Is the wise man on top of the mountain lonely? Do you remember how people searched for information 10 years ago? Are you resisting the urge to enter this in the search bar above?
If you answered YES to all the above, then you are probably over 30 and a bona-fide searchaholic. On the other hand, if you couldn’t possibly do your homework, stay current or find Mr. Taco without Google—then you could easily be 13. Archetypes may not exist on a results page, but our actions in relation to our environment do.
Search is the root of discovery, but a purchase decision is still a few clicks away. And because marketers are smart people it is not a matter of if, but when will eCommerce merge with search to become irreplaceable?
“I don’t think I could survive without Google.” ~ my Wife
Over the past few months I’ve learned a few things while starting a global online business.
One insight is that the story of the “Three Little Pigs” rings true when crafting a business plan. And emerging entrepreneurs should consider this when pitching their idea to investors.
A good start up needs a prototype of straw, and a plan built of sticks. Something flexible, but sturdy enough to withstand the first wolves at the door. However, in the launch phase the business better have a brick foundation to generate revenue… or else market irrelevance will blow you down.
Keep dreaming about creating a business, and don’t stop building your vision into something worthwhile. But never underestimate how your business idea needs to stand up to the time tested measure of durability against adversity.
And don’t worry… if you’re an entrepreneur at heart, you already have a four letter word going for you. NEXT
It’s been an incredibly interesting year, if the word interesting is a substitute for dreadful. The universal relevance of the new century recession was that it somehow touched us all—lost jobs, mortgages and icons (Michael Jackson). And when the going get’s tough, the tough rely on their strengths and prioritize their decisions.
This holiday season I think we all remembered what is really important, and that is a reason to celebrate.
Books I’ll be reading this year:
“Living the Dream… the secret to being jolly is working one day a year” an autobiography by S. Claus.
“You could even say it Glows… learn how to stand out in a crowd” a self help book by Rudolph R. Nose.
“Catch Me if You Can… tips from a global environmentalist and talking snowman” by Frosty.
The common theme in these selections is do what you’re good at and aspire to do what you love. An ongoing professional development plan to create a brighter future.
If 2009 was the year of the RESET BUTTON, then let’s wrap it up, stick it under the tree and dream of possibilities coming this new year. It’s not world peace, but it’s a start.
Though it’s been said many times, many ways… Merry Christmas.
Casual Thought Friday… “Beware of any endeavor that requires new clothes.” H.D. Thoreau
As I listened to the founder of Patagonia speak about the worthless organizational value of the wordsustainability and his ongoing work to influence Walmart, the 11th largest economy in the world, it became apparent that he never wanted to be a businessman. His passion for creating a better product and asking the right questions just made him that way.
Business is relevant to what you are trying to accomplish, and it can be anything you want to inspire. It’s one thing to expect to grow 15% every year – which will eventually outgrow the market and get bailed out by the government – and another to build great products that are part of something bigger.
If you wait to respond to your customers, then you’ve already missed the opportunity. But take it from Yvon Chouinard, check your global growth expectations and build your business around making things better. Leaving more behind with less impact ensures that future generations will have their health and the resources to continue your legacy, and that’s what it’s all about.
Casual Thought Friday… you can’t have everything, so why not find the one thing?
This holiday season, the winning retail strategy will be helping people gift their loved ones with something they really want.
Last year it was easy to predict that companies like Ebay and Overstock.com were going to be runaway favorites. This year people will be looking for a deal, but even more savvy about how to find that special something vs. settling for anything.
The relevance of social media in our lives will be a game changer in the lingering economic aftershock this Christmas. If you are paying attention to the signals like Facebook’s “How well do you know Me?” and what I’m assuming will come to pass as the Xmas List app for the iPhone, then you know exactly what to get that special someone.
It’s not the gift, it’s the thought that counts. But why can’t you have both plus the shopping experience?
As I’m searching online or wandering out into the cold this December, don’t pitch me what’s on sale—help me find the one thing I’m looking for… getting it down the chimney is negotiable.
Casual Thought Friday… how relevant is cold calling in today’s B2B Sales Strategy?
Results would indicate it is about or less effective than direct mail, which puts it around 4% effective at best. Of course there are amazing success stories, and yours truly has had more than a few. But the cold hard fact is you won’t be able to grow your business in 2010 or beyond without a marketing plan that supports dialing for dollars.
As for scripting the call, this is not the time to tell your story or cite your brochure. If there was a Biz Dev bible, it would say cold calling is about as relevant as your ability to create value (give me a reason to care) in 30 seconds or less. The person on the other end of the phone has other priorities, so out of consideration you should be able to deliver your best message in this time frame. And this also includes leaving a voicemail.
