Sunday, November 16, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Wade Burgess, Vice President of Sales and Marketing
Is it accurate to say that the best relationships are formed by happenstance? Probably not exactly but it is certain that they weren’t forced either. Your business and personal life are best cultivated by knowing who you are, what you want, and creating the right circumstances to expand your potential.
This month’s article can actually function as a mini workshop if you choose. Bring your team together and discuss the questions at the end of each paragraph. I’d love to hear your results.
One of the most unfortunate stereotypes in our culture is the car buying experience. From the moment the Model T hit critical mass in the market the American dream included riding through the landscape in a beautiful automobile. Whether you drive a minivan orMaybach, Honda or Hummer it’s exciting to buy a new vehicle. Or better stated it’s exciting to own a new automobile. Somehow the buying experience is one similar to visiting the dental office. This should not be so. The dealership sells cars. You buy cars. This is a match made in heaven.
- Where does the disconnect occur?
- Does your industry experience similar problems?
- Does it ever feel like you’re forcing your solutions on your customer or do they feel like they are buying them?
- What are you doing right or wrong to create this feeling?
My wife loves shopping at stores with a live piano player and latte stand (and I don’t mind accompanying her there since those are the only two items in the store I can appreciate). She can browse the latest and the most time tested. She can ask for help or be left alone. In the end, it’s a pleasant experience because these establishments realize an open dialogue combined with expertise in your field will help your customers find the right solution and increase your closing ratio (and margins). It’s entirely possible that the prospect will not buy today but if the experience is exceptional enough she will remember the emotion and be an excellent customer tomorrow. Once you have established this relationship with your client it’s a rare occasion that a purchase is not made, even if they aren’t actively looking for anything today.
- How can you apply this to your business? Be specific.
- Do your customers love the experience and atmosphere you create?
- Does this atmosphere portray prestige-quality and value?
- Does it encourage buying today?
Ask any hiring manager who the best candidates are. Without exception you’ll find that it’s the people who are not actively looking. The employee who is dedicated, has the blinders on, and is highly productive is the person we’re all looking for. After all, who wants to hire the person that is always looking and never settled? Take this mentality to your sales pipeline. Are you only pursuing prospects that are actively looking for vendors? Often the companies who are constantly looking for vendors are a big pain to work with once you land them. They cycle through vendors the same way an employee may cycle through employers, always blaming the other party for their problems and lack of performance. What if you looked for solid, loyal prospects that may not be actively looking for your product or service? They don’t have an RFP out, they aren’t calling you, and they may not even show up for your big events. If they are tough to win away from your competition, be grateful. This is a key of a company who understands loyalty and will be a better customer in the long run. The best people, vendors, and customers are worth cultivating and investing in.
- What are you currently doing to develop relationships with prospects that are not actively pursuing new vendors?
- Think of customers you no longer service. Did they have a history of changing vendors or businesses?
- Can you use this information to better profile the right customers to pursue in the future?
- Are there web forums, community organizations, affiliations, or tools in your industry that you can use to find passive prospects (those that aren’t actively looking)?
- Consider the tools good recruiters use to find passive job seekers. What else can you do to brand yourself with these prospects?
Remember that people make emotional decisions. Regardless of how much we like to think we are logical, the emotional aspect does come into play. All things being equal, people will do business with people they like. All things not being equal, we still do business with people we like if possible. Be known as an expert, not a know-it-all. Be everywhere but not in-your-face. Be open and honest but in a professional way. There is one topic your prospect cares about more than anything in the world; themselves. If you are a person or company they feel comfortable with you’ll be in the front of the line when opportunity comes along. The best may not be looking today. But they will be. The key is to be there when they are. It’s not about how many people you have on your prospect list; it’s about how many people have you on their solution provider list.
