The startup, SME, a listed company, a MNC, what do all these have in common?
They all have humble beginnings and are able to translate the vision of their founders into growth. Those companies that are not able to do so just become a lesson for the future.
Two of the largest pillars for any business are
- The value addition they provide to their customers
- Sales and marketing, that makes this value-addition visible to their clients
Now, most companies that start, have a decent if not the best version of the product or service they are offering, where they do fall short more often than not is in their sales. They face challenges right from their inception and these are compounded as they start to grow. Those companies that are able to deal with these challenges are able to make a name for themselves, others barely survive.
Let’s look at a few of these challenges and what simple things can be done to address these
- Figuring out the correct Go To Market Strategy
This is the first and the foremost challenge, companies face. Figuring out the right GTM goes a long way in maximizing sales and optimizing finances.
There needs to be a plan in place and to formulate one, certain things have to be kept in mind. For this, you need to ask yourself the following questions.
- Who is the end-user of your product/service?
- Who is actually the decision-maker or the influencer?
- Where is your target audience most likely to be found?
- What will be your budget?
- Should you go for offline or online channels?
- Do you need external help or can your in house resources manage all the channels?
- Is your product/service a one-time requirement or is it a repeat requirement?
Now once you have the answers to these questions, you can start working on a feasible plan.
Processes do take time to evolve and you can never really be sure from the start of the strategy you have deployed is going to work or not.
But being a startup or a smaller organization comes with its own set of opportunities in this regard. You have the freedom to try multiple things at a smaller scale and see what works best. You can even draw from the experiences and past strategies of your competitors and see what worked when and why.
- Standing out from the competition
A lot of new companies are born out with the idea of bringing something new to the market, whether its a product or a service or even a new way of delivering service. But almost always there is a competition of some sort already present or it comes up very fast. And even if there is no direct competition, there are always substitutes.
Therefore, it becomes extremely important for a company to differentiate itself.
This boils down to the way a company’s value proposition is communicated.
The things to keep in mind for effective communication are
- The target audience
- Their way of communicating (younger people like infographics, memes, etc.)
- The result you seek (Brand Value creation or sales conversion)
- Never Overcommitting
This is where a company needs to have a long term view in mind. There are chances that the seeds you sow today bear fruits in the future and therefore it is a long term strategy that cannot be rushed.
- Generating and converting leads
Another major hurdle is the sales itself. If you are a watchmaker, you might be making the best watches in the world but if people do not know about you or do not see your brand the way it is supposed to be seen, you will have a hard time generating and converting leads. Lack of sales can eventually lead to a business facing serious challenges and might even prove to be the end of the line for some.
Let’s break this down in two parts
Generating leads – Depending on your value proposition being a high value, low transaction service or a low value, high transaction product, a lead generation plan has to be drafted.
It could be a sales team that could better serve your purpose by either connecting to the potential clients on call/e-mails or by meeting them in person. It could be digital media including websites, social media, etc., that could work better. There could be a reliance on intermediaries like a distribution network and in that kind of a situation, a team that can do quick onboarding could be what works best.
The important thing is to develop a matrix to identify good and bad leads, i.e., the ones that can actually yield results and the ones that might not be able to do so in the near future.
The key is in picking the right battles, you have to accept the fact that some customers can just never be tapped and it is better to use your energy someplace else.
Converting Leads – In the entire process of sales, converting leads into clients can prove to be the most important step. This is where most of the mistakes are made and this is where a company’s fortune can be decided.
Common mistakes –
- Poor lead identification
- Improper and irregular follow-ups with the potential leads
- Incorrect positioning of the product/service
- Too much follow up, yes this can be a mistake and the biggest one at that
- No post-sales follow up
If you can eradicate these mistakes at the start of your journey, you can go a long way in the market.
- Customer Relationships
If sales is a car, maintaining customer relationships is the engine that drives it. A lot of people don’t take proper care of their cars, some clean it occasionally but a very few of them actually make sure that the engine is healthy at all times. Those that do tend to enjoy a smoother ride for the longest duration.
A silver lining is that with the ever-increasing mobile internet penetration more and more companies are putting in efforts in this regard.
A simple thank you note for a T-shirt delivery company or a quick resolution to a customer’s problem can go a long way in your journey with your customers.
You can be dealing with hundreds of customers or just a couple of them, each customer needs to be attended with utmost importance. As this will not only ensure their continued connection with you but will also help you with the word of mouth publicity that can easily go undervalued at times.
Maintaining proper customer relations also provides you with access to one of the most treasured aspects of business and that is customer feedback. If taken seriously, these feedbacks can transform the way you work and deliver value and can become your biggest ally in the market.
Though the biggest challenge always has been and always will be is to start and if you are able to formulate a strategy and start the work, you are halfway there. Now all that remains for you is to keep learning, keep going and keep building.