Just when you are expecting the order the competition side swipe you by being politically aligned with the decision makers, unfortunately you were speaking to the wrong people - has this ever happened to you?
Time and time again we see sales and business development people doing a great job at presenting their products, services and solutions but sadly they are doing a great job with the wrong people. They are in their comfort zone - talking with IT and technical people, administrators, HR folks - everyone except the "line of business managers" who own the business problem that their solution addresses.
Understand the Power Base (the people in the organization making and / or influencing decisions about purchasing what you are selling) and get people other than technical and operations people voting for you.
So get out of your comfort zone - identify the people in the business that own the business problem and contact them too. Not about technology but about what you can do for them from a business and personal perspective.
|Business Plan Speak||Plain English True Meaning|
|Acquisition strategy||The current products have no market|
|Broadly on plan||20% below plan|
|Complex architecture||Unworkable design|
|Core business||Only activity|
|Currently revising the budget||Financial plan is in total chaos|
|Cyclical industry||Made a huge loss last year|
|Entrepreneurial MD||Slightly mad, totally uncontrollable and definitely irresponsible|
|Illustrative projections||Don't blink|
|Investing heavily in R&D||Trying desperately to catch the opposition|
|Leading edge technology||Doesn't work|
|Life sciences application||You won't live to see it work|
|Limited downside||It can't get much worse|
|Long lead time||We haven't made one that works yet|
|Major opportunity||Last chance|
|Marketing-driven||One salesman: with a Ford Mondeo|
|Niche strategy||A small time player|
|People business||The only assets have two legs, one interest and no loyalty|
|Performance ratchet||Heads we win; tails they lose|
|Pro-active stance||Quick to latch on to other people's ideas|
|Proven technology||It nearly worked once before|
|Repositioning the business||We're lost|
|Revised budget||Downgrade to actual|
|Salaries are not competitive||CEO wants a rise|
|Shorter project life cycles||We've just finished copying market leader when he brought out a new model|
|Strategic alliance||Know their phone number|
|Synergistic acquisition||Two minuses make a plus|
|Temporary cash flow problem||About to go bust|
|Under-capitalised||Negative net assets|
|Unique||No more than ten direct competitors|
|Uniquely positioned||No-one else mad enough to be in this position|
|Upside potential||It's stopped breathing. An investment could be the kiss of life|
|Vertically integrated||Series of rotten business piled one on top of the other|
|Volume sensitive||Massive fixed overheads|
|Window of opportunity||Without more money, the company is dead|
In my long, and some would say illustrious, sales career I have seen two paradigm shifts in the sales business. One was the in the early 1990's - the adoption of en masse telesales in the B2B market, the second is Social Media Networking.
Telephone selling is, by and large, great. Over the past two decades my company has developed for and with our clients many skills and techniques for B2B solution selling by telephone it can be productive, increases profits and lets you win incremental business by increasing your reach often globally with dramatically lower operating costs.
Social Media (Social Media Networking - SMN) on the other hand worries me, let me tell you why.
It used to be that the seller proactively generated the sales lead and controlled the sales process whilst the buyer controlled the purchase (with the sales person admittedly running interference!). Now with SMN the prospect or customer controls YOUR lead generation, YOUR sales process and THEIR buying process. Sometimes you don't even get to pitch and your superior product loses out to an inferior product that was marketed and sold "differently".
I am not against SMN but I think particularly for B2B selling - we all need to get it into perspective and not be quite so quick to abandon some of the tried and tested prospect lead generation and sales techniques ask how many people are using targeted snail mailers again, ask why if SMN is the instant panacea General Motors and others have pulled multi million dollar campaigns.
Remember, in the gold rush the people making the money were the people selling the picks and shovels not the people digging for gold. Sometimes we are so busy social media networking that we mistake activity for results and whilst all the popular SMNs and inbound marketing organizations are generating huge revenues, are we so busy being busy we are forgetting we still need to generate leads and sell.