• November 1, 2015
  • Mark LaCour
  • 0

Today, we’ve got something really cool, Sales Strategy for Oil and Gas in 2016: How to Kick Ass and Drive Results.

Just a quick reminder, this is not our predictions for 2016, that blog post will come out in November. This is for sales people in oil and gas, to learn what you need to do to make sure you have a killer year in 2016. So let’s just jump into it.

So number one, and if you watched us for any length of time you knew this is what I was going to say – planning. Planning is everything. Now if you’re one of those companies out there who have this annual sales planning process, and you make all your reps put all these charts, numbers, figures and target accounts together, then present it to management. Then you don’t touch it again for the rest of the year. Stop it, that’s a waste of your time and it’s a waste of your reps time. If you don’t use something that’s fact-based and actual, it’s a waste of everybody’s time, so let’s get it right. This is how you develop sales strategy for oil and gas 2016.

You need to look at what you really need to accomplish with bottom up mathematics, not top down. A lot of sales organizations get some big number from the executives, and then they divvy it up and a number eventually gets handed to the reps. That’s not real facts, its guesses.

This is the foundation for sales strategy for oil and gas 2016

Look at from the reps’ point of view. What can they actually realistically produce in 2016, and then add some additional upside as a stretch goal. Then work your way up to get your total number. And remember, everything you need in this plan needs to be actual; it needs to be real and usable. And throughout the year you need to have checkpoints with your reps to readjust and make sure they’re on track. A short one page actionable sales plan is a hundred times better than some thirty-page PowerPoint that nobody ever looks at again. This is the foundation for sales strategy for oil and gas 2016.

Next thing is you have to know is what is the problem that your product or solution fixes. Now if you’ve been selling to oil and gas for years or on some case decades, you may think you know exactly where that is. And unfortunately if that world for you is an upstream or the service part of the industry you’re really hurting right now. Trust me if you fix something in upstream and service, there is probably a need for you fixing other parts of the industry; midstream, downstream, supertankers, whatever (to learn about the difference in segments click here). So be open to exploring other segments of this industry.

Let me tell you a real client story. We had this client that has been selling to oil and gas companies for almost twenty years. Their product connected any business system to any other business system, think of it as universal translator. And so traditionally they sold to the service companies, they sold very low margin deals and they sold to IT. That was their world and they thought that was their market in Oil & Gas. All they’d worried about with their sales and marketing efforts is getting in front of more IT people from the service companies.

Well then the low prices hit. Their existing Service company’s clientele quit buying and they got scared. So they engaged with us. We go out to the market and we look at the whole oil and gas industry; upstream, midstream, downstream, and service. And guess what? There’s this whole world out there (predominantly upstream companies) that have a need to form joint ventures often because of laws. So if you’re an American oil and gas company and you want to do business in Brazil you have to form a joint venture with the Brazilian nationalized oil company, Petrobras. Law requires this and if you multiply that scenario times ten thousand, that’s how many JV’s are out there.

sales strategy for oil and gas 2016 joint ventureWell, part of forming a joint venture is that you need to connect your business systems to the other company’s business system and you want to do it as quickly as possible. And more importantly to the American oil and gas companies, is that when you want to disconnect it because the JV’s is over with, you want to disconnect it instantly. Well my clients had a perfect solution for that, but they didn’t know that market even existed for them. So now they’ve actually increased their market share 31% in a segment of the market that they didn’t even know they had business in. And the coolest thing is now they’re no longer selling to IT, they’re selling to the business because they solve the real business problem, so they doubled their margins on their deals.

So, there’s a great example how whatever your product or solution does in the industry you may think you know where it fits, but I promise you it fits in other parts of the industry. And in this low crude price market, you need to know exactly where that is and go out there and sell it.

Then, for 2016 regardless of which you think about the rebound of crude prices (we have our own views on that), you need to be focusing on midstream and downstream and especially petrochemical. Petrochemicals are hot right now. Here is a link of the Hot petrochemical companies in the U.S. for 2016 for you to use.

ExxonMobil’s chemical division has increased revenue 63% year over year! This is November of 2015. From a year ago they’ve increased their revenue 63% and that’s crazy freaking growth. But you wouldn’t know that listening to the news. So, there’s a big market that you may not know exist for what you do and it’s in oil and gas, it’s just in a different part of oil and gas. This should be a part of your sales strategy for oil and gas 2016.

