Software start-up businesses: Capital raising and ROI

What prompted me to write this article is that this year alone, we have been approached by many aspiring small entrepreneurial first time start-up founders in Australia with a great vision to be the next star tech multi millionaire with a great idea and concept for app development. From a Go to Market and feasibility perspective, much more time and conscious planning of a sales and marketing plan could be developed first and knowing your target market with a strong customer value proposition. The financial elements of your sales revenue and profit model particularly with Software as a Service or subscription models to scale in say two sided marketplaces need to be considered for B2B and B2C applications.

Read about a selection of our business owners examples we have spoken to below in hospitality, retail, legal services, trades, telecoms.

Typically they have worked in the technology field, banking or finance, hospitality or trades sectors, and have clearly seen a need for doing things differently or something which has frustrated them as an end user in this digital era.

So why not build a mobile app?  We have seen successful apps like Tinder for dating, Uber for car ride sharing, and many other disruptive business opportunities and approaches.

There has been more Australian success stories such as Canva and Atlassian and well as  Australian based start-ups of recent time, however a reality check highlights many failures also in small business that may not be highlighted with their challenges and how to overcome them.

What concerned me in talking to these business owners in early stage development, many of which who have continued working their day job, or those who have 100% committed to this idea and own self-funded capital, is that many have started building their business without many key elements that any start-up business should consider from a financial and commercial perspective.

In this customer centric and experience environment, it really surprising me why many aspiring app designers start with features and functions first before understanding who their customer is and if this is a commercial need to solve their challenge and if there is in fact a business case for their development.

The maturity of having some commercial acumen or seeking advice as an investment is an important first step. Some basic checklists should be considered first before expending any self-funded cash or investment capital cost.

Two important factors are cashflow and cashburn when you have limited funding to kick start your business. Whether it’s your own capital, crowdsourced, private or public funding sources, ROI and accelerated sales growth is needed in terms of new customers, actual revenue streams and cashflow considerations.  

We typically recommend a Digital Readiness Assessment or a Business Growth Assessment to help gain an understanding of the start-up business objectives and maturity before entering into the detail design or functional building blocks. Read our previous blog on 3 key elements on how a Digital Readiness Assessment can help clarify the right plan for you.


Some start-up and new venture scenarios we have heard from this year: 

Owner A: Hospitality Application

The two owners had come from a hospitality background and they wanted to build an app which allows restaurants and cafes to match and fill empty tables during both days and evenings, with a fee charged based on percentage of spend to onboard the vendor. Despite sharing the market with Deliveroo, Foodora and Uber Eats, they claimed their model was different. 

software start-up hospitality

The app had been built and tested already, and they wanted to focus on building the B2B marketplace to onboard customers and launch in Europe and Australia. The challenge was both marketing and sales to onboard an initial 200 customers.

It seemed to me that they had taken a back to front approach, by building the application first, before assessing if there is a valid market opportunity and developing the app to suit the market.

Upon an initial consultation, it was apparent that bootstrapping this application development cost resulted in missing key plans on the commercial go-to-market front, including:

  • Marketing and sales market analysis for each country
  • Profit and revenue model as a subscription model
  • Business strategy – how to scale and sell directly or via a referral/distribution model.

We presented an offer to look at developing their GTM strategy, however this wasn’t in their current budget as most of the funding was invested in the application development side, and therefore they could not proceed at the time.


Owner B: Industrial Equipment Hiring Application

Four business partners, all highly educated and ex-engineers, had built a two-sided marketplace B2B app to rent industrial equipment from vendors who had availability, and their platform facilitates a self-service rental catalogue listing and booking engine to connect vendor and renter.

Originally they came to us with an interest in digital marketing assistance, and upon looking at their website and type of content present, it wasn’t sufficient to take a customer centric approach as information about their target market or ability to collect customer data was unclear.

We questioned whether their pilot stage app had been tested, but they were looking to raise more private investor capital. We asked to see their pitch deck and hear about their sales and marketing plan. While there was an initial interest to engage independently first to help with their pitch deck, the subsequent response was to wait until they had raised the funds, then they can consider a marketing and digital initiative to get this off the ground.

An offer to develop a basic marketing high level strategy to include in their investment pitch deck was declined to help them secure the funding and demonstrate forward planning.

I asked how confident they felt about raising private capital and what approach they planned to take, and received a response which was unsure…


Owner C: Market Food Truck Application

A business owner saw the opportunity to setup a market food truck/vendor and customer app.

An initial consultation garnered interest from the venue event organiser. Capital was limited to build the app (to test stage) using an offshore web development team, and this was the first step to customise the app to get one initial customer to fund it.

After six months, I reconnected with the business owner and learned that due to the GDPR and tightening in data privacy using SSO with Facebook login accounts, the application development project couldn’t proceed due to many backend development changes and cost, and also the business partner had a change of course with his view.

The commercial and sales qualification of the initial opportunity with the market hadn’t been sufficiently completed firstly.

The actual go-to-market approach hadn’t been thought about because the functional design was launched first to solve an immediate idea of the perceived problem which wasn’t verified.


Owner D:  Billing Software Cloud SaaS Platform Application

A serial entrepreneur in the ANZ region has built and sold multiple tech start-up businesses previously. The latest venture has involved raising some capital funding directly at the US market and hiring a first team for technical and initial sales/SDR resource. software start-up technology

We proposed a go to market strategy engagement and market feasibility study for the Australian market, with our own network of consultant contacts and opportunities to explore.

