Ready, here it is…the line that’s said in every executive strategy meeting this time of year:

“As we head into next year, we need to cut costs and grow faster.”

While the statement is rife for snarky water cooler chat possibilities, it is not an oxymoron. It is what is playing out in an enormous amount of corporate conference rooms. The timing? Typically right as companies are closing out their 3rd quarter.

Executive leadership is handing out the mandate the company figures out how to do more with less. This trickles down to departments and eventually to individuals. The business environment has been like this for decades, but the pace of change, disruption and shorter periods of true competitive advantage – particularly in SaaS – are accelerating this mandate.

When the message first trickles down to the budget owners, there is a negative reaction.

“If we cut resources and programs, we can’t accelerate growth.”

Then reality sets in and budgets actually get downsized. We put on our thinking caps and work to re-evaluate everything. We realize it can be done. We just need to work smarter.

But where do we begin?

A similar question was posed at the end of a recent Pragmatic Marketing presentation on the major shift in buying behavior and the emergence of the need to focus on Peer to Peer Selling activities.

The answer was simple, focus on the areas that help build trust with prospects. The data is compelling, yet most companies are still not emphasizing activities that deliver the most trusted sources of information buyers seek. A LinkedIn July 2017 survey further validated this need when 39% of those surveyed highlighted TRUST as the #1 most important factor in making a B-B purchase decision.

Where do we focus efforts to leverage that trust?

First we must identify all our sales and marketing activities and determine their impact on revenue and trust.  Since companies engage in so many different activities it is useful to leverage a visual to help frame the problem and the opportunity.  Now map back how much time, resource and dollars you are spending on different activities?

Buyer's Trust
Revenue Impact

What percentage of your Go-to-Market capacities are being leveraged to build trust?

An exercise like the one above offers simple strategic categorization.  Companies have the greatest ability to build trust and generate more revenue with referrals, benchmarking, 1:1 references, outcome-based customer stories, site visits and video testimonials. These activities are the high value categories, yet most companies dramatically over emphasize the lower left quadrant of activities.

Let’s be clear, this is not an either/or discussion.  A comprehensive sales and marketing plan should include every activity on this Four Box grid above.  However, arguably, the most energy, effort and resource should be up and to the right!

Ian Levine
Chief Sales Officer at RO Innovation
Ian Levine is the Chief Sales Officer at RO Innovation. Ian has a depth of experience building go-to-market strategies and has purchased and implemented CRM and other sales & marketing technology while leading sales and marketing for Fortune 500 and mid-market firms.