Accelerating Revenue Growth in a Down Economy
by Rick Brown
President & CEO, Lifecycle Marketing, Inc.

To consistently make money and increase valuation companies must focus on accelerating the growth of the "top line." In a down economy we often hear of executives cutting costs, mostly in the form of downsizing to protect margins and the value of their company's stock. This approach is far less effective than being able to consistently grow revenue. Ponder for a moment that for companies with a 40% EBIT, it takes a 1% growth in revenue versus 1.66% cut in expenses to equate to the same profit improvement.

Revenue growth in a down economy is not difficult to achieve - it merely requires a strategic focus. In a down economy, companies will buy things they perceive as having strategic value while postponing things of tactical importance. Therefore, it follows that the task at hand is to create the perception of having something of strategic importance -- something that impacts the factors critical to the success of your target market.

Selling features and functions at middle management levels is only tactical positioning. The ability to concisely define your strategic business value or "value proposition", then delivering this proposition to "C" level executives positions a firm strategically. Building and delivering a strategic value proposition is effectively accomplished by executing a five-step process:

1) Define Revenue Focused Priorities and Management Responsibilities to Create Alignment. To consistently accelerate revenue growth, you must reengineer how you strategically manage your company. Make revenue your top priority. Create priorities and responsibilities for senior management, sales, marketing and product development that align your solution, positioning and messages to the strategic needs of your target market.

2) Strategically Position Your Product or Service. The key here is to strategically position your product or service in the minds of the senior executives of your target market. This makes you a "must buy." Provide a product or service of strategic value to your target market that is critical to their success. Correlate value-add capabilities to the financial metrics your product or service can impact and how this financial improvement can positively influence the "critical success factors" vital to the success of your target market.

3) Create a Strategic Value Proposition. A comprehensive value proposition articulates the strategic value your product or service brings. It includes two key components:

a) A "C" level strategic value proposition that demonstrates the probable financial impact and your solution's ability to influence the critical success factors vital to the success of your target buyer.
b) Differentiation based on the business value that you can bring and others can't.

4) Create strategic level sales tools that enable your sales force to implement a top -down sales process and sell at the senior executive levels of your target market. A critical element of success is arming a sales force with the sales tools necessary to effectively sell at this level. Imbedding these tools into a top down sales process allows them to execute in a consistent manner. Most companies don't do this as a result, sales reps are left to their own devices, which often translates into inconsistent results. The tools created for the sales force and their intended use are outlined below:

a) Prospecting Tool - a unique research and approach strategy that gains appointments with "C" level executives 20% of the time.
b) Endorsement Tool - provides the means to illustrate the financial impact of your solution in order to secure top down endorsement into the account.
c) Assessment Tool - assesses the four key elements within the account including: the buyers, the current solution and its weaknesses, the required solution, and the business value your solution can provide.
d) Account Strategy Tool - provides the analysis and insight needed to create a dominant sales strategy. Focuses the sales rep on the six elements of a winning account strategy.
e) Product Position Tool (Created in Step 2)- positions your solution strategically in the mind of the buyer. Senior executives are tasked with making strategic decisions and you must therefore position your solution strategically in order to gain their interest. By doing so, you become a "must buy" regardless of economic conditions.
f) Competitive Comparison Tool (Created in Step 3) - uniquely differentiates your solution based on the business value you and only you can provide. This form of differentiation rapidly defuses all competition.
g) Justification Tool (Created in Step 3) - a value proposition that provides strategic value and is able to cement the deal at senior executive levels.
h) Negotiation Tool - teaches the sales rep the techniques of effectively negotiating complex deals with senior executives to avoid the need to discount.

5) Execute a top down sales approach. Implement a top-down sales process and train your sales force to execute it utilizing the tools developed in Step 4. All too often, sales reps enter an account at their comfort level and spend months climbing the corporate hierarchy to get to the economic buyer. Starting at the top shaves months off the sales cycle and gains top-down endorsement into the account.

To sell at the senior executive level, you must earn the right to do so. This simple, yet powerful, five-step process develops and delivers a compelling proposition that demonstrates strategic value to top executives - creating a belief that their success will be enhanced by your product or service. The end result is incremental sales and accelerating revenue growth - even in a down economy.

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Rick Brown is the President and CEO of Lifecycle Marketing, Inc. (http://www.lifecyclemarketing.com/). Lifecycle Marketing provides consulting, mentoring and training services for the singular purpose of accelerating revenue growth, profit and earnings.  Contact us to be advised about upcoming seminars.

 

 

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