The exciting life of a B2B salesperson

B2B, Sales

Today’s post is about the see-saw situation in the life of a sales person. I am speaking from a B2B perspective. I don’t know if this is true in consumer sales or in other professions also.

I used to be a sales person in my initial years, moved into different roles and today have responsibilities for both marketing and sales.

For over the last 30 odd years its so happened that when you start your day with some very positive news from a customer – like a customer whom you had been following up for months for an order, suddenly calling you and telling you they want to give you an order for a million dollars.

You are elated with the fact that you have been able to beat your competitors. The customer has found value in what you’re offering, they believe your company can deliver the goods and they have found you to be a genuine and resourceful person.

As you move through the day trying to close on this customer’s order and feel elated, towards the end of the day you will receive a crisis call from another customer.

This customer will then be firing you on all the things that are wrong with your product or service etc. So you end the day feeling very low. What started on a high ends on a low.

On the other hand I have also observed the reverse when the day starts with firing on all sides and ends on a happy note.

But this is what makes the life of a B2B salesperson exciting. All customers are nice. They are also people and they have problems. They call out and fire you because they have expectations that you will solve their problems. If you solve their problems they will stick to you for a long long time. You will build deep relationships, that will keep giving you business for multiple years.

Till next time then, enjoy the sales role.

Carpe Diem!!!

Thi

Calling out the elephant in the room – Assumptions – 2

arrogance, Assumptions, B2B, Business, ego, Marketing

For a background to this post, I would suggest you have a look at the fist part of the topic here

Not many know that the digital camera was first created by a team in Kodak. Whether you call it arrogance on the part of the managers at Kodak, who assumed that no one would want to buy such an expensive camera. What was assumed was that the technology would make it unviable for most folks to afford the camera.

No one thought that technology was following Moore’s law, where the power of the chip was roughly doubling every 18 odd months. A similar thing happened at Xerox who actually had designed the “mouse” long before it became a standard accessory. But they never moved forward on it.

It is said , the Swiss already knew about battery powered watches, much before the Japanese, but because they prided themselves on their engineering and movement, they never bothered taking a patent. Suddenly the Japanese were all over the place with watches leaving the Swiss, gasping for breadth. Again technology assumptions can go wrong very badly.

Brainstorming on the assumptions you are making and listing them, gets you grounded to think better. Also its a better idea to ask an outsider to check out your assumptions.

In marketing, because you are dealing with human perceptions, understanding and accounting for the assumptions can help you avoid expensive mistakes. In B2B scenarios where there are multiple people involved in a decision and there’s general inertia, not accounting for these assumptions can be fatal.. Its a good idea to keep asking ‘what else are we assuming”.

Like assuming that the person on the production line will easily adopt the new technology you are bringing in via the CIO and /or the CFO. More IT projects have failed because of these faulty assumptions than the problem with the technology itself.

Especially when you are making the marketing or sales plan at the beginning of the year, if you don’t account for these assumptions, very soon when you hit the road, all your plans will fall flat.

Don’t make the mistakes that I have done. Whenever you make a plan list out all the assumptions and make everyone aware about them so that collective wisdom can find a better solution.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

Asking the right questions in the market -3

B2B, Business, ideal customer, Marketing, Questions, Technology

I have had a lot of situations where we thought we had an amazing product / service but we were not getting a response from the market.

We tried various scenarios, tested various markets but the response was just not there.

In B2B technology services, you may have a wonderful product or service, which is well differentiated but the market does not respond to your service. This inspite of the fact that you are looking at a very small niche, you have identified your Ideal Customer (the person / role) and talking about the pain points that they may have.

The reason for this as I have explained in my earlier posts is that technology companies follow an “infrastructure” or “ecosystem” model. Which means if your product / service does not easily fit into the existing infrastructure then the adoption will be very low.

In this situation instead of asking questions like is this the right market to focus or does this market have the ability to pay. The questions that need to asked could be more oriented towards what could be preventing the audience from responding to your messaging.

Is it that you don’t explain how you fit into the “infrastructure” or is it that they feel it will be too much of an effort to even think about your product / service. To be able to analyse this you need to sit quietly and brainstorm all the possible reasons which could prevent them from interacting with you.

Once you list all the items then quickly start testing to eliminate each of the issues and see which ones have the most impact.

Most often I have found, the reason for not getting to the right answer has been the fact that I had not reached the right question. Once I had asked the right set of questions, things were generally a cake walk.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

Understanding your competition-Part 2

B2B, Business, competition

In my first post on this topic, a few days back, I wrote about how you need to understand the competition.

The big challenge with competition, in the technology industry is that, in a lot of cases you don’t recognize where the disruption can come from.

In addition you can’t envisage all the ways your customers’ business is getting impacted. Based on the impact in their environment they may take decisions which can impact you.

I have had many situations over the years where we did not anticipate the customer’s business environment change, whether it was related to government policy or the change with people moving from Capex to Opex. In all these situations the customer’s demands suddenly changed and we had to rethink our strategy, delivery mechanisms etc. Trust me, its not a good position to be in.

The key advantage of doing business in B2B is that if you do a decent job, then you stay with the customer a long long time. There are very few impulsive decisions taken until you really mess up.

On the other hand you need to be aware of how the environment has changed over the last few years for the customer, so that you are not caught unaware.

This is competition for you because now you need to rethink your pricing , your technology and your delivery mechanism. Your customer expects you to provide a solution to fit their new circumstances or they will go somewhere else. And there’s no name to this competition so it’s more dangerous.

Till next time then….keep an eye for competition from different avenues.

Carpe Diem!!!