I recently had a conversation about some marketing initiatives. As we were outlining our objectives, I was asked the question, “How much are you comfortable spending on this initiative?” While this is a very common question – it is the wrong one. This is the kind of question that leads to poor execution. It is also one of the reasons people who are not sales and marketing people look at marketing with disdain.
The right question is actually a series of four or five questions. As you are planning your 2007 marketing program, I encourage you to ask them.
- Question 1: What do we want to accomplish? Or, what is the result we want?
- Question 2: What will it take and/or what we will have to do to accomplish our intention?
- Question 3: What resources (time, money and energy) will be required to complete the actions that you determined by answering question 2?
- Question 4: Are we comfortable and/or capable of expending these resources (time, money and energy)?
If the answer to this question is ‘no’, then you must go through the following additional decision tree:
- Sub-question: Are we comfortable accepting a result below our initial desires?
- If the answer is yes, then repeat questions 1 – 4.
- If the answer is no, then you must consider whether the effort should be taken at all.
While this approach requires both marketers and executives to think more, it is the only process that has any chance of working over the long term.
As I’ve discussed previously (here and here), one of the underlying requirements is to allocate your limited resources (time, money and energy) effectively against those activities that have the best chance of advancing the organization towards its critical objectives.
I’ve seen too many organizations work extraordinarily hard without achieving their desired fast-growth results. One of the major causes is that they under-invest in too many initiatives. Under-investing is the result of focusing on a desired budget instead of focusing on the desired result. Don’t make that mistake.
The key to building a great pipeline is great messaging. The foundation of a great message is in your Brand Promise. Simply put, your Brand Promise tells a prospect or customer how they will be better off if they work with you.
Your prospects and customers are bombarded daily with information. To break through, you must be compelling. To be compelling, you must have an excellent messaging strategy. Your Brand Promise is the foundation of all your messaging including your Elevator Speech.
On Thursday, December 21, 2007, I will be hosting a special briefing on how to create a compelling Brand Promise and Elevator Speech. This program will not be your typical, platitude-filled presentation. It will be an intense work session where I will personally help you build your Brand Promise and Elevator Speech. To learn more about a Brand Promise, click here.
Beat Your 2007 Sales Goal
- Competition is greater than ever.
- Getting prospect’s attention is more difficult than ever.
- Prospects have less time than ever.
How can you be heard?
You need a clear, compelling Brand Promise. If you want to know how powerful a carefully developed Brand Promise can be, here’s an example:
When it absolutely positively has to be there overnight.
This is one of the most powerful brand promises in history. It not only launched a business, but an entire industry.
On December 21st, Doug Davidoff, the founder and CEO of Imagine Business Development will be hosting a 75-minute presentation on The Keys to Building an Effective Brand Promise. For only $99, you will learn:
- How to build a compelling Brand Promise
- How to communicate what you do in less than 15 seconds using only three sentences
- The Power of an Elevator Speech.
- The three types of Elevator Speeches.
- How to develop your Elevator Speech.
We are hosting this program on December 21st so that you can get a fast start on reaching your sales goal for 2007. Participation will be limited to 50 people.
The program includes a workbook that will enable you to develop and articulate your Brand Promise quickly and effectively. This workbook will be e-mailed to you when you register.
There’s nothing that reminds me of the industrial-age sales school more than the discussion of objections. Objections are to be overcome, trainers say. Objections are merely buying signals in disguise. Good salespeople have learned that objections are just “a way for a buyer to say they don’t understand the value.”
That may be true of good salespeople, but great salespeople realize that the school of overcoming objections should be avoided at all costs. The entire concept of ‘overcoming objections’ demonstrates the truth that the fundamental underpinnings of traditional selling are adversarial. It is a myth that objections are good. Objections are not good – they are bad.
If a salesperson pursues a win/win opportunity and win/win is the only viable opportunity that will lead to fast growth, they quickly understand that they are better served by preventing objections, rather than overcoming them. It is the salesperson’s job to understand everything that is going on that supports a sales being made and the reasons that a sales should not be made. The salesperson’s job is then to investigate, in conjunction and collaboration with the customer, whether the reasons against a sale are legitimate. A salesperson should never make a recommendation that a buyer should buy something until the offer and the situation are fully investigated.
This is not an excuse for salespeople not to control a sale, or to allow a sale to go on forever. As a matter of fact, my experience proves that when a salesperson focuses on preventing objections and focuses on effectively diagnosing an opportunity completely, the pipeline time is cut by as much as 50% and the salesperson is able to use their time more effectively.
When we teach salespeople to overcome objections, they inevitably waste an inordinate number of hours trying to convince people to do things they don’t, and often shouldn’t, want to do.