If you are lucky enough to spend more than 5 minutes on the phone, then hopefully you took advantage of the time to let them talk. The more you know the better, because you want to pitch big picture vision at the C level and sell at the influential level.
The objective of a cold call is a warmer introduction. Close the call with a “first date” invite or find out if they are attending any networking events in the near future. You don’t need a login and password to be social. The handshake may be old school, but all new business relationships begin face to face.
In the B2B world, most new business is developed through relationships. However, selling change or pitching new ideas will always create the biggest opportunities.
This dichotomy is best explained as “familiarity vs. possibility,” and every good sales and marketing person should pursue new work knowing that the incumbent service provider has a comfortable relationship with the client—translation: they probably haven’t heard any new ideas in some time.
This is your foot in the door, but new clients weren’t just sitting around waiting for your sales call and they didn’t just finish a meeting discussing the problem you propose to solve. Therefore, the pitch is not about you. It is always about the client.
You are only as relevant as their problem, and your pitch has to be empathetic of their situation. The budget, timelines and resources in your proposal need to be proportional to their business objectives, and for every decision maker you will need an influencer to support your cause internally.
You can help this cause by allowing your influencers to play along. Let them share their subject matter expertise and guide them to developing the best solution.
Change is most frightening to others when there are definitive terms, and it is OK not to have all the answers. Act like you have thought of everything and you risk taking them out of the process—then they will be asking what’s in it for them?
Selling Change: A B2B Sales and Marketing Strategy (Recap)
Understand your prospective client’s industry. Know the company framework, how they make decisions and what influences those decisions. Be empathetic to their situation and how receptive they will be to change. Create value, propose relevant solutions and always calculate your odds of winning before you decide to play the game.
Once you decide to play, swing for the fences… and best of luck!
The funny thing about change is it does not adhere to any rules, and in business there is not a shared work calendar with CHANGE MEETING booked in the conference room on every other Tuesday. So remember that when you are selling change your audience is on the defense because they didn’t see you coming, and client insight and industry foresight are your elements of surprise.
The four company frameworks (Structural, Human Resource, Political and Symbolic) will respond to your change proposal according to their culture. And before you pass GO and talk money, you must fully understand their situation. If in doubt, don’t even pick up the phone unless you can clearly communicate in 30 seconds or less how your solution is relevant to their business.
The litmus test: a compelling idea gets you to the next step, and nothing fails faster than a clumsy sales pitch.
Timing is everything. When you sell change, be aware that you are rearranging priorities. Right now, companies are looking at 2010 initiatives and trying to figure out what will make the biggest impact for the least amount of investment. The logistics of your pitch better generate ROI in six months or less—or your odds of winning have dropped significantly.
In B2B sales your task is to be forever optimistic, because selling change to a client is a win-win scenario. And even if your best pitch fails, the lasting impression you should leave them with is… if not now, when?
The Symbolic Company (ex: Nike, NFL, Anheuser-Busch )
Every company loves having these brands on their client list. They are dynamic, well recognized and easily add to your reputation to deliver innovative results—because the Symbolic Company framework is about being an industry leader.
Central Concepts: culture, ritual, ceremony, stories, heroes
Decision Process: inspiration
The business atmosphere of the Symbolic Company is like a carnival. Everything is big, bold and nothing is competitor imitation. These traits make them the most receptive to change because if nobody else is doing it, they could be first.
These companies lead with reputation and the product is a result of their vision. When pitching these companies you need to be bleeding edge relevant, and your solution needs to keep faith in the brand and give it meaning.
The sales process can be painfully long at times and might come with an RFP, depending on whether or not they are justifying the budget with ROI. But avoid giving away your best work and ideas for the promise of future work, or the carrot on the end of the stick.
Map out your plan and make decisions based on the scope of the project at hand—because once the decision is made you better be ready to jump.
The Political Company (ex: Municipalities, Non-Profits & Associations)
Be mindful as you pitch the Political Company, because this will be your toughest sell. Not because they are unwilling to change, but the framework of this organization is reluctant to hear outside ideas because they are often struggling internally on multiple agendas.
Central Concepts: power, conflict, organizational politics
Decision Process: develop agenda and power base
Political companies must adhere to strict budgets, and their financial assets are measured in grants, federal and state programs, donors and volunteers. Every decision must appeal to these stakeholders.
The nature of this framework is to drive every project through the RFP process and there is little wiggle room for innovation—as most of these projects have been waiting their turn in the line of development priority.
Any solution being pitched to this organization is best targeted straight to the top or at the board making the decision. You must stay at or under budget, deliver expected results, and have answers for these internal questions: Who will take this on? Who will be responsible for it?
If you are out of position (the slightest bit irrelevant to the RFP objective), then you should calculate your odds of winning before investing resources to the sales process.