The prevailing thought: Sales is responsible for bringing in new customers.
This is a misconception. Although it is the Sales’ responsibility to close the contract with the customer, the customer acquisition process is a joint effort between the Marketing, Product Management, and Sales departments. Unfortunately, in IT companies, we see that this process is often done by Sales or the business owner himself, without much involvement from the other departments. But why?
IT will sell itself
Many new developments continue to take place in IT. However, until recently, IT companies could sell their products and services based on these technological developments. Why was this?
- Because it was new, some customers wanted to keep up with the latest developments
- Technology provided huge cost and/or operational benefits
- Technology was so complex that customers needed an expert;
- The number of providers of this latest technology was limited
Most IT companies were founded by engineers, who were often approached by companies for advice and help. Because of their knowledge and expertise, they managed to convince customers quickly and thus bring in new clients. However, over time, the businesses became too big for the owner to do the selling alone. A Sales Rep was hired to take over these duties. In this way, bringing in new customers has become the responsibility of Sales.
The new client can choose
But the world has changed. Technology has become more comparable – everyone knows Microsoft technology, virtualization, Kubernetes, or other technology. This has made it harder for customers to tell the difference between providers. Therefore, they are increasingly orienting themselves online. The Internet is full of information about possible solutions to the problems that have arisen. The new generation of buyers is delving more and more deeply into the possible solutions. As a result, the customer knows better what she is looking for.
Before a new client talks to your sales, they often already know what they are looking for, what they want, and who they want to talk to about it. So he doesn’t just want to talk directly to you as the owner or to your sales.
This makes bringing in new clients much more complex. We notice this with many MSPs and Cloud providers; their revenue growth is mainly from existing customers or acquisitions.
To find and be found
To bring in new customers, companies must first make themselves known and ensure potential customers can find them. That growth requires the use of marketing.
With proper marketing, you can determine which companies you want as customers. Marketing then goes to work making sure these companies find you and that they have access to the information about your value and the solutions you offer. This is done by prodding potential clients to converse with you to discuss a possible partnership. Marketing creates interest in your organization and services and provides the first contact.
The importance of effective conversations
To successfully acquire new customers, the calls and leads followed up by Sales must be an excellent match to actual interest in your organization. Conducting “coffee dates” is fun but has little value. Therefore, acquiring new customers is an interplay between Sales and Marketing. As indicated earlier, it is essential to know well which organizations you would like to have as clients. Therefore, involve Sales in making this decision as well!
Having a good conversation is not a standard sales pitch. It is essential that Sales not dive too quickly into sales mode but focus first on understanding the potential customer’s actual needs. To build a relationship of trust, it is essential to listen to the client’s needs, challenges, and opportunities. Only then can we talk about how your offering can match the customer’s needs.
Your offer as the key to success
The solution your organization offers, reflected in the offer, is a crucial success factor in bringing in new customers. This offer is articulated in an offer made by Sales. But the Product Manager puts together these services offered or whoever is responsible for the services and products. If this does not match the needs and demands of the market, Sales and Marketing can be as good as they are but will sell less than hoped for.
Acquiring new customers is an interplay between Sales, Marketing, and Portfolio Management. Effective collaboration between these disciplines enables the organization to bring in new clients and successfully practice the field.
Want more guidance on how to organize this? Contact the professionals at Force21.
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