SBZ Sales Analytics, the Steinbeis Consulting Center, supports startups with sales projects – with some impressive results
Selling has witnessed sweeping changes during the last three years. Many trade shows had to be cancelled with only limited face-to-face contact and most communication taking place online. Shortly before the pandemic, SBZ Sales Analytics launched its sales lab with the aim of supporting salespeople in their work during times of difficulty. The lab makes it possible to test selling hypotheses, gain insights into customer acquisition, and develop sales strategies for new business models.
Hypothetical selling situations are normally validated by conducting simple surveys, but in some cases they produce extremely inaccurate results, especially with new customer acquisition. This was the starting point for Winfried Küppers, Steinbeis Entrepreneur at the Steinbeis Consulting Center for Sales Analytics, and his sales lab. Küppers uses his lab to offer services, products, and knowledge transfer services on the market and to gauge reactions. Which selling arguments pique the interest of decision-makers? What would the ideal trigger line be? Which approach is most likely to succeed for which product? In which price bracket do solutions-as-a-service succeed? Based on these questions, tens of thousands of interviews and measurements were conducted during the pandemic for the lab run by SBZ Sales Analytics. They showed how much selling has changed in recent years and what we should expect the new normal to be. “Combined with our offer to drive new customer business for our partners, this knowledge is currently in great demand,” says Winfried Küppers, with a sense of delight.
Startup support for startups
A number of startups and new business units within existing companies are experiencing difficulty at the moment attracting enough attention – partly due to the fact that many trade shows are no longer taking place, or because they lack salespeople or a chief sales officer (CSO). By offering support with topics such as approaching new customers, contractual arrangements, billing options, and target group analysis, the sales lab run by the Steinbeis Consulting Center for Sales Analytics is an opportunity for firms to react effectively and quickly, without having to climb a steep learning curve. “Our extensive network also makes it possible to arrange direct access to potential sales leads,” explains Küppers. This is also how the German-Israeli startup Inspekto was put in touch with V-ZUG, the leading Swiss manufacturer of premium kitchen appliances. As Vanessa Pfau, an officer with procurement at Inspekto, recalls: “We were able to speak directly with the key decision-maker and have very honest and open conversations. Steinbeis opened up a special door for us there.”
Another startup that approached the Steinbeis experts from Hilzingen is Caddon. The tech startup performs spectral color data measurements with a focus on multicolor and patterned materials. For example, it allows car interior carpets to be precisely matched to the type of plastic used, or optical and metrological readings to be captured in digital data sets. Because the devices and software required to do this can be quite costly, the sales lab and other experts from banking were called in to research an appropriate billing model and a corresponding concept was created.
Selling transfer services
Another lesson learned over the past two years was that selling transfer services needs a complete rethink. Against this backdrop, the sales lab run by the Steinbeis Consulting Center for Sales Analytics has developed a new method that will not only benefit enterprises belonging to the Steinbeis Network, but also other companies. One such firm is SCHUNK, an automation specialist that wanted to proactively approach potential clients in order to organize a workshop and showcase the current capabilities of robots. To ensure its offer delivered sustained impact, as many decision-makers as possible should attend the workshop and recognize the fundamental potential to introduce automated systems at their own companies. The sales lab took care of cold calling and the approach was so effective that it aroused the interest of 28% of contacted companies, resulting in many appointments being lined up immediately on the phone. Sebastian Höpfl, Vice President for Product Sales and Product Management at SCHUNK, who is responsible for the project, is delighted: “The speed at which we achieved such amazing results through the intensive collaboration between SCHUNK and Steinbeis caused excitement among both teams. Customer feedback on the workshops has been overwhelmingly positive.” As a result, SCHUNK invited the Steinbeis experts to design its booth at automatica, the automation and robotics trade show, in June 2022.
The new concept resulted in follow-up meetings with two-thirds of visitors to the booth. As Küppers confirms: “The booth team at the show was by far one of the best I’ve had the pleasure of working with. What stood out was that the SCHUNK booth was constantly busy, whereas others hardly had any visitors.”
HUMMEL, a systems specialist and leading provider of, among other services, charging infrastructure, has also enjoyed a fruitful partnership with the Steinbeis experts. Following its acquisition by Züblin several years ago, there are now plans at the former family business to scale up operations. To compensate for outdated know-how and reservations within the workforce, managing partner Frank Hummel and his colleagues have developed a knowledge-sharing concept and an app to determine the demand for charging infrastructure.
The Steinbeis Consulting Center for Sales Analytics was assigned the task of putting the concept through market testing, arranging appointments with sales leads and lining up access to decision-makers. Hummel has observed the fruits of working with the Steinbeis experts: “The speed with which we were able to enter into dialog with leading companies and subsequently carry out an actual project has spurred on the entire team. Our staff were given training by Winfried Küppers and his team so that they’re now in a position to acquire transfer services and customer projects themselves.”
How the SBZ Sales Analytics sales lab helps its customers
- Presentations are arranged with companies to provide information on the new normal in sales and share certain tricks learned from business practice.
- Workshops and courses are organized to train sales teams and managers in business practice, and know-how is adapted to their individual circumstances.
- A cold-calling unit establishes contact with interested decision-makers and potential customers.
- When selling new business models, which are often digital, different methods are worked out for approaching customers and these are tested directly in the market.