This has been a year of unprecedented change. Large in-person gatherings remain impossible for the foreseeable future. Retail stores have been shuttered. Supply chains have been upended. So much of the way we typically do business is no longer possible.
How do you continue not only to survive but to thrive, in a business environment that looks completely different from the one you operated in six short months ago?
We’ve always been big fans of data, and its importance is evident now more than ever. The only way to make strategic shifts in uncharted territory is to keep a close eye on that data and rely on what you find within it to guide you. The future is uncertain, but data provides us with concrete facts—about our business, about our audience, and about the way our current strategies are working.
I’ve been out and about trumpeting the value of leaning on data, speaking on podcasts and contributing to some outside publications. Here, I’d like to share some of those pieces. They demonstrate how data can be used across your organization to strengthen your position and help you grow.
This week we’ll cover sales and marketing. In the next articles we’ll look at events and revenue-building opportunities.
Rethinking Your Sales Approach
Finding sales opportunities has been a major hurdle for businesses this year. Face-to-face selling is more or less on hold. Some industries have seen their traditional sales and distribution channels evaporate overnight. That’s meant leaders have had to pivot quickly and find new ways to reach their existing audience—or uncover new offerings to provide to a novel customer base.
No matter what hindrances you’re facing in your industry, data can help you reframe your sales efforts and find those pockets of opportunity.
I sat down with Wes Schaeffer on The Sales Podcast to talk about our approach for growing your online sales.
It starts with focusing on your best customers—your whales—and understanding what problem you solve for them. From there, it’s about making sure your team has a solid playbook in place to nurture those relationships and move your whales towards the first sale (and then the second, third, and more).
It’s six to seven times more profitable to upsell an existing customer than to go find a new one. So taking care of your whales is key to maintaining the health of your business.
Sales and marketing go hand in hand. When your marketing budget is reduced, it affects your ability to target prospects and grow your sales.
By turning to data on your existing customers, though, you can get smarter about your messaging and your product offerings. Understanding more about those who already love your business can help you find prospects who will feel the same way. And knowing what it is about your offerings that appeals to existing customers can help you create new products or services to upsell your whales.
The publishing industry is facing cuts to travel and lunch budgets, and they’re rethinking their reliance on display ad revenues. These changes are not unique to publishing, though. Many industries are reimagining “business as usual.”
This article from Digiday takes a look at what the future may look like for publishers as we settle into our new reality.
Focusing Your Marketing Efforts
In times of economic distress, marketing budgets are often the first thing to go. However, businesses that keep marketing actually tend to fare better in tough times. And even if you have had to reduce your spend, there are ways you can squeeze more juice out of your remaining funds and resources.
When you have fewer resources available to you, you need to work smarter. Don’t waste your time catering to those customers and prospects who need to be dragged along.
Instead, focus your efforts on your most enthusiastic customers. By building a deeper understanding of their needs and wants, you can craft messaging that draws them in and keeps them engaged.
Learn more about how to serve your whales in my article for BRAND United.
Things are tough, and many people are struggling right now, both personally and professionally. You still have to market, even in difficult times. But you mustn’t come across as crass in your messaging and approach.
In this article for Chief Executive, I share how to rely on data to understand what your best customers are going through. By segmenting your audience, you can ensure you’re targeting people only with the most relevant messaging, rather than flooding them with communications at an already stressful time.
About the Sterling Woods Group, LLC
The Sterling Woods Group’s mission is to help clients make sense of their data to predictably grow sales. We apply data science to help you optimize your sales funnel, improve your marketing ROI, launch new products successfully, and enter new markets profitably.
We use a hypothesis-driven, data-supported methodology to discover insights that no one else is paying attention to. Then, we help you assemble the right sales strategies, marketing plans, technologies, and resources to seize this opportunity.
About the Author
Rob Ristagno, founder and CEO of the Sterling Woods Group, previously served as a senior executive at several digital media and e-commerce businesses, including as COO of America’s Test Kitchen. Starting his career at McKinsey, his focus has always been on embracing digital technology and data science to spur strategic growth.
Rob is the author of A Member is Worth a Thousand Visitors and is a regular keynote speaker at conferences around the world. He has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and Digiday.
He holds degrees from the Harvard Business School and Dartmouth College and has taught at both Harvard and Boston College.
Rob lives outside Boston, MA with his wife, Kate; daughter, Leni; and black lab, Royce.