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Top 5 Ways Sales Teams Can Use Research to Evolve Customer Partnerships

October 23rd, 2017

It is essential for the sales function in any organisation to develop a strong partnership with their customers. Sales teams are often challenged to accelerate sales with little time to consider their approach. Therefore, many sales teams are stalling the transformational shift from being a customer’s vendor to becoming their partner.

Reliable industry, economic and consumer data is the fuel for developing strong customer partnerships. Having insight into a customer’s industry supercharges all parts of the sales function, including proposal design, identifying new customers, navigating emerging channels and aligning product offerings to growth objectives.

1. Identify customers that align with the business

Be selective. Successful sales teams strategically target customers that are positioned for growth. To optimise the impact of a partnership and build a strong territory, customers must be reviewed against an intelligent set of criteria. Who are the emerging customers or businesses in a market? How do gaps in the customer’s portfolio align to company offerings? What inputs do they require? By applying a strategic search, sales teams can build a strong list of targets, scan for new customers and proactively identify the best relationships for growth.

2. Optimise your go-to-market approach

When in a new place, most are lost without a map. Similarly, the best sales teams know how to navigate multiple channels to reach their end users. What are the optimum routes-to-market in a new geography? Who are the main decision-makers and best-in-class partners for distribution? Which distributors match the business’s criteria for technology, warehousing and service? When expanding reach, it’s important to get ahead on best practices in distribution, understand the key players and identify the best-fit partners.

3. Build a data-driven business case

A partnership means speaking in the language of the customer and knowing how to quantify opportunities to demonstrate your credibility. For example, retailers expect manufacturers to come to negotiations armed with category insights and a clear sell story. Be an industry insider. How well does the sales team build a case with growth rates, brand shares, category sizes and absolute value gains of the market? Is business development integrating industry information into proposals? It’s important to showcase category “size of prize,” align market opportunities with upsell strategies and demonstrate expertise in optimising a client’s portfolio for growth.

4. Reveal needs that the customer didn’t even know they had

Successful sales teams know the importance of regularly challenging their customer’s mind-set and getting ahead of client needs. One way to do this is to empower customer’s local sales hubs with macro trends. Provide the “aha” moment. How often does the customer put their local market in the context of global trends? How well does the customer’s current portfolio align with emerging trends? When sales teams lead with disruptive ideas, they create a compelling value proposition, earn trust and put their customers on the path to evolving their portfolio and business.

5. Know how to be the hero in the customer’s story

Success also demands an understanding of the human element, identifying the why behind the numbers. This means putting a face and a voice to end users and decision makers. What are their biggest pain points in the purchasing process or journey? What are their usage and brand preferences and why? Sales can become the hero in the story. This codification of purchasing behaviour is a critical aspect of formulating marketing messages, building a compelling value proposition and crafting sales playbooks that educate and inspire.

Euromonitor International helps sales functions elevate their customer partnerships, empowering sales teams to be proactive and better understand their customers’ businesses in local and international markets. To help your business generate this level of insight, Euromonitor International provides market intelligence and tailored solutions that support Partner Search, Sales and Distribution, Supply Chain Analysis, Voice of the Customer and more in B2B and B2C industries. For more information about how Euromonitor International can partner with your business, contact us today to see how we can help.

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Jennifer Paruch

Jennifer Paruch joined Euromonitor in 2008. She is currently the Head of Consulting for North America, empowering a team of consultants to provide actionable insights to companies. She is based in the Chicago office. Together with her team, she inspires companies to think across industries and geographies and realize new opportunities. She has experience partnering with clients in a variety of industries, such as consumer finance, consumer packaged goods, beauty and personal care, retail channels and B2B. In addition to supporting project execution, Jennifer is also responsible for commercial expansion, connecting Euromonitor capabilities to address evolving business questions.

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