If 2020 was the year of the unexpected, then 2021 is the year of opportunity. This blog will cover what you need to do to make the most of that opportunity, and why you need to do it.
It could be said that 2020 saw businesses pivoting their strategies to embrace digital transformation and adopting a modern approach to their marketing. The reason wasn’t because a guru told them they ‘won’t survive unless they do these 5 things’ or that the news channels were screaming how “channels X,Y & Z are ‘dead’”. It's because, if they didn’t, they would lose business to stronger competitors forcing them into drastic cost-cutting exercises and eventually go under and cease to operate.
Opportunities are out there, businesses want to sell and want to be sold to, we all want the economy to prosper. But to find those opportunities you may need to try something different to your usual approach. Simply phoning a data list isn’t going to be enough and neither is your trusted approach to networking for the foreseeable future. This (and I hate to say it) “New Normal” is here to stay, what has worked before may not work again...It’s time to adapt!
Here we’ll breakdown how you can still raise awareness and build the pipeline to lay the foundation for long-term profitable growth.
What happens in you lose your biggest client tomorrow?
Would you be able to rest easy knowing your pipeline is solid enough to deliver? Or would you go into a state of panic searching to replace that lost revenue stream? Surviving on one or two clients isn’t a sustainable business model, no matter how strong your ties are to your clients there’s always the risk of them either moving to a competitor for lower rates, or them themselves having to make cuts due to unprecedented circumstances (2020 anyone?).
Building a strong pipeline ensures your business will survive, but also enables you to forecast effectively and grow your business. You can’t afford to wait until Q2 to get your pipeline started, you need to start building it yesterday.
Don’t be overly-reliant on your existing customers, as important as they are, there are other businesses out there that you can help with your products/services.
Put a plan in place
Business, just as in sports, don’t just happen to stumble into the top spot. They’re there because they put a plan in place, sticking to it where possible but also tweaking and changing when needed based on new learnings and always working harder and smarter.
Look at Football for instance. Jurgen Klopp & Liverpool are a fantastic example, last season they won the league, mitigating all kinds of unusual circumstances with the stopping and restarting of the league. This season he’s lost all of his center-backs to injury, but by pivoting his strategy and utilising his more experienced players to fill the backline he’s managed to keep the team competitive and in the running for the title. Be like Klopp.
Or don’t. If you don’t know where exactly your leads are coming from, where you can get more from or what activities you’ll be doing to bring more in, then it’s high-time you start building a growth strategy.
You’ll need to look at:
- Lead source
- Deal close time
- Average deal cycle time
- Value to the business, is it profitable or a loss leader (which could introduce future bigger and better opportunities)
After that you need to understand what your conversion rates are to really effectively plan. Check out our Conversion Rate Optimisation guide if you want to find out more on how to do just that.
Putting a plan in place lays the foundation for you to effectively manage your time so it's more efficient, productive and effective. Being flexible with your plan, pivoting and tweaking when encountering unprecedented changes and challenges will ensure you can stay on top and ahead of the game.
Processes, structure & CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
Once you have finalised your plan, you’ll need to manage and align your processes and structures to ensure everything runs smoothly and nothing is missed.
The best place to start is to understand exactly how your sales & marketing teams are currently operating (if you want to know more about why you should do this, read this blog). Learn what their processes are, how they engage with leads and how they perceive the buying journey. This will ensure you can align both teams to streamline how you operate and maximise your ROI.
Next step is to review your CRM. If you don’t have one in place then this should become a priority (HubSpot offers a free CRM which is a fantastic place to start). A CRM will store all of your data, existing customers details, sales pipeline and projected forecasts and give you full visibility into how everything is performing, including marketing campaigns and your people. When used correctly a CRM is priceless, it will become ‘your goto magic toolbox’ and help you to manage performance, forecast growth and calibrate the true strength of your sales pipeline.
Start actioning your plan as soon as you can. Start by going for the low hanging fruits, for example, last year’s deals lost, and those “not at this time”rs. Don’t let last year's wrong timings be next year’s could have beens.
You’ll also need to make time and focus on following through with your plan. Dedicating this time will help you focus on what needs to be done to ensure the marketing and lead generation delivers a sustainable flow of good quality leads for sales to engage with. So many people write the plan, lose focus and don’t follow through, mainly because they’re wearing too many hats already.
What to do next?
Should the above resonate with you, and you feel compelled to drive your business forward, you'll want to find a legitimate partner that can support you in this endeavour. The right partner will not only help you build a sales and marketing strategy and a sustainable pipeline to grow your business, but will also help you to re-engage with those lost deals, the ‘not nows’ and enable you to leverage more revenue from existing and new business.
So don't hesitate to book a consultation call with one of the team here at Catalyst and we can share our experience and insight into what could work for you and your business.