The Customer Analysis Burden
previous newsletter, I introduced the role of Customer Strategist
as a member of the sales team, to support the sales representative by
deeply analyzing select customer opportunities, leading to more
effective customer meetings, stronger customer relationships, and
ultimately more sales. In this article, I extend the discussion to show
how today's huge time sink to analyze customers screams for divvying up
the dual-duties of analyzing strategic customers and selling to them –
and how that will rapidly increase sales.
Sure, many firms suspect they overpay sales reps (just ask anyone in
Marketing). But that's because firms pay the reps to Google, read SEC
documents and analyst reports, search tweets, blogs and other social
media sites, dig up marketing reports, interpret endless company
earnings and investor calls, and so on. And quite frankly, sales people
are not so good at all this – nor want to be. It's not their bag. But
they do need to deeply understand their strategic customers – for
account planning, sales proposals, relationship-building, and executive
The Time Drain – 90 Hours per Customer
To deeply understand and monitor just one strategic
customer takes about 90 hours of research annually (see table below) –
i.e. sales reps need to spend over two weeks each year on research and
analysis for each key customer. If they have 10 key customers,
they would need to spend 900 hours, or nearly 45% of their working year.
Sounds silly I know, and I doubt many successful sales people spend this
much effort researching and analyzing. But look at the table below to
see what information sources you would leave out of deep-dive analysis.
Deep-dive customer analysis requires a full market scan, as customer
puzzle pieces are everywhere. Your competitors may assemble a clearer
final picture and take the advantage.
If sales reps do all the necessary customer analysis,
they will win a higher percentage of deals, but have much less time
to work them.
If sales reps don't do their homework, they will have
much more time to work deals, but will be less effective selling.
How do you balance this trade-off – spend more time analyzing (with less
customer face-time) or more time selling (with shoddy intelligence)?
You could argue that, either way, the actual number of deals won would
be about the same, though under scenario (1), the informed sales reps
would enjoy stronger customer relationships.
The Sales Organization Opportunity
Herein lies an unmistakable opportunity for forward-thinking sales
organizations: Provide the deep-dive customer analysis for sales reps
for strategic opportunities. More than simply giving access to
Hoover's and the other generic syndicated sources on the table below,
sales organizations should provide a qualified research and strategy
professional to exploit all these research sources for strategic
customer opportunities. Take your sales reps out of the finding &
filtering business (which they despise and do poorly) and let them focus
on strategizing and executing (which they live for and excel).
Imagine your key sales reps each having two months more time to sell
each year, and using professional deep-dive customer analysis --
all for the cost of a qualified analyst: the Customer Strategist. The
Customer Strategist could help drive account planning, sales proposals,
relationship building and executive briefings – ensuring each map to the
true picture of the customer.
For strategic opportunities, you'll find a substantial ROI by
redirecting the deep-dive customer analysis burden to professional
customer analysts, and unleashing your sales force to drive higher-value
sales activities. The benefits:
much more time to execute sales
much higher quality customer analysis and strategies
for all sales purposes
more sales, stronger, accelerated relationships, and
more satisfied sales teams – everyone wins.
Table: Annual Research Requirements for Strategic Account Deep-Dive
About Ned Daubney: Ned is a sales
team's best friend -- uniquely helping to nurture and close
strategic B2B customer opportunities. He helps teams achieve success by
delivering deep-dive customer analysis, intelligence-fed strategies, and
executive briefing support catered to each deal. Ned is a high-energy,
innovative marketing and sales professional with extensive experience
working closely with sophisticated sales teams. Principal and Founder of
SalesTeam Strategies, Ned has over twenty five years of sales and
marketing management and strategic research experience in both high tech
and financial services industries. Ned previously worked as Director of
Technology and Financial Services Practice for Fuld & Company, a global
market intelligence consulting firm. Prior to Fuld, Ned held sales and
marketing management roles at leading high-tech and financial services
firms, including Cisco Systems, Aspen Technology, GTE Internetworking/Genuity,
Lotus/IBM and The Boston Financial Group. Ned holds an MBA in Marketing
from Babson College's F.W. Olin Graduate School of Management, and a BS
in Accounting from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh.
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