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!


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