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Managing Expections: A Story of Opportunity Blown

The number one reason why client engagements end is that business owners have unrealistic expectations about what it takes to compete and win, particularly in this difficult economic environment. I have, in prospecting adventures, spoken with sales leaders and owners who tell me that one demo or meeting a month is NEVER enough for them (even though when I get a demo or meeting it is sales ready and fully, and I mean FULLY, qualified). One guy I had spoken with about 2 years ago, upon learning how my fractional business worked, was like I need five demos a week to happen. To which, I told him, he would probably need five or 10 people making calls on a full time basis - which 1) he could NEVER afford and 2) given he sold data center technology - was unlikely to happen anyway with such long sales cycles and such.

Recently, I had a client engagement end. They were selling a B2B combination "app" and desktop solution for sales productivity. Something I could sell in my sleep and even partner with them to build an even better tool and provide services.

So, we go to market. They had been out there under a different name, but failed to really gain traction. This time - they had a more relevant name, they had support, even investor interest. I used their sales productivity tool which was OK, used their own lists of contacts, and even had some leads to follow up on. In the four months I worked with them, the equivalent of 2 weeks level of effort, they had 4 meeetings including one kind of strategic deal. They ended the relationship on a Friday and on Tuesday, I had a call that the deal was likely to go forward - covering most, if not all of my costs. And, they had a nice pipeline building with folks who were interested, some now, some later - some wanted different functionality added. Fairly typical situation.

Well, in spite of what was developing into a real success. They ended the engagement - citing my fees as reasonable and the effort good, this is what was stated:

"Well, as you know, we expected to have more interest. We expected to build an app and have people download it and use it and a LOT more people. Plus, the support from the partner - it wasn't what we expected".

Let's interpret that: What we wanted was for a billion people to download a b2b sales productivity app and use it as is, with no need for enhancement, and for our partner to drive us lots of leads, so that we could sit on our ASS and make hand over fist money. We really just wanted to to make a phone call or two, hit it, and generate a ton of demos, and follow up on the billion inquiries.

Let me say that I abhor people like this, people who spend little investment and time, developing some "app" that they think is revolutionary - feel that they have no need to meet customer needs, provide service, know nothing about what sales and marketing really involves, and expect to get rich. Even Zynga is just a passing fad.

Had they taken the real development/entrepreneurial route and invested time, money, and effort in building out their tool (which was OK, but honestly, probably didn't meet the needs of 75% of the sales/marketing people today), they may have had a winner on their hands - something that could be a $25 - $50K - real solution.

Maybe they will invest more time and money into the "Golden App" for the next time, my feeling is like a great meal that looks lovely at first blush, successive efforts will come out as another poop going down the toilet.

Permalink 08/04/13 -- 01:12:53 pm, Categories: Announcements [A]

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