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biometricsThe Follow Up Plan Determines Success or Failure

What happens After You Conduct a Live Lunch & Learn Event…Is It Successful?

In my last post I talked about raising your conversion numbers. Successful lunch & learns convert. Mine are converting at about 99% over the past 12 months. Meaning, if 30 people come to the event, I expect all of them to convert to an assessment – the one thing I find that regularly leads to ongoing business.

Today I’d like to look at the follow up plan. If you don’t follow up correctly, you can’t expect to get business out of it.

Follow Up Starts At The Event

Your follow up program starts right there at the event. Step one is asking your attendees to sign up for something at the event. The best time to do that is while you are speaking.

When I go out to speak I will often offer my audience something as I am speaking. As a speaker, I don’t have an assessment. But one strategy that works well is to offer a video to the audience.  For instance, when I see the audience is really engaged – there’s energy in the room and they’re on the the edge of their seats, I’ll say, “How many of you would like a summary video of what I am getting ready to explain right now?” 90% will raise their hands. At that point I will say, “Pull out your business card, write VIDEO on it, and pass it up to me.” The response is predictable.

You can do the same with assessments. And I am doing that every month as I go out and speak to business leaders on behalf of a hosting reseller…

(If you’d like some help putting something like this together – click here on my contact form and type – Help Me Convert! and press submit).

The Power of Free Assessments to Convert

I also recommend using a free or complementary assessment.  I get more push back on this than anything else I recommend. But the fact is, this converts 60 to 80% of the time. The ROI is there so try it.

Paid assessments are great – but if you’re selling low end, $2500 assessments, to the SMB, or assessments to larger firms for under $10K, you probably don’t have any margin left anyway. And your conversion is probably low. Your sales cycle on the other hand, is likely high.

The complementary assessment should only be offered in exchange for something – like a leader showing up at an event. Don’t advertise it on your website.

Use it as leverage. Insist on doing it your way – after all, they didn’t pay. So if the decision maker won’t invest any time, stop the process. If they refuse to show up to a final review meeting, don’t hand it in. Use the complementary assessment to gain the audience you need to close the business.  You can’t do this if they’ve paid you. Once you’re paid, they control the process.

You Have About Four Weeks

Time is short. When you make the conversion in the meeting, emotions are high. High conversion rates mean an emotional response it taking place. It’s no different than an old fashion revival meeting. The hands go up, and the more people see hands going up, the more they want to raise their hand.

But this emotion won’t last. You know they have a need. They don’t. But with this emotional response comes a willingness to let you look under the covers. It’s your chance to build a second emotional response that has substance behind it. Assess and find the urgent things.

You have about 4 weeks to get this done. Once that time expires, the emotions go down. It will be harder to get them to act at this point. So follow up quickly and get it done. Don’t invite more people to your event than you can effectively follow up on.

© 2016, David Stelzl

PS. Get more in The House & The Cloud! The only book with step by step instructions on closing security and managed services business.

 

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networkAssessments Just Might be Your Ticket to High Margin Business

Are you doing assessments?  It might be security.  But other assessments work just as well. Network, Cloud Readiness, Business Impact Analysis, etc.  

You might be charging, or they might be free.  Regardless, the assessment is not where the big payoff sits.  Unless you’re a pure consulting firm (no product and no hosted services), you want this paper to convert to something.

Traditional sales models look at sales activities.  I prefer to look at outcomes – in this case, conversion. The average assessment won’t convert to large project business or managed annuity contracts.  If your in this boat, keep reading. A few questions you should be asking…

Why Don’t My Assessments Convert

The biggest mistake I see is one of being too technical.

The network engineer values the network. Bandwidth improvements, benefits that come with software defined networking (SDN), or the ability to provide secure access to many different types of devices, all make sense.  But hand in a report that shows the inventory, IP addresses, and possible hardware/software upgrades won’t get you a project.

Instead, start thinking about the major initiatives CIOs are working through right now. Mergers and acquisitions, customer experience gains – such as providing guest access and portals, collaboration that involves more video, etc.

These are business drivers…if your assessment starts by looking for these initiatives, you can then move to end-users to discover how they use the network, and what they’ll want out of it in the near future.

This leads to justification for SDN or greater agility.

Who Should I Include In the Process?

It’s temping to make this all about technology – but don’t. From the above paragraph, you can see I am recommending you include executives responsible for business strategy, who will build their programs on this network.

From there you want to include end-users.  This group is often left out of any technology sale. But they are your best influencers. Find out what they need to generate more business for their company and you’ll have the justification you need.

From there, you want to strategize with your team internally. Ask the question – what does this company really need to do what they want to do.  Once you have the answers, you can then evaluate or assess their technology.

