Thursday, 12 May 2011

Maybe it's not what you are selling, but who you are selling it to!

Ever consider turning your sales world on it's head, when the product or service you are selling does not seem to have the compelling market need you had hoped it might? You probably have heard plenty of strange and funny uses of conventional products. One of my favourite is Canadian Dry Club Soda. Just a few examples of what it can be used for, other than drinking includes;

- Clean diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. Simply soak the gems in Canada Dry Club Soda.
- Make fluffy pancakes and waffles. Substitute Canada Dry Club Soda for the liquid used in the recipes.
- Make a poor man's lava lamp. Fill a glass with Canada Dry Club Soda and drop in two raisins. The carbonation will cause the raisins to repeatedly bob to the surface and they sink again.

And the list goes on.

But there is an element of reality in most humorous situations. To go to the other extreme just think about Apple in the 1980s. They thought they were selling personal computing to everyone. They believed that users would switch from IBM and DEC because of the gains in productivity and creativity. They were wrong, big corporations thought that Macintosh was a poor relative in terms of computing power and performance. But they didn't fundamentally change their product, they changed their target market. Macintosh recognised that the product was brilliant for Desk Top Publishing (plus a lot more since) and that's where they put their focus. And the rest as they say is history.

So whether you are a multinational, or more likely if you are reading this blog, a one-man-band, or SME, who might be a new target market for you? Maybe your market is different to what you think it is - you just haven't seen the wood for the trees yet.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Take your time - Its a stew not a steak

One of the great business challenges of our age is 'Time Management'. I am a big fan and have far too many books and read far too many blogs on the subject. Experts explain about how to schedule and plan your time in a plethora of different ways. One group will preach about how critical it is to operate a 'To-Do' list, while another will tell you that the last thing you want to use is a 'To-Do' list. You will be told to operate a strategy of 'Do It Now' by some and others, that you should 'Do It Tomorrow'.

In a selling environment my advise is be willing to take your time - don't try and do things too quickly, particularly with regard to building relationships and understanding clients' needs. In high value, long sales cycles, what is the point of trying to cram all the elements necessary to win the business into a short time frame? Half the time the environment into which you are trying to sell will be a 'movable feast' anyway, so work at a pace that allows you to build strong relationships and understanding of needs, while at the same time having the flexibility to adapt to unforeseen developments and changes.

Think about identifying all the parallel tracks that you need to manage in order to secure the business and allocate time and target dates for each. In Time Management 'speak' create a Timeline Plan for each element and then let the whole process percolate, under your watchful eye as the chef.

Your cooking a stew that needs plenty of time and lots of different ingredients added at the right moment and in the right proportions - not frying a minute steak!

Ingredients might include;
Access to Power
Timelines Established
Budget Requirements
Buying Process
Prospect Profile
Proof Points
Core Values
Adoption Probability
Solution Alignment
Contract Negotiations
Up selling