The Key to Your Business ̶ Survival and Value Maximization
“20% of new businesses fail within the first year, within five years half will have failed“. The statistics are thrown around so frequently and casually that they lose their impact and little thought is given as to why the outlook is so grim for growing businesses around the world.
But why do so many businesses face an untimely demise? The lazy answer is “undercapitalization”, but just like the reaction to the statistics, this fails to fully consider the root cause(s).
Survival aside, even fewer businesses ever fully realize their true potential, whether measured in market share, revenue, or whatever metric is chosen to evaluate success.
It may sound obvious, but the truth is that the most reliable way of ensuring not only the survival of your business but also that it will realize its potential and accomplish the goals that you set is having reliable and sustainable revenue streams, as well as predictable sources of new opportunities. Yes, it’s important to provide excellent customer service, to be technically and operationally proficient, but none of that matters unless you are selling enough of your products and services to sustain your business, and not enough customers will even know how good your business is.
In addition, one of the surest ways to limit your business, not only in its ability to scale but also in its value to a one-day potential purchaser, is for the company owner to be central to the sales process. To be sustainable and provide for an ultimate exit, systems should be created for critical business functions that function independently on a repeatable basis. Even with no imminent exit plan, building a business as if the intention is to one day sell it will help you to ensure its sustainability, ease the growth process, and minimize risk across the enterprise. One of the most critical systems any organization needs focuses like a laser on the identification, capture, and closing of new revenue opportunities.
As Peter Drucker pointed out more than sixty years ago, “any business only has two basic functions, marketing and innovation”. So what then does the chief executive of a company oriented around technical capability or customer service do to establish a marketing and sales organization that will help allow his/her company to realize its potential? There are now choices never before possible.
Sales & Marketing as a Service – Not Just Another Buzzword
It used to be true that to sell B2B products and services it was necessary to build a sales and marketing organization within your company from scratch. This can be an expensive, frustrating, ineffective, and risky proposition, full of trial and error and causing delay in helping your business achieve liftoff. In many industries, the average salesperson tenure is less than two years and nearly 60% do not achieve established quotas. Managing a sales organization is notoriously tricky, with many organizations defaulting to anointing their best salesperson the “sales manager” while expecting them to maintain their current sales volume, and with no real regard for the skills necessary to develop sound sales processes or evaluate and mentor team members. It’s no surprise then that a recent study found that only 3% of sales leaders spend 50% or more of their time coaching their team members. Couple these factors with endless debate about how to evaluate the way that sales staff spend their time and it’s no surprise that many companies spend years trying to solve their sales problems.
For many businesses marketing can be even more frustrating. Marketing should be the strategic function that encompasses everything from the way your products and services are priced, how the market perceives your company and where you are positioned, the way leads are captured, qualified, and progressed, to the way that the sales organization engages. In short, how all the pieces fit together.
Too often there isn’t a well-defined marketing role, and if one exists it often serves only to create collateral to power ill-defined processes or performs “Random Acts of Marketing” , ineffective marketing tactics that do not relate back to a well-defined strategy, are not measurable, and that do not have clearly defined ROI. Besides being wasteful this lack of a cohesive plan can hurt your brand as much as it helps. Effective marketing greatly eases the sales process, preserves pricing to avoid commoditization of your product or service, and helps you to build valuable long-term relationships with your customers.
There is a solution that can provide your company with everything that it needs to formulate a sound marketing strategy, build and manage an effective sales organization, monitor these important functions in a reliable way that enables your business strategy, put in place the marketing tools that allows you to reach a large enough audience after validating their effectiveness to your specific needs, capture leads, then take ownership of sales cycles and follow them through to closing. In short, a complete revenue engine can be rapidly bolted on to your business to create a brand new complete sales and marketing organization or to supplement your existing team for specific circumstances.
It may sound like merely the latest buzzword, but this term summarizes the differences as compared to any other available solution or set of solutions as well as its on-demand nature. Sales & Marketing as a Service (SMaaS) is a completely new approach to a long-standing problem, and it’s exciting how the flexibility, accessibility, effectiveness and value represented in this solution provides businesses with unprecedented levels of capability and new competitiveness that might otherwise take years to assemble, if the organization ever reaches the level of maturity required to drive enough high quality opportunities to meet its goals, and capture them fast enough, at a sufficient rate.
How Sales & Marketing as a Service is Different?
The SMaaS Model
One of the most common limitations faced, particularly in smaller organizations, is incomplete “point” solutions and a lack of comprehensive strategy for how all the revenue-producing pieces fit together. This is exacerbated by the fact that most sales and marketing solutions providers have a very limited perspective and design their services around the narrow capabilities available to them.
Consider for a moment the typical marketing agency. They may produce excellent creative materials, brochures, website copy, etc., but they often have no capability for developing a business strategy for how to best position your company in a market segment or understand how to sequence leads through the sales funnel. Similarly, a sales training company may be expert at helping your organization understand sales tactics, how to overcome objections, effective cold calling, or a sound process for evaluating salespeople, but have nothing to add in terms of pricing your products and services, or how to protect your company’s brand. Until now this type of top-down thinking was difficult to come by, unless you can afford and attract a high end CMO and CRO, and leads companies to waste a great deal of time and money through trial and error with these types of providers, or by making ill-advised hires that ultimately don’t work out. Fortunately, companies today have the option of engaging a SMaaS partner to provide all the necessary pieces.
