Share your vision. Increase Specifications
For building material and architectural product companies, the sales journey from specification to installation is often long and drawn-out; with some lasting as long as 24 months. With lengthy sales cycles comes prolonged uncertainty, which, in turn, takes a toll on cash flow, makes projections difficult, and keeps you in defense-mode.
As marketers, we help companies set up a lead-generating system. This is what a typical one looks like:
- Website (check)
- CRM (check)
- Marketing automation (check)
For many companies, this is the dream: Lead=Specification=Installation. The reality, however, is usually much more challenging. Even if you have the system in place, sales may lag.
Three signs that your sales machine isn’t working:
- Sales are not growing as fast as they should be in this market.
- Leads are not turning into sales.
- Customers do not have a preference for your product.
Whether you are VP of Sales and Marketing or the owner of the company, you know that without sales growth, your days are numbered. This is even more poignant if you are a family-owned company where the pressure is often intensified—when so many people rely on your success, failure is not an option. You are not alone. The CEO’s and Senior VP’s that we work with are bright, thoughtful and ambitious people. They are kind, funny and ethical. They are doing their best to create well-run companies with quality products, yet even they can fail.
So, why is that? If a company is doing all of the right things—good website, robust CRM, in place marketing automation, strong leadership—why would they still be suffering or, at the very least, not living up to their potential?
One reason that we see time-and-time again is that the system they have built does not create a product preference.
A true sales-generating system requires the following:
- Company/Product identity
- High-functioning website
- Marketing automation
Great analytics. Low Sales.
Most companies typically only have three of the five items needed to succeed—a high-functioning website, CRM, and marketing automation. That’s because these items are easily quantified and can be measured immediately, making everyone feel confident that marketing dollars are being well spent. Measuring the impact of vision and company profile, however, is more difficult, which is often why these two elements fall to the wayside. This is a grave mistake because both vision and company identity are central in turning great analytics into sales.
For instance, a few years ago we worked with a company that had a great website, solid CRM, and some basic marketing automation. Company sales rose and fell with the market. It didn’t seem like they had the right system to grow despite rising market conditions. After much tinkering, they decided to find out what was really going on. It turns out that they had high-awareness among specifiers, but no preference. In other words, specifiers couldn’t see a reason to favor this company’s product over its competitors’ or find a reason to defend the product when asked to value engineer the project.
For a hardworking company, that’s a tough spot to be in.
Companies with a vision or a visionary at the helm can grow at an unprecedented rate—10X faster than those without—provided that the vision is clearly and consistently articulated throughout all of their marketing materials.
Recently, a client forwarded me an inspiring article about a CEO of an architectural product company whose sales increased ten-fold—from 20 million to 200 million—in less than 20 years. My client aspires to do the same for his business. Luckily, this is possible.
This is because my client, like the CEO of the high-growth company, has invested a significant portion of his resources in articulating a vision for his company—they stand for something beyond just the product line. This company will endure beyond trends and market fluctuations because specifiers connect with their vision through the company and product identity systems. Being part of a big idea—a higher purpose—is what makes Apple and Knoll so valuable to their customers. People want something to believe in.
If vision equals growth, why aren’t more companies willing to invest time and resources in creating and marketing their vision?
This is a question I ask myself over-and-over again.
I think it’s largely due to the fact that the pay-off of the investment is not immediately measurable; it doesn’t look good on a monthly sales report. Cultivating your vision requires patience, trust, and a certain sense of confidence. High-growth companies prove themselves in decades, not quarters. And, to be frank, it takes a certain type of person to believe in their vision enough to create one that is unique and daring—something that will endure for generations.
Four signs you have a visionary company:
- Specifiers have a preference for your product.
- Customers will defend your product against any threat for a substitute.
- Opportunities arise for unique partnerships across industries—i.e., you may be asked to custom create specific hardware for Aston Martin or partner with an artist for a limited-edition series.
- Your growth outpaces industry benchmarks by 10 to 20X average.
To create a long-term growth-/lead-generating machine, start with a unique vision and give people a reason to believe in it.
- Beyond products, what does your company stand for?
- Why should a specifier defend your product or material when challenged by a contractor or client?
- Why would a company from another industry seek to partner with you?
Where to start:
A great resource to help you figure out your vision is to read Start With Why by Simon Sinek, listen to his TED talk on inspiring action, or give us a call so we can coach you through a visionary defining session.
Want to test how effectively your vision is working?
Email us your URL, and we’ll give you a 5-point messaging assessment within 3 business days.