The next thing is for those upstream and the service companies that service upstream, if you’re still trying to sell there you need to figure out how to become an efficiency expert. Take what your product or solution does, figure out how it drives efficiencies in some manner or form and that’s your new sales approach. They’re not going to listen to you and buy anything new right now because they’re scared and they’re hurting for money. They will listen to you if you can provide efficiency; it’s what everybody’s looking for. And I promise you if you step back from what you do with the bigger picture and think about it, you can figure out some way that your product or solution drives efficiencies which is the only way the upstream and the service companies are going to even talk to you right now.

Then here’s a big one – you need to look for problems that your companies don’t even know they have. So in this low crude price market the upstream and the service companies are worried about all kinds of stuff and if you can uncover a problem or cost that they didn’t know they have, then you’re on to something. But let me warn you, you also have to have the culture that they want to change that problem. In oil and gas unfortunately, there’s a lot of problems that people can fix but if the industry doesn’t want to change that problem, you’re wasting your time. You’re better off taking that time and go somewhere else. But if you can fix a problem especially one they don’t know they have, and they have the willingness to fix it you’re on to something huge.

Next and this is something that a lot of reps back off on when they get worried, you must have dedicated prospecting time. And I don’t care if you’re an entry level sales guy or you’ve been doing it for twenty five years and you’re at the top of your game, you have to put in the time for prospecting. Your future is your prospecting. Your existing clients may or may not renew with you, they may not buy from you. But if you can find new people that will buy from you, you then own your sales future. So, if you don’t put dedicated time in your calendar for prospecting, it’s your fault that you’re not hitting your number.

Sales strategy for oil and gas 2016 reps will have to live and die by their numbers

And speaking of numbers, for your sales strategy for oil and gas 2016 reps will have to live and die by their numbers. How many cold calls did you make? How many e-mails did you send out? How many existing clients did you meet with? How many proposals you get out the door? It’s more important than ever to live and die by the numbers. I promise you that people who have high activity will have good results. It doesn’t always mean that people with high activity have the best results, but I promise you high activity drives good results.

Then here’s what I stole from Stephen Covey, but you got to sharpen the saw folks. Don’t get stressed. It’s a rough time for those people that are in upstream and the service companies that touch upstream, those sales organizations are worried. But you need to make sure you get your workout in, make sure you eat right and that you get enough sleep. Because you need to be number one, you need to be at the top of your game and if you don’t take care of yourself physically then you won’t be on top of the game and you’re going to miss stuff and make mistakes. So sharpen the saw.

If you have existing clients you’ve got to look at the strategy to retain and grow those existing accounts. You have people that are buying from you, what will it take to sell them something new? If you spend some time to strategize that for 2016, I promise you it will pay you off by the end of the year.

And next which kind of ties back in the prospecting, what do you have to do to find new accounts and opportunities? Think that through strategically there’s other places that have a need for what you do. Where are they? What is that order? Where is that number one person that’s not buying from you now that will buy from you the quickest? And what is the one that’s not going to buy from you no matter what? You need to know that progression, and then you want to spend your time on the ones that will buy from you. Not on the ones that won’t.

Then, what can you do to increase the actual deal size? So think about this, if you sell something and the averagesales strategy for oil and gas 2016 increase deal size deal is $500,000 and you can increase that to $250,000 with some value add, for every two that you sell it’s actually like closing three of your old deals, it’s a force multiplier. So think of something that can add genuine value to your clients and see what you can do to increase your actual opportunity size. This is vital for your sales strategy for oil and gas 2016.

Next what do you have to do to win more opportunities in your pipeline? If you’re a sales manager and you have a big sales organization, this might be something you don’t want to hear right now. But training (even thought it cost dollars) could pay off big time with increasing your teams close ratio. If you take your existing reps and give them some knowledge transfers or some new skills they don’t have, and they go from a 50% to a 70% close ratio, that’s huge for your number. If you’re a small sales organization or one guy think about it, there’s some good information out there to help you with your close ratio. For us and our close ratio is around 95%. Think about it, what would happen if you have that type of close ratio? How much additional revenue would you actually generate.?

And here’s a big one for your sales strategy for oil and gas 2016. What do you have to do to increase your selling time? There’s so many distractions – inbox, text messages, Facebook, voicemails, waste of time meetings, expense reports, quarterly updates, keypunching info into CRM. And NONE of that is selling time. Get as much of that crap off your plate as you can. Hire an assistant, farm it out, do it at different hours, bring in some new technology and automate some of that stuff, think about picking up some interns, whatever. But everything you can do to increase your selling time will drive better results.

