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3 Ways to Be Relevant

By AICC Staff

April 6, 2016

The work of growing new business, stopping attrition, and maintaining margin levels is exhausting and never-ending. It’s hard to capture a buyer’s attention in the hectic pace of business today. We can be so focused on how to capture it that we haven’t figured out a consistent and successful way to keep it. And if we spend our time excelling in these areas, we may find our business slipping out the back door as we bring it in the front. Buyers are being heavily courted by our competition, pouncing at the first sign of our complacency in a “what have you done for me lately?” loyalty perspective.

The questions most often asked by box plant owners typically fall within one of these three areas:

  • Strategy
  • How to approach the market
  • How to get noticed

Position marketing is the single greatest thing you can do to impact these areas.

Reputation. We live in a reputation economy. Most will search Google or Yelp before trying a new restaurant or buying that new widget. The lines between B2C and B2B have been blurred, and there is definite carry-over in this reputation-search behavior.

A recent study by CEB found that 57 percent of a purchase process is complete before the buyer engages with a sales­person. This statistic makes it imperative we work to position ourselves to be included in their process.

Action. Update your LinkedIn profile. Most salespeople have designed theirs around their résumé. Alter this to speak to buyers—not potential employers. Work to convey your knowledge, expertise, and relationships. Ask for written recommendations, write articles, and position yourself as the go-to expert in your market.

Don’t get caught up in the myth of revealing too much information. You cannot sell from a position of fear. Information is easy to access anyway; there’s no reason not to use it to your advantage.

Behavior. The concept of goal setting is well-known and readily accessible in business books, blogs, or self-help sites. But most leave out a critical piece to be successful.

Goal setting is simply to provide direction. The important part is outlining the behavior required to achieve it. You have to focus on the behavior, not the goal. Results will follow.

I can say my goal is to lose 20 pounds. If I don’t outline the daily behavior required and hold myself accountable to that behavior, I will be looking to lose those same 20 pounds next year. Establishing a goal of $750,000 in new business without a daily work plan to achieve it is setting yourself up for failure.

Let me be clear: The daily behavior is no longer about X number of cold calls. This reputation economy, coupled with the need to be relevant in the buyer’s eyes, demands we outline a new set of daily disciplines designed to achieve the goal.

Action 1: Be intentional. It is cost-prohibitive to conduct random drive-by cold calling. It is gambling and positions you to be unprepared and unimportant. Schedule time in your day to research and learn about your prospects. The tired methods of asking questions to discover a problem you can solve no longer work. Either they’ve already solved it, or it isn’t a priority. Work to uncover data about upcoming challenges they’ll face. They haven’t solved these yet, your competition isn’t trying to, and the fact that you took time to learn about it speaks volumes to the buyer.

Action 2: There are two numbers critical to every business: cost and sales. In the B2B brown box world, we tend to focus on reducing packaging cost. Change perspectives to the other number, and help customers grow sales or margin. Reach out to the sales manager in your top accounts. Ask to attend a sales meeting, get feedback, build relationships, work to get face to face with their buyers to learn how to improve the packaging, and help your customer’s customer. As you improve your skill set, you can take this model to your prospects.

Always work to be sure your value precedes you. This is building a reputation. This is position marketing.

PotraitKim Brown is the founder of Corrugated Strategies. She may be reached at 317-506-4465 or