At weekend markets, some farm stands have lines out the booth, while others remain deserted. See what the winners are getting right. Read my Inc blog “Get New Customers: Tricks from the Greenmarket“
Latest "Prospecting" Posts
Taking cheap shots at the Post Office is too easy. One joke says that half the price of a stamp is for delivery and the other half is for storage. But I say postage stamps are the biggest bargain in America. Read my CBS MoneyWatch blog “Go Postal for Prospects”
Check out my blog on MoneyWatch! Have you brushed up on your Art of War lately?
(image courtesy of flickr user juliejordanscott cc)
Check out today’s Inc.com blog from my interview with prospecting expert, Jill Konrath.
I was recently interviewed for a very interesting book, “The Masters of Consulting Interviews: 9 Interviews with the World’s Leading Consultants.”
There are a lot of consultants out there. I affectionately refer to them as “unemployed, but with skills and a business card.” They are looking for a job, but to make ends meet they are selling their services as a “consultant” on a contract basis until a full-time job comes along.
This book is not about them.
Michael Zipursky from Business Consulting Buzz put this book together to capture the best practices of trusted advisers and professional consultants. Through these 9 interviews, he covered a broad-ranging set of topics like:
- How to make money, charge and create a sense of value?
- How do you find new prospects after you have tapped every person you ever met?
- What are typical mistakes, misunderstandings and misconceptions about the role of a consultant?
- What is expertise, how do you value it and how do you claim your own?
If you think about just this sample, it doesn’t take very long to figure out that this is about a lot more than just consulting. The applications for revenue generators and professional sales people is immediately apparent.
I am Interview #6 and to be honest, I don’t pull any punches. I am a fairly jaded past purchaser of consulting services and can tell you quickly whether a consultant brings value or just billable hours. I try to cover that value equation in my interview.
I encourage you to pick up a copy if you are in the business of generating individual trust with clients and securing their commitment to value at a 1:1 level.
I read a lot of books in my line of work, but as you may have noticed, I recommend hardly any. However, the best book I have read on selling this year so far is Oren Klaff’s “Pitch Anything.”
When I first heard from my friend Daniel Waldschmidt that I “…had to read this book, it is the best ever…” I was immediately skeptical. I have a lot of respect for Daniel, but he’s a superlative guy and things are measured at “worst” or “best” only with know other evaluation scores considered.
But, he was right.
Klaff takes the reader through his core ideas of gaining the upper hand in tough sales presentations, recognizing dead-ends and idea-stealing meetings. As well as how to keep your composure when the buyer is hoping to break it. Trust me, it’s not all negative and fighting for your life skills training. However, Oren comes from the world of pitching ideas to the jaded venture capitalist and private investor market and these guys are “Shark Tank” on a cocktail of steroids and RedBull™.
If you sell complex deals to very senior executives, you want to download or order this book today. I am working through my 2nd reading of it, (never do that), and I have highlighted something on about every page.
Oren’s site is: http://www.pitchanything.net
You can buy “Pitch Anything” on Amazon:
Many prospects are suspicious of their potential providers. They feel like someone is always playing fast and loose with the truth. The technique I am writing about today arms your prospect with the right information and questions to give them the edge in the buying process. The trick is that this approach squarely puts your company in the strongest position. This magic trick frames the untruths and partial truths of your competitors.
The 7 Deadly Sins
For us, the 7 Deadly Sins represent the “You Must Not Do’s” of your client making a buying decision in your market space. By establishing what they are, how big a mistake they create and the questions that a prospect should ask when meeting with potential vendors, you have created trust with your prospect as well as educated them on how to avoid really big mistakes.
The following illustration is just an example. I recommend that you develop your own “7 Deadly Sins of Selecting a ______________ Partner” that is relevant to your market and industry. You will be giving the prospect these 7 Deadly Sins, written from their perspective, for them to have and use as they interview other possible competitors to you. Again, this is only an example.
7 Deadly Sins
- Certification – Ask every potential partner if they have the XYZ certification for all of their staff and locations. Many players in our market may have one or two individuals certified, but they do not have their entire staff certified, or their entire facility certified.
“Congratulations, You’re My 11th Biggest Customer”
What’s it like to be someone’s “11th Biggest Customer”?
In the constant sales competition with bigger companies for bigger deals, at some point, if you are smaller, your size is going to become an issue. This can be in an obvious way or in a subtle way- even unstated. However, if you are competing with a company who is much bigger than you are, often that competitor looks like a safer bet than you. You have to turn their size against them- and that’s not easy, it takes a little magic.
Here is the magic trick -
Ask your prospect, “Who is your 11th biggest customer for your company?” As they fumble through the list in their mind, drop in this second question, “What’s it like to be somebody’s 11th biggest customer?”
You’ve set up the conversation about size, trust and promises. Be careful, it would be easy to swing on the point with an eight-pound sledgehammer when just a finishing hammer is necessary. Here’s how the rest of the conversation should go -
You: “Being out of the top 10 shows up in a lot of ways in a business relationship- not always up front, but over time, the bigger clients always get the first attention in any of our businesses. I would encourage you to ask anyone you are considering for this project/program/purchase/partnership where you will fall in the order of size of their clients. Just for reference, you will be my 3rd biggest customer, (fill in the blank with the correct number in the top 10 for your company or your personal book of business).”
It’s simple – we all know that being 11th sucks.
I was flying with a senior engineer from one of the top 5 aerospace companies in the world this week as he was on a trip to meet with a number of his suppliers around the country. He’s been an engineer on the supply chain management side for years in several different very large companies. I asked him his thoughts on smaller suppliers- how can they get into a big company, how can they grow their business and what are some of the common mistakes. A couple things I got from our conversation include:
The traditional answers came up, but some nuggets came out. Industry networking – figure out a way to connect to the senior people at trade shows. Read the papers and articles in the industry and contact those authors who are active engineers in the companies with whom you would like to do business. LinkedIn is an emerging way to reach out to senior people and he is seeing more social media connection going on, especially in the specialty groups that are formed inside of LinkedIn and other SM platforms.
He saw my eyes roll and he laughed, but he tried to reassure me that this is still a good way to get in. His point was that starting at the top and working on getting an executive sponsor in Procurement/Purchasing/SCM is still the right move. Most small companies look at these areas as processes to follow or areas to avoid. However, his point is that the executives in these areas get big points for bringing in good suppliers who solve problems.