When capital is raised from angel investors the drive is to achieve value for shareholders. The dependency is on cashflow for engaging this project, however a scattergun approach without an integrated strategy isn’t assisting to drive traction and capitalise on opportunities here in Australia.  The initial capital raised required a success model based on penetrating into the US market first.

The SaaS profit model for Telco/ISP and utilities as a pure play solution needs to consider the actually profitability and market positioning as part of a GTM targeted approach.

Overall in analysing the SaaS revenue model, I could see there being some challenges in their fixed percentage of revenue subscription model to be profitable.

Over 12 months later, since the initial conversation, the company is looking to raise another round of funding to sustain their current operations for traction developed in the US but not for Australia yet in a structured approach. It has been more of an ad hoc approach without investment in a solid business strategy and focus on ROI outside of their focus on the US market and shareholder expectations.


Owner E:  Legal Software Application

A prominent lawyer in Melbourne spent over $250K to build an online legal practice platform software over three years, to turn and sell off the IP and foundation.

His intention was for the purchaser to take it to market and commercialise it, with some software licence and maintenance projections to sell globally to be  compliant for all jurisdictions.

The request was for me to assist in pitching and presenting to HK prospective buyers but the founder had no sales experience.

The review of the business case and financial projections are only hypothetical with no real paying customers yet only a couple of small legal beta trial instances. There were some challenges I could see with this in developing a sustainable revenue model and especially the market feasibility with most of the software market moving to a SaaS – Software as a Service Cloud model.


Summary of challenges and considerations to make:

Mobile application developers – two-sided marketplace challenges

The cost of building an app warrants some business planning around the application first and customer profiling around usability and customer experience and processes for two-sided marketplaces.

How do you market to onboard users from both sides of the app?

What dependencies are on your third party open source apps like using Facebook or Google to login or sign up? With policy changes around data privacy for third party login and user data sharing, how does this impact on your business model if a few things change both on B2B vendor or end user side?

How do you attract loyalty digitally from not just initial sign up but actual subscriber usage of your app and continued feedback from customers with marketing and support channels?

Tip: Determine your ideal customer profile for each marketplace supplier/customer, whether it’s B2B or B2C.

software start-up customers

Part Two of this blog series contains practical guidance and tips around start-up capital raising, and what to do with the funds to achieve a solid ROI both for your business and investors.

Feel free to contact us for an initial discussion on how we can help you and your business, from start-up to growth mode, at info@alchemiseconsulting.com or @alchemise_cons or call our office on +61392255022.

9 steps to calculate your sales and marketing ROI

You may be wondering how to calculate your sales and marketing ROI. If you are not a sales manager or unfamiliar in setting sales targets this might be of value to you, especially if you are used to marketing metrics and ROI only.

For a fully aligned sales and marketing approach, you need to ensure that the ROI and metrics you are using make sense. The accountability of marketing to sales AND sales to marketing needs to be agreed upon as a vital component of the overall strategy.

We believe the only real way to ensure the sales and marketing ROI is tangible is to measure common metrics. To start the process, reverse engineer your sales objectives and flip your full funnel upside down from your desired sales (bottom of funnel) first right through to marketing (top of funnel) to determine the required marketing budget and lead activity required to help achieve your sales target.


1. What is your sales target?

What is your annual revenue target for the financial year? This can be broken down into annual, quarterly or monthly measurement for tracking.

2. What is your required sales pipeline?

Depending on the product and services you are selling, from historic performance and average trends, how many qualified deals do you need in your pipeline at any one time to reach your sales goals?

A typical rule of thumb is 3x to 5x times pipeline value in order to reach your sales quota.

3. What is your average sales cycle?

How long does an average sale take to close?

4. What is your average deal size?

What is the average dollar value of your typical sale for your product or services?

5. How many proposals and quotes do you need to deliver?

Simply divide your sales revenue by the average deal size to get an estimate of how many quotes/proposals you need to send out.

6. How many Sales Qualified Leads (SQL) do you need?sales-marketing-alignment

The definition of a SQL is based on what your sales team will accept as a qualified lead

Typically we work off a 3x times ratio for SQLs to quotes/proposals issued after sales engagement.

7. How many Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) do you need?

The definition of a MQL is based on what marketing generates from a cold lead prospect.

Typically we work off a 3x times ratio for MQLs needed to generate enough SQLs – i.e. one in every three MQLs will progress to be accepted as a SQL.

8. How many lead prospects do you need?

In order to generate sufficient MQLs, we work off an average of 3x times leads and prospects to create and qualify MQLs through the nurturing and generation process during initial qualification.

This is normally generated from digital marketing metrics or event attendance metrics like web visitors, CPC, Google Adwords or forms submitted.

9. What is the cost of your marketing campaign needed?

By working through the sales and marketing alignment process, this will highlight how much marketing budget and investment is required to support your sales team and targets, and ultimately company revenue goals.

Summary

What period of time do you need to generate a return from marketing to sales?

We typically measure and report on a quarterly or monthly basis from a starting position of your annual target or financial year target.

Working through this process will either identify an alignment or misalignment between sales and marketing, in either, or both directions. sales-and-marketing-ROI

As an example, we worked with an IT industry client through this process, where we found there was at least a 50% gap in marketing investment to support their annual sales target of $1M – the BDM didn’t have the marketing support or budget needed to hit their sales target for the year.

This alignment process is helpful to demonstrate to executive management when planning out your sales and marketing strategies with goal setting. Working with, and to, the sales and marketing ROI required for writing the business case internally will help identify and justify whether to allocate towards either sales headcount or marketing activities.