Your Deliverable Looks Like This…

Scrap the highly technical deliverable. You don’t have to throw it away, but think of it as reference material that goes in the back of the book. IT may want to see it – in fact it might be impressive to them. Let them have it.

But your primary deliverable is going to decision makers – business people.

So write the report to them. It’s not your executive summary – it’s your main report. It’s a business case. It’s the primary deliverable. Write it with care – make the case for the gains you’ve discovered, and show them what they need before they can get what they really want.

Hint: It might be worth hiring a copywriter to rewrite your report – once you have one that works, you can reuse the same language. Copywriting is a science used by marketers to move people through written content…don’t leave this to the high-tech people.

© 2016, David Stelzl

 

question_markHow Technically Savvy Are You?

Is This Winning You New Business?

It would seem that if you really know what you’re doing technically, people will buy from you. Unfortunately that’s not true.  IBM showed us a long time ago that sales prowess outsells technical savvy every time. Look at companies like WellFleet, Sybase, and DEC.

If your somewhat new to the industry, you may not even recognize these names. They’re history.  But not before developing some really cool technology. We’re only on Wednesday and already I’ve had several coaching calls with technical heavyweights, who at some point decided to go out on their own. The idea was, “Since I’m the one who knows everything, I can probably make more money running my own business.”

Initially that sounds great. Then you start wondering why no one is calling. You know everyone out there needs you, but for some reason, they are still meeting with non-technical sales people. Why?

The school of hard knocks truth is that technical skills don’t readily translate into business. Michael Bosworth, in his book Solution Selling, told us years ago to sell to the 95% of the population that doesn’t realize what they need. Steve Jobs told us, “People don’t even know what they need until I invent it.” (A reference to iPods and iPhones).

If you have strong technology, that’s good. You can’t complete long term without it.

But if you want to grow your business, you really need marketing and sales strategies that work. Some things to think about….

  1. If you do assessments, start measuring your conversion. If they are security focused for instance, do you know how many (Percent) show major issues? Given that, what percentage of them convert to remediation? If the percent is lower than 50% something is broken. Your message is not getting to the asset owners – the people with liability.  (Learn more about this in The House & The Cloud)$1 HC Book Ad
  2. If you conduct lunch & learns, how many are coming? More importantly, how many are converting to a clear next step? If it’s just your customers, you probably have little or no clear conversion rate. If you are getting new prospects, is there a clear next step (like an assessment) that leads to new business. What’s your conversion rate?
  3. Even if you just sent out proposals, are you measuring the conversion (or close) rate? If you’re down in the 20% range like most, you are wasting a lot of time.  In my book, From Vendor to Advisor, I explain how I achieved a 95% proposal close rate. Might be worth a read.

Copyright, 2016, David Stelzl

I just finished an exciting coaching session with the CEO of a large integrator in the US – exciting because his business is multiplying!  Isn’t that what every integrator/solution provider is looking for?  What’s the secret?  No secret really – he just happens to be working hard in a space where there is significant growth; and the 2012 outlook looks just as strong as 2011 did.  If you haven’t guessed it, he has a strong focus in the security market.

Read the Wall Street Journal and you will see a constant stream of articles focusing on trends and events in cyber crime and related security issues.  You won’t see articles on VOIP, storage, server technology, or mainframes.  Expect Apple to continue their growth, along with Google and other mainline brands such as Dell, but these won’t offer the same opportunity to the reseller.  Only the security space offers this kind of potential.

In fact, my online security sales training class has really benefited from this.  If you haven’t attended on of these, you should.  We had strong attendance numbers in November, January, and February, and now, April’s class is 50% full.  This supports another trend which is online collaboration using video and Webex like tools.  While these tools may not offer all of the benefits of live sessions, there is a tremendous advantage in not having to travel for short internal meetings, yet still having a face to face conversation.  I have found myself using Skype and Webex as I coach people all over the world.  I even have an executive coaching relationship with the president of an up and coming software firm in India.  The time zones cause some scheduling challenges, but nothing we can’t overcome.

Join us in April – more details here: http://mmws3.eventbrite.com/

I guarantee this class will change the course of your 2012 profit plan.

© 2012, David Stelzl

Interruptions are needed!  People go to sleep when you present the obvious.  Take a look at the presentations you are using for executive meetings/company introductions…are you stating the obvious?  I see marketing departments putting out fancy slides that say things like:

The Internet is bcoming more important to business

More people are using wireless computing

Mobility is growing and people are using smart phones

Duh!

Your presentation needs something new – a new point of view.  Something that makes the executive say, “What are we doing about this…how did we miss this?”  Only then can you expect them to tune in, want more, and promote you to the adviser status you’ve been looking for.  Don’t expect this to just happen – it takes you, pouring over your content, and looking for a new angel.  Wait on your marketing department to think of this and you’ll be waiting for a long time (unless your marketing department is way ahead of the pack.)