Now here’s one you need to really think about, events. So events have been a part of oil and gas for probably a hundred years. But technology and times have changed. Events for sales people used to be top of the funnel stuff, right? You had your fishbowl and you get business cards. These became prospects that entered the top of your funnel and you’d worked them through your funnel, and naturally a percentage would close. Well I hate to tell you but it doesn’t work that way anymore. Not at all. In todays world events are bottom of the funnel activity. Where can you bring in highly qualified people that have a need for what you do, that have a budget, that are looking to buy a solution.

Let me give you an example. We talked about our client that had technology that connects any business system to any other business system. This past OTC we hosted a breakfast but we didn’t do anything at OTC. OTC is huge, it’s enormous it’s the largest oil and gas conference in the world, and the third largest conference of any kind in the world.

What we did is we piggybacked off that traffic. You have everybody in the world here in Houston, Texas for that week, but it’s a waste of money for my client to put up a booth as we wouldn’t even break even looking at total costs of having a booth vs. the business generated. So we actually did a breakfast and we brought in a speaker, we actually paid for a speaker and that’s speaker’s expertise was what are the best business practices when you’re forming a joint ventures in oil and gas. Now think about that for a second. Here’s a guy who’s an expert in the best practices when you form a joint venture. If you remember what my client did, anybody that would be willing to get out of bed at 8:00 o’clock and go to this breakfast is automatically highly qualified candidate for them because that’s the problem they solve. They help with joint ventures. At that breakfast we had thirty-one people show up, my client’s sales team sets seventeen sales meetings and they closed nine new accounts. Thats nine new  logo’s. The cost? $1,500. Where else in the world could you close nine new accounts for $1,500? There’s a strategic way to use an event.

So you need to think about events strategically, you need to figure out which ones have the audience that you want to get in front of. And instead of setting up a booth, I challenge you to think differently. Think about becoming the industry expert. Think about whatever your company does, whatever your product or solution solves, and then either you or someone else in your company become the expert around that problem. Now you can go to events and speak. Instead of spending your money on booth, be the expert, be the person that people think of when they think of experts in whatever your company does. I promise you that will drive much more sales results than the booth and somebody with a fishbowl collecting business cards.

Speaking of events we have a newsletter, as far as I know we’re the only people that do this. I take all the oil and gas events in the world going on, put those events in a monthly newsletter and I put it in your inbox once a month. So if you’re interested in really rocking 2016 and you’re going to use events as part of your strategy, go sign up for our newsletter, it’s free. We don’t spam you and once a month you get the list of all events and you can figure out which ones you can use strategically for your sales strategy for oil and gas 2016.

Now here’s one that is vitally important, but so many people skip over in small companies and even large companies in Oil & Gas. Marketing. If you’re a big company and you have a marketing department, typically the way you think of the marketing people is they give me a bunch of crappy leads; they’re a waste of time. The reason they give you crappy leads quite honestly is you’re not spending time with them. They need the information that’s in your head and I promise you they can give you great leads. Walk over to marketing, introduce yourself, sit down with them, and start working with them. Hand in hand as a team. Once you start giving the knowledge they need, they can help you grow your inbound leads and increase the quality of your leads. I promise you, if you work well with your marketing team, if you partner with them the quality of leads will double or triple or quadruple and you may make your number without actually having to make any cold calls. Marketing has gotten that good and its super important.

Now, if you’re a smaller company or you’re a one-man shop and you don’t have a marketing team, go learn it. We learned it with a little help from James Hahn and Triberocket. It’s not that hard, there are some great books out there. Here is a link for a HubSpot article on the basics of marketing for sales people. I promise you it’s a force multiplier. Instead of you meeting five or six people a day, which is probably the maximum meetings you could actually make happen. If you do marketing right you may be in front of five thousand people a day without actually being there. How cool is that. If you have a marketing department, partner with your marketing people and get them to help you with things like social selling. In 2016 social selling will be starting to take off in our industry, and should be a part of your sales strategy for oil and gas 2016.

