Marketing Growth Opportunities Hidden in Plain Sight

Marketing-related savings in the tax laws, “business-performance DNA” that puts sales and customer service reps in the right seats, and (uh-oh) a state-specific product-packaging law that’s blindsiding companies. If at first you don’t see them, keep looking–here’s what you should see.

Have you ever stared into your refrigerator, increasingly desperate to find food or drink that you know is there? Has your significant other ever strolled by and said, “Oh, it’s right there, right in front”?

Well, it can be the same way in business, especially in sales and marketing. Your business isn’t a refrigerator, and we’re clearly not your significant other. But we might see things that you don’t—even though they’re right there, right in front.

To us, anything that affects the ability to make a sale is marketing. That includes the obvious as well as the not so obvious. Here are a few of the not so obvious to get you thinking. We can help you implement some of these ideas or we can introduce you to others who can.

Get the Right People in the Right Seats

In Plain Sight: Your “customer-facing” employees.
Opportunity: Matching talents to jobs in a new way.

Getting the right people in the right seats is basic. But is it always done well? Not by a long shot, in part because determining “fit” is hard. Maybe some of your inside salespeople might make better customer service reps, for instance, and vice versa. And it’s best to know that before new ones are hired. One pushing-the-envelope way is to understand more specifically why your top performers are so good and intentionally match that “business-performance DNA” in new hires. This approach goes a long way to determining fit before hiring. We work with a firm that is a leader in that kind of assessment, which can also reduce turnover across all functions. Just ask.

Reduce Taxes with the Research and Development Tax Credit

In Plain Sight: New product development costs.
Opportunity: Their positive tax impact.

Too many companies don’t fully appreciate the benefits of the money they spend on developing new products and on the delivery processes that take those products to market. But the government does. The tax credit for research and development is one of the most underused opportunities in the current tax laws, reports Lindsey O’Malley, an attorney and CPA at Howard & Howard’s Chicago office. And now, thanks to Congress, the credit for “qualified research expenses” is permanent. For many companies, $100,000 worth of development expenses can be identified and, even for small manufacturers, more than $1 million. Bonus: The credits might also apply to investment in processes developed for internal use.

Introducing a New Product? Develop a Custom Sales Process

In Plain Sight: Your salesforce.
Opportunity: Significant gains from a customized sales process.

Ever wonder why a great new product doesn’t hit its projected sales targets or, worse, why the rest of your sales slump at the same time? It’s a surprisingly common issue. We’re called in frequently by prospects and clients who have created or developed new products and services but are surprised by how difficult it is to sell them. But there is a good reason. The sales team has become more transactional and less consultative. Question is, How do you fix the problem? We have helped firms of all sizes get past this roadblock to growth with a customized sales process tailored to industry, company, and products and services.

“But We Don’t Even Sell in California!”
(Are you sure?) 

In Plain Sight: Product packaging and distribution.
Opportunity: Avoiding fines, product returns, and litigation.

California’s Proposition 65 was enacted in 1986 but is sporting some new rules. Intended to protect users from cancer-causing agents in products, the law also extends to product packaging—even for manufacturers not located in California—and companies can be blindsided, says Brett Heinrich of Vedder Price in Chicago. As marketers, do these three things:

  1. Think about the channels you use—and the channels they use. Any West Coast distribution there?  Some companies allow you to identify California customers by ZIP code. You can also ask your channel partners.
  2. Check your distribution contracts for liability issues. Prop 65 can run deep into the supply chain.
  3. If you do need a warning label, be sure the required wording is followed exactly.

Fines of up to $2,500 a day, costs to pull products from shelves and change packaging (for warning labels or chemical composition), legal fees—all can impact your marketing and sales results. A moving target, the list of substances requiring disclosure (about 1,000) changes frequently—up and down. Saccharin, for example, was dropped when new research became available.

Train Your Sales Managers

In Plain Sight: Talented salespeople promoted to sales managers.
Opportunity: Leveraging that talent in new role.

Does this idea sound like a revelation? If it does, you’re not alone, but you ought to be. A common practice is to promote top sales reps to sales managers. Not so common is training them to be sales managers instead of salespeople. But the payoff from training can be big. Managing isn’t selling, and motivating yourself is not the same as motivating others. Star athletes don’t necessarily become star coaches. Top producers don’t always know why they’re on top; they just “do it.” We offer a course for sales managers who are graduates of our FOCIS® Consultative Selling program. It leverages the customized sales processes we help their sales teams develop. We can also put you in touch with a firm that covers sales management training more broadly.

Align Marketing, Sales, and Operations

In Plain Sight: Marketing and sales.
Opportunity: The payoff of true alignment.

Isn’t it obvious that these three marketing musketeers need to be on the same page? Apparently, not. We see many examples in which they aren’t even in the same book. Just one example: Marketing drops a promotion that sales doesn’t have the details on or, worse, doesn’t even know about. Sales can’t answer customer questions. And, quite possibly, operations isn’t prepared for an onslaught of orders. Such misadventures are surprisingly common. The good news is that we have a practice area focusing on resolving just these kinds of issues, including a half-day program and ongoing services.

To learn more about how to identify—and leverage—resources to build the topline, please get in touch at 847-446-0008 or Talking with us costs nothing. Unlike many complimentary offers, we’re sure it’s worth a lot more than you pay for it—in fact, you might say it’s another marketing and sales opportunity hidden in plain sight!




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