How Small Changes In Sales, Marketing Can Help Drive Growth

(Note: This story was originally posted to Aug. 24.)

Satisfying the customer is one thing. Delighting the customer is even better, attendees at this week's XChange 2016 conference were told.

Small changes in sales and marketing can go a long way when it comes to growing a solution provider’s business, Jonathan Fisher, chairman and founding partner of BrandExtract, said Wednesday at the conference, hosted by IT Best Of Breed's parent, The Channel Company, in San Antonio.

Fisher called the phenomenon the “Power of 10,” where making small, incremental improvements in multiple categories of sales and marketing creates an even bigger change overall. Those areas of improvement could include number of deals, deal size, better win ratios, shorter time to closing deals and more, he said.

[Related: IT Hall Of Fame: How Jim Dixon Put Customers First And Turned CompuCom Into A Services Giant]

“There is no silver bullet in marketing. … The idea is that you move it a lot across several areas. It doesn’t have to be big. It’s all about the little things you do,” Fisher said in his session at XChange.

The ultimate goal is to “delight” the customer, Fisher said, rather than simply satisfy the customer or provide basic needs. Fisher said solution providers should put themselves in the shoes of the customer and ask what will delight the company or what barriers stand in the way of that goal. Fisher said barriers include contract length, employee turnover, access to team members and more.

In particular, Fisher recommended solution providers build an internal and external sales “playbook.” In the internal sales playbook, which is for internal use only, Fisher said solution providers should outline the company mission, sales arguments, competitor information (and why its own solutions are better), frequently asked questions, employee profiles, lead scoring rules and more. The design of this book is to better prepare salespeople to approach customers in a consistent and successful way, he said.

For the external playbook, which can be used as a sales tool in conversations with customers, Fisher said solution providers should use graphics and clear wording to make all the benefits of the company’s offerings tangible. That could include product details, customer outcomes, price and savings analysis, a detailed outline of how the relationship with the customer would go, and more. A document like this helps salespeople in front of the customer, he said, and holds them accountable to the customer going forward by more clearly setting expectations.

Stelios Valavanis, founder and president of Chicago-based onShore Security, said Fisher’s presentation highlighted ways his own business could improve its sales approach. In particular, Valavanis said he sees a big opportunity to take onShore’s solutions and services and codify them into clearer options for customers.

Valavanis said he thinks this type of approach would be beneficial for both traditional managed service providers as well as more specialized managed security services providers, like onShore. For traditional MSPs, he said outlining the value customers get for the price in a fairly commoditized market could be a strong sales tactic. For more specialized and sophisticated MSSPs, he said outlining the offerings and showing the value is key, as customers might not be used to buying that type of solution.

“We’re doing a lot of this great stuff and we’re not codifying it. There’s a clarity for codification,” Valavanis said.