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For most businesses expanding into new areas is an essential part of realizing growth. This goal is sometimes in conflict with the sales execution. The path of least resistance is to focus on selling a bit more of what we already sell rather than adding something new to the mix. A key part of the B2B business growth challenge is thus to combine the two.
The sales prioritzation conundrum
The strategic business expansion and the tactical sales execution represent a conundrum. Expect each individual sales person to feel squeezed between the two. To deliver each quarter, you need to focus your time. A choice between selling more of the core business or breaking into new areas. When the two are separated you have to deal with them as two separate tasks. But in most cases the strategic business expansion builds on adjacency to an existing business. If this is the case you have an option to help your sales team to leverage the existing business when building new.
Be clear on the sales model you target
A sales professional knows all aspects of the current core business. When pursuing new business areas, knowledge about the new area become a limiting factor. The first model requires a high level of knowledge about new products, new markets and new business models to succeed. In the second model you “just” need to be great at capturing and structuring customer needs to succeed.
To make it easy to sell your new offering, you should consider focusing all your efforts on the second model. You will be able to develop your sales team understanding of the needs way quicker than they will understand all aspects of the new offering.
Embed your new business in an existing business
The second aspect to consider is how you can tie your new offering to an existing business. Addressing your customer with a stand-alone offering is a hard sell. You sell the offering on its own merits only. You might be in a market with many new disruptive innovators you compete with. Last but not least when breaking in with a stand-alone offering you are vulnerable to procurement tactics.
The alternative is to identify the best connection your new offering have to an existing business. Check what commercial couplings you can do between the two offerings. Consider the options of providing the offering to your customer before they need it, on a “try it before you buy it” basis. As long as you are able you identify the rational for why your customer will need your offering you can offer to provide it early. At this early stage you can expect less details on specific requirements and opinions on business models and price.
Questions for you and your team to explore
The following questions have potential to allow you to improve the likelihood of success for your new offerings:
1. How complex is our new offering to sell for our sales force – The more complex the lower the likelihood it will get the right attention from your sales force.
2. What sales model do we envision as the primary one for breaking in – the customer need centric will have lower resistance in the sales force than the offering centric
3. How do our opportunity engagement material need to be different for the two models – don’t expect the same material to work for both models.
4. What are the possible adjacencies between existing businesses and our new area we should consider leveraging – without a clear point of leverage you can expect a harder internal sell.
5. What type of commercial constructs can we create to bridge the two offerings – a clear and logical tie will represent an easy sell.
6. What type of commercial construct will make it easy for the customer to embrace your Trojan horse – It is better to get in now and get paid later, than competing to get in and get paid later.
7. How do you plan to advance your customer agenda from try to buy – Getting in is half the problem, once you are in you ned to support your customer in moving to the buy state.
For further insights in this field consider the following:
- Selling new products – What works & doesn’t [WEBINAR] – by Brainsharks
- New offerings in search of markets [BLOGPOST] – Customer Centric Selling
- How to cross sell and upsell [BLOGPOST] – by Hoovers
Creative collaboration credits to LM who put the spot light on how you can think for challenges like this one from the perspective of a senior sales executive.