I was in a meeting with the leadership of a pretty successful company the other day where we were discussing ways to speed up the revenue growth of the organization over the next year. There were a number of good ideas discussed, but one in particular really made me shake my head.
At some point, the group got on to the discussion of "Why don't we just focus on selling what is easiest to implement as that will speed up the time to get paid and grow revenues faster." On the surface this seems logical, but if you've been in sales for any length of time, you will immediate notice a few flaws in the logic.
First, when I looked at the products that had the shortest implementation time, they were also the ones that added the least amount of revenue - they were ancillary products. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with selling ancillary products, but those are typically add-ons to the main product set which is the higher revenue generator. And to be able to sell ancillaries, you need to sell the main products or you run our of ancillary opportunities.
Second, the group also failed to look at the sales cycle of these products. Just because it is an ancillary doesn't mean that it necessarily sells faster than other products. In fact, in talking to one of their top salespeople, I found that a lot of times it can take just as long or longer to add an ancillary after an initial sale. The best opportunity to sell the ancillaries is when the initial sale of the new product is done. This tells me that if they want to sell more revenue, the group should focus on creating a highly enticing and valuable offer for the ancillary upsell at the time of a main product sale.
Third, the company is in the process of creating an entirely new marketing plan and process and it is not ready yet, so there is a lot of unknown and alignment with sales/marketing is yet to happen.
So, needless to say, even though this company has been pretty successful, they need to take a step back and really think through their plan for the year. Selling is not as easy as "sell more of our products that are easy to implement." Their salespeople are selling everything they can, but they must sell to what the customers want and need. The organization can't just sell what it wants because "it is easier for them." That is a reality that doesn't exist.
Now, there are some things that this company can do to speed up revenue growth without the potential pitfalls discussed. First, as mentioned above, they can introduce a better ancillary offer at the time of a main product sale to capture more revenue at this most opportune time. Second, they could offer clients a discount if they pay in full for the year. Third, they can also focus on becoming more efficient in implementing their main products so that they drive that revenue to the top and bottom line faster. Fourth, they could automate the selling of ancillary products to existing clients through email marketing, evergreen webinars, and special offers - that way the salespeople can stay focused on selling the main products that drive the revenue. Lastly, if they really want to drive more sales of products that according them, "just flip a switch and it's turned on for the client," they could offer a free 14 day trial of them to clients. (Again, this could be done through automated email marketing)
This company already has great growth rates, but they can turbocharge them by doing a few right things right. Selling...it's not that easy. But with a little ingenuity and willingness to look at things differently, it can be made easier.
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