 ROI = Sales Revenue/Profit Generated MINUS Cost of Marketing Investment DIVIDED by Cost of Marketing Investment X 100%

            An example:

Sales calculator ROI example

 

Marketing and Sales ROI: How your technology and telco strategy impacts your growth

In order to drive top line growth, business owners still need to manage overhead costs and the cost of technology and telco operations is an increasing expense with people, process and systems. Time is short for planning with everyone and you are starting your last quarter already for the financial year. How can you drive more customer sales growth and increase marketing performance using effective technology and telecom services other than price driven decisions?

The Quick Look
:
What do I need to consider? 

technology-and-telco

Here are some areas to have a think about and analyse with performance versus operation cost impact analysis for each area of your current technology and telecommunications services budget:


The Bigger Picture:
How does this impact me? 

Are you proactive or reactive to technology market changes? If you aren’t keeping up with the technology market developments and adjusting your strategy accordingly, you will be caught behind your more progressive competitors.

The commoditisation of services and products in your industry sector is hurting many industries to continue growing and sustaining profits. The spread of disruptive technology driven initiatives is causing change with fundamental traditional business models to continue to stay viable, sustainable and competitive.

If you don’t have a strong competitive advantage derived from the benefits of the right telecommunications and technology solutions you will become irrelevant to your customers no matter how great your historical relationships have been.

These decisions then become a cost conversation around financial and business investment in technology changes such as assessing the move to cloud services or change in telecommunication service providers whilst finding ways to improve customer experience and return on investment.

start-strategyGiven the wider range of choices in the market for telecommunication and technology solutions and service providers, where do you start to assess what is right for you and what budget you should allocate for technology decisions based on business enabling outcomes?

 

What can I do? Increasing ROI through business strategy…

We typically encourage starting at the business strategy and objectives level to determine your real needs with technology and telecommunications requirements. If your sales and marketing strategic initiatives utilise MarTech, FinTech, AdTech, Sales Tech, then the return on investment becomes even more important to select the right telecommunications provider and solution to help deliver your business outcomes.

Technology ROIWhen was the last time you talked to your sales team about customer acquisition and retention strategy in order to establish how to best serve your client needs and growth plans?When was the last time you talked to your marketing team to determine what insights they have on customer interactions and digital channel engagement to support your sales teams?

Perhaps getting an independent view on your gaps or strategy can help uncover or drive more clarity on your position or requirements for technology investment decisions.

It is important to establish the link for how the right technology investment in the right areas can drive your sales and marketing results forward. Of high priority should be how you measure your ROI and also understanding the right metrics to use and relevant data reporting available.

This may be used for considering IT cloud services, telecommunications and internet services or you may be evaluating sales and marketing cloud tools such as Salesforce CRM, Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot, Adobe or HubSpot marketing automation platform.


What are some areas of potential challenge?

  • Telecommunications services (including NBN)

Telecoms strategyYou still have choice other than the large players with telecom providers. Do you need the most agile or responsive customer service or a customised plan that suits your billing cycle

There are many new technologies coming in which are being offered with new services from the telecommunications market. SDN (Software Defined Networking) and SD-WAN technologies are terms you may have heard about in service provider circles from Optus and Macquarie Telecom recently.

If you are looking to connect NBN services, the multitude of NBN resellers in Australia must be mind boggling if you don’t come from the telecoms industry to understand all the options and jargon involved for business decisions.  The time it can take to review and research through all the changing service plans to make an informed choice can be onerous without having sufficient experienced resources or telecoms knowledge to look at this.

An example of this changing landscape is in Australia with the recent NBN plans/pricing changes.

What does this all mean in telecommunications terms and how do you start to review your providers and process involved cutting through all the marketing and technical details which can be unclear what your investment is accessing?

Could having 5G Mobile Internet Access strategy be more cost effective than using NBN for your business needs?

The role of telecommunications and faster high speed broadband is becoming more pressing in terms of robustness, reliability and speed of access (including the 5G mobile coming) with an ever increasing internet data usage pattern due to the explosion of cloud application subscriptions and user access required for many business opting to move to cloud services.

Do you know how your clients choose to interact with you digitally and if your employees can respond anywhere anytime in real time?

The value of obtaining an independent, holistic perspective on your telecommunications investment cannot be underestimated, particularly when you consider the potential sunk cost, time and user impacts of making the wrong decision about your service provider or solution.


  • Cloud-based applications

cloud-based-applicationsThe rapid progress, interest and uptake of cloud services need to be measured in terms of cashflow, cost/benefit and ongoing investment cost of moving to the cloud. Recently a marketing campaign we ran for an leading IT services organisation identified that one of the top concerns of moving to hybrid cloud services is cost control with the CFO when selecting Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services for example.  If this was your consideration, how would you start to budget for your connectivity costs in order to have an effective sales team and marketing team to keep bringing in the forecast revenue. How would you select the right telecommunications provider to ensure they are a right fit for your business requirements.

During the last 12 months, sales and marketing cloud technology providers Marketo and Salesforce have both had outages which impacted the productivity for clients and the reliance on the data centre, disaster recovery plan or network connectivity.Has this been an issue for you and how did you deal with this in terms of opportunity cost and sales?

What could this mean for your business sales and marketing campaigns if your telecommunication services or connectivity is unstable, insecure or at risk of downtime in a 24 x 7 digital environment where responsiveness is expected?


  • Business revenue risk and technology impact 

Business Technology RevenueWe usually suggest a simplified approach to translate this into the best business technology decision strategy for you. 
We know you don’t have the time to cover every base within the ICT services and telecommunications market. If you run a tender process or encourage many proof of concepts this takes significant amount of cost and time to review.

