By Andrew Honey, Chairman at ThinkSales Global
B2B market-leading companies are led by CEOs who understand the factors that impact revenue growth and profitability and then design a strategy to address these factors.
Factors impacting revenue growth and profitability in the B2B landscape:
- Attempting to out-do competitors in a head-to-head battle in a defined, limited growth market.
- Driving up costs and lowering profits by adding more features and benefits to differentiate.
- Competing on price, even though the company is not the market’s top low-cost option with the fastest service delivery.
Revenue growth engineering: How market leading B2B companies do it
- They design a company strategy that is different to their competitors. It’s not just a business strategy, it’s a new way of planning and executing.
- They develop a set of sales organisation activities that are different to their competitors.
- They create market growth opportunities by ensuring their company strategy enables the sales organisation’s revenue drivers.
Ultimately, for B2B companies to excel, they must enable the Sales organisation within the business to deploy a customer-centric, differentiated customer engagement process.
The 5-pillars of a market-leading B2B sales organisation
The foundation of a successful B2B organisation is what we call a ‘revenue growth approach’ that simultaneously focuses on sales growth and margin protection. There are five key pillars that must be developed and then matured in every organisation to achieve this goal, finally reaching a level of optimisation that ensures a strong, sustainable and above-all competitive B2B business.
The five key pillars of a high-performance sales organisation:
1. Competitive Strategy
Many companies do not have a documented, customer-centric sales organisation strategy that differentiates the organisation for a competitive advantage. Instead, many companies simply have a set of actions they will take to make a budget, not founded on market opportunity, but rather an increase on the previous year’s sales. Furthermore, strategy too often fails to be translated into an execution. As a result, sales managers are not equipped with a clear road map of where to focus or what exactly their sales reps should do differently.
The solution: Executives should conduct a 360-degree GAP analysis of their sales organisation and then design an ideal future-state strategy. The potential for a competitive advantage for a company is for the sales organisation to perform a set of activities differently to their competitors. This is simultaneously differentiating and difficult to commoditise.
2. Customer Engagement
If the process and systems for prospecting and customer engagement is either not defined or randomly followed by sales reps, the business has no control over how customers are perceiving a B2B organisation. This can result in sales teams who are unable to articulate value to customers or guide them through a quality decision-making process.
The solution: B2B organisations must develop an agile approach to mapping, refining and testing processes in response to changing business environments and customer needs.
3. Sales Talent
An ill-defined approach to hiring and developing sales talent means that leadership teams do not develop star performers who are able to articulate value and differentiate the business. This often leads to missed opportunities and missed targets, because the sales team is unable to engage on value and with the correct level of stakeholders on a B2B level.
The solution: Building a strong sales force starts with hiring. Companies that rely on scientific assessment tools over gut instinct to identify competitive sales DNA will win in the end – as this will result in a high percentage of sales reps who can meet their revenue targets.
4. Sales Management
In many organisations, top sales reps are promoted into sales management positions in the hope that a star performer will somehow rub off on sales reps who report to them. The reality is that this is seldom the case, particularly if the sales rep in question relied on their charisma and relationship-building skills to close deals.
The solution: Strong sales management abilities rely on a systematic, metrics-driven approach including coaching to drive sales rep activities and outcomes. They also need good change management capabilities as B2B customers are constantly evolving and changing, and so how an organisation sells to them must be both agile and adaptable.
5. Sales Enablement
Since 70% of B2B buyers are doing their own online research before they even reach out to a brand, presenting compelling collateral that effectively positions your solution is an important foundational principle. How a customer engages with your brand is therefore the product of sales collateral that supports the entire buying funnel.
The solution: A buyer-centric view is essential when developing engaging collateral. Industry-aligned and needs-driven content captures a buyer’s attention, while evidence-based case study content that demonstrates a strong return-on-investment is important to help position your brand as a leader, overcome scepticism and justify buying decisions.