You’ve hit a roadblock. You’re not quite sure how it happened, but suddenly, you realize that your business isn’t growing as it should be. You aren’t receiving any engagement from customers or prospects. You’re unsure of the source of the problem, or maybe, you don’t know the resolution.
Below are the top 7 sales & marketing mistakes that most IT solution providers make:
1. No competitive differentiator
There are thousands of solution providers in the US alone. How are you going to show your prospects that you’re the one they should choose? I’ve asked this question many times to solution providers, and unfortunately, from hearing the same answers over and over, they seldom have a unique differentiator that sets them apart.
There are probably a number of clients from different industries under your belt, and you feel well-equipped to serve them all. That may be the case, but how many of those clients found you? What stood out to them that made them reach out to you? That should be your focus.
If you’re having a hard time determining your competitive advantage, think about your best clients. Do the majority lie within a certain industry? Maybe you’ve come up with a solution mix with a unique pricing plan tailored toward that business, and have a number of years’ experience working within that industry. The narrower your message, the more it will resonate with that audience.
2. Not broadcasting your message
Now, what are you doing to get this message in front of prospects? When someone visits your site, what do they take away from it? Is your message consistent across marketing and sales?
Strategic messaging and positioning are often overlooked, mostly because it’s very difficult to calculate a return on investment. But, this is critical! When working with a solution provider who didn’t have a unique differentiator, I requested he ask his sales reps and best customers what they thought their differentiator was. Later that quarter, their leading client expressed the reason they chose to do business with them: it was due to their consistent message across all channels. Even their sales team was able to speak to it.
Messaging is a key part of engaging customers. Every business has a purpose and vision, which seeks to develop solutions to address the pain points of their customers. Communicating your vision and values to the right people is how you obtain those customers.
3. Neglecting to build buyer personas
Knowing your buyer is critical to driving content creation, developing custom solutions, sales follow up, and really, everything that drives your business. Intimate knowledge of your customer will help you to effectively engage them.
Many solution providers blast their contact lists with the same message. This comes off as “spammy”, and results in zero engagement. Instead, create buyer personas and use them to come up with a personalized approach to each market segment.
The good news is that they aren’t that difficult to create. If you want to take it a step further, combine buyer personas with lifecycle stages. This will allow you to map out and create highly targeted content, tailored to your prospect’s needs. Conversely, you can also use this approach to build out negative buyer personas that represent who you don’t want as a customer. You’ll have the ability to segment out “poor fit” personas, which can help your sales team prioritize where to spend their time.
4. Not managing and reviewing internal data properly
As the world becomes increasingly digital, it is difficult to gauge audience reaction while they search online. That’s where things like conversion rates, click through rates, and page views should become points of reference. Without effectively using this data, you are missing out on the opportunity to optimize the buyer experience. You wouldn’t bring a potential client into an in-person meeting and let them leave with unanswered questions. So, why do that online?
This data helps to tell a better story. Through the use of various tools, you’ll have the ability to track how a visitor came across your site, how long they stayed, and what kind of content or keywords kept them there.
When determining what data to track, think about the journey your buyer takes before becoming a customer. Every touch point is an opportunity to learn and connect.
5. Lack of tactical focus
Arguably, the most common mistake I see is the lack of focus on which activities to prioritize. Many solution providers know they should be marketing, and want to, but they don’t have a unique focus (such as an offer or value proposition). As a result, there is not much thought or care for their marketing. Their message becomes unclear; their efforts inconsistent. Marketing out of obligation, or only when extra time allows, is not a suitable long-term approach.
Unfortunately, there is no “one-and-done” marketing tactic that will guarantee leads, and what may have worked for one solution provider may not work for you. Staying focused – with your goal in mind – will help you keep your efforts aligned. Focusing on long-term goals will help you keep consistent throughout the year.
Start with an audit on your current content library. This exercise will help you identify gaps in your buyer’s journey, and help you to determine where to create new content.
6. Not qualifying leads correctly
Now that you’re getting positive feedback from the results of your campaigns, how do you know who to follow up with? We constantly see solution providers who complete a campaign with little to no lead follow-up. Nurture streams need to be relevant. These are big solutions that come with big price tags, and can completely alter the way a company operates. Just because a lead doesn’t close in 30 to 60 days does not mean they have completely gone cold! Buying cycles for some can even be a year or more. How will you keep them engaged?
Make sure you continue to market to sales leads and re-engage prospects who appear to have gone cold. Sales and marketing alignment is crucial to the success of lead generation and customer acquisition. If a lead reaches out to you about a free assessment you’re promoting and sales has no idea about this campaign, this will cause a lot of confusion, ultimately turning your prospect off from working with you. Make sure both sales and marketing agree on a mutual process.
7. Not having a complete strategy
There is one last top mistake that encompasses every single topic covered above. It’s part of how you come up with a unique differentiator and communicate it to your audience. Who do you target? What data you do you track? What are your business goals, and how do sales and marketing help you achieve them? The ultimate mistake is the lack of a documented strategy to grow your business.
How you strategize your business plan and go-to-market strategy is integral to the success of your business. At A Fluent Vision, we work with solution providers who know the importance of marketing and are committed to being more strategic about engaging their customers. If you’ve read this article, chances are you deem strategic marketing to be important, too. If you’d like help identifying the gaps in your current go-to-market strategy, be sure to take advantage of our complimentary digital marketing assessment below.