Next your e-mail list. Right now you have a bunch of e-mails in your CRM and if you send them something it’s comes across as spammy. Quit doing that, nobody cares about that. Actually, segment your e-mail list by categories and send them stuff that’s valuable. I’ll give you a perfect example you probably didn’t even think of. Remember we talked about our e-mail list for events? You see that as valuable. We have a lot of people seeing being on that list as valuable, so they signed up. That’s my e-mail list. I have given my perspective clients something that’s valuable. They don’t see it as spam, they want it and it’s useful to them. See how we used our e-mail list to actually stay in front of prospects as part of our marketing efforts? You can do the same thing; you have to have something genuine, useful and valuable. So quit sending unsolicited e-mails and start actually giving good useful information When they get ready to buy, guess who they think of first because you’re top of mind? You! Your phone rings with people that want to buy from you. It’s Awesome!

And then if you are a bigger company and you have marketing department, talk to them about marketing automation. It’s become really common, the price has come down and basically the old sales process of working your prospects from the top of the funnel to the bottom of the funnel, they can automate a lot of that for you. Then what happens is they hand you the people at the bottom of the funnel that’s are ready to sign. Marketing automation is awesome, but only if you work with your marketing department to help them understand exactly how to make that thing happen.

sales strategy for oil and gas 2016 listsHere’s one that’s if anybody’s worked with us before, we’re a bit famous for. And I get joked about it all the time, but I’m telling you it works – Lists. I want you to have half a dozen lists for 2016 and it’s important you have to buy into this. The first list I want you to develop is a connector list. I want you to get a piece of paper and I want you to write down everybody that you know that or would like to know would be a connector. People that are in your industry or maybe outside your industry that are not competitors that can connect you with the people you want to connect with, not necessarily prospects although they could connect your prospects. But maybe other connections in prospect companies so you could work your way through that company and build those relationships. The connector doesn’t see you as a threat, you’re not trying to sell anything to them and then you can become a connector for them so it’s a win-win. So write down ten people for 2016 that you want to meet that you want to introduce yourself that would be a connector.

Next a past client list. You have companies that you’ve sold to before that are happy with you, how cool would it be if you can pull those out your back pocket as a reference at anytime? And a lot of those people as you know, they work for a company five or six years and then they’ll go to another company. Well there’s a new perspective client and the guy that moved over there is a champion of yours. So think about ten past clients that you have a great relationship with that you did go to work for, reach back out there and re-engage and keep those relationships alive because I promise you it will help you.

Sales strategy for oil and gas 2016 be the industry expert

As another part of sales strategy for oil and gas 2016, how about an industry expert list? Think about your industry and get a piece of paper and write down the top ten industry experts in your business. Then reach out to them and form a connection with them. Here’s why, from a seller’s point of view you’re much better off to be seen as an industry expert and a problem solver than you’re seen as a sales person. Well when you start reaching out to those ten people that are seen as an industry expert in your industry, guess what? By association you start being seen as an industry expert. And if you spend time with them, have meaningful conversations, help and engage you will raise your expertise level. Because eventually you want to be seen as an industry expert and the best way to start is to start hanging out with industry experts.

Here’s one that we do, we have a young people’s list. I’m 50 years old, so for me people that are 35 years of age are younger. We have a young professionals group we set up inside API. I have about twenty young people that I mentor every year in college. I actually teach one day a week in my local high school. Young people are great, they have new ideas, new ways to approach stuff, they’re fearless. It benefits my business so much to have young people involved that we also have interns. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. So, whatever young is to you, if you’re 35, reach out to people that are 20. If you’re in college, reach out to people in high school for you know. Have a young people’s list because it pushes your boundaries and makes you think outside of the box.

Finally get a piece of paper and write down a stretch list. These are all the people that you wish you could connect to that you don’t think would connect with you. The CEO of Chevron, maybe the chief marketing officer of TIBCO Software, industry experts, a Forrester analyst, whatever. Write down ten people and then reach out to them. Hey, if three of them can connect with you out of your ten, wow, you’ve reached your stretch goal. How cool is that? And all of these lists will help you with your sales strategy for oil and gas 2016.

Now, here’s where I ask a favor. We gave you a bunch of good information, there’s a bunch of good links, downloads, all kinds of stuff in here and I ask nothing for this. I could charge for this and I don’t. So will you do me a favor, it takes less than one minute? If this was valuable to you would you please share this using the social media buttons? This is how we get our information out there and help other people. So if you can just take one minute and share this, we’d really appreciate it.

Finally if anybody needs help with their oil and gas sales strategy for 2016, we’re running a special. Its $100 for an hour for my time on the phone to work with you on your sales strategy for oil and gas 2016. We will stop this at the end of this year, so just click here and fill out our contact form  to get started.