It’s already quite common in the consumer market: offering new products based on needs and previously-made purchases. Take the weekly bonus and discount offers you receive by e-mail, for instance, simply because you have allowed your buying behaviour to be registered with a customer card. Or the advertisements on websites, customised on the basis of the sites and products you have previously viewed. While this is increasingly working its way into the B2B market as well, the concept has yet to crystallise fully in this setting: there are plenty of names for it, including social selling, customer’s journey of buyer’s journey. Taken along with the fact that the number of people involved in decision-making is increasing, the result is that you are expected to have greater insight into the business, current issues in the market and the client’s ambitions. One way or another, you must be able to identify the client’s needs and know who to talk to about meeting them.
Keep it simple
Obstacles in a number of areas can make it more difficult for a Sales department to do their jobs. It doesn’t make things easier that the amount of available data is only increasing: it can be hard to see the forest through the trees! What information do you need? And how can you be sure that the information is reliable? How much time will it cost you?
Keeping things simple, reliable and affordable needn’t be a complicated undertaking. There are three main points:
1. What is going on in my particular market?
2. What is the situation like for my existing and prospective clients?
3. When it comes to specific issues in the market and the business, who are my conversation partners: the stakeholders?
The answers to these questions can be found in government sources such as Statistic Netherlands, branch organisations and the publications of the individual companies. Private individuals also publish a great deal more information than you might think; this can be used to your advantage as well. Depending on the size of the Sales department, you could choose for a close examination of more or fewer businesses or sectors.
Can I give you one last tip? While the one-off time expenditure needed to gain a full picture may be great, it is crucial in order to remain relevant in the future. Maintaining the overview you’ve made, on the other hand, takes little effort. So: lay a solid foundation and do your best to keep it up-to-date.
I would happy to work with you in this area, to come up with the best approach for your specific business.
Frank Op den Kamp