B2B Marketing Methodology Simplified—
The TREK (Color-Coded) Strategy Markers
There are four phases (or stages) in every sales process. No matter how big or small your business (or non-profit), there are four phases. Then, within each phase, there are many steps. Some companies have very few steps, others have more than 50. The bottom line is that your sales process is just as unique to your firm as your fingerprint is to you.
So, what are the four phases? For the sake of simplicity, think of the word, TREK. Each letter standing for one of the sales stages. I color-coded them for your convenience.
T=Thinking, Targeting, Defining your Best Customer
If you don’t know what you’re fishing for, you’re sure to come back with some keepers as well as some carp. Like most things in life, the first stage is the most difficult. It’s difficult because you’re forced to make decisions about whom you’re going to pursue (and whom you’re going to leave after the first date), how you’re going to go about reaching these people and what you’re going to say once you meet them.
You’ve got a Targeting/Thinking problem if you’re experiencing issues like:
- Not enough prospects in your pipeline.
- The prospects you’re getting are not well suited to you.
- You’re saying “Yes” to everyone.
- Your product and company sound and look like everyone else, nothing distinctive.
R=Reaching, Outreach, Getting in the Door, Cutting Through the Clutter
Without a doubt, almost all marketing effort is spent on this stage. Commonly called, “Lead-Gen,” it’s about creating the fertile soil for a first meeting. Contacts at this stage ARE NOT “Prospects,” since you haven’t qualified them yet. Most sales people refer to these contacts as, “Suspects.” It’s also important to point out that “Suspects” don’t get put into anyone’s pipeline report. That’s the next stage. To most people, Reaching may include activities like tradeshows, direct mail, cold calls and many forms of advertising.
You’ve got a Reaching problem if you’re experiencing issues like:
- Cold calling and direct mailing with little to show for it.
- Business cards that look like everyone else’s, are just plain ugly or are not professionally printed.
- There’s no call to action in your materials.
- You get no leads or mostly junk leads from your advertising.
E=Engaging, Presenting, Proposing, Negotiating, Nurturing
This stage is clearly the most complicated, having the largest number of steps. The Engaging Stage often consumes months and years of effort. It’s in this stage that you categorize a contact as a Prospect once you’ve qualified them as a person whose needs fit what you’re offering, have the proper budget and buying authority, work for a company that meets your qualifications for being a Customer and the opportunity fits within the time horizon of your sales rep’s compensation plan. From that point, you may be making presentations, demonstrations, offering pre-sales consulting and feasibility studies all the way through to contract negotiations. All too often, however, companies commit a strategic error in this stage when they fail to convert their sales activities into an automated nurture marketing system.
You’ve got an Engaging problem if you’re experiencing issues like:
- You don’t know what a Pipeline is.
- Presentations are opportunities to die on stage.
- Your company is the example in the (free) e-book from Seth Godin: “Really Bad PowerPoint”. (Download available in Marketing Strategy E-03: PowerPoint Presentation)
- Proposals look like high school theme papers.
- When you do a needs assessment, you do most of the talking.
- You don’t give prospects opportunities to touch the technology in a meaningful way without your supervision.
K=Keeping, Up-Selling, Cross-Selling
If your marketing budget allocates more than 10% toward keeping customers and re-activating lost customers, then take a bow. In fact, take two bows and send me a note so I can feature you in this book or next book (I’m serious!).
You see, most sales people—okay, most everyone—gets more of a kick from winning a new account than winning back a client who walked away from you two years ago. The majority of companies I’ve worked for focus all their effort on “hunting” and not “farming” even though common sense and every statistic in the world shows that winning back a client is far more profitable and easier than finding someone new. (It’s even the case in married life, by the way, according to my friend, Michele Weiner-Davis, see: www.DivorceBusting.com, but I digress).
You’ve got a Keeping problem if you’re experiencing issues like:
- You have only a few customer endorsements or referrals.
- Every time you entertain clients you see it only as an opportunity to sell.
- The last time your customer heard from you is when they bought something.
- You get few opportunities for add-on business or consulting that would help clients better use what they purchased from you.
So, that’s what TREK is all about and how you’ll find every Marketing Strategy organized. That’s not to say marketing strategies and tactics can’t be used in a variety of different and creative ways. For example, Direct Mail can be effectively used in any of the stages, as is the case for many of my Marketing Strategies.
Now it’s your turn. Take the ball and run with it! [and contact us if we can help]