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What Do Icebergs Have To Do With Selling?

by David Brock on December 3rd, 2018

Yeah, I know it’s a tired analogy, but icebergs are still useful in thinking about marketing and selling.

We all know about icebergs, the part of the iceberg we see is dwarfed by the part of the iceberg that’s under the water and we don’t see.

We face the same with our marketing and sales efforts.  Our focus is on what we see–customers actively engaged in the buying process.  And typically. we see them after they have been looking at make a change for some time.  We all know the data–the customer is 57-90% through their buying process before they engage sales.

We focus all our efforts and most of our money on the part that is visible–the tip or the iceberg.  But we ignore the opportunity below the surface, the stuff we don’t see, but is still there.  What we see are those organizations/people who recognize they need to change and have embarked on a buying process.

There’s some that’s just a little below the surface, some number of people/organizations beginning to realize they may need to change.  They may not yet be in a buying process, but are thinking about the issues.  They may be looking at what others are doing, hearing things at conferences, looking at things marketing may be sending them which get them to think about the issue.

But what about those that are deeper, where the real mass of the iceberg is?  They aren’t aware they may be missing an opportunity.  They may not be aware there are things they should change, that they could do better.  For the most part, they are happy/satisfied with the status quo, doing what they always have been doing.

Our marketing and other types of awareness programs will not reach these people–even if we are sending things to them.  They don’t pay attention to the normal outreach because they don’t believe they have reason to.  They simply don’t know what they don’t know.

This represents the bulk of the market, the huge mass that composes most of the iceberg.  The part of the market that represents the real opportunity, but is unlikely to respond to our normal outreach.

How do we get to that big part of the iceberg?  How do we get to those that are beyond our normal outreach, but should be thinking about the issues and driving changes in their organizations?

Sales people, particularly sales people that can speak to customer/industry issues with real insight, become the driver in this process.  Helping customers understand what they don’t know, helping them discover there may be an opportunity to change and improve, moves them to the visible part of the iceberg or that part just below the surface.  Not all of them will be interested–at least immediately, but we can incite some of them to change.

Why limit ourselves to just the visible market opportunity?  We can accelerate our impact and growth by looking below what’s visible.

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