Driving Growth in Europe, Lever #1: Precision SellingBy: Alexander Group International, Sales Growth, Sales Strategy
Focus increases effectiveness. But when it comes to sales people defining their own sales territories, sellers will describe the largest expanse imaginable: “I’ll take planet Earth, thank you.” Large territories lead to lack of focus, resulting in reactive, “drive-by selling.” Revenue leaders often spread sales resources in Europe across vast geographic territories – territories that can have consequential customer differences. As an example, consider some common territory definitions: “Benelux,” “the Nordics,” or “DACH,” all based on proximity. Proximity in Europe, however, does not equate to similarity. Each clump represents a region with multiple countries, different official languages, cultures and business practices. Such regions – while logical and convenient – ignore one major detail: to take the customer into account. To accomplish this, revenue leaders need to employ “precision selling.”
So what is precision selling? It’s not the latest selling methodology. Instead, it is a disciplined approach to designing a go-to-customer model where the right sales resources are focused on the right accounts, delivering the right message. Go-to-market strategies are fine for high level planning, but they don’t go far enough for sales execution. In Europe, you end up with clumps of countries. A go-to-customer strategy is far more precise. It’s harder to do because it requires better data, more granular customer analysis, and some hard decisions to prioritize sales coverage (i.e., learning to say “no” to certain segments and markets). It’s the first lever for driving top-line growth in Europe, based on the study Alexander Group conducted last year. To summarize, precision selling involves three steps:
- Define and prioritize revenue segments
- Create tailored value propositions for each segment
- Deploy the right sales motion for each segment
Step 1: Define and prioritize revenue segments. Deconstruct the company revenue objective for the Europe market into manageable and actionable segments based on unique differences in the sources of revenue at the account level. Each revenue segment represents a group of buyers for a particular offering, through a specific channel to help develop a detailed understanding of each buyer group – what and how they prefer to buy. This process uncovers both areas of misalignment and opportunities for growth.
Revenue segment analysis has two benefits. First, it forces a better understanding of the customers and how they differ based on the offering(s) they want/need, the channel(s) they use and the potential they represent. This enables leaders to prioritize sales coverage with precision on the right target customers. This is where most companies fall down. Spreading resources thinly across markets just to say, “We operate in over 25 countries in Europe,” defies precision. Revenue leaders must get comfortable with investing disproportionately in the highest potential segments. Second, revenue segment analysis enables more precise sales messaging.
Step 2: Create tailored value propositions for each segment. Value propositions describe the value the customer derives from the offering. The value proposition must be specific for each revenue segment (i.e., buyer group). The complexity of the Europe markets can make this step a bit tricky. Effective messaging is both engaging and important. It requires a detailed understanding of the customer’s motives and triggers. Sometimes the best messaging doesn’t mention the product at all. It’s entirely focused on the experience, or the resulting outcomes. Most B2B marketing departments operating from well-intentioned, go-to-market strategies churn out collateral that is either too product-focused or not specific enough to the customer. This leaves sales people ill-equipped. Left to their own devices, they spend precious time developing their own messaging, which may or may not work.
Step 3: Now deploy the right sales motion for each segment. A sales motion is the combination of a buyer, a buying process and the message.
Notice what’s missing in this equation…product. The sales motion focuses on why and how the customers buy, not what they buy. There are three distinct sales motions: fulfillment, product advocacy and innovation.
- Fulfillment – A services-heavy form of selling where persuasion is lower and relationships matter.
Focus: Existing customers making repeat purchases.
Emphasis: Service, reliability and ease of doing business.
Sales role: Ensure smooth transactions, timely and quality service.
- Product advocacy – Selling a competitive offering in an established market where persuasion trumps fulfillment.
Sales role: Advocate for their offering (product, service or solution), curate and present the right information and value proposition to help the customer choose.
Focus: Relationships help, but customer’s interest is on product.
- Innovation – Involves finding problems the customer needs to solve to improve their business.
Focus: Often involves custom solutions or even joint ideation and the creation of an entirely new offering from the company.
Sales role: Mine for customer problems that need solving. Orchestrate creative customer solutions.
Determine the right sales motion based on why and how the customer buys. A ‘one size fits all’ approach doesn’t work. Some organizations ask their sellers to “solution sell” when actually a fulfillment or product advocacy motion is needed. Other instances require calling higher up in the organization to engage top-level executives to find problems and help identify solutions. Driving growth in mature businesses usually requires deploying a combination of sales motions tailored to each revenue segment.
Precision selling is not easy. It takes time, data, effort and making tough choices. But it’s the prudent thing to do to drive growth in Europe, a market that is rich with opportunity. Companies must be more precise to mine for it. Massive failures abound in Europe, where companies waste millions in their attempts to expand coverage and grow. Revenue leaders who apply the precision selling approach navigate their teams to success. In Europe, this often involves working with partners. We’ll cover this topic in our next story, Driving Growth in Europe, Lever #2: Strategic Partnering.
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Original author: Paul Vinogradov