April 17, 2021
3 min read
If your revenue is flat, it may be because your sales and marketing efforts are flat.
When prospective clients visit with us, they almost inevitably have the same challenge: “Our revenue is flat. We have good products and services, but we just can’t seem to grow revenue like we want to.”
The first thing I ask them is, “What have you tried to do from a sales and marketing perspective?”
Most of the time I get some pretty ho-hum answers. They’ll mention some scattered, disparate tactics, or maybe they told their salespeople to sell harder, or they hired more salespeople. Mostly though, they really haven’t done anything differently. They expected the organic growth experienced earlier in their history to continue.
The problem with that logic is that the market isn’t stagnating; it’s dynamic. There are new entrants in the market, your legacy competitors are innovating and introducing new offerings, and your customers’ needs and buying habits are changing. If your marketing strategy and programs aren’t adapting to the changes, then you may not just see a lack of growth, you might also be declining.
The sneakiest market decline scenario I see is when companies are experiencing slow growth. So, they think they’re doing okay, but they don’t realize that their market is experiencing rapid growth. We had one client that was experiencing 13% growth year-over-year, but the thing they didn’t realize was their industry was experiencing 400% to 800% market growth over the same five-year span. This company went from being the market leader to fourth in its market. This can be hard to diagnose, but if your competitors are growing, hiring, and thriving, you may be in that same situation.
It’s easy to explain lack of growth on the pandemic or market headwinds, and for some industries that is most certainly a major factor to a bad 2020. But as the market turns, don’t expect to immediately go back to the same growth you experienced in 2019. Remember that dynamic market I described earlier? Well, trust me, it’s been more dynamic than usual over the past year. Sticking with the same old approach to growth you had pre-pandemic may not be as effective.
If you are waiting for things to “get better,” you may be waiting a while. I had a client tell me the other day that “a magical unicorn is never going to come to drop gold bars off in their lobby.” I had to laugh at the absurdity of his colorful imagery, but there is a lot of truth to it. If the company is looking to grow, the market will not magically come to you.
The way to achieve market growth is to go take more than your fair share of it, and you do that through smart and more aggressive sales and marketing.
We are fortunate to work with a lot of very logical, technical, and innovative people. They believe they’ve created the best solution for their markets and that people will buy their offering since it is the best. While logical, the problem with this thinking is that it just isn’t true.
In the great movie “Field of Dreams,” Kevin Costner kept hearing a voice in his head. James Earl Jone’s fantastic voice told him, “If you build it, they will come.” That may be true if you build the only baseball field in a 500-mile radius with free admission. Unfortunately, if you have a complex offering that you are trying to sell at a profit to a complicated buying environment, that won’t work.
First, how will your prospect even know about your fabulous new offering? Even if you do get the word out, many times your prospective customers won’t immediately recognize the value of your offering. And remember those pesky competitors I told you about? Well, they are very good at getting people to buy inferior products and services instead of yours. Kevin Costner didn’t have to worry about that stuff.
If you are looking to grow your business, it might be time to reexamine your sales and marketing tactics. Doing the same thing will only get you the same results – or worse. Magical unicorns and James Earl Jones won’t help you save the day.
The world is changing fast, and it is probably affecting your market like it is in most other markets. Taking a fresh look at your customers and competitors is likely a good idea right now. How are you going to acquire new customers and gain more wallet share from your existing customers? BlueByrd offers workshops uniquely designed to help you think about your company from the outside-in and take a proactive approach to market growth. Let’s chat to see if one of them might be right for your organization.
Positioning outlines why your product is unique in comparison to market alternatives, and messaging describes to your target segments what you’ll do to deliver on the promises made in your positioning statement. It is a powerful one-two punch, and you need to be able to communicate yours before you start spending money on tactics.
Properly understood, the job of a marketing department is to drive revenue for the company. Some marketers do so by building and maintaining a brand, others focus on generating new leads, and others still focus on enabling sales to close more quickly and consistently. A good company with a mature marketing department does all of these things, even if they focus on some areas more than others. But there’s one area of revenue generation where the marketing department is often relegated to a passive participant or even outright excluded: pricing.
Companies everywhere are looking to cut overhead and other costs to keep up with a changing market and an economic recession. That usually means that marketing budgets are the next to go. Much like during the pandemic, businesses will have to pivot and discover new marketing solutions to combat the economic recession, inflation, and other market changes.
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