Are your sales team or marketing initiatives delivering strong results due to digital transformation or using cloud services to exchange, communicate or market to your clients?

If your Salesforce CRM and Office 365 users all require internet connectivity for your staff to be productive then it is important to review your cost structures regularly.  The contract review of your service provider and their ability to add value such as real time billing access or flexible contract terms might influence how you choose a new provider or whether to keep your existing provider.

Do you have the right telecommunications and technology strategies in place to deliver your sales and marketing plan?

We believe it’s more than just employee productivity and operational efficiency gains from the use of technology and automation. There is an intrinsic cost factor but also external cost impact for your clients if you can’t service them or respond quickly or on demand via multiple digital channels. Whether you provide communications connectivity via mobile, internet, voice or other digital channels all require a robust solution and a strategic based approach from your provider.


  • Customer experience strategy

customer-experience-call-centre

If you run a call centre either inbound or outbound and drive an omni-channel skilled agent team to improve customer experience, reduce churn or perhaps a work on a retention policy, do you have an effective way to analyse the metrics of customer engagement and sales?  This may come from getting visibility of inbound voice call behaviour as part of an inbound marketing channel report?
Typically the metrics are typically for operations but there are ways to increase and measure your digital marketing customer effectiveness with your telecommunications services  – i.e. 1300 number and inbound contacts.

What would that mean for your customer engagement and business effectiveness if you can observe the inbound user behavior that links to your CRM and marketing automation platform?

If you can lower your operational costs from the bottom line, what will that mean for your investment and top line performance within driving more effective digital marketing engagement and sales? This can take some time and industry experience to perform some specific analysis and reporting back the the CFO and COO.


In summary… Why sales and marketing performance depends on how you manage your technology and telco services strategy?

strategic-technology-reviewMany organisations spend about 20% to 30% of their operational costs on telecommunications and also energy expenditure on a broad scale.

You might wonder what is the connection between telecoms, ICT and marketing and sales functions. It’s all about top line growth for businesses? If the bottom line is loaded and high in overheads for technology services then the ability to scale and increase your revenue and profits may be hampered if the incorrect technology and telecoms partners are selected.

Let us review your technology and telecommunications cost strategy to see if we can free up operational cashflow whilst improving your telecommunications service levels. We then focus on your ability to deliver better customer experience and to help determine the best digital channel strategy to implement for sales and marketing teams to help deliver better ROI.

If you are a business owner currently spending at least $10,000 per month on telecommunications (voice, mobile and data plans), we want to talk to you about driving up your marketing and sales engagement while reducing your technology services costs.

Reducing customer churn and finding ways to increase your customer lifetime value are all contributing factors to your profit and revenue growth targets. Often we end up talking to the Chief Operating Officer rather than just the Chief Sales Officer or Chief Marketing Officer.

If you need a review or validation, allow us to independently review your strategies to help drive down your telecommunications provider costs and increase your sales and marketing effectiveness and performance. 

Once we run through a review of your strategies as independent consultants, we can guide you from our market insights to help you make an informed choice of which telecommunications or technology services providers best suits your needs and customer outcome.

Surely a review is worth an initial 1 hour of your time to meet with us to hear our insights.

3 tips to increase your sales profits

Are you wondering how to increase your sales profits but don’t know if you are annoying the very people you want to do business with?

Using the telephone for selling and lead generation just gets tougher all the time. In Australia, there is a Do Not Call register, which makes it an offence to call people listed on the register. In the U.S., the government set up a “Do Not Call” list in which more than 50 million people signed in the first few weeks.

The fact is that telemarketing is starting to really bug people – to the point that it may soon be illegal in some countries – and even if it is not made illegal, millions of people are saying loud and clear, “don’t call us!”

However, the use of the telephone I’m going to talk about here is slightly different. It involves making follow-up calls to people on a mailing list to whom you have recently send a written sales letter, or they have completed an online form, or some other form of marketing materials. Studies show that when you combine a follow-up call with an advance sales letter or a completed form, you can increase sales profits by a massive 300% to 1,000%!

That’s a response booster too powerful to ignore, but because unsolicited sales calls by telephone are obviously repugnant to many people who just can’t stand being disturbed in their homes or even their business, this is a technique that must be used with caution.

How To Get Permission To Call…

One way to get around the sensitivity of telemarketing is to get customers to provide you with permission to call them. Or, use your sales letter to encourage people to call you by providing a freephone/toll-free number and the promise of a fantastic offer if they do so. This is called ‘in-calling’ rather than the more difficult ‘out-calling’. You can also get customer’s phone numbers and get their permission for you to call them occasionally to make quality assurance checks, or you can provide them with a freephone/toll-free ‘help line’ and encourage them to call it whenever they have a question or a problem.

Anytime they call, you also gain the opportunity to pitch to them and make another sale, or to upsell them something associated with what they have already bought.

Once you have made a sale to someone, you can assume it’s okay to call them from time to time. The customer may even appreciate your effort to make sure he or she is happy with your product, and your call to make sure everything is all right. When you couch your telephone contacts in these terms, you create a whole new atmosphere and attitude about the phone call, and you prepare the situation to start making new sales. This is forms part of a business strategy  to increase your sales profits.

Instant Sales

When you do call, always offer some market insight or industry based information, irresistible deals, make great offers such as End of Financial Year time, such as:

  • Have you heard about how Company X used this approach in your industry sector recently which may also help solve your problem?
  • Try our product free in your business for 30 days with no further obligation to buy.
  • You are hereby invited to an unadvertised sale only a select few are being told about.
  • We’re offloading excess inventory, and if you come in and buy now, you’ll save 50% to 75% on your purchase.

