The New Year is a time for new beginnings, and with the rapid pace of change experienced by sales and marketing teams, it is an opportunity to take stock and identify where to direct your time and energy over the next twelve months. To help focus your mind, we’ve put together five key areas that you might want to think about in the year ahead.
The start of the year presents an opportunity to step back and review your data to analyse what has worked well and what has been less impactful over the last 12 months, and then incorporate these lessons into your strategy for 2017. In addition, your goals and objectives will have evolved over time and it is important to make sure your customer segments and buyer personas are aligned to your current strategy and target audience.
As we saw in a previous post, the GDPR will mean changes for your data collection and management processes, so this is a good time to get your house in order, ready for the legislation taking effect in May 2018. Data ages rapidly and clean data is fundamental to your sales and marketing ROI, so best practice is a regular database cleanse, at least on an annual basis.
2. Set goals and monitor progress
The only way to effectively measure your success is to set clear, specific goals that the entire business is agreed upon so that you can understand what success looks like, and when you have achieved it. Large organisations will have a lengthy planning phase to feed into the annual business plan and high level priorities will then cascade down through each level of the business, unifying teams and resources. You may not have such a complex planning process but it is important to set out your goals clearly so that your resource and investments are aligned around priority objectives. It is more important than ever that your sales and marketing teams work together throughout the sales process and shared goals are essential for successful cooperation.
Once you have set objectives, you can then set up your reporting accordingly, to monitor where progress is being made, and to identify areas where a shortfall requires action.
3. Customer success
Businesses are increasingly aware of the connection between their ‘customer’s success’ and their company’s own financial fortunes. This is certainly the case for subscription-based models, where business growth relies on a growing client base renewing subscriptions over time and adopting products and services right across their enterprise.
Customer-centricity, however, is not exclusive to the subscription-based business model. Organisations are struggling to differentiate their brands based on product and service alone, leading to increased focus on the customer experience as the foundation for hard-won loyalty.
Given what we know about the cost of acquisition and the cost of retention (It cost 5 times as much to acquire a customer than to keep one), taking time in 2017 to develop relationships with your customers (particularly those with a high lifetime value), understand their needs and take action that will positively influence their success, is as important to your business success as it is to the customer.
4. Inside Sales
Inside Sales is now the principal sales model used in B2B, and some B2C businesses, for high value sales. Technologies that facilitate this omni-channel approach involving multiple touches via phone, email, and social media are also developing rapidly, enabling a salesperson working remotely to close sales, which would historically require a field sales or more senior salesperson.
Aside from its cost efficiencies, the Inside Sales model can be a key differentiator for companies that need to be agile and flex to market dynamics, so this might be something to think about in 2017. The high demand and the rapid pace of technological change are reducing the pool of talent available but an outsource option provides the opportunity to evaluate the model without the risk and overhead of recruiting in-house.
5. Sales and Marketing Integration
There is no longer any such thing as a linear sales process – sales and marketing need to work hand in hand at each stage, communicating clearly with one another, and as we said earlier, aligned to a single set of business objectives. Perhaps even more difficult than integrating your resources is the challenge of integrating the systems that support your sales and marketing processes – from marketing automation, sales enablement and digital platforms to complex analytics tools. Each of these technologies offers powerful functionality in their own right but, combined and working together in a unified way, they are more powerful than ever.
Although it may well be a slow and complex process, bringing together your sales and marketing teams and integrating their activity will help both to be more efficient and effective in the long term. This process should also help you to identify where there are gaps and where you need to outsource.
If you would like help cleansing and enhancing your data, developing closer relationships with your most valued customers, or adding Inside Sales to your existing skill sets in 2017, please get in touch.