Long sales cycles, small margins, and high turnover are common challenges for GTM teams who ‘push’ their prospects into the next steps. If we must push the client to move them through the funnel (continue going for a long series of small yeses), something is wrong, as this means the client has not seen the value of our solution.
By the same token: short sales cycles, high margins, and high client retention rates are common rewards for GTM teams who enable their prospects to pull them into the next steps. By providing the “right” education, we can help the client to come to their own conclusions about our value. When we provide that education, the client will ask for the next steps, next meeting, next proposal, and even the next invoice. The VP of Commercial for Schneider Logistics coined the phrase “Prospect Compliance Momentum” to discuss the pulling effect she’d never experienced before.
Like many other 3PLs/4PLs, supply chain consulting, and supply chain tech firms, the sales team at Schneider was looking to marketing for more leads as they were only advancing 1 out of every five opportunities toward revenue. They figured that the more leads that marketing can deliver – the more revenue they can produce. However, working with both the sales and marketing teams, we found that the issue was not that the sales team needed more, higher-quality leads. In fact, in many cases, the sales team had the right connections. Rather than one-to-many campaigns, they needed marketing that supported specific selling conversations to drive urgency with named accounts and the human buyers within those accounts. We discuss this further in the three examples below.
Example 1: How Schneider National Drove an Unexpected Urgency with Sygma (a Previously Unresponsive Prospect)
Schneider’s VP of Sales was connected to Sygma’s VP of Logistics however, the connection was inactive and unresponsive to all phone, email, and social contact for nearly five years because they were previously pushed through a long, drawn-out sales process that did not deliver any value. In the past, Sygma’s supply chain leadership did not see the gaps in their current inbound logistics processes or see a compelling need for change. They believed they had no reason to speak with sales anymore.
As Sygma was a named target, LinkedIn profiles, and content were explicitly designed to show Sygma how they were being under-served and to drive a TMS win. One-on-one messaging was changed to focus on stories of how gaps found in Sygma’s supply chain were uniquely filled for a similar customer and what the impacts would be to Sygma’s logistic operations and their customers. As a result, the Logistics VP joined Schneider’s online communities that we filled with discussions that would reframe how mid-market supply chain leaders thought about their supply chains and supporting technologies.
From there, Sygma’s VP of Logistics willingly participated in Schneider’s “State of the Mid-Market Supply Chain” survey, which was designed to have the supply chain VPs admit to themselves where gaps may lie. Within the survey, the VP identified process gaps, employee impacts, and future needs and gave Schneider the personal insight needed to position additional “real-time” articles & discussion points that proved that Sygma’s supply chain was being under-served.
Soon after, the VP of Logistics requested a 30-minute conversation to better understand the ins and outs of Transportation Management Systems (TMS), which was quickly scheduled. The conversation was not about Schneider, but about the benefits of ‘network optimization’ and how it would impact his business, his team, and his customers. Because Sygma received the great value of a consultative education rather than a pushy sales experience, they quickly requested to move forward with next steps to set up a conference between the operational teams of both companies where the educational process was repeated. This second meeting prompted the customer to ask for a proposal!
At every interaction (on and off LinkedIn), an unexpected urgency was created to the extent that the prospect was pulling the sales team through the process much faster than the sales team used to. Although they were previously unreachable and unresponsive, Sygma became a happy client because they could see a differentiated value and a compelling reason to consider a change. The insight shared online created questions in the customers’ minds that, in conversation, led to answers about Schneider’s competitive advantages.
- An unresponsive prospect became a close – an unexpected urgency was created. With less than a 9-month sales cycle, a customer who had walked away twice before became a client valued at $750K a year.
- Wins were achieved in 3 sales meetings – only 1 per phase.
- Sales cycles were three months shorter than average.
- $750K a year in revenue was created, and as Schneider keeps clients for 8 to 10 years, this client has a lifetime value of $5.6M.
Example 2: How Schneider Drove an Unexpected Urgency with Milacron’s Supply Chain Director Who Did Not Initially Realize the Gaps in Their TMS
The biggest issue that Schneider National’s GTM teams had was that they were not aligning profiles, content, messaging, and interactions with their future customers and their needs. In a first sales meeting, buyers are looking for sales to:
- Demonstrate an understanding of the buyer’s specific business issues & the “impacts.”
- Help the buyer to think differently about how to solve their business problems.
- Share insights to expose the costs and risks that were previously unconsidered.
Because Schneider started to provide this information upfront, they created wins with Sygma. They also helped Milacron become a sales opportunity and win as they now helped the buyer see their “gaps” and the “impacts” they haven’t even thought about. Like Syma, the buyer at Milacron also pulled the VP of Sales and her team through the buyer’s journey rather than waiting to be pushed. Schneider’s GTM teams used social content and discussions to challenge the ideas and assumptions that Milacron’s supply chain leaders held. The discussions start the reframing process while the supporting articles continued the reframing, created the emotional connection, made the logical reasoning for the change, and provided a new vision and path to value.
Because of the information and commercial insights on the gaps found in the supply chains of mid-market manufacturers, the Director of Global Supply Chain for Milacron reached out to Schneider’s VP, as you can see in the image below:
Before the meeting was scheduled, Schneider’s VP pre-loaded the sales conversation with even more information on how the TMS should impact the different parts of supply chain operations, finance, and also their customers. This led to a phone conversation focused on the landscape of TMS service offerings and how each type of system can positively or negatively impact key metrics in your operation rather than talking about Schneider.
At the end of the conversation, Milacron requested to schedule a follow-up. The second call revealed an opportunity to bid on transportation services in addition to TMS, and Schneider was asked to join the customer at their Ohio facility for further discussions. By sharing compelling insight where prospects want to find it, Schneider created two opportunities in which they were strongly differentiated and now highly likely to win.
- A prospect unaware of the gaps in their TMS became available to close
- Schneider is positioned to win the business
- Sales process included three meetings over three weeks (instead of 6 months)
Example 3: How Schneider National Drove an Unexpected Urgency with Vizio That Was Considering Their Options
Supply chain leaders at Vizio (one of the top flat-screen TV manufacturers and America’s #1 sound bar company) were considering their options for a managed TMS solution. As part of their buying process, they contacted Schneider and their top 5 competitors to compare features, benefits, costs, and ROI. Traditionally, RFPs had a very small win rate because the client would only see the lowest price rather than the best value. Schneider considered declining to bid for this reason. But after seeing how a more personal account-based approach can create urgency in customers like Sygma and Milacron, the team decided to take a chance and use personal content that focused on Vizio’s strategic vision and the competitor gaps that would limit success, even within their phone and in-person meetings.
As a result, the manufacturer’s leadership team gained a new view of their business. Through the educational and reframe-based sales experience, they discovered areas of cost and risk that were not previously considered. Once more, this caused the customer to pull Schneider forward through their journey.
- An unlikely prospect became a Top Target and contract win.
- The buyer saw a strong value beyond price.
- Schneider received a verbal award for new business.
Overall Results Speak for Themselves….
Over the first two wins alone, Schneider received 3378% ROI while drastically reducing the amount of sales time needed to secure a close. Because they also have an average client retention of 8 to 10 years, this will grow to over 21,000% ROI – and that’s before including the additional upcoming awards. Schneider’s VP of Sales and her team were pulled through the buyer’s journey faster than they ever experienced because LinkedIn profiles, marketing content, and personal communications focused on sharing insights that educated the buyers on the areas where Schneider can help them grow. They focused on account-specific gaps, impacts, and opportunities vs. pain points discussed by all other TMS providers.