Plan well and have your phone calls scripted, but train your sales staff to not sound like they’re robots reading canned sales pitches. They should sound natural, friendly, polite, at ease, and eager to please with the ability to provide knowledge and the training to be answer any questions which might be raised. Telephone contacts are also excellent opportunities to gather marketing research, to ask your customers questions about their needs and listen to their answers. An important aspect of this is to consider permission based marketing and the process or lead nurturing naturally and to be helpful to the prospect.

Using the telephone for marketing probably has never been tougher, yet this selling tool is simply too powerful to ignore. Handle your telephone selling efforts with intelligence and care – and focus in in-calling rather than cold out-calling, and you can realize enormous benefits and increases in sales, or at the very least, find new leads and make new customer contacts.

Read our related blog published on How to maximise your return on marketing investment for sales growth

Feel free to comment, follow our Company Page if you liked this post or contact us to discuss any specific needs.

Profit Multipliers

Part 2: 7 questions to ask when choosing a Sales and Marketing Outsourcing Partnership

Why are you considering sales and marketing outsourcing?  

If you missed Part 1: How to choose a sales and marketing outsourcing partner, here it is again.

Here are 7 questions and tips when considering and choosing a sales and marketing outsourced partner for new business development and lead generation activities…

1) What credibility and experience does the outsourcing company have in your sector and both context and content?

Do you need generalist or specialist skills to help grow your business through sales and marketing with lead generation?

Recently we have come across more specialist engagements such as Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) with services as an independent consultant. Typically this engagement is to help shape a strategy or develop a new marketing offering or direction in planning.

If you could engage a senior experienced sales and marketing team what would that mean for your business? You would be leveraging significant skillsets and experience, boosting your performance and outcomes with a lower cost base than headcount full time employee (FTE) hire, but how do you find the right partnership?

We consistently hear that good sales and marketing resources are hard to find, so in a growing business where budget is limited, it may be wise to trial an arrangement for say six months. Traditionally any FTE hire will have a similar probation period without guarantee of success, plus you will have to pay a one-off recruitment fee unless it’s via a trusted referral source.

What if you could reduce or eliminate the time and effort of an internal recruitment process to find the “ideal” candidate, to focus your energies on immediately working alongside experienced sales and marketing professionals with a great network to immediately engage as an outcome based and shared risk outsourcing team based approach.

Are you gaining one consultant or access to a multi-functional experienced team for a similar cost? Let’s explore and imagine that for the same cost as having access to a team of industry experienced senior marketing managers and sales directors for a similar cost as a single FTE hire, what would that arrangement really be worth to your business? To create competitive advantage, partnerships with cross-functional skills can greatly enhance your positioning to win new business and also reduce internal costs.

Does the organization you are choosing to work with have local experience and depth?

In the world of professional services, time based charging can get very costly for a longer engagement. Hence a key factor in selecting a suitable sales and marketing outsourcing arrangement can be to see how flexible they are to customize to your commercial needs, including working towards measured milestone deliverables.

Can they develop both sales and marketing strategies and connect the two in strategic planning to align with business goals?

If you simply engage a traditional full service marketing agency on a retainer basis, are they sufficiently commercially oriented and have experience with sales engagement to align your marketing and sales together to deliver true business value?

2) What is the cost/benefit of outsourcing and ROI, other than lowest price selection?

Over years of personal experience, outsourcing shouldn’t be treated as just a lower cost benefit or price exercise. If it streamlines and quickens your go-to-market and works to deliver outcomes via a shared risk model, that can be well worth the costs and access to more value.

Other benefits of outsourcing include accessing a diversity of skills, experience and culture, as well as leveraging competitive advantage for your business. To that point, proven experience and track record as well the compatibility and fit remain important to consider, hence we suggest a short-term project trial of say three to six months are a good way to dip your toes into the outsourced sales and marketing experience.

3) What expertise is available across various industry sectors and field experience in sales and marketing?

Access to cross functional skillsets and resources can create competitive advantage in responsiveness and delivery capability and developing the senior relationships required to engage with executive decision makers of target clients.

A provider which has access to deep industry expertise or domain knowledge expertise can help open up more productive discussions with prospective clients in those areas of specialization. If these resources are dedicated to you, the effectiveness increases in prospect engagement.

While it is still accepted practice to use a generic approach, a bespoke approach for very niche services or products requiring knowledge can shorten the sales and marketing engagement and provide more credibility.

4) Is there flexibility and a cultural compatibility of values in partnering belief?

Does the company take the time to truly understand your broader business needs and strategy objectives or are they only proposing to solve part of your immediate challenges in sales and marketing activity without looking at the bigger picture? Your choice of partner needs to be a good fit strategically, commercially and from an ROI perspective.

5) How does the outsourcing company add value to your organization in both the short term and longer term?

Consider 2 to 3 different organization but ensure you bring them into the office to talk face to face with the principal consultants to get feel of the cultural fit and compatibility to work together in a joint partnership, not just a traditional supplier/client engagement.

6) Do they challenge you positively and provide depth of guidance and business insight into your requirements and market knowledge?

Again, think carefully about these questions, and importantly your responses to them, before making a decision. Continue to reflect and review on these topics continually during the working relationship.

7) Have you considered an outcome and shared risk-based model?

Is your outsourcing requiring a true sense of a partnership or just a transactional relationship?

If the outsourcing company is still quoting on time and materials or daily rates, and there isn’t an initial discussion on strategy, then perhaps it’s better to stick to a traditional contractor and resource hiring process for a small project.

