Sunday, December 15, 2013

Technology Reflection 2013

As 2013 comes to an end, we all have a couple of slow weeks to close that last big sale before the Holidays, wrap up our loose ends in the office, and plan for a great start to 2014.  By reflecting on what went well this past year, and reviewing those challenges that didn’t quite go the way we hoped, achieving a quick jump out of the gate for next year is possible.

One thing we have seen over the past couple of years is a quantum leap in new technology.  Cell phones are changing by the day, from the iPhone5 to the Galaxy 4, the iPad has developed into the 2nd generation iPad Mini and iPad Air, and wireless and cloud IT services have skyrocketed.  

Technology Adoption Graph
So how do we decide on our business plan to incorporate the changing technologies?  Do we jump right in with the newest equipment, or do we sit back and wait for the kinks to get worked out?  That’s a great question. If you’ve been in sales or marketing, I’m sure you seen some variation of the graph to the right.  Some people are “Innovators”, some are “Early Adopters”, some are in the “Majority” and still others are “Laggards” when it comes to adopting new ideas and products.

A small percentage of the population falls into the early and late stages of technology, but 68% of the market falls into the “Majority” phase.  This is the market that successful businesses typically target.  While some companies are “Innovators” (think Apple), many of the Fortune 100 companies adopt their business plans to focus on winning the “Early Adopter” market. 

So how does this affect your business?  Working in a Channel Sales management role, I often see my Partner’s dealing with changes in their product sets from their vendors.  Many providers simply eliminate older technology and change their compensation plan to drive Agents to their newer technologies.  After all, a good sales person will take about 5 minutes to break down a new comp plan and sell what makes them the most money.  I know I do…......but does the sales person make more money selling new, unproven technology?

If I had a $1 for every time someone told me the following statement, I’d be a very wealthy person and would probably be retired :

“ I don’t sell your company’s type of services anymore.  My customers don’t have a need for that any longer”.  

Wow!……..that would be a powerful statement if it were actually true.

Selling the new technology is certainly flashy and gives the appearance to your prospects that your company is on the “Leading Edge”.  The problem is, focusing on the new technology being pushed by your provider can effectively limit your prospect bucket.  As 68% of businesses don’t adopt new technology right away, according to the “Adoption Graph”, you’ve immediately reduced your market to 32% by thinking this way.  In order to avoid this issue, I recommend to my Partners to consider switching to another vendor for their current product set, while integrating the new technology via their existing vendor who is targeting the “Early Adopters”.  By incorporating this process into a business plan, you’ve effectively maintained your prospect bucket at nearly 100%, meaning almost every company you talk to can buy something from you.

By offering the newest and greatest products through one vendor and older, more proven technology through a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th vendor, you have a more complete product line and can meet a variety of customer challenges.  This will ultimately lead to more sales.  I can’ think of the last time I visited a car dealer who sold only one model, nor does Walmart carry only one brand of TV’s.  Why would you limit your agency’s portfolio by eliminating a product set used by 68% of businesses.

During these last couple weeks of 2013, take the time to reflect on your product portfolio and determine if it makes sense to try and hit all sections of the “Adoption Graph”.  You may see it helps make 2014 a better year!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Would You Return This Call?

Telephone Cold calling…Email…SMS Text…Twitter…Linkedin…Facebook…Webinars…and more.
All standard techniques for sales professionals to try and drum up business leads and get in front of qualified prospects.  Sometimes these methods work.  More often than not, they don’t.  Why?  Because you’re delivering the wrong message.

How many of us have gone into one of the big box stores and run into the poor person walking around with the dreaded clipboard?  All of us!  The person is typically trying to get your attention, offering a deal of some sort, completely different from the product you went into the store to buy.  Why do you most often walk away after saying “I’m not interested”?  Why are these people getting such a low conversion rate?  They are not offering a service YOU think YOU need at the moment and your time is valuable.

That is the underlying problem sales professionals are facing every day during their prospecting efforts.  We email, call, text, tweet etc. to people WE perceive as prospects, interrupting their daily work and expecting them to drop everything and respond to us.  This just doesn’t produce enough results.

So how do successful sales professionals get their prospects interest?  The top sales producers have learned the technique of creating a sense of need with their prospects.  They have redesigned their message from selling their company’s value proposition to offering a sure fire method to grow their prospect’s business.

Consider this scenario, left on voicemail…..

”Hi Mr. Customer, my name is Kevin from ABC Inc., and I’d like to speak with you about my “Widget” program for your company and the value it brings.  Could you please give me a call back at 781-123-4567”

Pretty standard stuff for a voicemail.  Do you think Kevin is going to get a call back? Pretty unlikely……

Now a different approach…..

“Hi Mr. Customer, this is Kevin from ABC Inc. calling.  I’m looking to arrange a brief 15 minute call to discuss how your company can grow a new revenue stream using the same program I designed for …(a company within your prospects industry)……  Please drop me a quick call @ xxxxxx or email with an appropriate time and I‘ll confirm via Outlook invite.”

Do you think “Kevin’s”  2nd message will get a better response rate?  Absolutely it will.  By delivering the same message but creating the impression of a new income stream, “Mr. Customer” is more likely to respond.  Not guaranteed by any means, but more likely.  It might take a few follow ups to get a response, but any CTO or COO will tell you unless you create a way for them to benefit from your call, they will not give you the time to make your pitch.  And Kevin didn’t even mention the product in his 2nd message.

Creating a perceived need for a product or service will help justify the prospect agreeing to give you the time on their schedule to make your pitch.  Try imagining yourself in your prospect’s chair and consider what would make you return a call on your product.  Once you’ve crafted the right message, you’ll see your prospecting efforts return more set appointments which will lead to more sales…….

Have a great opening pitch? I'd enjoy hearing about it.....

Good selling……….