Astute Planning, Flawless Execution,
Delighted Customers

Issue #165

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


The Customer Analysis Burden
by
Ned Daubney

In the 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 briefings.

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.

The Catch-22

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

The Nub

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 Customer Analysis


 


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.

 

Contents

+ The Customer Analysis Burden


 


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