B2B sales managers are tasked with substantial responsibility. While the specific duties of a sales manager may vary based on factors such as the size of the uniform company, the size of the sales organization, budget, and other variables, uniform sales managers handle a spectrum of duties ranging from direct sales rep management to territory planning, crafting the company’s sales strategy (and gaining buy-in from both higher-ups and direct reports), managing change, implementing and overseeing incentive programs, researching and adopting the right technologies to support sales, sales development, and sales enablement functions, and more.
Even under the B2B uniform sales strategy umbrella, there are myriad options and considerations for which sales leaders are tasked with analyzing and smart decision-making. Above all, the blame for an under-performing sales team often falls squarely on the shoulders of sales management. That’s why creating the right strategy, understanding how the digital world is impacting uniform B2B sales, coaching and mentoring sales reps to exceed expectations, performing competitive analysis, and other best practices are key to B2B sales success for today’s high-paced sales organizations.
We’ve compiled this list of sales strategy tips for uniform B2B sales managers to help you achieve those goals and lead your sales team to producing better results than anyone thought possible. Whether you’re thinking about shortcomings in sales development, a need to foster better marketing-sales alignment, contemplating how social selling fits into B2B sales, or another pressing strategic challenge, we’ve rounded some informative tips to empower you to create an effective sales strategy that boosts results and grows your company.
Analyzing and Defeating the Competition
Conduct a competitive analysis via social media. Social media is often used for researching uniform customers. B2B companies especially should use this tool to find out more about their competition. The leading social media network for B2B uniform companies is LinkedIn. It’s quickly become a hub for professionals in the uniform industry. Follow the major influencers in your niche to learn what they’re doing. The more data you can gather, the better.
Don’t compete on price alone. What about the customer that says, "We can always find other suppliers…” Fundamentally, they’re playing a short game. As suppliers choose not to play that game, dropping out of competing for business, the only ones that are left are the bad ones. Those that compete only on price, continually cutting their investments in R&D, sales/marketing, product quality, investments in their plants. Overtime, the number of alternative suppliers dwindles to a few–each of which since they compete only on low price, becomes very risky. Eventually there own viability becomes questioned, or the risk to the customer skyrockets. Sure, it works for a few years, but long term viability comes into question–first for the supplier, then to the customer. We’ve seen examples in many industries where customers have so squeezed their supply chains that they ultimately fail, causing the customer to fail. Our pricing and profit margins exist for a reason. The core is to continue to allow us to grow and innovate by helping our customers grow and innovate. We need to defend our pricing vigorously, not just for what it means to us, but for what it really means in supporting and growing our customers!
Stop focusing so much on your competition and instead focus on your customers. Stop fixating on your competition – you are taking your eye of the ball when you do. Focus instead on your customer or what is in front of you. Focus on the bigger game. Know your ultimate result, because competition is everywhere today and the rules have changed.
Approach competitive analysis from a customer’s perspective. Although it might sound unreasonable, it is an excellent research and observation exercise regarding the competition as it provides us with first-hand knowledge and closely, what they offer and how they offer it. Don’t forget to inquire about prices, offers, characteristics and main benefits of the product, in addition to important aspects such as waiting time, client support and the maturity of the sales process. Be critical of this exercise, accept the disadvantages you have before your competition and look for ways to overcome these disadvantages, compare results and try new roads.
Use your unique value proposition (UVP) to differentiate your company, products, and services from the competition. Create your Unique Value Proposition (UVP). A UVP communicates what it is that your company, products or services do that your competition doesn’t do, can’t do or won’t do. Define what makes you different, and therefore, better.
Targeting and Selling to Your Ideal Uniform Customers
Create an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and keep a narrow focus. Even if you’ve researched the market ahead of building a product, developed an ideal customer profile (ICP), the challenge arrives when you take the product to market. A unexpected surge of interest from a customer type raises the question, ‘Should we serve that market segment too?’ ‘Was our initial research correct?’ Inbound demand from a Fortune 500 precipitates excitement about winning an exceptional logo. Will that logo lead to inbound interest from others? Managing that doubt is difficult. Nevertheless, the hidden costs of non-ICP customers are real. Changing a product roadmap to suit the needs of one big customer divides an already small engineering team. Managing a marketing message to several distinct customer bases scatters the brand. Higher customer success costs and churn rates from supporting non-ideal customers. Internally, questions arise about priorities. Having two ICPs creates interference across every department.
