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buffalo_shipConsulting Skills Needed

Speaking In Buffalo, NY this Morning – This ship (above) sits right across from our hotel!

If you want to succeed in selling technology solutions, there are a variety of skills sorely lacking in most technology sales organizations. Today I’ll be meeting with Ingram Micro’s Advanced Solutions Team in Buffalo, NY exploring some of these.

Years ago the relationship might have been enough. While you can’t sell without a relationship, it’s not enough. Clients want more. The truth is, there are lot’s of relationship people out there. Here are some of the skills we’ll be discussing today. None of these are out of reach. They just take some extra effort. Apply just a couple of these and they’ll put you out in front of your competition…

Skills That Set You Apart

Public Speaking: I can’t say enough about “speaking”. Most assume good speakers are born that way. It’s not true. Perhaps there’s a handful, but most great speakers have worked at it. In fact I was speaking with an executive just the other day who told me he was getting ready for his annual sales meeting and needed to submit his recorded speech to his speaker coach.  There are a number of routes to take here.

Some are nearly free. For instance, Toastmasters. Every city has multiple Toastmaster groups, so join one and get some speaker critique. Learn how to engage an audience and your sales calls will be more fun, and far more productive.  Imagine clients who like hearing you present!

Facilitation Methodology: Disagreement among colleagues in a business you call on is one of the primary reasons they never take action. Learn how to bring synergy and you’ll shorten sales cycles and increase close rates.

Dr. Edward De Bono’s book, The Six Thinking Hats has been a pillar in my library for some time. I’ve also had training from one of their authorized instructors – which I highly recommend. This one skill will likely double your business if you work at it.

Copywriting: Your high school english teacher would likely have a heart attack, but I am much further ahead having studied copywriting. We’re talking about marketing communications or “Marcom”.  It breaks most of the rules you learned in school – but copy is what sells. Great copy is expensive, but you can learn to write your own. Stop sending out boring emails, and you might even decide your own company’s data sheets are poorly written. John Caples has several books on the subject. Any one of them is a great place to start.

Presentation: Different than public speaking, but related, is the art of presentation. People learn in various ways, but most presentations miss the mark complete. Chip and Dan Heath, in their book, Made to Stick, do a great job of educating us on how to make content appealing and sticky.

We’ll cover a lot more today, but this is a great start…Check out my book, “From Vendor to Adviser” for more details on these, as well as consulting skills, assessment methods, and event how to price with higher margins.

From Vendor to Adviser” <<< Click here to get it on Amazon

© 2016, David Stelzl

 

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death of a salesmanWhat’s Your Conversion on Cold Calling Prospects?

Ask your peers – the successful sales people are probably farming accounts they’ve had for years.  Others have a different strategy. No one wants to hear from a sales person they don’t know.

I’ve had several coaching calls this week with sales people who are either new with their company, or new in their role. Some are large company sales people calling on enterprise accounts, others are SMB resellers selling managed services. The story is the same. They’re making 100s of cold calls, with about a 1% return – converting to meetings.  Note, this is not a sale, just a meeting.

After you read this…I think you’ll want more details. So here’s an opportunity.  This month, on March 26th, 1:00 PM ET, I will be presenting more on how to build your technology business – sponsored by Ingram Micro….

Sign me up!  <<< It’s free to join this event, Ingram has made it possible. Keep reading, but make sure you have a seat.

They’re wasting their time.

Not only are cold-callers wasting time – their managers will soon give up on them. Even though they are the ones that assigned the task of cold calling. The misconception is, if you make enough calls and your message is good enough, you’ll get a meeting. From there you can show them value through the amazing features of your product, and make the sale. It’s wrong thinking – 90s thinking.

Death of the Salesman

I wrote an article years ago called, “Death of a Salesman” where I explained many of these concepts. Of course, I stole the title from Arthur Miller, but I did give him credit. Sales as we know it are over. You might still be making some headway, but don’t expect it to last. 80% of purchases today are made based on Google research. Most sales calls come after the product research. The research has been done, the shopper knows the street prices, and now they want a deal.  Google is taking over the function of presales consulting.  Google knows more than you or your presales engineer will ever know.

How do you know if I’m right? Look at your conversion rates. Are you converting more than 10% of your calls to meetings? I would be surprised if more than 20% of your calls lead to anything more than voice mail. I spoke to one guy this week who is reaching 30% of his audience, but still, only about 2% are converting to meetings. Another rep in the enterprise space can’t reach anyone meaningful.  Several of my calls were with people who have recently been handed lists – they know their primary contact is too low in the food chain, and they need a way to move up. But how?

