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Get the Business: Less is More and Stop the BS

Recently, I have had a couple of clients ask me to help them with more specific lead generation tasks. Drive people to a booth at a major trade show and help them get more demos. I was handed a list of companies and told to execute.

In the one case titles of people were provided, some in technology, some lower level, some in a different area. I did some digging and found key people within the companies that would buy the client's solution. A discussion ensued about the right approach for this effort, do you drive people to demos or the booth who may attend or do you go after key buyers who may actually look at a demo and BUY.

I said to my clients), what is your goal here? Do you want demos and booth traffic or do you want real qualified business? In fact, in these cases, having a technology person FIRST scrutinize the solution may raise an obstacle in that this becomes a technical rather than functional sale. I want the functional users/buyers to look first at my solution and determine whether it is better and more cost/beneficial functionally then worry about the tech stuff - the compatibility, security, and maintenance (with SAAS that isn't even a consideration). I also told my client, dontcha think that driving a lot of booth visitors or a stream of demos to people who never will take another step forward makes you look pretty bad? Well, we had fifty booth visitors or fifty demos, but only two people decided on a next step meeting? Wha? How do you explain using resources for that?

Some people believe - well - get them to a demo and once they see it, they may change their mind. While that may be true in SOME cases, it isn't in all - particularly if your solution is very similiar to the competition, has no "wow" factor, doesn't add any real additional value or meaningful value, or lacks generally. And it means nothing if they signed a 3 to 5 year competitive contract, have some type of relationship that prevents them from switching, or aren't the right person to really make the decision. You also may run the risk of showing a solution to a person who will blab off to the competitor about your solution and hurt yourself.

I'd rather have five booth visitors that are the right people and will buy - maybe even sign a preliminary promise document on the show floor than fifty who go "interesting, not my area". I'd rather have 1 or 2 demos with people who really are looking and doing a competitive analysis than 10 with people who are "interesting, hands are tied for 2 more years". *(In two years, your product or the competitions can evolve more, you can charge more money, etc).

I don't want to waste my time, I don't like my time wasted either, with unqualified situations unless I am getting something out of it - like competitive information, feature input, or market research - that is different. But, if the goal is to "get business" then the means need to be centered around getting business - in this case - LESS can be MORE.

Permalink 01/01/13 -- 12:55:05 pm, Categories: Announcements [A]

When More Equals Less: The Full Time Hire Dilemma

As written in an earlier post, a long time client terminated my services earlier this year in a rather unprofessional manner. One of the reasons was that they were hiring a full time person to carry on duties. The VP of Sales did not want me - a vendor - to continue because the limited time I devoted to their biz dev effort wasn't enough. As expected, six months to the date, the full time employee listed the company as "PAST" on her LinkedIN profile - a kid out of school, around the holidays. I can't think of any situation worse than that, being that I was in that situation time and again.

The truth is, that company, like others did not need a full time marketing or sales person. More calls and more activity does not translate to more business, particularly when you have a murky market, message, or questionably fit product. More of something will lead to less of anything when there is no clear traction or lack of understanding of what it takes to really market to and reach your customers. You need to spend the time figuring all of that out clearly and ensure it is sustainable before investing heavily in sales/marketing resources and supporting effort.

I usually tell my clients that when I make X calls and 1 of X results in a meeting and closure more predictably or people begin calling back or calling you (due to research), then you don't need me anymore. Then you can scale and hire a bunch of kids out of school and really go to town. But until then, a couple of part time people to get there is all you need. You can save a lot of money, heartache, reputational issues, and taxes by reducing the pain of unemployment. And if this doesn't happen within a reasonable time period, then maybe the question isn't about "who to hire" maybe it is about whether you have a sustainable business and market desired product in the first place - save yourself the pain and heartache and fold the company.

My former client probably should have continued with me in a limited fashion, working on who the target is, the messaging, delving deeper into the "why" behind the product. *(Interestingly enough, I was doing that with the client - having long detailed conversations with decision makers. The VP of Sales made it clear that he did not want me doing this and "just get to the meeting".) With the manner circulating around the relationship end, on top of the fact they did that to that poor junior person, I will not work with them - ever - again. Even if the junior person lacked competency, still the fault of the company for not taking care of her properly. More definitely equated to less here, burning is only good for bushes - not much else.

Permalink 01/01/13 -- 12:18:50 pm, Categories: Announcements [A]

The Period is In the Wrong Spot or Where the Hell are Your Priorities?

When I worked as a Sales Intelligence Manager, I once sat with my boss and asked for a review of a sales intelligence plan. The plans were dossiers of key business, technology, and contact information designed to enable a sales person to quickly obtain all the account information required to develop account strategies, initial contact scripts, and proper target information. He, a super salesman, skimmed over the plan and announced - "you have a couple of periods in the wrong spot" and seeing my frustration cross my face, could not understand what the problem was.

I had a boss once who looked at a proposal and reamed me out because a period wasn't visible. Recently, a client -during a discussion about yet another company that stated they had a solution they were married to - commented that there "was an extra space in my email" which was not the message intended to be sent. Really?

What is lost on these people is that prospects don't care about one or a couple of periods or an extra line in an email. Granted, if there are horrific grammatical and spelling errors - that is one thing - illiteracy will definitely send a poor message about quality. But a period out of sight, unless it contextually changes the meaning of a sentence in a price quote, is of zero consequence. Considering prospects SKIM information, they aren't paying attention to truly stupid stuff - in fact, the message sent is that YOU (Mr. Boss or Mr. Client) really don't get it and that is even more concerning to me.

1. In the sales intelligence case, it wasn't the periods I was concerned about, it was the content - was it enough, from a salesperson's context to generate the value propositions, value statements, and critical business cases to actually fulfill the goal of the plan as researched?
2. In the case of the price quote/proposal, was the information presented clearly and accurately so that the propsect would understand it?
3. In the case of the email with the client, the issue was over the fact the prospect was married to a solution - a clear market trend and a concerning one. Not over the email itself.

Anyone who responds to an inquiry of such nature with a first comment that the "look and feel" or period is in the wrong place is out of touch with what is important to real success. First is the addressing of the real issue at hand, secondly or thirdly is the remark that the period is out of place. Anyone who states otherwise is headed for trouble.

Permalink 01/01/13 -- 11:59:02 am, Categories: Announcements [A]
 

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