Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Best Aren't Looking

From February 2008 OurTech Network Update

Create circumstances to expand your potential.

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 or Maybach, 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.