Distribution Best Practices to Grow the Sales Pipeline and Accelerate Revenue Growth
- Distribution and CPG best practices take the guesswork out of growing the sales funnel.
- Each evidence-based sales and marketing best practice is validated by industry research, includes a prescriptive framework, has a purpose-built measurement system (i.e., dashboards and predictive analytics) and leverages technology automation.
- Research shows that the Best-in-Class Wholesale Distributors and CPG companies achieved the top industry growth by adopting a combination of marketing processes, supporting technologies and performance analytics. That contrasted with lower growth firms that most often adopted hypothesized or best guess strategies and piecemeal technologies.
There's a lot to learn from the top wholesale distributors and Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) companies.
Best practices to grow the sales funnel are born from research. They show what the Best-in-Class organizations (i.e., the top 15%) did to grow customer acquisitions and outperform their peers (i.e., the other 85%). And they show how they did it.
These sales and marketing optimized processes for distributors and CPG companies are prescriptive recommendations that increase focus, save time, lower risk and plot the most direct route to increase sales lead acquisitions, marketing sourced revenues, and marketing ROI.
Distribution and CPG Best Practices to Grow the Sales Funnel
There is no shortage of opinions of how to grow the sales funnel and customer acquisitions. But opinions are just that, and veteran marketers know that some work and most don't.
Fortunately, distribution best practices backed with data reveal verifiable lessons on what works, what doesn't and how to prioritize time and investments for the biggest revenue impact.
Here are three examples that show how distribution best practices for sales and marketing can be sequenced to achieve streamlined processes, technology automation and information reporting. And how they collectively work together to grow the sales pipeline.
The days of sending generic messages to broad audiences are behind us.
Research published in the Marketing Transformation Report found that marketers who applied customer intelligence programs achieved 12% higher marketing campaign conversions, 9% lower cost per lead, 5% higher sales win rates and 6% lower cost per customer acquisition.
Their success was not easy. They harvested Voice of the Customer (VoC) data, calculated the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), maintained a centralized 360-degree customer view and aligned offers, campaigns and other engagement pursuant to customer segments or personas.
The above schema illustrates how customer intelligence can be categorized and managed in the CRM system. This makes the data is available for filtering and extraction for marketing and other purposes.
Less effective marketers used marketing software to cast a wide net. Many techniques such as email marketing maximize outreach and produce lots of lead generation metrics. However, they also decrease conversions, increase cost per lead and do little to engage customers. And when customers tag generic and non-relevant marketing messages as spam the distributor is thereafter blocked from future engagement.
The Best-in-Class distributors and CPG companies did several things different than their lower performing peers. Before the first campaign was launched, they acquired buyer insights, defined their sustainable competitive advantages, used these advantages to solidify their brand and unique value proposition, refined their ideal customer profile (ICP), and then applied this data to launch precision marketing campaigns.
Marketing Automation Technology
Marketing technology brings process automation, information reporting and scale to marketing operations. Technology is the primary tool to reduce manual labor and do more with less.
The marketing software research referenced previously surfaced the 5 most effective marketing software applications.
Marketing Automation Platforms (MAP), often called Marketing Clouds, were cited as the most effective technology by the Best-in-Class leaders. These applications automate 6 essential sales lead acquisition processes of digital lead tracking, lead acquisition, lead scoring, nurture marketing campaigns, lead transfer to the salesforce and lead analytics.
Business intelligence (BI) help distributors continuously improve lead conversions and grow the sales pipeline.
However, while the Best-in-Class performers cited BI as their top tool for increased lead acquisition performance, their lower performing peers were more often data rich but information poor.
Here are the four components the highest growth distributors used to build their BI.
- Data Transformation
Data is an asset. But to yield value, it must be converted from a raw material to a finished product of information or insight. That's best done with a data transformation process.
Most of the data will reside in the MAP. But additional data will be acquired from sources such as the social sphere, data enrichment providers and the distribution CRM system. When done at scale, data transformation converts data from an unused byproduct to the distributor's most valuable asset.
- Marketing Dashboards
The most effective business development dashboards deliver the right information to the right person at the right time. They focus on the most important key performance indicators (KPI) and prioritize information based on what's essential to each user.
They show what work needs to be done, in a sequenced order, to aid time management, create a work rhythm cadence and maximize labor productivity.
But to be candid, most marketing dashboards disappoint. They display what is easy instead of what is important. They display static data and entirely backward-looking information.
Marketing analytics research results published in the Marketing Transformation Report found that dashboards achieve up to 30 percent utilization following their release. But within 3 weeks that utilization falls to 9 percent. As time passes it falls further. The decline is due to dashboards not providing real help to staff.
The key to business development analytics is to translate activities into business outcomes, measure what matters and instrument lead acquisition performance with real-time KPIs.
Business intelligence is most easily consumed when KPIs are prioritized into groups. For example, the research found that primary KPIs include brand expansion, lead acquisition growth and campaign ROI. Secondary KPIs include lead conversions, lead quality, lead growth and cost per lead. Tertiary metrics focus on activity and engagement measures.
- Predictive Analytics
Marketers deliver the most valuable reporting when that information can engineer future financial outcomes. That's why predictive analytics are powerful. Without them, the view and information for every person in your company is entirely backward looking.
A recurring pattern among lower performing distributors is that they don't know what types of campaigns or combination of offers, content and channels optimize lead acquisitions, lead conversions and pipeline growth. So, they pursue what they know instead of what is most effective.
A better approach is to apply data and predictive analytics to compare campaign alternatives. You can then perform pro forma modeling, compare alternatives, see trade-offs and plot the shortest and least cost route to the most qualified sales leads.
The data that drives the calculations is sourced from campaign and sales history if its available or industry benchmarks if it's not. In working with distributors to populate predictive models, we find that most believe they don't have the needed data. But quite often they have more data than they think, it's just disorganized and decentralized in siloes.
The previously referenced marketing analytics research also found that predictive analytics was the technology that most separated the highest and lowest performing companies. 84% of the Best-in-Class regularly used predictive analytics, which was 67% higher than their lower performing peers. This is a significant difference that should not go unnoticed by those distributors seeking more and better leads for the sales pipeline.
Data Driven Culture
Lastly, a data driven culture is extremely helpful in delivering the last mile of business intelligence.
Management should promote a culture that shifts decision making from intuitive and subjective decisions to data-driven and fact-based decisions. This is often done with what many business intelligence experts call at DDOM (data driven operating model).
About 100 years ago, a wise man named W. Edwards Deming instructed his management team with the below advice. His statement perfectly describes a data driven operating culture.
The Point is This
Precision marketing, marketing automation and business intelligence are three proven methods that can be applied to drive significant sales pipeline growth.
Other methods may include brand development, revenue engineering, strategic pricing, white space analysis, sales and marketing alignment, and product innovation to name a few.
The most helpful distribution and CPG best practices for any given company will depend upon the company's baseline performance and target goals. They will also be validated and forecasted with a predictive analytics model.
The point is that evidence-based methods show how to grow the sales funnel most effectively. They provide prescriptive guidance to forecasted results and share lessons that save time, reduce investment and minimize risk.
If you are looking for distribution best practices to accelerate revenue growth, we have some options to help.