Marketing Strategy
Improve Close Rates (and Stop Sales Drops) with Personal, Differentiated Conversations

Improve Close Rates (and Stop Sales Drops) with Personal, Differentiated Conversations

September 14, 2020
4 min read

I recently had a conversation with an Account Director responsible for new market and existing customer growth for an Oracle Supply Chain and ERP partner that has offices throughout the US, Asia, and UK. I learned that the firm:

  • Experiences 12 to 18-month sales cycle on enterprise accounts with most efforts leading to RFP automatically reducing margin growth
  • Tends to be responsive to customer-defined needs rather than creating a need, which cuts deal sizes by 10% to 30%
  • Limits customer lifetime value as they are not getting top-to-bottom engagement needed for customers to utilize the full portfolio of services
  • Is unable to consistently reach COO/VP levels needed to drive profit growth
  • Closes 30 – 35% of the time

A 30% close rate is unacceptable whether you sell alone or with a partner like Oracle, SAP, JDA, Microsoft, and others. If manufacturers, retailers, distributors, etc. did not invest in the tools you use, it’s because they did not see the upfront value your complete solutions can provide and the implementation and post-go-live gaps you can fill. They could not clearly see the impact you’d have on the company, P&L, operations, and their customers.

Sales Is Calling for More Account-Based, Conversational Support

Personal attention and conversations are absolutely necessary to win, protect, and expand high-value accounts.

It’s a shame that manufacturers and others do not clearly see the above firm’s value because on the website they speak to how they deliver 91% on time and in budget vs. the industry average of 40%. They talk about achieving 96% of business goals vs. the industry average of 64%.

But, the website, LinkedIn profiles, content, and messaging do not speak to the account-specific and competitor-specific gaps that result in 50% more go-live delays and 32% less KPI success at go-live and post-implementation. Instead, I see website content that speaks to the same general features and benefits of the 60+ partners I see on the Oracle SCM website and the 40+ partners I see on the JDA website. I see resume-based profiles with generic company information like how the firm specializes in integrating supply chains and solving business-critical challenges from solution to design.

sales conversations

I see how they provide end-to-end consulting and implementation solutions that link Innovation Management, Supply Chain Management, and Logistics Management, as well as the core ERP. I read that they work with customers to break down information silos and optimize performance to accelerate innovation, fuel growth, and achieve operational excellence. But they don’t speak to specific accounts, the gaps they have, and the impact that the implementation firm can have. And I see product-based content on their blog.

This is great for account brand awareness but it does not support selling conversations where you create a buying vision not only around the target’s immediate and long term needs – but also the needs they didn’t even realize they had. Studies by Forrester Research revealed that salespeople who create a buying vision end up winning out against the competition about 74% of the time. That’s an incredible win rate, and it’s a testament to the importance that marketing helps to shape a sale from the earliest stages.

The Importance of Proving Value & Alignment with Specific Accounts

During research for one of my supply chain technology clients, I found a DC Velocity survey which shows that 50% of organizations feel that their applications (WMS/TMS/Order Management/Distribution/ERP platforms) do not deliver the desired ROI and that’s after larger risk for failed go-lives. And, it’s because IT is not aligned with operational and customer needs as most software providers and implementation partners are just simply fulfilling requests.

I learned from a JDA partner (a client of ours) that the simply fulfilling request mindset is leading to a transactional sale. JDA, Oracle, and the other platforms are looking to create a low “upfront” price to compete. These competitive bids force little to zero contingencies, limited stakeholder ownership, high risk of delay or misfire (if the account is won), and reduced close rates. The focus is on where can I get the most bells and whistles for the lowest price rather than where can we have the greatest impact. By shifting social, email, and live selling conversations, you take the focus off the tool that is being implemented – and on the solution, you can provide to meet that specific customer’s needs. You make your solution a “must-have” and your targets will buy your services and the tool you use.

challenges in account based marketing

The shift in communications requires the removal of silos and the traditional hand-off between sales, marketing, and accounts. They need to be working together with shared common goals and metrics and execute jointly to win, protect, and expand specific accounts. Instead of speaking to large volumes of accounts and positioning your firm as a “potential best fit along with other competitors” – teams need to put the focus, time, and resources on proving to the “must win and expand” accounts that you are a definitely the best fit for their specific needs. The only way that this can be achieved is if you take a 1:1 approach where content and messaging are highly personalized for each social, email, and live selling conversation.

A Resourceful, Account-Based Approach to Sales & Marketing

  1. Connect with me (Kristina Jaramillo) on LinkedIn and I’ll invite you to my “Winning with the C-Suite” LinkedIn group where you’ll learn about the shifts that some sales and marketing organizations are making to drive growth.
  2. Download our on-demand LinkedIn training where you’ll learn how to increase sales and marketing’s relevance on social and how you can use LinkedIn to drive more sales cycles.

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Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula", and Founder of Marketing Insider Group. Recognized as a Top Content Marketing expert and Digital Marketing Leader, Michael leverages his experience from roles in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as his leadership in leading teams and driving growth for thriving startups. Today, Michael delivers empowering keynotes on marketing and leadership, and facilitates actionable workshops on content marketing strategy. Connect with Michael today.

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