Sometimes losing a sale is good, in B2B

B2B, Customer Delight, Customers, losing, Sales

As a business leader, there are a lot of times when you have to take a decision on pricing which results in losing a deal.

I have had to take many such decisions and the sales persons involved in the deal get really upset since they misses their target because of that decision.

See, its very easy to discount to win a deal, but if after winning the deal you’re not able to execute because it’s way out of budget then you get a terrible name. In B2B, if you fail to deliver or deliver badly, then you can be sure that you will not get business from that company again and if the manager involved in the decision , goes to some other company, she will ensure that you do not get business from there also.

I have had a couple of instances where we lost the order, then the vendor who was awarded, did not deliver and after one year of struggling, the customer called us back and gave the order without any negotiation.

And since we did a good job there, they gave us multiple more cases.

The advantage of B2B is that once you do a good job, then generally, the managers want to keep working with you. The inertia and the political situation in the organizations mean that a manager doesn’t want to try a new vendor if she can.

So even if you have to lose a deal, its okay because you will get many opportunities to win. But if you do a bad job, because you don’t have the money in the deal, then you will lose the client forever.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

Single Target Market – by pain points

B2B, Marketing, segmentation, single target market

I have written about identifying different niches in the market based on the usage. Today’s post will be a little longer than the usual posts because I will showcase two clear applications with examples.

For example maybe your product or service can be targeted at the replacement market or it could be targeted at the OEM market. if you are a tyre manufacturer you can get specialised by cars, two wheelers, trucks, off road etc.Then you can device another niching strategy based on going to the OEMs who manufacture these products. These manufacturers would buy in bulk. Here you don’t need to advertise in the mass market. You need to be closely aligned with the OEM so that when they design new products, they consider your tyres. This is a B2B play.

On the other hand another strategy could be targeting the replacement market. Now you could have a B2C strategy where you are targeting individuals who need to replace their tyres in their old vehicles. To be able to get mind share you will need to advertise rigorously to ensure that you stay top of the mind when someone needs to replace their tyres. On the other hand you could target fleet owners who have to maintain a large fleet. These would be B2B buyers and the method of targeting them would be completely different.

Today I came across another way to look at the idea of a single target market. Its by identifying the pain and retooling the product slightly or retooling the packaging. A very common example of this is the concept of sachets for shampoos which got pioneered in India by the FMCG companies. About 20 years back there was a company in south India, which made shampoos, which did not have a brand as well known as the Uniilevers or the P&G. They recognised the fact that poor ladies in India wanted to wash their hair (typically long hair) but did not have the budget to buy a big bottle of shampoo. Other than the budget they did not have the place to keep the bottle after taking bath because they would take bath in public washrooms.

They came out with a plastic sachet of the shampoo at a cost of Rupee 1/- (about 2 cents at that time) with just enough shampoo for one wash for the ladies. This suddenly became a rage and the volumes of this company grew dramatically. Soon all the MNCs had to copy the idea and come out with equivalent sachets for their shampoos.

Now while the original plan was for the single target as ladies who could not afford the full bottle, another segment which had pain was travelling salesmen who could not carry a bottle of shampoo with them while they were on tours. A lot of the hotels they stayed in did not provide for shampoos. So this became another market that these companies started targeting.

So you could even see the resistance points to the consumption of your product and find the pain in the market to penetrate another segment.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

Doing the medium – market, message match – 3

B2B, Character, Marketing, media, medium, messaging

Assuming you agree with my opinion – that I shared in the first two posts on this topic – that we should first look at the market and then decide on the medium and message, today is a take on the personality or characteristics of each medium. Again you may not agree with my view, but this view has helped me characterise what kind of message would be good for what kind of a medium.

But before we get into that, there’s some clarification with respect to what I consider as a message. The message and the medium kinda go hand-in-hand and the characteristic of the medium will put constraints on the type of message. Since I primarily deal with B2B, most of my terminology would be related to that kind of customers. However even in the B2c segment you would have similar kind of messages.

When it comes to B2B, a message could be a white paper, a case study, a webinar on a given topic, an email, a physical seminar or event for a specific product/service, a physical or virtual conference to showcase the company and a whole lot of others. The size of the message could vary, depending on the medium you are using as well as the duration. So a webinar could be 45 minutes talking about the features and benefits (the message) or it could be a full day workshop , where you are teaching the nitty gritty of the product (another kind of message). Since the workshop is more long form your message will need to be designed accordingly.

Now coming to what I started with, each medium has its own character. A conference is a good place to send a message en-mass while an email is something more personal one-to-one. An email expects a response, to take the next step, a conference is primarily one way. Like a bill board is a one way medium in the B2C segment.

So when you are sending an email its got to be personal, short and expecting a response. On the other hand a webinar would be something which is longer with minimal interaction planned, expect maybe at the end. You can’t use the message that you would put out in the webinar in an email and vice-versa.

So device your message based on the medium that you intend to use.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

The Value of a Lead

B2B, follow-up, lead generation, life time value, Marketing, Risks, Trust

Have you analysed the time it takes for someone who enquires something that you offer and eventually buys. And what is the Life Time Value of a client.

Not all leads will buy anything at all, some will buy, but not buy from you. But those who do buy from you, do you have an estimate of the amount of time it could take at an extreme for a lead to close.

About 10 – 12 years back, there was an MNC , who was into selling CPU chips, had come to us. Their sales team had a clear mandate from their management, if a lead was not closed in 3 months, it had to be pulled out of the funnel and dropped. Like us, they were also dealing in B2B.

Since we deal in considerably large value deals, it sometimes takes us even 24 months of effort to keep the lead live, to eventually come to us.

The timeline is an important aspect in deciding when a lead needs to be stopped from being targeted. One argument is never. To a certain degree, I agree with this argument. At the other extreme is an argument that if someone doesn’t buy in 3-6 months, then they will not buy. With companies running their sales and revenue targets from one quarter to another following a lead for more than 6 months is tough, because after 6 months the sales person may change.

Generating a lead is tough enough and losing it because you have an ad-hoc timeline to decide when to dump a lead can be devastating for the business. Depending on the kind of offerings you have, the more expensive the offering, the more people take time to think through their decision because, in the B2B segment, people can’t afford to Not Have Things Work. And because they still don’t trust you or the technology, they don’t want to take a decision. That’s where all the inertia and indecision comes-up.

You need to patiently nurture leads by educating them and motivating them to try you out (if they are engaging you for the first time) by doing POCs ( if its a complex technology) and eliminate all the possible risk from the buyer.

Once you have analysed the timeline of closing leads, then they will become an asset which will I’ve you annuity kind of business.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!