Customer Acquisition Guidelines
Customer Acquisition for SMB Software Vendors & Resellers
While successful sales people require specific personal skills , they also need to be very well organized. Also, the communication between sales and other departments needs to be as efficient as possible so that you don't confuse the customer or promise them more than you can deliver.
To address these challenges , salespeople need to take into account the following:
1 Create a sales strategy together with other departments like marketing and product development. It's important for all departments to work together - if sales people don't sell some of your products and services, then they either aren't very good at selling or you need to stop selling those products.
Here are some activities that sales and other departments in your company can perform to create a sales strategy:
- conduct market research - there is a lot of new technology and public data that can be used for market research. You should also use your own data, as well as feedback you can get from customers or prospects. Your data could show you what new features your customers have requested, which means that there is a demand for them.
- decide which solutions and services to focus on in order to increase not only sales but profitability. For instance, if you realize that on site training is prefered by lots of customers but travel time and expenses to deliver it are too high, you may consider online training.
- prioritize customers and prospects based on their potential. Any company wants to have big customers, but for SMB software vendors a big customer can be a real challenge and may not be that profitable after all
- find business partners who can help you sell your solutions. Some can be resellers or vendors that provide products complementary to yours. If you offer a CRM solution, for instance, it would make sense to partner with another vendor providing customer analytics or content marketing.
2 Try to understand which content and documents could or should be shared with different types of prospects and how to find them. This could be content marketing but also document template such as proposals, quotes, contracts, etc. The idea is to share with prospects and customers the right information, which should be detailed enough to allow them to understand your offering.
It's also important to define who has access to which documents and who can sahre what with whom. This should avoid confusing the customer when they get all kinds of information from different people, but also to allow other department to help promote your software solutions and services. For instance, customer care representatives or project delivery managers should be able to share information when requested by customers - they shouldn't have to wait for a sales person to get in touch with the customer, but they should also make sure that they don't interfere with ongoing sales initiatives. The goal is for employees from different departments to help each other, not to compete.
The image below describes a simple tool to decide which employees from which departments have access to different types of documents
You can download the file on the right. Fell free to modify and use it.
Since you'll always give access to several people for the same types of documents, it also helps to track who sent who and for which customer or prospect. For maximum, efficiency, this should be shared so employees can see what the others already sent. Therefore, a simple tracking sheet can be created using a collaborative tool such as Goog le Drive. You can access, copy and use the file here
3 Create and maintain a database of prospects and customers, and remove duplicates but do not remove old prospects (you never know when you may need the information)
4 Create a workflow to manage the entire cycle of the customer acquisition process (this will help everyone be on the same page and sales people will know who to work with at each stage of the sales process. This can avoid common mistakes such as involving executives and even the owner too early in the process or involving an expert too late. )
5 Collaborate with other departments (not only marketing but also product developments or customer support) to create a believable offer and answer any questions the customer may have (sharing information will help salespeople save time when they need to describe the potential deal to each person who is involved in the sales cycle. Not to mention that people may change and when someone takes over the salesperson will have to explain everything again)
"CEB’s HR practice have documented an extraordinary shift in the relationship between individual achievement and business unit profitability, both across the enterprise and within the sales function. From 2002 to 2012, the impact of individuals’ task performance on unit profitability companywide decreased, on average, from 78% to 51%. But the impact of employees’ “network performance” — that is, how much people give to and take from their coworkers — increased from 22% to 49%. Even in sales, network performance now accounts for about 44% of the impact."
From "Why Individuals No Longer Rule on Sales Teams", Harvard Business Review, January 2014
6 Prioritize prospects based on predefined criteria which should not be only financial
7 Create a dashboard to follow main activities for prospects as well as possibilities for upsell and cross sell
8 Make sure you understand how discounts, rebates and other incentives impact the profitability of the sale and sales commissions
9 Maintain some form of relationship with prospects even when they don't buy
"Marketing thinking is shifting from trying to maximize the company’s profit from each transaction to maximize the long-run profit from each relationship."