Founded in: 1998
Tip: “Be choosy in the interview stage. If you get it right, you don’t have to go through it again in six months.”
Digital agency PracticeWeb found itself following up leads to “get a number on the board” rather than focusing on building relationships with the small to medium-sized accountancy firms that serve as target customers. The sales team chased big corporates which were unlikely to outsource their marketing. It wasted time and money, stifling growth for the company.
A big wake up call for Bristol-based PracticeWeb was understanding who its customer is and who it isn’t.
Led by sales director Stu Pringle, PracticeWeb identified a need within its accountancy audience and focused on defining three key client personas. The sales team worked with brand and marketing specialists to define a target audience, what they do, how they feel and what they hope for.
For Stu, understanding the audience was crucial to sales conversations. It meant that the team were no longer wasting their time going to meetings about deals they couldn’t win. Or, if they did win, running a project that would be painful to deliver.
PracticeWeb implemented a goal-setting method called GROW into its sales conversations. It encourages the sales team to discover the client’s Goal, the Reality of their current situation, Obstacles and Way forward. It helped clients consider their situation and focused the sales team on building relationships, rather than pitching on the first call.
A year after first tackling their sales challenges, PracticeWeb believes its customer-orientated approach is working. The business is growing, going from building ten websites annually to 35. New employees have been added to the team of 21 and the company is meeting clients it hadn’t managed to reach previously.
Stu believes being part of the accountancy world and knowing their niche has been a driving factor in PracticeWeb’s success: firms see their case studies and think, “that’s a business just like mine and they’ve got challenges just like mine”.
“Be brave and don’t follow up on the sales lead if they’re not in your sector,” Stu said. “When you have a niche and know your niche, you don’t have to jump between sectors and ask inane vanilla questions. And remember, customers aren’t going to buy your stuff because you have a warm fuzzy conversation – they’ll buy it because you do a good job.”