Posted on July 8, 2013 by

Communicating the value of your offering

Writing this post is somewhat a walk down memory lane for me.  Many years ago I started my career in a sales and marketing department for a small software house.  It always fascinated me how they were able to attract some of the biggest customers, yet they were no where near as big as their competition.

Some how they were able to tap into what made them different but then deliver exactly what the customer had bought. What was more impressive is how the sales and marketing team tapped into the data it retained on its customers and were able to bring this unique offering to a wider, but yet specifically targeted new audience, by spotting trends in data and identifying new prospects.

Anyone in the marketing field who is reading this is probably now shouting “this is marketing and its common sense” and I completely agree with you.

However lets fast forward many years to the current day.

What we find is those same approaches I witnessed all those years ago, are still valid. The only significant change is that we no longer have organisations, we now have eco systems with vast amounts of data and customers which are spread in some cases across the globe.

Due to this new complexity do we change the way that sales and marketing is performed or is it time to think differently.  Could we leverage the people who help run the business to also help generate the revenue?

Before we dive into the details, let’s take a look at what a sales and marketing department really does for an organisation.

Sales and marketing

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One of the biggest misconceptions around these two professions is that they almost work independently. You hear stories how the sales team don’t get on with the marketing department and vice versa.

The reality is if you fail to make enough sales, you won’t survive. And unless you’ve got customers beating a path to your door each day, without marketing, you won’t make sales. Simple.

Another misconception is that marketing involves much more than advertising, publicity or selling.  The Chartered Institute of Marketing defines marketing as: ‘The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably’.

Put simply marketing seeks to get ‘the right product or service to the customer at the right price, at the right time.’ And that: ‘Without proper marketing, companies cannot get close to customers and satisfy their needs.’

Target to Customer

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A key artifact that brings the sales and marketing teams together is the pipeline or funnel, as it is sometimes known. This is used to track how targets flow through the nurturing process, until they reach the point where the prospect is turned into a real live paying customer.

The hand over between sales and marketing in the pipeline is when a lead is identified.

On receipt of the lead (includes background information), the sales team will qualify the lead and attempt to turn it into genuine prospect.  You may also hear the term qualified lead used for this phase.

Information which is captured throughout the whole pipeline, which also includes prospects that fail, helps to tailor the marketing process and also sharpens the focus on what are the best target areas for future campaigns.

All sounds fairly sensible to me or is it…

How do we know that the content we are using to identify our targets is consistent, do we have a holistic view of our customers, which provides marketing the information needed to identify new opportunities ?

Is technology the answer?

At this point most people are shouting, ah but you are talking about a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System.

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You would be partially right, the CRM system would allow us to manage our pipeline, understand the cost of campaigns and our customer history.

However does a CRM system ensure that the data is right?

Does it have links to how much it costs to run our service vs. the revenue we make, does it consider the human aspects of the market research and importantly does the CRM system know the customer journeys of the people that will use our service?

At this point you might be thinking, but what about this BIG DATA phenomenon I have been hearing about.  Is this going to be the answer to all our problems?

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Well again the answer will be no.

Although big data will provide robust analytics, you still will not be able to see which parts of the organisation (people, process etc) actually produced the data and what about the customer motivations?

Clearly these are not the core features of a CRM system or big data, which leads to the question of how do we know we are targeting the right customers and from an internal perspective, do we have a view of the wider business and its capabilities?

To achieve this, do we need to hire new people or is there already someone in the organisation that can help us?

The logical thinker

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One of the biggest misconceptions is that people believe an architect is either a technologist or someone who is more focused on changing the business.

Whilst this is partly true, they also play a bigger role, which is either not understood or is forgotten.  What is not often advertised is that most architects spend a significant amount of time rationalising and standardising business content.

Content which is rationalised is normally structured into categories (taxonomy/classification) which is then retained in the stock room (repository) of the business.

Using content to build views of the organisation

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In the same way a product is built, items are taken from the stock room when a scenario needs to be put together.  The architect will use all the various parts (capabilities, processes etc) and integrate them, to either build a view of the organisation or a specific context i.e. which customers and supporting offerings will be impacted by the change.

As the various viewpoints are created, the architect puts them back into the stockroom. This ensures that the content and viewpoints can be reused again, but also reported on if required.

Over time the content in the stockroom will build up, which eventually leads to an integrated view of the organisation. In some large organisations this could be multiple views for each business area.

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Combining this approach with the design field also enables us to align the needs of the customer with the various viewpoints the architect has created.

The “so what” moment

As we enter a period of significant uncertainty the need to generate revenue but also keep organisations lean, is going to be key.

By having a 360 view of the organisation, the sales and marketing and product development teams are able to determine what new technology is available to them but also what business assets can be leveraged, to deliver new exciting offerings, which are driven by the needs of the customer.

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That you might say is a significant “so what”, but I think there are a few others which are worth mentioning:

  • Create innovative services – By using a consistent holistic view, combined with a design approach, organisations will be able to strategise, build and deliver services, and brands that are more consumer-centric.
  • Improved impact analysis – A 360 degree of the organisation enables marketing to view any business impacts prior to launching a campaign.
  • Focus on the customer and their needs – Combining design with architecture enables the sales and marketing teams to look at the service delivery from the perspective of service users and providers.  This provides both teams the information needed to understand where the true value points are. This results in a pull vs. push scenario, as the offering is marketed and sold based on the needs of people.
  •  Deeper understanding of cost vs. revenue Integrated content provides the true value of delivering the service.  This focused view might enable us to consider more cost effective ways to deliver the service or look for opportunities the organisation could take advantage of to generate greater revenue.
  • Ability to create service prototypes Using standard content with service design techniques (customer journeys and other visual techniques, aligned with business delivery) enables product development to prototype new service delivery methods. This reduces the time to market, but also provides integrated impact analysis.  With the involvement of sales and marketing we can also quickly determine the true value of the service and the best way to communicate it to our customers.
  • Improved analytics due to data context An integrated view of the organisation helps product development understand where data is produced i.e. which processes produce and consume the data.  Also aligning the business terms and the data with CRM and big data solutions, provides a 360 view of the service. This view also helps sales and marketing teams understand the value of the service, identify customer patterns and opportunities for creating new services.

Having an integrated view of the organisation, which is also aligned to the outside world, but importunity using standard content, will eventually lead to offerings which are not only just delivered but are consistently delivered.

Using these same integrated viewpoints we will also be able to continually design innovative customer driven offerings, which are then marketed and sold through multiple channels. This will not only just differentiate us, but it will also make our organisations no matter how big, truly stand out during these difficult economic times.

Sources:

  1. Organisation Image, Milan Guenther / Intersection, published 2012 by Morgan Kaufmann