Three ways your Sales Systems are like the car you drive

Broken-Down-CarI’ve been developing the analogy between a car and the sales funnel and sales systems for some time, as a way to link three key elements:

  • business goals and objectives
  • marketing and sales functions and people
  • marketing and sales systems and applications.

A podcast by Justin Gray, a marketing automation evangelist I have a great admiration for, spurred me to write it up.

To develop the analogy I’d like to look at three major components:

The sales objective – the journey or business needs

Your transport needs may well include your commute to work, family and social trips around town, domestic and shopping journeys, leisure activities with days out and holiday trips, and so on. There is a high degree of similarity between what people need, from a transport utility point of view.

In business, especially the marketing, sales and customer service aspects, the journey is about taking them from a-b, from a place ‘before’ to a place ‘after’, or once they have some dealings with your firm. This includes making initial contact, and several activities that people refer to as the sales funnel through to an ongoing relationship and aspects like ‘customer life-time value’.

In business there are similar basic needs: to make money, save money, improve service, be more agile/flexible etc. running through all businesses. As with different transport needs so each business is likely to have different customer groups and different journeys to take them on. Identifying and understanding this is a good (essential) starting point for the subsequent sections.

The sales team – the driver and crew

As car drivers we start with the basic skills, we gain driving experience and maybe have some formal advanced skills training. We develop our ability and mastery of start, stop, overtake, and town, country, motorway, and rain, sunshine, ice conditions, and so on. When we drive we use our skills together with the vehicle to complete the journey.

We may need help with navigation, such as a map, from the passenger, or recently from a sat-nav system. Modern vehicles allow drivers to focus on driving; to make progress, avoid other vehicles and road users, keep to speed limits, spot speed cameras etc. However the roads are more congested and there are many distractions to cope with. Many routine tasks are now performed by mechanical or electronic gadgets designed and built into the vehicle, .

As a business owner or sales/marketing person, our skills have developed along a similar path, basic to start with, plus experience and training. We may be very good at covering our familiar routes, and other routes with additional concentration. We develop our skills and mastery of lead generation, lead nurture, selling, delivery, re-marketing etc. We develop our knowledge of different products and services, of different customer markets. Meanwhile there is increasing competition and distractions, for us and for our potential customers.

Keeping our eyes on the business road, with as many assists as help us make good progress, give us an advantage.

The sales vehicle – the sales system that supports you

Vehicle engineering has developed in over a hundred years to the point where what you buy is well integrated. The chassis, bodywork, running gear, drive-train, engine, lights, brakes etc. are all delivered as a ‘package’. Even the suppliers of so-called ‘kit-cars’ have brought together compatible components from different sources. And although vintage, veteran, custom, hot-rods are still running it’s a minority leisure pursuit and unlikely to be used for mainstream transport.

Modern cars are designed to meet many criteria, including safety, comfort, reliability, performance, fuel economy, running costs, and so on. Automation has been introduced for ‘repetitive tasks’, some of these make life easier for the driver, such as direction indicators that cancel, automatic choke when starting the engine, ABS for improved braking, power steering to reduce driver effort, and many more automated functions. Progressive design and development improvements means that on a car the engine, drive train, suspension, brakes, lights and so on are well matched for the role, purpose, niche, price-point etc for which the model was created.

The vehicle market has segmented significantly, from the mainstream saloons, estates, coupes, MPV, 4×4 etc. to the cross-over vehicles and niche models and derivatives, and then the brand segmentation by the likes of Volkswagen, with Skoda, Seat etc. sharing components. The auto industry is huge, and there are economies of scale, and we all benefit from these developments.

The Sales Vehicle and the range of ‘tools’ available to support the sales funnel has parallels to the auto industry. There are mainstream and niche solutions for companies large and small. Different components support the sales funnel, such as SEO, Website, Social Media, Email marketing, Customer Relationship Management and many more. When selected with care and implemented well they enable the driver to achieve the journey objectives.

In some areas (such as online banking or retail possible) the apps and systems may parallel the modern car, with integration, automation, reliability etc. but as a one-off. However for most businesses their applications and data are a fragmented patchwork held together by an over-stretched IT technician or team, or by an external systems and support company.

The sales funnel and sales system challenge

The challenge for most entrepreneurs, business owners, and marketing and sales leaders are enormous.

  • There are more journeys to be made as the markets become more competitive
  • The skills needed to make those journeys and not crash or have an accident are increasing
  • The importance of having better systems is growing, but there is less time to investigate or change

Sooner or later something triggers a review – the compelling reason to make a change.

Has the journey changed?

  • Ideally the review is when a business is strong and is planning and investing for growth.
  • Sometimes it’s done on the back-foot – when sales are falling away and some dramatic action needs to be taken.

Has the driver changed?

  • Maybe there’s a new recruit into marketing and sales at a senior level, with a fresh approach
  • Or perhaps there’s a need to slim down the sales team and move some tasks to a lower cost platform

Are there issues with the current sales vehicle?

  • Maybe the sales system has become unreliable or too expensive – is it a cherished older model when actually a modern system will be more reliable and lower cost
  • Maybe the systems applications are no longer meeting requirements because needs may have changed – you have a 2-seater coupe when you have a family plus luggage to transport
  • Maybe there is no sales technology to speak of – as a start-up, or a manually based business running on paper records.

Wurlwind – sales systems specialist

At Wurlwind we liken ourselves to the ‘independent, specialist car finder’.

  • We get to understand the journeys our clients need to make
  • and can help to improve journey planning and strategy if there is uncertainty
  • We understand B2B marketing and sales driving styles
  • and identify tactfully if there’s ‘room for improvement’
  • We help clients to identify ways to get more from current systems
  • and help them to move into a higher gear
  • And if replacement, upgrade or enhancement of sales systems is appropriate
  • we advise on sales system, options, choices, short-list and help with delivery and after-care.

To find out how Wurlwind can help you get to your destination drop us an email.

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