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Apr 22 19

“May I Send You A Free Proposal”

by David Brock

I got an intriguing email today. The subject line grabbed my attention–though I suspect not for the reasons the sales person intended: “May I send you a free proposal?”

It got my mind spinning, Who pays for proposals? Is the sender so arrogant, or clueless to think that an offer for a free proposal would catch my interest because it stands our from all the other offers for proposals that I get?

It’s also interesting, this person has the arrogance to think they can give me a proposal, without ever talking to me and knowing what I want to do, what my problems are, what my priorities are, or what I want to achieve.

Without even asking for the proposal, I already know the content of the proposal, “Please buy my product/service, it will cost you $X/month…..”

While this may be an extreme case, too many prospecting emails and calls are basically the same: “This is what I sell, are you interested in buying?”

And this isn’t selling……..

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Apr 17 19

Prospecting Differentiation

by David Brock

We want our prospecting efforts with customers to stand out. To, somehow, differentiate ourselves from the dozens of other prospecting calls or emails our customers receive.

Unfortunately, our efforts at differentiation tend to focus on the wrong thing—we focus on us–ourselves, our companies, what we sell. This leads our prospecting conversations to discussions about us:

  • “This is what we do…..”
  • “This is what we sell…..”
  • “This is how great our company is….”
  • “These are the people/companies we work with…..”
  • “This is how we are different……”

All of a sudden, a call that is supposed to be about the customer is translated into a monologue about us!

And, ironically, where we are trying to stand out, we are actually just being the same as everyone else!

Recently, a friend and I were having this conversation. He’s a top-level sales person. He was starting a series of prospecting calls on CEOs and we were talking about those conversations.

As we role played the calls, they kept coming back to his company. I asked, “Why are you making this conversation about you and your services? Why can’t you keep focused on the customer?”

His thoughtful response was, “I have to differentiate myself and my company from everyone else. He needs to know who we are and why we are different?”

My response was, “Why?”

That was the “aha” moment in our conversation. What we realized in the conversation was this simple fact: In a prospecting call, what we do and how we differentiate ourselves from the alternatives is absolutely meaningless! The time for this comes, when the customer is looking at solutions, but that’s rarely in the very first call. So why do we waste their time and ours by always leaping forward to these issues?

All we are trying to do in the call is to gain enough interest for the customer to ask, “Tell me more….” We are trying to get the customer interested enough to continue the conversation, to want to meet to learn more–and ultimately, what we can do to help them, and eventually, why we are different.

But in the prospecting call, all of this is absolutely irrelevant to the objective of the call.

Our goals in any prospecting call are not to “sell” them on anything–our products/services, our great company, what sets us apart. Our goals are simply to generate enough interest to get the prospect to say, “I want to learn more….can we meet?”

To achieve this outcome from our calls, we have to make our calls about them–about the challenges and opportunities they face, about problems they may be having, about things that are happening with their customers and markets, about the things that may be or should be “keeping them up at night!”

None of this has anything to do with us, what we do or why we are different, because in this call the customer doesn’t care! All they care about are the issues they care about–or should care about. As a result, we must focus our prospecting conversations on those things.

Yet, in the majority of our prospecting calls, we never to this, we never even give the customer the chance to say, “This is what I care about.” Instead we start the conversations with, “This is what we do…..would you like to learn more?”

It turns out the real differentiation in a prospecting call is not what sets us apart from our competition, or even what we do.

The real differentiation in a prospecting call is all about the customer and what they do, what they should be doing, and how they would like to improve.

We differentiate ourselves by making the call about them.

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Apr 16 19

Driving Growth

by David Brock

Every executive I speak wants to see growth in their businesses. Growth drives revenue, it provides funding for new product or market development, which in turn drives more growth.

As sales and marketing professionals, it’s our responsibility to identify and pursue those growth opportunities. But we miss so much!

Matt Heinz referenced Gartner data in a recent LinkedIn post. It ‘s a provocative post, call this one “jumping on Matt’s bandwagon.”

