successors, or to freeing you for your next business. We identify the profile of your ideal recruit and shortlist appropriate candidates for your final decision.

“In early 2010 we decided to recruit a Commercial Director to take over the management of the sales and marketing function from me and Performative designed and ran the entire recruitment project. The service provided was excellent as it allowed me to spend more of my time on business, both operationally and strategically, while Performative ran the recruitment project.” MD, IT Parts company.

“Having Performative involved in recruitment of crucial sales appointments gave me peace of mind to leave the UK and build our US operation.” CEO, On-line Education Support company.

Structural Change: drawing on a wealth of practical experience to support you in the preparation and execution of strategy for; new market penetration, acquisitions, mergers, outsourcing, floatation or post-acquisition/merger harmonisation.

“Following the successful completion of a Sales Performance Transformation programme, Performative continued to work with us in support of a plan to effect a management buy-out by existing senior executives. Their wealth of business experience and specific knowledge of the M&A market enabled Performative to provide me with real practical help in finding my way through the minefield of the MBO. In particular it helped me to understand what to expect from the accountants, lawyers and banks, and thus prepare for their processes in funding an MBO. Performative also provided invaluable assistance to the members of the MBO team. Without the support of Performative this would have been a much more difficult exercise peppered with pitfalls.” CEO, Communications company.

Exit: providing expert assistance in preparing your company to make it an attractive proposition for trade sale, divestment or MBI/MBO, enabling you to focus on business as usual and retain business value.

“Performative drove the process throughout, without which support either the business would have suffered or the deal would never have completed. Since completion Performative have continued to support us through the early stages of integration. I am extremely happy with the result they have obtained for us.” MD, Media Agency.

Feel free to contact us for a confidential discussion on achieving your growth plans.

Customer engagement for win-win deals

Customer Engagement

If your customers are slow to make decisions and your pipeline forecast is forever moving, we can help you.

If your sales force are submitting bids with a low uptake so you feel you are just providing free consultancy, we can help you.

Markets are changing and customers have more opportunities for research before they buy, consequently the sales force has different challenges in order to engage with customers. Gaining insight into your Customer’s world and thereby understanding how you can deliver greater value than your competitors can be key to how you approach your target market.

We have helped companies in various sectors re-focus their propositions and markets for greater customer engagement, leading to more new and extension business. This also assisted the sales management to obtain more reliable forecasts.

“Working with Performative greatly improved the quality of engagement with potential customers and our ability to forecast outcomes from those.” MD, Mobile Technology company.

Feel free to call us for a confidential discussion.

shorter sales cycles, new customers, more business, increased profilts, better cashflow