A Radical Approach to Selling

Over the past 12 months I’ve been conducting workshops on a radical approach to sales. If you look at my sales concepts in detail, you’ll see they have a lot more to do with marketing than sales. David Merman Scott recently published an article supporting this idea – sales and marketing must merge. He’s right. That doesn’t mean the marketing department goes away. We still need meeting planners, data sheets produced, and marketing graphics.  But the marketing concepts are what drive new logo business. And sales people will need to master them, essentially becoming their own marketing department.Blog Subscribe Ad

Look at the big 4 – they are consultants…but behind it all, everyone is still in sales. They create business. No one wants to meet with another sales person. And no one wants to see your corporate presentation. But there are things you can do.

Marketing is a science. The science of how we think and what we respond to. Conversion depends on great marketing. Consulting is the art of helping one move from point A to point B – where Point B is the preferred state to be in.  Can you do that?  If you think the engineers are responsible for this and your job is to set appointments – you’re wrong.  You need both. You need the ability to attract new business through marketing, and the ability to help them solve a problem at the business level. This is consulting. This is why PWC wil continue to prosper long after the technology sales person is out of work.

Can you become this person?

The answer is yes. The university system would have us think we need to go back to school, get a new degree, and start over. The truth is you can make the jump by applying the concepts given in Napoleon Hill’s well known book, Think and Grow Rich. There are 17 things to do, but the bottom line is a passion to get there. From there it’s working hard to get there. Reading the right books, working with the right coach, and being willing to invest in the right tools.  Your company may not allow you to expense these things – what should you do? Look for the ROI. If you don’t you’ll lose. Spend your money wisely, but make the investment where you’ll get a strong return.  I spend my own money on coaching, books, and marketing tools every month. It’s paid off – it’s multiplied. I’ll continue to invest.

That’s right – there are tools. Learning to use LinkedIn as a marketing platform. Learning to write great copy. And then putting your new marketing brain to work – what would attract a new logo buyer?

One of my clients actually took my advice and wrote a book!  I have it right here – he sent it to me last week and I was amazed as I held it. There’s nothing more powerful than sending your book to a VP, and then following up with an email to…not sell them something, but talk about the book. From there the sale is easy.  But you don’t have to write the book. You could send someone else’s, but it must be profound, and you must have studied it in a way that brings new applications to benefit you new prospect. Writing a special report can be almost as powerful….from there, its a matter of finding ways to get your book or report to the right people. This is a whole lot easier than cold calling.

Marketing events are still the number one way to get business. The problem is, most are doing them wrong. This won’t lead to business, and will often leave you wondering if it’s worth the investment. You’ll need to spend more to do it right. You’ll need a great speaker – which you will have to pay for. But if you can land 20 new logos, as I did a week ago, your return will be obvious.

You will also find yourself needing auto-responders, your own personal blog, hard-copy sales letters, and landing pages. These are all marketing tools, and they work. But chances are, your marketing department won’t use them in a way that creates new leads for you. It’s up to you to figure out how to use them, and how to bring in new business.   I’ll give you more in the upcoming Ingram event – What I Learned About Sales While Working on Multi-Million Dollar Projects with PWC.

© 2015, David Stelzl

P.S. One thing I learned from PWC is how to price…resellers are losing margin every day simply by how they go about pricing….I’ll show you some strategies that are easy to apply later this month. Don’t forget to sign up.

Not only are they wasting time; their employers will soon give up on them.

Preorder Now!

A couple of key points from today’s webinar:

1. The discovery process deserves some re-engineering.  It is by far the greatest accelerator you have once in the account, and is the thing that will take your team from being a vendor, to being seen as a strategic adviser.  Don’t miss this point – don’t assume your consultants are fine doing what they do.  Make this part of your company great, and you will beat the competition.

2. Every executive relies on advisers – in areas of legal advice, health, financial, and perhaps marriage, spiritual, and who knows.  Who is advising them on the the proper use of technology?  It could be you…but do you command the same respect they give to their investment advisers?  You should…

3. The discovery deliverable is your ticket to “really big” business!  Make sure it is great…spend some time on this.  Don’t just write it, get advice on it, hire a writer if you have to – but pull together a sample that clients can’t refuse – then equip every sales person with a copy and teach them what to do with it!

If you missed this session, let me know and I will tell you how you can get a copy of the recording…

© 2011, David Stelzl

Photo Taken on My Blackberry

Well, we completed the first phase of our marketing strategy yesterday, but more importantly, I was delighted to find that Winter Haven, FL, has some great pizza!  Who would have guessed…Not sure of the name of this place, but it’s right next to Arabella’s, another great place to eat if you enjoy Italian food (we did have dinner there).  This Pizza is slightly thicker than a traditional Brooklyn style pizza – more like you would find in Manhattan…cooked in a brick oven, a full size pizza (meaning their large pie is 18 inches unlike the 14 inch large at fast food pizza chains like Papa Johns and Domino’s), and the sauce and cheese are excellent.  I believe they make their own sauce, meatballs, and use fresh mozzarella.   The pizza folds like a real slice should, so that you can eat it without everything falling off.  I had pepperoni, sausage, ham, and meatballs on mine…Definitely give this a try if you are traveling through the area.

