Posts Tagged ‘developing opportunities’

You Can, but you shouldn’t Can’t

by Guy Ralfe on December 16, 2009

cant textHave you noticed in business how you react when people tell you something CAN’T be done? For me it lights my fuse and I then become driven to find the solution, almost to prove them wrong. I question the persons qualifications, their intent and any optimism that my problems are going to be solved by this individual/team/organization vaporizes.

A few years back I was the person delivering this news, time and again the customer was asking for help and because we didn’t have the skills we continually told the customer it can’t be done. Looking back it was a difficult time as this approach only added fuel to the fire and caused unnecessary conflict on projects at the time.

Customers employ staff and engage companies services primarily because they lack the skills and competence themselves. Clients are there to make requests, otherwise we would not be there servicing them, so always provide an option to move the client forward – let the client be the one to decide to quit a particular request not you telling them.

To do this I see two possible routes;

  1. Let the customer know why you believe this to be risky/difficult but that you could perform a little exploratory work and then they (the customer) can make a decision.
  2. Demonstrate to the customer why it is not feasible/possible etc

In both instances you have to show that you can lead the client through the process. This builds the trust in your capabilities and, generally, they will work with you to find a mutual outcome.

Another situation that I caution is “sandbagging” your risk by making something seem overly complicated. Take two situations:

  1. Consultant advises client he is unsure if it is possible, will do some investigation / proof of concept then provide an estimate to complete.
  2. Consultant advises client this is a major technical challenge and that it will take 40-80 hrs to attempt a resolution.

When consultant A comes back after 4 hours and advises he has a potential solution and it will take a further 4 hrs to develop, the client will work with the consultant. If consultant B comes back after 6 hrs and reports the task completed and that it is available to test – the client is left overjoyed by the result but regarding your competency and skill, it will be judged as low, and you may not get the next business request.

Clients pay to receive services, that requires knowledge, expertise and a leadership offering to facilitate realizing their requests. Can’t is not a powerful option so look to see how you can make positive possibilities for your customers, even if one possibility makes them realize this is not an option – you just should not be the one saying can’t in response to a request.

A couple of years on and I have a team that has great skills, are open and engaging with our clients and our business is thriving as a result. Best, our customers keep coming back for more.

Hindsight is a beautiful thing.

Developing Opportunities

by Robert Driscoll on December 3, 2009

76092355On October 29th, the US Department of Commerce stated that the US economy grew in the third quarter for the first time in over a year, signaling the end of the worst recession in over 70 years.    Even though we are “out” of the recession, do you still feel like your customers are not buying and hesitant to move forward on projects?  Do you feel more and more pressure to bring in new opportunities for your company?  Unfortunately, regardless of the economic condition of the marketplace, as salespeople, we are required to perform as our company’s success is directly tied to our individual success.

In a previous post (What I Wish I Knew More About In Sales #2: Know What To Quit), I discussed how it’s important to learn when to quit opportunities so that you can focus more time on those that have a higher probability of closing.  Following this process in today’s difficult marketplace is more important than ever as it’s more difficult today to find qualified and real opportunities, but just as important to focus more on those opportunities that are realistic. 

In today’s post, I will discuss some basic steps that you can use to develop an ideal customer profile which are the business characteristics that your organization looks for in your customers to sell your products and services and to drive them to do so now. 

In developing the ideal customer profile, go through your list of accounts and try to answer the following questions for each one:

  1. What does your product/service do?
  2. What do your customers do in lieu of your product or service? 
  3. If they are using a competitor’s product or service, what marginal value does your product/service offer that the competitor’s does not?
  4. With your product/service, how would it improve your customers’ productivity, efficiency, security, etc…?
  5. What characteristics would cause your customer to have/care about your product/service?
  6. Without your product/service, who in the organization is likely to benefit if they were to have it (individual contributor through CEO)?

Going through your list of customers and being able to answer these questions results in:

  1. A list of information to gather to determine where we have opportunities
  2. Targeted contacts who will be interested in solving the problem

The next step is to gather information about your customers.  Decision makers are not necessarily the right contacts for gathering information.  In addition to looking at any sales history you might have and any research you can gather via the internet about your customer(s), you can also gather information from secretaries, receptionists, their sales people and their customers.

Once you have answered the questions above and gathered information about your customer(s), you are now ready to sell the appointment with a targeted executive and to truly start developing your opportunities.