Updated: Aug 24
This article is based on my experience working with startups, entrepreneurs & business owners. The idea is to get the best & desired outcome by working with the S&M strategy consultant.
Most business owners & entrepreneurs have a great run of business for the first 3 to 4 (maybe 5) years of starting and then they hit the plateau. Since they have had a decent/great success until now, it becomes difficult to diagnose the root cause for this stagnancy in business. This primarily happens, as the founder, co-founder and senior team members don’t get time or don’t invest time in reviewing their S&M strategy. Some of which may have become outdated to today’s market & business environment. Read my blog on Stay Ahead of the curve with Sales Operations Audit
One of the main reasons for this is the hidden biases everyone has. These are–
Survivorship Bias - Focus on the traits of the successful whilst ignoring the failures.
Confirmation Bias - Focus on data to promote our existing beliefs.
Framing Bias - Solving a problem based on the context it is presented.
Groupthink - The desire for group harmony leads to poor decision-making.
This is an alarming stage of the business before the panic sets in.
Most business owners/entrepreneurs feel the need to hire a sales & marketing consultant to help them get out of this situation by helping them generate quick sales & revenue. Ideally, you should have had the sales & marketing strategist right from the beginning to avoid this pitfall but, most business owners/entrepreneurs are constrained with the funds to hire them. But as the stagnancy hits them, they start looking for a sales strategy consultant, Digital Marketing agency or even in-house employees to help them overcome this situation.
And their first and last question to them is - “How many leads and sales I will get?” because that’s what their burning need is.
To get the project, many consultants, agencies or employees commit some figure.
Marketing expenses begin. Consultant fees paid.
15 days gone.
Nothing much happens. Leads come, but no Sale.
One month went by.
Leads increase and some sale happens.
The business owner/manager starts getting impatient. This makes the interaction with the consultant/agency/employee warm, but everyone is still hopeful.
The second month starts.
Marginal increase in leads and some sales happen.
Panic sets in. Some tough discussions happen with the consultant/agency/employees.
Leading to knee-jerk reactions. Ads are purchased with a lot of expenses. Sudden changes are made in sales activities. Some movement happens but less ROAS & growth. Notice is served to the consultants/agencies/employees.
And finally, the business owners drop that consultant, or agency, and go back to old practices or approach others, but the same fate.
Do you know why this happens?
Because, the success of a Sales strategy & Marketing/Digital Marketing is less about DASHBOARDS, DISCUSSIONS & PRESENTATIONS.
And more about what you do outside in the market. It's more about a comprehensive approach - Internal fit (internal activities), External fit (industry & market situation) & Dynamic fit (niche, branding, product positioning, pricing, customer service, competition). It's about testing, what is working & what is not? In fact, what is not working gives us more success clues than what is working.
Do my internal activities & processes support the growth I'm expecting?
Do my products/services comply with industry norms and regulations? Are they safe for my customers to use them?
Am I following everyone else in the industry or do I have a competitive advantage?
Are there pressing needs for my products/services in the market? Do I have the right branding, pricing and positioning in the market?
Do I have happy customers’ testimonials (text/videos)?
Are my customers having a delightful experience dealing with us (pre & post-selling)?
Does my target audience know me?
Do I have communication videos? Am I using social media & professional networking to create brand awareness and market presence?
Are my team members efficient in their domain?
Is it easy & simple for customers to buy my products/services?
A lot of such things ….
So, when you're thinking of working with a consultant, be ready to work upon these things.
Sales activity or Digital Marketing is not everything. They are just two of the many important parts of the business ecosystem.
Because nothing works in isolation in business, especially in today's fast-changing market dynamics and competitive business environment.
But no consultant/agency/employee has a magic wand to turn around the situation overnight.
So here are a few things you must prepare & be open to looking at to get you the best results:
Once you have decided to engage with a consultant/agency, avoid hard negotiations on the consultant’s service charges. Respect the commercial terms for the scope of work and desired outcome. I am guaranteeing you the best of the efforts and commitment to their objectives from them.
Treat the consultant/agency as part of your team and work in tandem with them. Provide all the support, inputs and expertise to speed up the success plan.
Provide all the data & information related to products/services, sales & marketing activities done, outcome, what’s working well & what’s not, and product/services wise past performance data (number of customers and revenue).
Make the best use of the experiences (success & failures) so far, but be open to new ideas and initiatives.
Respond promptly for the best coordination and outcome from the efforts of everyone. Every delayed response contributes to a delay in the desired outcome.
Have a detailed discussion on the BMC and corresponding data on each of the 9 elements and sub-elements.
Clearly state the objectives, decide the milestones and goals to measure growth. Have a calendar for performance review.
Open to reviewing your Internal Fit (teams, interdependencies and cross functional coordination, inter department work flows, KRAs, KPIs, skill level and availability of manpower, current sales process, products & customer service process), External Fit (industry, regulations & laws, compliance) & and Dynamic Fit (market situation, competition, branding, product positioning, pricing, niche, compliance, industry growth potential) of the business.
Open to testing various activities & initiatives – some work, some don’t. But unless we do it, we would never know which one works for us.
There’s no room/scope for the blame game. A consultant/agency/employee can deliver great results working with you and your team than working alone.
If you want the best outcome from a sales & marketing strategy consultant/agency/employee, you need to treat them – like a doctor.
When do we go to a doctor? When we know that we cannot take care of or cure the illness without the expert’s input. Severe the illness, more tests, and longer the recovery time.
As you provide all the information of the past and present to a doctor to help them diagnose the root cause correctly. They also recommend you do additional medical tests to identify hidden causes and then provide the best solution. And doing all this helps you get back to your best health, similarly, do the same with your S&M strategy consultant, so that they can provide you with the best solution (strategy & action plan) and take your sales and business growth to the desired levels.
If you’re going through this stage or feeling stuck with your business & looking for ways to grow faster, give us a call for an exploratory discussion on how we can help you to achieve high-performing sales growth.
I accept limited projects, but the success ratio is high. Because I prefer to take projects where the business owner & the team is open to working on these aspects.