© 2011, David Stelzl

Vendor to Adviser

December 20, 2010 — 2 Comments

If you missed my teleseminar last week on moving from Vendor to Adviser…Here are some examples of how I’ve turned mundane deals into profit-rich, consultative relationships:

  • A firewall upgrade opportunity referred by a vendor/partner turned in large profit and product.  Rather than going in with quotes and features, I presented cybercrime trends to an executive VP, identified their mission critical applications, data, and some process, and showed them how current trends are attacking companies similar to theirs.  The meeting ended with an agreement to perform a simple assessment, which was then expanded to a $65,000 contract.  From there we spent over a year implementing security controls, locking down operating systems, and eventually signed a three year security management agreement.
  • A firewall replacement opportunity from a non-active client turned into a larger assessment and perimeter security initiative with dual-authentication and application security consulting.  In this case, the client wanted to review competitive quotes.  Rather than responding with numbers, we called a meeting with the VP of operations, reviewed mission critical applications, and discovered a need for stronger application security and authentication for users who are members but not employees of the organization.  We proposed a simple assessment which closed for $35,000, and demonstrated the need for two-factor authentication, intrusion detection with event correlation, and upgraded various components of the perimeter as well as website security for the application in question.
  • An intrusion detection opportunity with a newspaper company turned into a larger policy consulting project putting us in front of all major company stake holders.  Rather than responding with numbers we were able to show the need to identify company policy in order to properly place and managed intrusion technology.  This effort led to a portal based policy server, intrusion prevention technology along with managed event correlation.  Future projects were easier to win with our new executive level sponsorship.
  • A large network project was put on hold at a major southeast university.  Instead of giving up, I was able to convince them to conduct an operational efficiency and risk study on the need for new network equipment.  This allowed us to gain entrance to all major stake holders positioning us for future project business.
  • At an educators symposium I was offered a breakout session to speak for free.  I used that platform to present trends on cybercrime, approached being taken by large organizations, specifically in the education/university space, and was able to follow up with one of the attendees with economic buyer status.  Our team conducted an assessment for $125,000, and then leveraged that relationship for introductions throughout the southeast.  Similar projects followed in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, many of which required remediation efforts.
  • A similar speaking opportunity was given to me at a CLEC symposium for NC, SC, and VA.  Similar results followed the educator symposium.
  • A small staffing role was awarded to us to install some server technology in a large multimillion-dollar financial application project.  By researching their proposed plan we were able to show how their approach was not going to produce the results they were looking for.  At the risk of losing our position on the project, we proceeded with recommendation on how to change the program, putting us at the helm of a 3 million dollar initiative to role out a lending application nationwide.

You get the idea.  Taking existing product opportunities, free speeches, and by proposing contrarian approaches, a savvy sales person can move up.  One who has taken the time to stay on top of trends and developed consulting skills, can move to a consultative, and highly profitable position within the organizations they are already calling on.

© 2010, David Stelzl

Selling installation services along with your product is not consultative.  Neither is training, RFP responses, fulfilling orders, or selling to those who already know what they need.  Most of these things are sold on price alone.  There may be a hint of existing customer loyalty, but in today’s economy, don’t expect that to last.  If you are dealing with purchasing, IT, or other procurement functions primarily, consider yourself a transactional product sales person.  This role is destined to be replaced by Google.  Now is the time to rethink your strategy…don’t give up, instead get a plan to transform your sales in 2011!

© 2010, David Stelzl

Twelve things that define a consultative sales person

1. They improve the client’s position – a business level improvement.

2. Product is never the business driver; it is simply a tool being used in the improvement process.

3. Money is not at the center of negotiations, likelihood of successful improvement is.

4. Discovery is an integral part of the selling process; fees are not quoted until the project is understood.

5. The discovery process involves both technical and business people, and the sales person is intimately involved with each business discovery meeting.

6. The primary targets involve people who have predictable needs, not those shopping for widgets.

7. The projects show specific improvements in operational efficiency, risk levels, competitive advantage, or return on investment.  They are measureable and understood before the project is sold.

8. High-end consultants and engineers are part of the delivery process.

9. Projects are sold with a scope of work, not quoted as a line item with an associated discount.

10. They consider business people to be their peers, not IT.

11. They are continually learning, investing time in reading, and attending educational offerings.

12. They differentiate their offerings with intellectual capital, not discounts.

© 2010, David Stelzl