Apr 302011
 

This is the fifth post in a series of six articles

Increasing

 Your Value

Is Your Way

to Resist

the Squeeze

What do I mean by business conditions? We’re in a global era, one where the internet became the commoditizer. If you’re a sales professional in the technology space, you have some idea of what I mean. You’ll find this worth studying because you want more sales, faster and easier.

As a technology professional, I know you are feeling the pinch. The signs are everywhere this month of April. John Chambers, CEO of Cisco vows Bold Changes as investors worry. Newsweek captured some aspects of the challenge in a feature article this month called Dead Suit Walking about two men who can’t find jobs. After reading the article, it took me some time to figure out how come it bothered me so much. Then it hit me. The world has changed.

Why don’t you harness the motivations of your clients and partners to achieve their goals, as author Brett Clay suggests and start Selling Change for Growing Sales and Leading Change? Let’s roll up our sleeves and start to push back on the squeeze.

Meeting these challenges requires different approaches today than before. Adapting and responding is not enough today. It’s time to be a change leader. Here’s my list of challenges: The economic environment, increased competition, finding and qualifying sales opportunities, managing priorities and time constraints, creating visibility, differentiating your offering, using technology, tracking trends, contacting decision makers, attracting and retaining the best sales and marketing team, justifying sales and marketing investments.

Economic Environment

What are the forces the client is feeling? You want to understand these. Not all individuals, companies, and vertical markets are dealing with the same forces today. Businesses are cyclical in different economies. Lately, it’s been good for me in energy, materials, and government. Are you aligning your resources properly with the right partners, in the right geographies and markets?

Increased Competition

Its encroaching from all sides. It’s just a mouse click away. Are you letting it get you down, or letting it spur you onward to improve your strategy. Time to get some research done. Starting here: If you haven’t done so in a while, why not talk to existing customers and ask them why they signed up? Listen carefully. Thank them for their business and their time, get inspired with their perspective. It matters the most. Next, study your competitors and their key customers. Compare your value offering to theirs, using a matrix of elements.

Finding and Qualifying Sales Opportunities

Not optional for a true sales professional, especially as a discipline to drive change. Do you know what your client’s best response is to the forces affecting them? You need to as a change agent. You will also need to know what it will take for your customer to respond to a change. What is the effort, the costs, the risks that they carry? In fact, mastering this phase will give you sales. Selling is not telling. My manager beat this into my head when I began my sales career. I never forgot it, and it paid off. Today, with the information and training opportunities available, you have no excuse.

Managing Priorities and Time Constraints

How is it that some professionals generate ten times the sales production, when all pros have the same amount of time. Are you using your time effectively. Do you get the right things done? Do you move fast? Have you delegated tasks which you’re not excellent at doing them? How about ones not absolutely critical to your success?

Creating Visibility, Differentiating Your Offering

The commodity trap pulls us off our path. It’s easy to repeat the processes and approaches that worked yesterday. It’s harder to determine “What is the value you will be creating by helping them make the change?” We’re not content with merely selling solutions here, but becoming agents of change and helping customers achieve goals.

Using Technology, Tracking Trends

It’s easy to get sidetracked here, because the promises from innovators and creators are compelling and abundant. At a minimum, you’re using Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, Google alerts, CRM, a Smartphone. How about playbooks? Do you have those?

Contacting Decision Makers

There are many times that sales seems too complicated. Who is better than the decision maker to answer the question, “What value will be created by the change you’re acquiring? One of my esteemed sales associates from Transworld Systems, Rick Wright who consistently came out on top in contests and had a heart as big as his drive and competitive spirit said it simply when asked, “Why are you number one?” His answer, “He who sees the most decision makers, wins.”

Attracting and Retaining the Best Sales, Product Management, and Marketing Team

If you’re an individual contributor, your impact is as a performer, a model and leader that the management team greatly values. But as a business owner or manager you know it’s vital to attract talent all the time, even when it’s not urgent.

Making Sales and Marketing Investments

You need a plan. Successful business executives and sales professionals know what success looks like, they pursue it through some strategies, make adjustments. I received a healthy dose of reinforcement reading San Francisco Business Times Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business.

Thanks for Reading

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