Create value for every member of the buying team at each step in the buying journey. Think about it for a moment. The key number in sales (revenue) depends on a decision we don’t make in sales. Whatever we do or don’t do, whatever we automate internally or not, buyers make buying decisions. However, all our efforts in sales enablement are focused on empowering salespeople to influence this buying decision. That requires navigating the dynamics throughout the customer’s journey, and it requires creating value at each stage of the customer’s journey for the relevant members of the buying team.
Create a business case for buying uniforms. Most companies provide potential customers with a list of features, followed by a price quote that compares favorably with what other companies charge for similar features. This is crazy. Selling the lowest ‘price per feature’ propels you into a price war with your competitors. More important, customers don’t care about features; they only care about what buying a product will mean to them. Thus, rather than tout ‘price per feature,’ only discuss a feature in the context of how it either saves money or makes money, preferably in as specific a way as possible.
If price complaints are common, you’re not offering enough value. You will get haters when you run any business, but if people complain about your prices, it’s because you are not showing enough value. Dropping your prices should be the last thing you do to be competitive. Your margins are probably already tight enough and the last thing you want to do is engage in price wars. Using price as your selling point is an indication that you need to get back to developing what makes your product a unique proposition. For any product or service, there is only one business that’s the cheapest. While your buyers may shop the lowest price, it is value that they really want. When value exceeds price, price is no longer the issue.
Create opportunities by telling stories with contrast. We all dream of the situation where the prospect has already recognized and wants to solve the problem that your solution addresses. In this selling environment, you don’t need a solid sales strategy and message. But too often, you are not in a great selling environment and you need to work the prospect from every angle. You need to create opportunities. And to help prospects see the value of your offering, you need to tell stories with contrast. You need to tell both the ‘before’ and ‘after’ story – and it’s the contrast between the two that creates a powerful perception of value. The bigger the contrast you create between the ‘pain’ the customer experienced before your solution and the ‘gain’ the customer experienced with your solution, the greater the perceived value.
Create anchors. When potential customers look at the price of a product or service, how will they know if it is fair or unfair? Their brains will automatically contrast the price with something else. Perhaps what they thought it would cost, what they paid last time, what a competitor quoted them or something else entirely. The studies which have analyzed this phenomenon all come to the same conclusion: the anchor the brain uses as its starting point is highly influential. Here’s why: When the brain forms an anchor it creates a bias that shapes how it perceives subsequent information. This is why you need to address price before you reveal it by creating a point of comparison. So, if you are entering into a negotiation you should always strive to create the anchor. However, if the other party does so first and presents a low anchor, you should adamantly reject it and immediately refocus the conversation on a new, more favorable anchor.
Clone your high-value uniform customers with a clearly defined sales process. Cloning your high-value customers is the foundation of your growth engine. Developing a sales process allows you to target these ideal customers and get the same ones time and time again.
Go beyond simple demographic data to define your ideal uniform customer. Market segmentation has traditionally been based on demographic factors such as company size, sector and location. But these simple characteristics are hopelessly inadequate predictors of which specific organizations you should focus your marketing and sales energies on. That’s because in any complex uniform B2B sales environment, there will be a set of specific unique-to-you structural, behavioral and situational characteristics that are much more reliable indicators of the long-term potential of any given organization, and of your chances of doing business with them either now or in the future. I’m not suggesting that you should ignore demographics – but I’m urging you not to stop there when it comes to targeting your marketing efforts or assessing the attractiveness of your potential sales opportunities.
It’s not a matter of when to introduce price in the buying process, but whether you present price in the context of value. If you haven’t established that the intended outcome is urgent, that it’s tied to a critical business objective or milestone, it’s difficult to understand if your price is reasonable or justified. If you pitch price while reinforcing a quantified value, you’ve done the math in advance for the prospect. You make it difficult to argue that achieving the outcome isn’t worth paying a fraction of that for it. Some use price at the very front of the sales process as a filtering mechanism. If they freak out about your proposed number without understanding what they are buying, is that really an objection to price? Or is it a lack of understanding of why or how they need what you’re selling in the first place? Along those lines, it’s never too early to introduce price as long as it’s in the context of value. And for that, the sooner the better.
Don’t just sell; collaborate with buyers. Selling is hard work. Ironically, it only makes it harder if you don’t collaborate with the buyer. The extra work you put into each deal, to engage and collaborate with the buyer to help them define and choose the best solution for their requirements, ultimately will increase your conversion rate. (You’ll win more orders!) And, while that is extra work, hitting your number is a lot easier than taking the ‘easy’ path and not getting the order. After all, chasing quota from behind is no place to be.
Manage your data and products online using a B2B Program Manager store by Sellers Commerce powered by UniformMarket. For more info, contact us for a demo today!