The first interesting data point is: In looking at our addressable markets, at any one time, only 3-4% are active buyers.

Some might view this as very small, but it’s really a representation of the enormity of the economy. Every year, trillions of dollars (or your currency of choice) are exchanged in companies making purchases.

But there’s a huge argument that it could be and should be much more! Yet we aren’t seizing it.

The first lost opportunity is that we know, from the same Gartner research, that more than 50% of buying journeys end in “no decision made.” These are customers that intend to buy, to spend money, but fail to reach a buying decision.

What this means, is that if 3-4 % of customers are active buyers, less than 50% of them actually buy. Stated differently, our economies and markets are being driven by only 1.5-2% of the customers in our addressable markets.

We have the potential of doubling our business (and the market economy), if we help more buyers succeed in their buying journeys! The reality, is we can never get to a 100% success rate, but imagine what would happen if we captured only an additional 0.5% of the customers that are in the market to buy. This could drive as much as 30% growth!

Matt, also cites data that says, as much as 46% of the customers in our target markets are “poised to buy.” They just don’t recognize the opportunity to improve or the need to change. But this represents a huge loss on their parts (capturing growth). To capture a part of this market, we have to get the customer to think about their businesses differently. We have to help them discover the cost of inaction and incent them to change.

Imagine just capturing 1% of the customers that are are poised to buy, helping them understand why they may want to change. This opportunity is immense–worth trillions! Remember, we are only capturing 1.5-2% of the target market–which drives trillions in purchasing. Adding an additional 1% is enormous!

Largely, what I am doing is a discussion of simple mathematics. But what it demonstrates is the potential active market opportunity is far larger than what we capture. Yet we seem to focus on just that 1.5.2% of the addressable market, competing with everyone else for that opportunity, often doing unnatural acts and unnecessary discounting.

Imagine if we started looking at the broader market and the opportunity it presents.

The limitations to growth are largely due to how we address and manage the opportunity, and less issues of markets and economies.

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Apr 16 19

Compressing Our Customer’s Buying Process

by David Brock

I read a post about influencing and accelerating our customers’ buying decisions. The author thought trying to acclerate or “move in” the buying decision was wrong.

I don’t disagree–usually, our motives for trying to do this is getting an order and making out numbers. Toward the end of a month or quarter, managers seem to always focus on, “What can we move in?”

Often, we provide “incentives,” to accelerate a customers decision, usually those are some form of discount (Ironically, we are training our customers on behaviors that get the discounts. If I were a customer, out of principle, I would wait until the end of quarters and possibly “slip” the decision only to get the discount.”

Inevitably, our push to accelerate the customer decision making process, bringing in the order is self serving and creates no value for the customer.

Having said that, I think there is a powerful argument for compressing the customer buying process and helping accelerate their buying decision. A side benefit of this is getting the PO sooner.

But the real reason is to accelerate the value the customer gets from the implementation of the solution.

The only reason a customer is buying is to solve a problem or address an opportunity. The longer it takes, the more they defer making a decision, the longer it takes for them to realize the results they hope to achieve. This results in lost opportunity. It could be lost revenues, deferred cost savings, lost growth opportunity, loss of share/customers.

Whatever it is, there is a “cost” to not making a decision and implementing a solution as aggressively as possible.

Too often, our customers may get lost in their buying process, not realizing these costs or losses resulting from not making a decision. They may get caught up in “buying,” becoming distracted by the buying process, forgetting why they are buying in the first place.

Or we know our customers struggle to buy, they wander through the buying process, bouncing back and forth, changing their minds, getting lost. They simply don’t know how to buy, as a result their buying process becomes longer and longer. Or the ultimate tragedy for the customer–over 50% of these buying journeys end in no decision made.

Our obligation is to help the customers achieve their goals. We need to help them navigate their buying journey, we need to help them recognize why they are buying and the implications of slowing that buying decision–or not making a buying decision.

When we make consequences of slips in buying decisions about the customer, we are creating value for them. When we make it about ourselves, we are acting selfishly.

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