I remember my days selling Microsoft Office & Lotus Smart Suite, Lotus Notes [Domino] & MS Exchange, Oracle Work Group Edition & MS SQL Server, SCO UNIX Openserver & MS Windows NT. Depending on who I am selling to or who I am selling against, I used to propose one of these two competing products. And bet on it for the rest of the sales process in that account.
Tough call. I hear that.
When you work with a distributor carrying competing products, it’s always a tough call.
There was a cellphone operator called Skycell. I learnt from the market that they were on the look out for a groupware solution. I took my colleague from the consulting team [who was technically far superior to me] for the call. We decided to propose Lotus notes even before landing up there. Don’t ask me how we decided on that. During the call, the manager whom we met asked us what do we propose. We looked at each other and took a risk and said Lotus Notes. Rest is history. We not only sold but also implemented. We were with them & saw them reap benefits from it. That account became an anchor client for us.
I remember what Don Peppers, a Thought Leader in Customer Experience, Marketing & Sales said. He was looking at a sales person at a shoe store during Christmas sale. The sales person was recommending only American shoes to every customer. He was surprised. When the sales guy took a break, Don went up to him and asked him why is he referring only American Shoes whereas the store carries Nike, Reebok etc. He asked him if American shoes offers him more commission or his manager asked him to sell or what. The sales guy said: “None of those are reasons. American shoes come pre-laced whereas the other shoes don’t. I will spend 4 mins lacing up each pair & that would affect sales. Customers will walk away.”
Who is the customer here? Think about it.
Lotus got acquired by IBM but it took 18 years for them to retire Lotus Symphony and contribute the code to Apache Open Office. You should narrow the focus to grow big. Just like Fred Luca decided to focus on one type of sandwich, the submarine sandwich when other delicatessens sold a hundred things. You may not have heard of Fred Luca but I am sure you have heard of his company Subway.
Two Takeaways in this post:
Find who is your real customer and sell to him/her.
Narrow the focus if you want customers to remember you for “one thing”.
That was a time, a friend of mine & I were deeply engrossed in discussions on what to start. I was running a small Professional IT Services firm & he was employed with an IT major then.
We met during the weekends and spoke about everything under the sun. We kept our eyes and ears open & saw what was happening in the market.
Once, he had just returned back home after a short trip to the US. He asked me if we should develop a taxi hailing app. That was much before “Taxi For Sure” or Ola in India or Uber in the US. I am not sure what happened next and why we didn’t jump into that at that point in time.
I have learnt one thing in life. You have to take risks. There’s no easy route to success. And it’s never late. There’s always an opportunity. Or ways to differentiate what already exists.
If you are chasing a dream of starting up on your own, I advise you to start it as a side gig and work on it passionately outside of your 9-5 job. Rajiv Srivatsa, COO of Urban Ladder, an online furniture retailer said, in Aug 2018: “In the next 20 years, the strongest brands in any category will start purely online, reach out through the power of these marketplaces, and, as they build a sustainable brand, look at other channels to expand to.”
Before I get to that, in today’s world, you exist only if you are in #Instagram, #LinkedIn, #Facebook etc. Right / Wrong?
Couple of things to do:
Post regularly on your subject matter.
Share other people’s insightful posts. [like this one :)]
Like & Share valuable comments on other’s posts. [I encourage you to start with my post :)]
Have a social media playbook.
Have social media goals.
Create a content calendar.
Stay on course.
LinkedIn Social Selling Index is a measure of how effective you are in:
a) establishing your personal brand
b) finding the right people
c) engaging with insights
d) building relationships
B2B buyers like to deal with Sales professionals who have been referred by someone they know or trust. So, it is important to connect with people in your industry and build trust and confidence. They may be referring you to someone they know who might fit your buyer persona.
Here’s my SSI in this pdf. I dropped from a score of 78 to 72 now. This is computed daily.
You can find yours here: https://www.linkedin.com/sales/ssi
Videos are going to take a big chunk of your interactions with customers, going forward.
If you can’t be there in person, then videos are the next best thing.
What’s more? Videos can be saved & played over & over again.
If you are like me, looking at starting off with videos, now’s the time to do that.
1. Duration of 90 seconds or thereabouts should be fine. 2. Smile. 3. Be Happy. We can see that in your video & no one wants to see a sad face ever. 4. Ensure good lighting. 5. Look at the camera. [Not at yourself. Don’t care about your shirt etc. I didn’t mean you can wear a crumpled shirt. You get it!] 6. Just be human. 7. Just one idea per #video.
When the replay of the webinar becomes available, I will share it with you all here.
Stay tuned. [for the tips & tricks as I go along].