Jun 302011
 
 

Your challenge is to bust down the barriers of the online world.

 

Your emails and letters are going out. You’re making phone calls. You’re setting up informational and networking meetings. It’s taking a lot of your effort, but somehow the best prospects elude you. It’s taking too much time. You are prepared to offer a compelling value proposition, but realize that it needs to happen face to face. You’re not frustrated by this challenge. You’re fascinated. You need to cut through the clutter. You’re through spinning your wheels, waiting for a response. You are on a quest to garner better results. You know face to face kicks off new relationships, rekindles familiar ones really well. This article is part one of a two part series. Part two prescribes an approach.

Your Transformational Opportunities

  • Develop specific domain expertise based on one or more factors: functional role, geographical area, vertical market focus
  • Identify the best leads, contacts: Companies that are growing fast, willing to make investments, and decision makers that recognize the value of your contribution.
  • Make timing be in your favor just like the black smith striking while the iron is hot, you are addressing their concerns when their awareness of needed changes is piqued, their interest is focused, and their commitment to do something is highest.
  • Improve your effectiveness, make it manifest: Shortening the time to the meeting or interview, speeding up the time to an offer or acceptance of your proposal, raising visibility to a bigger set of opportunities, obtaining a larger more lucrative contract, or better salary and benefits package, meeting firms qualified with needs for your offering and resources at their disposal.

Your Homework First

It’s important to be prepared before you are face to face with the influential person. What kind of conversations do you want to lead? In my next article, I’ll focus on the method and give you some ideas for implementing the face to face strategy. You don’t want to limit yourself only to meeting the hiring manager or the decision maker. In fact, it is likely better not to in the beginning. This homework you do will help you distinguish yourself, and you will accelerate the results of the sales call, informational or networking interview, or the hiring interview. The process focuses on a professional event.

You Are The Change Agent

The mentality behind the strategy I’m about to spotlight for you comes from an excellent book, Selling Change by Brett Clay. Check it out if you like the questions he presents and you will ask your targeted influential person. What you learn and teach in pursuit of these questions is the price of admission. When you study these, you have definitely earned a place in the corner office. With these answers, you can make a compelling proposition for your newest customer or employer.

  1. What are the forces your client is feeling?
  2. What is the client’s best response to those forces?
  3. What will it take to respond to a change? What is the effort, the cost, the risk?
  4. What value will be created by the change?
  5. How will the client initiate the change?

I welcome your experience from using the questions with your targeted key influential persons.

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

Please add your comments below and remember to get updates by email now or get the RSS Feed, if you haven’t already, so you don’t miss out.  As always, good luck with your sales transformation.

Please Tell People About Honest Intentions

If you like this article, please Tweet it with the little blue button, or tell a friend. My blog group has introduced me to a little tool called Share and Enjoy to make it easier for you to email it to a friend or add it to your favorite social media website.  I hear that if you bookmark it on Delicious or Stumbleupon, that will get more readers here. Many of my thanks in advance for your help. I appreciate it.

Mar 312010
 

This is the second post in a series of six articles

 You Want
to Float
Above
the Clouds

 

First, Be Friends

The customer is looking for you, the consultant or salesperson, to be friends first. People like to buy from their friends. How would they describe the relationship? Would words like sincere, trustworthy, responsive, considerate, knowledgeable, trusted advisor be characterized? What approach you use will determine how prospects and customers, even colleagues and other business acquaintances view you.

Many Sales Pros Don’t Have a Clue

I do business with many types of people. Sometimes they are customers or clients, partners, affiliates, sponsors, employees, contractors, referrers, suppliers, and vendors. I am amazed that when I ask sales professionals what is your value proposition, they don’t have a clue. In situations where there is a partner and a customer, one needs two different value propositions, expressing different perspectives. How are yours?

Ask your Customer

What I suggest you do in the beginning, when creating a Value Proposition is ask your customer what are the benefits to them of using your product or service. You listen carefully to what is said and work that into your pitch. You do the same thing for other roles, like partners, anticipating the benefits as a different facet of the problem you’ve solved for them. Be sure your value proposition addresses questions like what are the results of the solutions and indicate some sort of economic payback for an investment of time or money.

What a Value Proposition Looks Like

Here’s an example of a value proposition, using the ImHonest solution: When someone loses a smart phone, laptop, or any valuable item, they think about the time and money it’ll take, and the pain to restore the new unit to the same condition as the old one–Applications, configurations, settings, data stores. Yuck. As a result of using ImHonest identification labels on valuables before they get lost, an owner can rest assured there is a good chance they will recover their lost items, through honesty. Our customers will be able to accept the convenient return of their lost valuables, resulting in less downtime, more productivity, and better peace of mind. For $14.95, they can manage six items for a year. The economic payback will be achieved within three days of recovering a lost item, and the whole process is administered through our online web registration site, 24/7 call center, and partnership with over 4,300 UPS Stores.

What are some outstanding value propositions you’ve used in your business?