You will know a good sales and marketing outsourcing organization by their willingness to discuss outcome based deliverables and shared risk for sales and marketing projects. Take the time to explore how this works for them typically, and how it would work in your individual situation, however if there is avoidance to discuss the subject then perhaps you may be talking to an incompatible organization for you.

Summary:

Consideration of sales and marketing outsourcing will make sense to businesses that are open to dynamic business environment changes and willing to invest to grow the business. Where there are specific market opportunities and cash flow challenges to hiring full time employees, or internal politics prevents budgets for headcount for example, you may achieve cost efficiencies and greater sales and marketing productivity by exploring alternative sales as a service or marketing as a service arrangements. When the partnerships are appropriately established, outsourcing can reduce costs of approximately 25-35% over 6 months, along with increasing productivity and continuity, and speed to market as aligned to business revenue goals.

If you would like to explore how sales and marketing outsourcing can help accelerate your business growth strategy and create competitive advantage or the process of selection then feel free to contact us for a obligation free discussion.

sales outsourcing

Part 1: How to choose a Sales and Marketing Outsourcing Partnership

Why would you consider sales and marketing outsourcing and how do you choose who to partner with? 

Commonly outsourcing professional services is used to gain access and leverage specific skillsets and experience that is not available internally within an organization.

Firstly, it is important to consider why you might want to outsource your organisation’s sales and marketing? While there is something of a trend for larger companies to outsource aspects of their operations, it may not be as effective for smaller companies, depending on what the need is.

Typically the cost of employment may outweigh the requirement or need for outsourcing. Perhaps it is a resourcing ‘on-tap’ and demand approach that seems appealing without having to go through the traditional recruitment process (with associated fees that typically run between 15-20%), and taking onboard all the risk yourself.

Outsourcing is often positioned as a cost reduction strategy, but go through the financial implications carefully with expert guidance as often it can end up costing more. The pure cost, in some cases, can be offset by having access to highly skilled resources on shorter project terms, which can be an investment than an overhead cost – especially when delivering for your end clients which have a direct sales impact.

If the need is on a large-scale resource intensive project or an ad hoc piece of work for a period of time that you don’t have the internal resource or talent acquisition skills to deliver, outsourcing may be a good strategy. Often backfilling a sales support, inside sales or marketing manager resource gap can create a large impact on your sales effectivness to execute an annual financial growth plan.

Time is money, and in every business the aim is to increase sales revenue and pipeline growth with good cash flow. In this current competitive marketplace and world of disruption, businesses must think of ways to create competitive advantage rather than focusing on price alone, all whilst managing tight budgets. Outcome based selling is what organisations realise is needed to add value to clients.

Sales and marketing are the lifeblood of any business and should be considered as a investment with calculated ROI not just seen as a cost of sale but also treated as priority and investment as part of a business growth strategy. It should be considered a tactical or strategic decision and complementary to the business, not as a replacement for internal sales and marketing functions. Every business should be focussing on new business development and ongoing lead generation.

Whether for small or larger companies, the challenges are common and outsourcing shouldn’t have a negative connotation but be considered as an alterative strategy to consider where it makes cost/benefit sense at a pivotal time in the market or in the growth plan. In circumstances where additional sales and/or marketing resources are needed with flexibility, outsourcing can be a valid solution to avoid the sunk cost of employment overheads.

Outsourcing selected aspects of your sales and marketing may suit smaller businesses who need to be flexible, agile and nimble to maintain competitive advantage and add more value other than being the lowest cost. Smaller businesses need to consider the time to market and sales enablement process and onboarding once the internal recruitment process is completed. There are low risk ways to dip your toes into marketing as a service or sales as a service which is an effective engagement model to selectively utilise which can generate a higher ROI.

There is an old definition of insanity if you do the same thing over and over again, you won’t get a different or better result!

Outsourcing functions will of course prompt changes in your internal processes but if you do your due diligence and thoroughly address and formally agree on how you manage the relationship, it should contribute to a comfortable transfer of responsibilities. There might be a perceived loss of control, but that is not the case so look at this challenge as an opportunity to manage the relationship and the KPIs and service agreements that come with the arrangement with the partner.

Remember a holistic dependency is always on people, processes and systems in any business function like sales and marketing. More importantly from a sales enablement perspective is speeding up the time to market which can make a difference in sales growth potential.

Some broad questions to consider are:

  • Is the engagement based on a traditional resource charge on time and utilization basis or is it a fixed retainer or project-based cost based on defined outcomes and KPI’s?
  • Can you gain access to the resources on a fixed project schedule or is it ad hoc access with no guarantees of availability on demand?
  • Are they dedicated or shared resources?
  • What guarantees and assurances are being offered in the case of non-performance or misrepresentation?
  • How much effort will you need to spend on people or project managing the contracted resources in your organization and project tasks and deliverables?

Summary:

Consideration of marketing and sales outsourcing will make sense to businesses that are open to dynamic business environment changes and willing to invest to grow the business. Where there are specific market opportunities and cash flow challenges to hiring full time employees, or internal politics prevents budgets for headcount for example, you may achieve cost efficiencies and greater sales and marketing productivity by exploring alternative outsourcing arrangements. When the partnerships are appropriately established, outsourcing can reduce costs of approximately 25% -35% over 6 months, along with increasing productivity and continuity, and speed to market as aligned to business revenue goals.

If you would like to explore a progressive sales and marketing outsourcing approach which can help accelerate your business and create competitive advantage or improve the process of selecting a partner then feel free to contact us for a obligation free discussion.