Salespeople, and the companies that employ them, must understand that it is not their job to ‘make a sale.’ Instead, it is their job to facilitate one. Focusing on preventing objections, instead of overcoming them is a great first step.
Salespeople are among the highest paid people in any company. It is not unusual for a salesperson to be the highest paid person in a company, making even more money then the owners or senior executives. And the reality is that what a company pays a salesperson is only a fraction of what their time is worth – after all, a salesperson should be bringing in multiples of their income as revenue for their company.
So it has always amazed me how little value most management teams put on a salesperson’s time. A recent survey provides the evidence to support this. According to this survey salespeople spend only 38 percent of their time selling. The study shows that even the best salespeople only spend 58 percent of their time selling. One-fourth of their time is spent dealing with mistakes, finding information or expediting orders.
Here’s my philosophy: When a salesperson isn’t talking with someone in a position to buy, preparing to talk to someone in a position to buy, or isn’t directly improving their ability to talk to someone in a position to buy, THEY AREN’T WORKING.
The survey cites a cut in customer service staffing and/or outdated processes as the prime culprit for this problem. I understand the need to control costs, but control is the key word; and control is not a synonym for cut.
My experience has proven that a reasonable investment in improving the effectiveness or productivity of a salesperson provides a 4:1 return. I was reporting my year-end numbers to my advisory board yesterday. I told them that I was excited to report that our costs for the year have far exceeded our expectations. They looked at me quizzically. I then told them that the costs were up because they supported our revenues being up and our profits far exceeded plan. Simply put, we invested in our ability to grow.
Invest in your salespeople, maximize the time they are actually selling and fast growth will be yours.
You’re full of it!
Your offering doesn’t make any sense.
I can’t see why anyone would pay for that.
You want me to pay how much for your product? Are you crazy?
You can’t prove that.
Anyone who’s gone to market with any type of offering has certainly heard statements like these. If you haven’t, you’re probably doing something wrong. While it’s natural for any business executive, entrepreneur or salesperson to get frustrated when people say these things; I’ve got a question for them – who cares?
I have a friend who is an author. He’s sold quite a number of books. I know a lot of people who think his books aren’t very good. They think the ideas presented are over-simplified, that the data is based on false logic or that they don’t like the writing. Here’s what else I know, my friend doesn’t much care about their opinions. He cares about the thousands of people who have bought, enjoyed and benefited from his books. By the way, those people I know who say less than kind words about the books are still talking about writing theirs.
I have a client company that needs 15 new clients to achieve their 2007 sales goals. Those 15 clients come from a universe of about 4,000 prospects. In coaching my clients, they expressed concern over whether or not their message went into enough detail to support their value proposition. I reminded them that we are only worried about 15 people. The other 3,985 people could think our message was light and fluffy, as long as there are 15 who thought it was compelling.
Dan Sullivan, the founder of The Strategic Coach cautions his clients to “only test ideas on ‘check-writers’”. He means that the only people whose opinions matter are the ones who are in a position to buy the offering. Unless your employees, advisors, family, etc. are target clients, their opinions are not that important.
Last week, I was working with another client. We were working to develop their customer segmentation strategy. I asked him to identify the attributes that made up his Best Few™ clients. We developed his list, and as I read it back to him, he gave me the response that is the biggest roadblock to an effective messaging, marketing and/or sales approach: “Well, don’t get me wrong. I have some really good clients who don’t fit that description.”
Let me explain why that statement is a problem: My company, Imagine Business Development, works primarily with business-to-business (B2B) companies. Does that mean that we don’t work with companies that are business-to-consumer? Not at all. We have several clients who are business-to-consumer companies. Our target clients range from post-startup companies to those with about $20 million in gross profit. But we have clients that are pure startups and clients with gross profits greater than $20 million.
Here’s the point. If you look at our message, read this blog, listen to what we talk about at the office, you will notice we are obsessed with B2B companies with a value-added service focus, that are run by their owners (who happen to be smarter than most others – intelligence is an important attribute for us) and are in the post-startup to $20 million of gross profit segment. We know that market cold. We get results for them. We care about them. We don’t care that a $154 million company thinks that what we do won’t work – we’ve got plenty of companies in our sweet spot that would disagree with them.
Jim Collins said you need to be the [best in the world] at something. Because you’re the best at something doesn’t mean it is only thing you will do. But if you fail to be the best, who cares?
Does this announcement have anything to do with what I described as Wal-Mart’s failure to stick to what made it special? I can’t answer that, but I’d caution any business attracted to the light of ‘big markets’ at the expense of what makes it special.