Any discussion of sales and marketing would be incomplete without acknowledging the dramatic changes both domains have undergone. In both the B2B and B2C worlds customers are more informed today than ever before. The new “connected customer” has already conducted research, knows who has solutions they might be interested in, and are well down the path of choosing an option before speaking to anyone. This highlights the need for effective marketing, that proactively positions your company as a viable option while changing the nature of the sales dialogue. It also underscores the changing role of the salesperson, who is now the expert who guides the customer through the buying journey with deep expertise in that specific domain and the ability to provide value in the form of education and provide solutions that solve the customer’s problems or create previously undiscovered opportunities.
There are also a number of new technologies and tools that can help you sell more of your products and services, from SEO to intent marketing, sales automation to content management. They represent real opportunities, but also complexity, and without being part of a cohesive plan can quickly become unmanageable and expensive, or fail to deliver on their promise.
A SMaaS provider is able to provide a comprehensive set of solutions that reflect the realities of today’s business climate. Whether a turn-key marketing and sales organization that can start helping your organization grow within days or individual parts that can be retained on an as-needed basis to supplement existing teams and functions that are enabled by a strategic focus on what your business needs. SMaaS providers deliver all the elements your business needs to accelerate your growth today in one complete package while laying the foundation for the future, efficiently and without the risks associated with other options.
Who is Sales & Marketing as a Service for?
Sales & Marketing as a Service is an ideal fit for companies who:
- Are frustrated with the performance of their current sales team, or for whom building and maintaining their own world-class sales and marketing organization from scratch is not a viable or desirable option.
- Currently suffer from a lack of synergy between marketing and sales.
- Would like to accelerate their growth without additional trial and error.
- Wish to expand into new geographies or launch new products/services.
- Want to accelerate their growth and maximize their company’s sustainability and valuation.
- Desire the ability to flex their sales and marketing capacity up and down as needed.
- Would like world class capabilities but sized to fit their business and purchased in bit sized chunks appropriate to their organization, i.e. layering in a fractional CMO with their sales team.
- Want a long-term partner who can provide revenue production as a service, providing consistent, reliable growth and allowing executives to focus on running their business.
Where does Sales & Marketing as a Service not fit?
For some organizations, Sales & Marketing as a Service may not be a good fit, though even where a comprehensive SMaaS solution isn’t the right answer, elements of it applied strategically can still be a significant growth accelerator.
These types of companies typically are not the right fit for a complete SMaaS solution:
- Organizations that already have a premier sales and marketing function, though they frequently can benefit from the additional capacity available through augmenting their team with SMaaS elements.
- Companies that do not have plans to grow, need to reliably forecast sales production, or ever wish to have an exit or other transaction.
- Businesses that are not open to applying a strategic approach to how sales and marketing enable achievement of their goals.
- Companies that wish to “own” their sales and marketing functions, though this may merely be an illusion. The reality is that with short tenures and no real loyalty, having these critical functions fulfilled by a trusted partner can actually create more consistency and ownership. With proper management and utilizing a reliable SMaaS provider you may receive better results, more flexibility, and a more permanent solution than by trying to maintain an entirely internal team.
- Organizations that are too traditional to recognize that the business climate has changed. That an on-demand model for selling their products and services may be not only viable but actually contains a number of advantages.
What to Look for in a Sales & Marketing as a Service Provider?
When evaluating potential SMaaS partners and whether they fit your business some factors to consider include:
- Do they offer a comprehensive solution? Many “sales outsourcing” providers are really appointment setters. They contact leads, usually through cold calling, and then you pick it up from there, try to qualify opportunities, and are responsible for the sales cycle. Others might help you get more LinkedIn™ connections, consult on sales processes, or develop marketing content, but none of those are SMaaS. SMaaS is taking responsibility for every element of the revenue cycle and providing you with results.
- Experience, it’s impossible to replace. Does their team have significant expertise working in your industry, understand your potential customers’ needs, and your business? Do they have a demonstrable track record as hunters of new business? The prevalence of farmers in roles demanding pure prospecting skills is part of the reason for the general poor performance of sales teams. SMaaS providers should be able to not just develop good strategy but help you by going out and getting new customers for you.
- What will they guarantee in terms of results? What expectations do they set for how they process will unfold? A SMaaS provider should be focused on developing new pipeline opportunities for you as rapidly as possible. They should have a well-defined process that guarantees a consistent experience and reliable results.
- Team. Does the potential partner have a team of experts that provides all the pieces of a true SMaaS solution? Do they have real marketing expertise to go along with sales process enablement, plus have the necessary roster of execution-focused staff who will work on your company’s behalf?
- Integration. Will they be able to seamlessly fit into your organization, match your culture and values, and represent your company the way that you would expect an employee to? Will they be accountable and provide you with actionable information about your pipeline and give you the ability to forecast business results into the future?
Interested in learning more about Sales & Marketing as a Service?
 US Bureau of Labor and Statistics
 The Essential Drucker
 Harvard Business Review
 Objective Management Group
 1-Page Marketing Plan – Dib