In the meantime, stay tuned for our next blog article Part 2: How to choose your sales and marketing outsourcing provider.

Sales and Marketing Outsourcing

Increasing your return on marketing investment for sales growth

“Want to increase your return on marketing investment? It’s All In Your Mind…”

Too many business people and marketers remained grounded in one-dimensional thinking habits. Marketing is a tool of the mind, and it’s in the mind where true wealth is made. Before this starts to sound like some kind of New Age lecture, let me give you an example of what I mean.

Let’s say you mail a sales letter to 50,000 people at an average cost of $1 each, for a total cost of $50,000 – That’s a fixed cost. If you get a poor response and only manage to break even then there is a strong tendency for you to give up and say: “Why should I spend $50,000 and go though all that work, only to break even?”

If by scientifically changing and testing a few characteristics of the mailing piece you are able to multiply the response by five, fifteen, fifty or even five hundred times then you are using leverage. The concept of A/B testing for digital marketing or trial and effort is part of the marketing lead generation strategy as an art and science.

How To Massively Boost Your Response…

The sales letter that broke even has the potential for almost infinite change. It’s highly likely that something in the sales letter can be improved to increase response. Often, simply using a stronger opening headline, or making a better offer in the body copy of the letter, a bonus, or trying a different price, can increase response dramatically.

By improving the content of the sales letter, and doing it successfully, you employ the leveraging action of marketing. You’re still sending a sales letter – but it’s not about the physical tool. It’s about the infinite possibilities impregnated in the marketing concept carried by that tool.

How To Never Run Out Of ‘Marketing Budget’

Other than available cash flow, there should be no such thing as a marketing budget. It is a ridiculous idea based on the assumption that marketing is a cost rather than a revenue generator, so the return on marketing investment should be seen a key indicator for sales growth.

Here’s why:

If an ad costs $1,000 and the revenue generated from the ad is $1,200, why would you stop the ad just because your budget dictated it? With a scientific approach and providing the cash is available, the marketing budget is unlimited. It is self-generating. Understanding this self-evident truth is the key to marketing leverage and massive business growth.

Your can never truly run out of ideas. In marketing, persistence almost always pays off. Marketing ROI can leverage a losing or a bland idea into something spectacular – if you have what it takes to make it happen. It’s all about thinking out of the box!

Alchemise Consulting is able to assist with “thinking out of the box” marketing campaigns and drive profit multipliers for stronger sales growth.

To learn how you can grow your sales with the 7 profit multiplier method, click here below to register for your FREE E-Book or our recent blog article

Feel free to comment, follow our Company Page if you liked this post or contact me to discuss any specific needs.  www.linkedin.com/company/alchemise-consulting

http://bit.ly/2nZCapG

 

 

How sales and marketing alignment can increase your revenue by 208%

Alchemise Consulting recently was interviewed by Thirst Creative on How Sales and Marketing alignment can increase your revenue by 208%.

‘The digital and online world has changed the way prospective buyers engage with your brand to be more personalised and direct. Hence the marketing funnel has deepened and so has most of the buying cycle before sales engage. Meaning sales now engage much later in the sales process.’ – Chak Ng, Managing Director of Alchemise Consulting

Please see the article writeup and also as a guest speaker at the “If you build it, will the come” event hosted by Thirst Creative here.

Sales and Marketing as a Service

 

Sales Growth Tip #6: How to Leverage the Power of Profit Multipliers

It is a sad fact that 80% of businesses fail in their first five years and over a 10 year period 24 out of 25 businesses fail. Why, because they don’t have enough customers buying from them on a regular basis.

The main reason is because they dont have enough customers buying from them regularly! They literally run out of Cash…

  • They don’t attract a sufficient number of qualified prospects.
  • They fail to convert their prospects into profitable customers.
  • They let their current customers slip away to do business with their competitors.

So, the ONLY way to succeed in business is for the owner to have a clear understanding of the market for its products and services.

The REAL Purpose Of A Business… The main function of any business is the acquisition of new customers and fulfilment of current customers needs to make a PROFIT.

So, regardless of the type of business, market, products or services:

ALL businesses are Sales & Marketing businesses.

…Because its purpose is to create a customer, the business has two – and only two – functions; marketing and innovation. Marketing and Innovation produce results, all the rest are costs.”

Peter Drucker

Reality No. 1. Having a ‘great’ product or service alone will not achieve success… BUT a ‘quality’ product or service marketed in a superior way WILL GUARANTEE your success.

Reality No.2. The KEY to a profitable business is to successfully implement effective and affordable Marketing and Innovation.

Alchemise Consulting looks at Simple And Scientific Principles That Can Help Nearly Any Company Double Revenues And Profits Within 12 – 18 Months.

As part of the focus, businesses need to focus on proper priorities:

  • Market Share: Focus on numbers –getting more customers
  • Wallet Share: Focus on customer penetration – filling all their needs

The quickest, easiest, most inexpensive road to growth and profits is to concentrate on:-How much, how many, and for how long can you sell to each of your customers?

If you are not leveraging off this focus and leverage around these 7 Profit Multipliers with your clients then you are losing sales revenue and increased profit margin per client to your competition and not adding significant value.

There is a limit to how much you can CUT COSTS before quality and service is affected.

Therefore, it makes sense to use LIMITLESS STRATEGIES: The principal of Business Growth Multipliers- ‘7 profit Multipliers

1. Lead Generation – Getting more qualified leads

Before a person becomes a customer, they are merely a name, a lead. A customer is someone who has made an actual purchase. A lead in merely a potential customer. A prospect. The more leads or prospects you have, the more you can convert into paying customers. How do you get more prospects? There are many ways: Ads, a direct mail campaign, a referral program, Internet marketing, promotional techniques, joint venture arrangements, and many, many more. Because the choices for finding more prospects are many — and not all created equal — choosing the correct ones becomes a prime area of concern.

