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10 Customer Acquisition Challenges

by Locus Intel - March 7, 2018
Blog

I recently did a presentation entitled “Where Are My Hazelnuts” to a room full of company owners about my own experience starting a business. The topic borrowed an allegory from David Attenborough (if you’re wondering about the title of this blog) in which two monkeys are separated by a sheet of glass, one with a flint and one with a jar of hazelnuts. The monkeys collaborate in order to shell the hazelnuts and then split the spoils equally- providing a lesson in co-operation and fairness that can be applied to sales and marketing functions.

In this blog, I’ve distilled 10 ways of “taking your eyes off the nuts” that can negatively impact your sales pipeline. As a fellow entrepreneur and also a specialist in lead acquisition, marketing and sales, these lessons are based on many years of work with enterprises and SMEs in the technology and professional services sectors.

But first, watch the short lesson on collaboration narrated by David Attenborough:

10 Ways Organisations Take Their Eyes Off The Nuts

1. Non Differentiation

Differentiation is not good customer service, it has hard commercial value. Oftentimes differentiation is a process of collaboration where you “fairly share hazelnuts” and solve problems as a team. MPULL,  an HubSpot platinum certified inbound agency in South Africa, published a great guide on how to build a powerful differentiation model.

2. Running Sales from Spreadsheet

While a lot of organisations have begun to implement CRMs (91% of companies with more than 11 employees), there are still laggards that run their sales from spreadsheet. If you’re a laggard who doesn’t have an intelligent platform that measures results, it will be very difficult to understand where your hazelnuts are coming from and how to get more.

3. Lack of Sales Process

What is your sales process?  How do you retain control and do you drive urgency to foster collaboration? Contrast your sales processes with your finance processes- they should be as robust.

4. Poor Sales Skills

Uncovering a prospect’s situation and being able to nurture them through the stages of your sales cycle requires you to move beyond being an “I” specialist to focus on what the customer needs and gains from your solution.

5. Stopping Business Development to Service Customers

This is a big mistake that a lot of small organisations with limited resources make. If your sales cycle is 3 months and you stop business development for 3 months, you will have no new business for 6 months. Whenever you halt business development to service customers, you need to be conscious of the impact this has on your sales pipeline and the associated business risk.

6.  Relying On Organic Growth

There is a certain amount of organic growth than can occur through sheer luck. However when the time comes to acquire more hazelnuts, there is no system or strategy in place for building a sales pipeline.

7. Sales Is Treated As A Person

Sales needs to be treated as a function that is a part of marketing rather than the responsibility of a single individual. Otherwise, sales can fail as a result of poor co-operation across the rest of the business.

8. Undefined Or Poorly Defined Target Market & Buyer Personas

Lack of sales targeting or poorly defined sales targeting can result in poor reach and volume. You don’t know who your exact target market is and you aren’t prepared to spend money to reach them. Essentially, you are too afraid to hand over the flint.

9. You Get All Your Nuts From One Place

All of your sales success is reliant on a single channel or client that is keeping your business afloat. The danger here is that if this client or channel fails, there is nothing for your sales to fall back in. A multi channel and client diversity is a safeguard against this type of dilemma.

10. Your Flint Became Blunt

You’ve stopped listening (to your market, your colleagues and perhaps even your own intuition). This is a dangerous position to be in, because you won’t be able to pivot your sales in the right direction if you aren’t able to take on feedback from the people who matter most.

What Can You Do Differently?

  • Realise there is no short term fix. Momentum is built through sustained effort- you have to tackle one channel at a time and keep putting one foot in front of the other to consistently tackle the strategy, tactics and actions required to build a solid sales pipeline.
  • Solidify rhythms and flows in your marketing and sales cycle (plan, review, plan, review)
  • Establish quarterly KPIs that feed into your annual targets (The Rockefeller Habit).
  • Build the systems and measure everything through a CRM or consolidated reporting platform.
  • Listen to your market and colleagues, and dispense with ego.
  • Develop multiple profit streams as quickly as possible.
  • Treat sales as your most important function along with finance.

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