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Getting Your Vision into Focus
Wade Burgess, Vice President of Sales and Marketing
The Power Of Us. I know that’s not a grammatically correct sentence (or a complete statement) but since attending a video conference of the Tour de Force event recently I can’t seem to shake the message. We can learn a lot from observing major trends and recently successful companies. This idea is simple; work together with other great people and companies. How can you capitalize on this concept in your business? Read on to learn how one company will hit 10 figures THIS YEAR using The Power Of Us.
Salesforce.com was founded in 1999 by former Oracle executive Marc Benioff, who pioneered the concept of delivering enterprise applications via a simple Web site. They are now the worldwide leader in on-demand customer relationship management (CRM) services and the poster child for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). I distinctly remember many naysayers exclaiming how you couldn’t take CRM to the web, nor could you unseat leaders like Goldmine, ACT! and others. This year Salesforce will hit $1 B in revenue. A billion. In 8 years. I have clothes older than that. So what does this mean for your business? Quite a lot, I would imagine if you’re willing to put some thought into it.
Benioff’s vision was pretty simple on the surface. He knew that CRM users were primarily sales teams that wanted a system to manage and improve the sales process, margins, and customer communications. His company took responsibility for everything that was not core to his customers’ needs. They did the building, maintaining, hosting, staffing, developing and managing of infrastructure, hardware, bandwidth, facilities and all of the other factors that go into a successful business application. If you’re not technically inclined, stick with me here. Marc understood that his customers wanted to sell more products and maintain better relationships with their clients. They didn’t want to manage IT or fight with their internal IT departments over budgets and time lines. They wanted solutions right away, not after months of project timelines to get new apps installed. Salesforce delivered and started to expand the philosophy into other areas of business.
Understand I’m not pushing Saleforce here; I’m not even a customer of theirs. But I am a big fan of helping clients focus on their core competency and listening to their needs. Find out what your clients REALLY want, not just what you want to sell them or what you’re currently capable of. If you build a business around the concept of filling a true need your customers will love you and you’ll find business much more enjoyable. Be warned, it will stretch you and your concept of what is possible. Any great personal or business endeavor will stretch your thinking and cause you to come up with solutions to previously unanswered questions. That’s the thrill of it. Be willing to go there. Take the plunge to 100% dedication and you just may be surprised at who you’ll pass along the way.
The second major phase change Salesforce engaged in was to reach out to the software development community and allow them to access their infrastructure. As you can imagine, Salesforce has hundreds of millions of dollars invested in this infrastructure so why would they open it up to others? They knew that a programmer or development company is really good at programming. So what if they didn’t have to spend time and money putting servers, data centers, and databases together? What if they could leverage an infrastructure that already existed and just create really cool software to sell or use? I’m not a techie but I’d guess that was a pretty good message. And the market would prove it. Thus far over 61,200 applications have been built in this environment. Proof that you don’t have to be a genius in everything to make it big. Just be really good at what you do and find ways to allow others to leverage your strengths in ways that can be mutually beneficial.
On a small scale that is what we do at OurTech Solutions. Most of our clients are not in the field of technology nor do they care to be. They have taxes to file, cases to defend, real estate to appraise, and develop, manage, and sell, refrigeration units to sell and service, fences to build, patients to see, candidates to place, trailers to sell, trucks to drive, etc. So we manage their IT for them and become a business partner. We noticed that our clients wanted a predictable cost and unlimited access to us. So we delivered it and they appreciate us for it. Our customers are great at what they do and that drives us to be great at what we do.
We also found that many IT companies are very good at working on computers, servers, and responding to technology 911 calls. But they are often undercapitalized or light on staffing the business operations of the company. So we offer a platform that they can utilize to further advance their technology offerings and stabilize their cash flows. Much like the Salesforce platform for developers, our network management platform (the OurTech Manager) enables our affiliates to focus on what they do best.
If you are not in IT I have three pieces of advice. First, count your blessings. (Just kidding, for all you techies). Second, find ways to take on more responsibilities and allow your customers to focus on their core strengths. Third, see if there is a way to leverage infrastructure you already have in place and help your peers and customer to their jobs better. Remember a rising tide lifts all ships.