Do you create business or just fulfill it? Look at your pipeline…where do your deals mostly come from? Referrals? Referrals are good, however, there just aren’t enough of them. When the economy is weak, companies cut back on expansion, decision making moves higher up the ladder, and sales cycles lengthen. Only those who are able to create business can experience long term success in this type of market.
The 5% Rule
Michael Bosworth, back in 1995, wrote, “Assume 5% of the people you might call on are in the market for some new thing (in our case, new technology), the remaining 95% don’t perceive they have a need” (Paraphrased of course). But they do have needs, they just don’t know what they are, or feel they are impossible to solve right now. The average sales person is going after that 5% group, and it’s crowded! The competition is fierce.
Creating business means, going after the 95%. The creative sales person gains access to buyers who don’t know they have a need, and then demonstrates that need with compelling justification and a track record to prove they can fulfill what they’re talking about. Security is just one area that is predictably needed in every account. Most companies are doing the wrong things, and security issues are going unaddressed. But how do you find these people, and what does it take to move them forward?
The Value Proposition
We’ve been lied to. We’ve been lulled into thinking people want great technology features; the latest gadget (Unfortunately, the latest gadget sells for about $500 and is made by Apple, which you probably don’t sell). But they don’t. At least the economic buyers don’t (well, maybe they do want an iPad). They want strong businesses, profitable businesses, efficient businesses, and secure businesses. The “value proposition” must focus on real business value, and that means you’re addressing real business issues. As you’re planning for next year, start thinking through your message, your selling strategy, and what you say in your meetings, especially those early meetings while introducing your company. Is your message unique? Compelling? Interesting? And are you getting in front of people who can make a decision? Are you getting demoted back down to non-decision makers after a first meeting? Be honest with yourself. If you’re answers are, “Not very unique” and “Not associating with higher level managers”, your messaging and positing are likely central to the problem. From there, you need a way to reach the 95%. And that means getting the message out. Events, social networking, educational presentations,…there are numerous ways to do it. So, bottom line; first you must have a message built to stimulate action, then a means to take it to market. This is the foundation of your 2011 sales strategy.
© 2010, David Stelzl