How good are your skills in pitching your business case into simple math?
Who benefits from the economic downturn?
Is inflation slowing down? Are we coming out of the economic downturn? Well, it depends on where you live. Just review the recent headlines from FocusEconomics News (an excellent source for macro-economic insights):
- Thailand: Merchandise exports slide in May
- Canada: Manufacturing PMI (Purchasing Managers Index) falls in June
- Argentina: Consumer confidence rises in June
- Switzerland: Inflation falls to over one-year low in June
- Spain: Retail sales growth gains steam in May
- Euro Area: Economic sentiment falls in June
Things are changing, but who will benefit? Top economists predict little change in the current trading situation for the rest of the year.
Is doing nothing less risky?
If you were a Marketing Manager of an SME in the manufacturing industry, in the fashion, pharmaceutical or engineering industry, or any industry for that matter, what growth vision would you recommend to your senior management team? Tap into new markets or expand products to current markets? Or launch a new product range? I think you get the point: given the current macroeconomic climate, many businesses don’t know, so they sit on the fence. Their current thinking is that doing nothing is less risky than jumping into something you don’t know. Well, is it?
You have to show the opposite.
Top salespeople won’t take no for an answer and come to meetings armed with a well thought-thru strategy for their Customers and Prospects. Instead of selling products and solutions, they discuss outcomes backed up by a business case. Selling solutions without a business case for change leads quickly to a price comparison versus the incumbent competition. An outcome-based approach shifts the focus from price to value. What top salespeople say to their Customers: With this idea, you slightly adjust your growth strategy and can expect a greater, unexpected outcome.
Turn your Business Case into Simple Math
But in the end it is always about outcomes. Business owners and top executives will listen if you have a solid business case for change, including the feasible desired outcomes expressed in dollars and cents. Here are my top tips to make this happen:
- Selling is helping: The more you focus on helping stakeholders with their challenges rather than selling your products, the more successful conversations you will have.
- Trust your experience: The easiest way to start these conversations is to rely on your experience when you helped other customers with top-line growth initiatives. What worked for them may also work for your Prospect.
- Tell Stories. “Facts Tell, Stories Sell. A great story touches the emotions of stakeholders. They can visualize the outcome your sell better. In addition, stakeholders will tell your story to the greater buying room. You enable your stakeholder to do the influencing for you.
- Find relevant insights that will change your stakeholder’s perspective. If they are looking at dark clouds on the horizon, share your opinion of how growth can be approached in a different way. Share why your future vision looks brighter.
- Give examples. In particular, when everyone is risk-averse, no one wants to pioneer. But once they see that your growth idea can be done and has been done by other companies, they will change their mind.
- Ask for small commitments. Big changes require big commitments. These are unlikely to happen in turmoil times. Ask for smaller commitments. One market, one trade lane, one growth initiative. Small commitments lead to bigger deals.
- Offer a fair price. Although your price is steeper than the competitor, you came up with the growth idea and are unique in delivering the solution. Businesses will see the value and are willing to pay if your rate is fair.
- Lastly, turn your business case into simple math: 1 + 1 = 3. Your idea turns into X amount of additional orders at XY Euros per order at XYZ profit. Cumulate this over 4 weeks, 6 months, or 2 years you are looking at a top-line growth no one thought was possible. The investment needed is feasible, looking at the great return.
My advice is when economic growth is uncertain, you cannot rely on growth from your portfolio customers who sit on the fence applying a waiting strategy. But helping 20% of them with unexpected growth initiatives and gaining prospects at a similar approach will impact achieving your sales targets. You see… 1 + 1 = 3.