The key is to have the good years out number the bad ones. I know. Sage business advice. But it’s true.
If your business is like many others, things have been okay but not great. Many are struggling and many are holding back… waiting for something good to happen. However, remember that famous t-shirt quote, “Good things come to those who wait work their asses off”. So if you are seeing any of the following sign it’s probably time to consider a new business strategy.
This usually happens slowly and you may not notice the small fluctuations from month to month or quarter to quarter because your mindset is “we can make it up, just push harder.” However, if you step back and take a broader view of the last few years you may see some numbers that chill your spine. Is it too late to do something? Are we doomed? Our customers seemed to like what we do, what happened?
The noise level in the office is down. You didn’t notice it at first but when you glance at your phone you notice the lines are not lit up like they used to be. You can rationalize that more people are using email but that really does not explain the overall quiet you are sensing.
As you look back at your pipeline you see the same deals. Always on the verge of closing but never seem to quite make it. Newer deals have been added but they don’t seem to move much before they go quiet or drift away.
Nothing is more depressing than looking at your pipeline and wondering where the new business is coming from. Most organizations expect to close about 20 - 25% of deals they start so as your pipeline gets smaller your potential sales get smaller as well.
This really isn’t new. Ever since the invention of voicemail the number of people who actually answer their phone has declined. Add that special feature known as Caller ID and your odds of getting to speak to someone live goes down dramatically because they don’t know you or don’t recognize your number so have no interest in speaking to you.
To combat the issues associated with cold calling your company long ago adopted a strategy of buying lists of prospects and sending out email blasts to let them know what you do and how you can help them. But, increasingly, you see these results are tanking as well. In year’s past you could always count on a few leads from each blast but now… not so much.
Brand Awareness isn't Making the Phone Ring Anymore.
So, you are recognizing a few trends and they are not good trends. Clearly something has to change or your sales performance will no longer sustain the business and that’s never good.
What’s the problem? You have a website. It was created five years ago and tells everyone what you do. You go to trade shows and talk to folks who seem to want your product but never seem to call after the show. You advertise in the Yellow Pages and industry magazines and your products fulfill a need and your loyal customers continue to say how great it is to work with you.
The business world has morphed into something new and different and because it happened gradually you didn’t recognize the signs. Things that used to work, now don’t. When new prospects do call they seem to know more about your product than your sales reps and they ask tougher questions. What happened? The Internet happened and you are not alone. Many markets are just beginning to recognize that they have problems and need a solution.
So what should you do? For starters, don’t panic but do proceed with a sense of urgency because delaying will only cause you to fall farther behind. Your problem is Marketingflipaphobia and is the result of marketing flipping from an interruption and shouting model (think ads, commercials, telemarketing) to one of attraction. Rather than spend your time telling prospects about your great product’s and features you should now be focusing on the problems you solve.
Why? Because now when your customers have a problem, instead of calling you they go to the Internet and use Google, Bing or another search engine and enter a question, some keywords or a phrase and expect the search engine to give them options and information. You now want the search engines to identify your company as a solver of problems for your best customers. That's the cure for Marketingflipaphobia.
For a more permanent fix request our Free Marketing Grader Report for an up-to-date analysis on the effectiveness of your website. You can request that here.