The Business Trend that is Destroying Client Acquisition
In today’s digital-first world, sales is rapidly becoming a lost art in the fool’s gold quest for ever-increasing leads.
The strategies and activities once performed by sales masters are being absorbed by marketing departments in the quest to automate and the blind focus on the top of the funnel. Simply put, with everyone trying to make business as easy as possible and with all eyes on lead generation, sales and improving sales performance is ignored.
This business trend is what is destroying client acquisition.
In this article, I will explain how this has come about and what we as business owners and entrepreneurs can do to avoid the destruction and come out ahead.
At some point in our recent history, the lines between sales and marketing have been completely blurred and not in a good way. Rather than aligning sales and marketing to work harmoniously and in concert to achieve the common goal – client acquisition, business owners have started taking the crucial sales steps and just lumping them into their overall marketing activity and strategy. Quality leads and genuine sales opportunities are the casualties.
There are 4 misbeliefs that have caused this misstep:
#1 Sales A Dirty Word
From 13 years of consulting, coaching, and mentoring clients I know from experience that business owners start off because of a passion for their product or service, not because they want to sell. When they talk about sales most say “I don’t like doing it”, “it’s not enjoyable”, “I do it because I have to”. Almost all the clients I have worked with had negative connotations of sales and selling because they have had to deal with unskilled salespeople in the past. I know I have.
I remember when I started managing my first sales team and we were heavily involved in training, perfecting our craft and I was really focused on developing skills and strategies with each individual salesperson through mentoring, and I had my own mentor to help me become a better sales manager.
So sales skills and strategy were front of mind and I was shopping for a new car. What an eye-opening experience! I would have visited 20 dealerships and hand on heart came across one good salesperson in the whole bunch. The worst actually tried to talk me out of looking at the most expensive car in the showroom. I am not sure if they thought I couldn’t afford it (I could and had been looking at more expensive models elsewhere) or they had a surplus on the car they were trying to sell me.
So I get it!
There is a dislike for sales and in 2021 it is still considered a dirty word.
Don’t quite believe it’s that bad?… Google it! It might not be the hottest topic but I got 47,300,000 results in 50 seconds and the top results are all articles written on the topic, so it is something that is being searched and discussed!
When people talk about salespeople it is often about their tactics with words like “salesy”, “slimy”, “cheesy” and “sleazy”. The used car salesman image still pops into people’s heads.
Marketing in 2021 is STILL not considered a dirty word, far from it. Marketing is considered a profession and although a lot of people complain about Facebook advertising or how hard it is to generate leads, marketing is not really blamed or called names because of it (Mark Zuckerberg is a great target after all).
So it’s not a big surprise that people have tried to take Sales, the thing they dislike but what their business needs (sales really is the lifeblood of any business after all) and disguised it amongst the much more loved Marketing.
The problem is that Sales become hidden from view from a strategic perspective. It’s not a focus, no one looks to improve it or make it as good as it could be. All eyes are on marketing and what needs to be done there and lead generation tunnel vision occurs.
Side note: all my clients who hated sales in the beginning either enjoyed it or hated it a lot less once they got good at it and made it really work for them, their clients and their business.
#2 Please Sir, I Need More Leads…
When Marketing is in the driving seat the key objective to everything is leads, more leads.
And when sales is hidden from view no one is looking at how to properly qualify or walk a prospective ideal client through the selling process, in the most engaging and compelling way. And just because your messages work for marketing doesn’t mean they can be used in exactly the same way to get a lead to commit to a sale.
According to HubSpot, only 18% of marketers believe their marketing is providing high-quality (a.k.a. Interested in buying) leads for their businesses.
Really think about this. It means that potentially 82% of your marketing budget is going to waste and 82% of your sales team is being wasted. No wonder it is hard to find and keep good salespeople!
The end result of marketing driving sales, more often than not, is that marketing efforts go to waste. Quality leads get lost in a sea of poor fit ones with no strategy in place to quickly sift through for the cream to float to the top and if you have the opportunity to engage there is a failure to really resonate, unearth problems, and clearly demonstrate points of difference and how problems can be solved.
Hey, Presto Inconsistent Sales!
#3 Digital is the Domain of Marketing
One of the biggest misconceptions destroying client acquisition is that digital = marketing and sales doesn’t have a part to play.
For some reason as soon as you say online sales the Marketer becomes the salesperson. I sort of get this misconception because, in a digital world, sales has had to move away from their traditional hunting ground and more into the realm that marketers inhabited first.
In our quest to digitally transform our businesses the art of sales and creating sales masters has gone out the window to the ultimate detriment of client acquisition.
Entering this new and somewhat foreign Digital First business landscape has been rushed for a lot of businesses due to COVID. This has not helped the majority of owners to effectively transition both their marketing and sales to the new environment.
#4 Sales is a Numbers Game
This one is a big one. That sales is a numbers game. If we increase leads we will increase sales. This false belief makes business owners believe they need to focus and invest only in marketing to increase their sales. When this strategy doesn’t work, they then think they just need more leads and fall further down the rabbit hole spending more money, time, and energy in marketing without the return to warrant it.
Sales and marketing are both performance games and numbers reflect how they are performing. Really successful businesses know and understand this and only pump more into boosting leads once sales and marketing performance is where it needs to be.
All is not lost for Client Acquisition
All is not lost. As Business Owners, we do, however, need to pivot.
#1 Align Not Merge
We need to stop merging marketing and sales together and start aligning them.
Align them so they work together to achieve the common goal of client acquisition but divide the two enough to conquer by creating marketing masters of lead generation and sales masters of lead qualification and conversion.
#2 Focus on the Sales Experience
We need to ensure the digital-first world transition of our aligned marketing and sales systems provides the best experience to take people from lead to client and that there are no gaps for quality leads to slip through.
The businesses that find their blue ocean to grow and scale in 2022 won’t be the ones that only focus on Lead Generation. They will be the businesses that align their sales and marketing efforts.
#3 Invest In Developing Skills in Marketing AND Sales
The business that will come out on top in 2022 will not only align their sales and marketing but will stop putting their sales last.
They will invest in developing and fine-tuning both their sales and marketing skills to become Digital-First World powerhouses, using the most cutting edge and proven strategies to Attract, Engage and Close More IDEAL Clients.
They will be the ones that create consistent and predictable revenue and cash flow and will grow and scale their businesses in 2022.
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