RSPA RetailNOW 2017: What Happens in Vegas Doesn’t Have to Stay in Vegas

Mark Frasco - President


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Based on my conversations with participants, Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA) hosted another successful RetailNOW conference this year, at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. The show floor was active, and the quality of connections was good. Also, I was told that the education sessions were useful… I’m especially happy to hear that.

I was honored to be asked to speak at RetailNOW for the fourth time. Strategic growth, sales and marketing process design, and demand-side structures in the business-to-business market segment punctuate my life’s work.

This year, my topic was Business Builders: SMB Business Growth Workshop.

Here is the outline, if you couldn’t attend:

Small- to medium-businesses have a unique business growth challenge. All organizations have limited resources, but the “bigs” have means to spread the word, build brand awareness through mass media, and remain memorable to their target markets. Many SMBs are seller/doers, meaning they are the sales team or lead the sales team, while also having the heavy responsibility of supplying the products and services sold. Tough job, but the work must be done.

If you’ve followed my work, you know my core belief on B2B business growth:

Business growth has a lot more to do with process than it does technique…

…it’s the design and implementation of a process that proactively and rhythmically communicates your value propositions to strategic targets while building trusting relationships that enable you to learn about buying systems and a prospect’s motivation to buy.

Let’s break this down:

  • Business Growth Process vs. Technique – Early in my career, sales growth training was heavily tilted toward teaching sales technique – open-ended and closed-end questions; various closing styles: soft, hard, trial. This never resonated with me. At the same time, I was reading and learning more about process improvement, continuous improvement. I began to test and later conclude that process trumped technique, in sales, as well as in other areas of business.
  • Proactive – There are a lot of online tools being designed to cast a marketing net, catch prospects and react to their inquiries; it’s all good. But it strikes me as odd that we don’t spend more time thinking strategically about and identifying exactly which organizations we want to do business with, and go make friends with them. Is waiting for them to find us the best we can do?
  • Rhythm – Organizational rhythms are the drumbeat of meaningful, sustainable change. Creating a rhythm of communication and interaction with your prospects is the one most important lever in building your brand and building social capital or trust in the market. Without it, buyers don’t buy from you. We need to create a rhythm of interaction that keeps you and your organization top-of-mind.
  • Value Propositions – What are your organization’s differentiators? Are those differentiators important to buying systems? Can you measure the overt benefit you produce for your customers? Can you prove it? Ponder this and work hard to stand out in a noisy universe of competitors who all say the same things. What should a prospect believe? Help them learn.
  • Strategic Targets – I’ve learned that many SMB growth efforts fail, or get bogged down because their target list is far too large – 5,000, 10,000, and more. It is easy to run lists, build an email, and send it to thousands of targets. Doing this repeatedly begins to cause you to feel like you’re doing something. In reality, you’re not doing much. Narrow your list, be strategic, create a multi-channel marketing plan, teach them something they didn’t know, tailor your message, and take control of the relationship and deal.
  • Building Trust – Buyers don’t buy until they trust you and your organization. How do you build trust? Quality interaction. How is quality interaction defined? There are six key elements of building social capital, or trust:
    1. There needs to be a regular frequency of interaction.
    2. There needs to be reciprocity – give and take.
    3. There needs to be a balance of power – not win/lose.
    4. There needs to closeness that develops, an emotional attachment that has each party caring about the other.
    5. There needs to be interdependence. Each party is interested in helping develop shared goals.
    6. Each party needs to act with integrity, or character. People need to do what they say they are going to do and act with the other’s interests in mind.
  • Learning About Buying Systems – We need to know how buying systems work, how they make decisions, who’s involved and why they’ve chosen certain suppliers over others in the past. Gathering, organizing, analyzing, and learning (GOAL) from information your efforts has uncovered is core to any successful business growth process.
  • Motivation to Buy – There are as many motivating factors as there are prospects, but the most motivated are either growing, or experiencing some trouble. It could be trouble in their system, or in their current supplier. Identifying their core motivation is key to developing a winning solution.

Here are the fundamentals of SMB sales growth:

  1. Determine Your Strategic Architecture

Four questions that need to be answered:

  • What do you sell?
  • How do you supply what you sell?
  • Who buys what you sell?
  • Why do they buy from you?
  1. Manage Brand Quality
  • Building on “why” they buy from you, determine 3-5 overt benefits that differentiate your organization
  • Be memorable; teach the market something they didn’t know. Be provocative; say something they don’t expect you to say
  • Be sure your logo and visual communications are consistent across all platforms
  1. Build Sales and Marketing Process
  • Select and adopt a tool to organize prospects – simple, small is good
  • Determine knowledge management goals – baseline + learning system
  • Develop a habit of regularly updating – preferably real-time
  • Build tools to help you understand the status and quality of your sales funnel
  1. Make Waves
  • Buyers don’t buy until they trust. You can’t build trust without interaction
  • Don’t be lulled into the habit of single-channel marketing
  • The power of the note
  • Develop a plan of interaction with your prospects – 8-12 touches per year
  1. Get Social
  • Develop a corporate LinkedIn page. If you have more than a few employees, consider establishing a Facebook page; teach and nurture
  • Develop a regular habit of reading about topics that will interest your prospects, and share – email, LinkedIn, direct mail, etc.
  • Regularly attend conferences, local functions, events – build your network of connectors
  1. Keep Score
  • Build a fact-based environment – determine leading indicators and develop a process of regular measurement
  • Create transparency – show all that you can, as often as you can; talk amongst yourselves
  • Using data, change the way you make decisions, minimizing subjectivity, asking for input from your people
  1. Install RPM
  • RPM – Review, Preview and Make Decisions
  • Install a regular meeting frequency with your key people to RPM
  • Keep an Action Journal to track items, assignments and deadlines

Admittedly, this is a lot to digest, but start at the beginning and over the weeks and months, build a piece at a time. If you are interested in a private workshop, I’ll send you the workbook and we’ll work through your organization, online, or in person. Building a business growth process is not that different than other business systems you’ve built; it’s just often the most neglected.

Thank you to RSPA and to all those who attended my session in Vegas. As the title states, “What Happens in Vegas Doesn’t Have to Stay in Vegas.” Please let me know if you need a friendly nudge.

Questions or comments? Please contact Mark Frasco at mfrasco@teamCOACT.com