While organizations not adapting to the new realities of the marketplace are already behind, a large investment is not required to catch up. Implement a new acquisition strategy and its four key components, inexpensively and with staff already in place.
According to HubSpot, the cost of acquiring new customers has increased by over 50% in the last five years. Additionally, with many growing forms of entertainment options, consumers are inundated with emails, sales calls, and e-marketing campaigns from growing competition.
Sports and entertainment organizations looking for ways to improve customer acquisition are not alone. Sales and marketing efforts are becoming more expensive for everyone. Brands are becoming less trustworthy to customers. And sales leaders are not keeping up with the changing client or employee marketplaces.
But by mastering all components of a sound acquisition process, any team or venue can experience immediate improvement to its sales performance.
A New Playbook
No successful sports team enters a competition without a plan or playbook. Even the players on the sidelines are checking tablets to continually adjust during a game. Our experience shows most sales managers hope they will succeed with an outdated strategy and execution plan – pull a list, dial for dollars, reach a small percentage of people, and close an even smaller percentage. Rinse and repeat. This catalyst leads to frustrated sales teams and sales management, a slower pace of new and recurring sales, and deteriorating sales skills.
Many organizations measure effort by jumping right to the tactics for marketing (digital, SEO, events, emails) or sales (calls, meetings, introductions, networking) but fail to define the underlying strategy or process. A customer acquisition strategy identifies the key components needed for sales and marketing to coordinate efforts and engage prospective clients.
The customer acquisition process has four key components: Targeting, Research, Planning, and Execution (TRPE). Let’s take a deeper look into each phase of this process that increases pipelines, close ratios, and speed of sales.
Many salespeople do not properly target who they are going to pursue. They rely on selling to the people who happen to find them instead of determining who an ideal client might be. Sales teams need to target new clients first at the organizational level and then at the individual level.
Organizational targeting starts by defining key criteria of an ideal client. For suite sales or group sales, these criteria might include organization size (employees or dollars), industry (financial services, law, construction, IT), geographic proximity, and hypothesis of need (HON – customer entertainment, recognition, revenue growth).
Using analytics to review previous sales data shows patterns of customers with similar characteristics. Use these patterns to determine potential client personas and develop a list of organizations to pursue. Each premium seat offering has a slightly different fit criterion that will appeal to a different target audience profile.
Each individual seller uses this information to identify potential prospects and create personal target lists. It’s important for the sales manager to determine what the right number of targets is for any seller to focus on at a given time. Most pick too many and then are not able to dedicate the time needed to research, engage, and close the prospect.
Once targets are identified, it’s tempting to jump right to engaging with the prospect, but that approach misses two important steps (Research and Plan) which can impact success. By slowing down, sales cycles will actually shorten.
First, ensure the strategy includes research on the organizations and people being targeted. Imagine that a local commercial construction company has 19 salespeople, and it recently announced ambitious growth goals for 2020 at 25%. The company has bought small blocks of tickets to sports and concert events in the past but has not made a long-term commitment to buying a suite as a core element of its sales strategy. Their company Facebook page has pictures of entertaining clients at different settings and outdoor events. The president is a big fan of your sports team, and the sales manager is connected to one of your best clients. Do you think this information might help construct a better sales approach? And it only takes about 15 minutes to get this information.
Here are a few things to look for when doing research:
- Points of entry
- Past experience
- Company information and trends
- Potential connections for referral
The purpose of research is to gain information which can help plan an approach to close faster.
The next step is to plan the pursuit. Based on the information gathered and past experience with similar prospects, salespeople can make guesses as to the potential needs of clients and the value they are looking for. We call this the Hypothesis of Need, or HON.
For example, imagine an owner of a midsize manufacturer of luxury goods. Similar client experiences say this type of company likes to entertain at events and have maximum opportunity to mingle and talk. A suite offers the best opportunity for this need, over premium seats.
Next, what is the best approach? A shared connection who can make an introduction is the most effective way. It’s important to script out how to be introduced so the right message is conveyed. This script also makes it easy for the connection and increases the chances it will happen soon.
If target prospects must be reached directly, plan out what to say. Research has given direction on the types of things they might need, so script the call connecting how others like them have achieved their business goals and how to explore what they are trying to achieve this year. Don’t read the script, but having one guides a successful conversation.
Despite being now fully prepared to execute the plan, many salespeople still fail here. One reason is because they just don’t take action or are too passive. It can take six to ten attempts to connect with people. Calling once and leaving a message won’t work. If they cannot be reached via phone, mix in email or LinkedIn messaging.
While we have focused on the sales side of the customer acquisition strategy, know that coordinating sales with target marketing efforts increases success rates. Using social media, personalized mail, and events directed toward target clients increases their awareness and aids the sales process.
Sales leaders must plan and develop a new customer acquisition strategy and playbook to improve performance and consistency of results. Without this playbook, success is determined by the disparate skills and plans of individual team members. Developing this strategy does not require a large investment of time but will pay large dividends in the long run. Give your team the proven playbook and give your organization something to cheer about.
How is your team improving its customer acquisition?
Write to Greg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
People Stretch Solutions – Growing Revenue, Scaling Teams
Our specialty is helping organizations drive revenue performance and effectiveness from sales leadership to frontline sales and business developers. We help develop our clients’ leaders to scale organizational performance and culture to drive growth. For more information, please visit www.peoplestretch.com.