2. Improving Conversion Rate

This means a higher percentage of sales based on people served. For example, if a company is averaging 20 sales per 100 people confronted, a worthy goal would be to increase sales to 35 or 50 per 100 prospects. There are ways to make this happen: Improved telemarketing scripts, more attractive offers, testing different prices, improving quality, and more.

3. Increasing Average Sales Value

One of the Holy Grails of marketing excellence is the repeat sale – or more specifically, creating repeat customers who come back to buy again and again. Far too many businesses ignore this simple-to implement, common sense strategy to boost profits. Repeat sales are sometimes called “back-end” sales. For many companies, sales on the back-end are where the true profits are made. For many companies, first sales may generate little or no profit, or even a small loss. This is sometimes called a “loss leader.” It’s a low-profit sale designed with an eye on making real money on the second and third sales. But whether one makes a profit on the first sale, or not, getting more sales after a first is a major key to higher success in marketing and selling.

4. Increasing Profit Margin

It takes a certain amount of time and effort to make each sale. Why not squeeze more out that transaction while the customer is in the process of buying? It’s easily done. For example, if a customer buys a shirt, he may also buy a tie at the same time – but the customer is far more likely to do so if actively prompted by the seller. If the salesperson does not ask for an additional sale, the customer is far less likely to make one or even think about it. Suggesting an additional sale at point of purchase is called ‘Cross-Selling’. Fast food restaurants have made billions with the Cross-Sell strategy. Buy a hamburger and the worker says, “Would you like french fries with your burger?” A cousin of Cross-Selling is ‘Up-Selling’. An example: “You can get the larger soft drink for just 25 cents more. It’s a better value.” The idea is to prompt the customer to buy a larger size, amount, etc.

Profits can be increased with each sale by manipulating packaging. Fast food restaurants are again on the cutting edge of this method. They offer toys, glassware or something else with the purchase of a basic meal package. The customer pays slightly more but gets an item of extra value.

The small amount of extra profit obtained from each sale represents a higher level of profit because no extra money needs to be spent on marketing. Even in packaging deals where premium products are given away, special deals from wholesale suppliers can make the extra giveaway items well worth the cost because of increased overall sales and mark-ups.

So remember: Cross-Selling, Up-Selling, Added-Value Packaging

5. Increasing the Number of Purchases

When customers buy an initial product from a company, and that products delivers value, benefits, and enjoyment to the purchaser, a good company should feel obligated to sell that person more, to improve that customer’s life even more. If a company is proud of the products it sells and the customer agrees that the company delivers high quality, all sides win if more purchases are made.

What if the company has no additional products to sell a customer who has been sold once? The obvious answer is that efforts should be made to obtain second-tier products. But if this is not immediately feasible, the original seller can refer the customer to another non-competing company who may have something the customer can use. Why make the effort? What’s in it for the original seller? Among other reasons, it’s a terrific opportunity to build good will with a future potential joint venture partner. The second business may often return the favor and send new customer back to the original seller. Finally, an arrangement can be made so that a commission or profit share is provided.

6. Increasing Lifetime Value

In knowing the ‘lifetime value’ of your customers tells you scientifically how much you can spend to acquire new customers.

What is the Lifetime Value of a customer? 

‘Lifetime Value is the true Total Worth of a customer to you! It is:

  •  Average purchase value x Average number of times they buy in a year x Average number of years they remain your customer + the monetary value of their referrals.

7. More Referrals from Customers

Established business owners know that as much as 90 percent of their new business comes through referrals of new customers made by existing customers. Better yet, referrals cost next to nothing. A referral is simply an existing customer telling a friend about a product they bought from X Company, prompting that person buys from X Company as well. Referrals are powerful because it’s an endorsement of a product from a trusted source – a friend, colleague, or acquaintance. People automatically distrust ads, for example, because they believe that most ads contain a least some hype, if not outright falsehoods. Not so a referral from a trusted friend. There are specific methods you can employ to encourage customers to make more referrals than they would normally do.

  • Single Channel of distribution – Most businesses typically rely on one method of generating income from direct sales and hence time versus effort is the limited factor to achieving massive results
  •  Multiple Channels of distribution – This provides instant leverage and multiple income streams to boost sales revenue and profitability from a lower cost base exponentially than linearly. Based on limited resources and investment in overheads this is far more effective to select complimentary channels to help grow your business. With every referral obtained the growth potential is increased by the number of channels who are active.

Profit Multiplier summary:

Increasing just one of these profit multipliers will help your business to grow organically with existing clients and help acquire new clients.

BUT by increasing ALL of these Multipliers by just a small margin will exponentially skyrocket your bottom line profits!

For a confidential discussion around these profit multipliers and how they can help with your business, please contact Alchemise Consulting to understand how we can tailor effective sales strategies to help achieve your profit goals.

Profit Multipliers

———————————————————————————————–

Our business is to help you grow your business and maximise your sales profits”

Chak Ng- Director, brings over 17 years experience with strategic sales, business consulting, business development management and marketing expertise. He also has specific global experience within ICT and Telecoms markets with leading organisations such as Ericsson, IBM and Singtel-Optus. He is able to provide strong insights and innovative approaches in developing and implementing effective business growth strategies with sales models and systems dealing directly with business owners or key stakeholders.