August 22, 2019

Sales and Marketing Advice

What most companies get wrong about strategies, marketing and selling.

Ron Stein | 7/22/2019

Every company needs various strategies that cover business, marketing, and selling. A while back I wrote a column about why tactics will not do much good unless they support a solid strategy.

Yet, this raises a question — will focusing too much on strategy rather than selling hurt your business? How about marketing? The answer depends on the stage that the company is in.

Although all companies need revenue to grow and survive, startups and small businesses are a special case. And with almost 30 million small businesses in the U.S, that’s by far a majority! Without the resources and funding that larger companies have, their very survival hinges on generating cash.

Of course you can’t sell in a vacuum. You need a strategy and marketing to support your sales effort. But, if you’re a small company, it’s easy to be lulled into spending a ton of time crafting the perfect strategy — too much time.

Then there’s marketing. It’s basically the same problem. Startups and small businesses spend more time working on a nifty message that their audience will love. Plus, create a website, brochures, social media, explainer videos, and much more.

Let’s be clear about something right now: you need marketing to tell the world about your business. The issue is, the world is not your audience. Quickly zero in on an initial target market, then go narrow and go deep.

Since you may not have much of an audience at this point, early feedback helps to refine your offering, target audience, message, overall marketing. No audience, no feedback! Yep, it looks like you have a dilemma on your hands.

You and your team need to hit the bricks and sell. Now!

Sell. Sell, Sell. It’s all too easy to hide in your office and create perfect strategies and marketing campaigns. Some people are just not comfortable selling, but someone on the team has to do it. You have a wonderful product or service and people need to know about it, firsthand — otherwise you doing a disservice to them. Choose a specific core group of people and companies interested in solving the problems you can fix, that recognize the value you offer and will pay for it. Use LInkedIn and email to set up appointments. Pick up the phone. Go to trade shows or showcases where your ideal customers hang out. Engage with them and persuade them to buy or sign up for a trial.

The simplest solution tends to be the right one. This is the core of the Occam's razor problem-solving principle — one should select the solution with the fewest assumptions. Most companies feel that to compete, they’ll need a “full” offering with every feature possible. Resist! Do your best to determine which handful of ingredients make sense and then go sell. You may end up with only 50% to 70% of what you’d like to have, yet your company will get in front of buyers faster and learn if in fact there’s a missing feature that prevents people from purchasing. More than likely the worse thing that will happen is you’ll promise to get this feature into a future release — only if you’re hearing the same thing from lots of potential buyers.

A so-so strategy well executed is better than a great strategy poorly executed. Larry Bossidy, former AlliedSignal CEO, said, “Strategies most often fail because they aren’t well executed.” The lesson here is not obsess over your strategy. Lock yourself and team in a room for one or two days to knock out your go-to-market strategy. Establish a plan of action and put a consistent process in place. Track what works and what doesn’t. Engage leads and customers based on your strategy and make the necessary mid course corrections, fast! The result will be greater deal flow and new customers — no luck required.

Don’t get me wrong: a solid strategy foundation including marketing is critical. But at some point, sooner than later, you’ve got to go execute and bring home hard cash.

It is important to nail the positioning and messaging for your product and understand exactly who your customer is. But guessing is expensive. When it come to strategies and marketing, the ultimate question is, “Does this really move the needle and by how much?”.

Go find out. You and your team need to hit the bricks and sell. Now!

Ron is the founder of FastPath Marketing and More Customers Academy. He works with tech-enabled companies, helping them find the fastest path to revenue with executive advising, business development coaching and consulting, as well as marketing and selling training. As an accomplished tech industry business leader and entrepreneur, Ron has served in top-level sales, marketing and business development roles ranging from emerging companies to global tech giants, including as the CEO of a venture-backed wireless startup. Ron is on the advisory board of the University of Florida’s two internationally recognized tech business incubators and writes a popular column on how to grow revenue in the award-winning Florida Trend business magazine. Learn more at Ron can be reached at 727-642-4246 or by email.

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