My friend and noted entrepreneur and teacher Steve Imke, posted an article titled, A recession is a great time to start a new business. I agree with this completely because I started my company, FusionMarketingPartners.com, in 2009, during the so-called “great recession”. Several business people I respected urged me not to do this but being a stubborn person, I pushed forward and have never regretted doing so (well, perhaps once or twice!).
I am not saying that you need to start a new venture at this time, unless that is your chosen mission. But I am saying that the type of situation brought on by COVID and its economic impact, can be a spur to open our minds to new revenue possibilities. The old cliché about “making lemonade out of lemons” certainly applies. These times call for big revenue ideas.
While not a comprehensive list, following are six ideas to get your revenue-expansion juices flowing:
- Conduct a Revenue Growth Assessment. I recommend you utilize an outside expert to get a fresh perspective on what you are doing right – and not so right. Whether you use an external resource or conduct the assessment yourself, start by asking these questions about your existing revenue model:
- How did your current marketing and sales strategy evolve? What got you to where you are today and are you doing what you do out of habit or choice? Inertia is a powerful force and unless we have an important reason to change, we tend to keep doing the same things.
- What is your reasoning for keeping the status quo? Be candid here, because if you do not resist the status quo tendency, it can keep you in a cycle of mediocre performance.
- Are your current processes hindering progress? We often see two key issues when we conduct client assessments. The first is a lack of documented processes, leading to inconsistency and too many ad-hoc decisions. Second is the issue of complexity, which causes slowdowns as well as the habit of bypassing processes altogether. Either issue has a negative impact on performance.
- Can you accurately measure the marketing department’s contribution to revenue? If the answer is no, you are in danger of budget cuts and job elimination. You need the right technology and a closed-loop system that tracks inquiries from initial lead source through the sale and revenue recognition.
- Buy another company. There are probably companies in your market space that are hurting due to the coronavirus or other factors. Perhaps they don’t have the finances to sustain a revenue shortfall or the ability to retain their key personnel. Can you show that company how teaming with you will create Synergy, defined as “the interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements.” If you can’t buy the company, perhaps you can acquire a product or service that adds strategic value.
- Mine the gold in a partner’s customer base. If you have gotten the most out of your own customer base, find a partner or affiliate to team with to drive additional revenue for both companies. The ideal partner is a company that has complementary (not competitive) products or services, with a customer base that can benefit from your offerings. Although you will probably have to give back part of the revenue through royalties or commissions, this can give you low-cost access to potential customers. Read this article for more ideas on how to leverage channel partners.
- Be more annoying. I hesitated to include this strategy because I am personally opposed to the hard sell approach and don’t practice it myself. However, I realize that there is a middle ground between being too aggressive and being so passive in your approach that it costs you business. Prospects need to be reminded about what you offer and they need to be asked to buy. If your B2B sales and marketing approach is less than about 6 or 7 on the aggressiveness scale, consider ramping it up a bit.
- Change your pricing strategy. This could be raising or even lowering your prices, or bundling (or unbundling) your offerings in a different way. Pricing can be a very effective and quick way to impact revenue (on both the upside and downside). As I said in my article, How to Use Pricing Strategy as a Competitive Advantage, it’s about profit, not volume. There are many companies that price in such a way to maximize profit, not volume. Let’s say your cost of goods is $50. Pricing at $100 gives you a gross margin of $50 per unit. Perhaps at this price point you can produce and sell 10,000 units, giving you a profit of $500K. Alternately, you price the product at $150, giving you a margin of $100 per unit. By selling only 75% as many units (7,500), you produce a profit of $750K, 50% larger than with the lower-priced example.
- Create online courses. Most B2B companies find it difficult to generate substantial revenue through online courses. However, by creating quality courses for free or at low-cost, organizations can drive the type of engagement that leads directly to sales revenue. One example of a company that does this well is HubSpot. The B2B marketing, sales and services software company offers hundreds of free courses on marketing, revenue optimization and technology through its HubSpot Academy. It knows that professionals at every level who take their courses are more likely to specify the HubSpot solutions when it comes time to automate their marketing and sales efforts. Additionally, it is creating stickiness at client companies and seeding the marketplace with “certified” HubSpot professionals, who will recommend the software to future employers. A win-win for all concerned.
Pick one of these six ideas and get started ramping your B2B sales engine. There is no better time than today. And as always, reach out to me at [email protected] if I can help in any way.