31
Jan

Establish Specific Qualifiers for Successful Lead Generation for Complex IT Product Sales to Global Businesses

Lots of interest has arisen over the last year in ranking lead quality. This interest makes total sense when one considers that chasing leads that do not pass review of requested criteria is an enormous time drain that, ultimately, can sink a business. Therefore plan on spending lots of time crafting a set of qualifiers for high quality, useful sales leads.

Lead generation resources, whether telemarketers, teleprospectors, copywriters drafing advertising copy, etc, should all be educated in the list of required qualifications. Further, these resources need to be informed that their performance will be measured based upon lead ranking. Once all parties involved have been informed of the need to rank lead quality and empowered with the qualifiers themselves, then a powerful management tool will be in place to ensure that the right quality leads will be generated and a sales process can be put into motion.

Of course the exercise of compiling a specific list of qualifiers is, in itself educational. This exercise will contribute to the quality of the sales and marketing sections of a business plan. Further, a picture of market, prospects and contacts will emerge to help define buyer demographics.

For products requiring complex selling strategies, building a working mechanism to rank leads makes even greater sense. Complex sales generally evolve over time, numerous interactions with a range of contacts at global business prospects, and constant refinement of the buyer requirements at the bottom of purchase decisions. With a fully detailed lead ranking system in place, marketers of complex products for a global business marketplace can progressively navigate a sales process, over time, with a comparatively higher close ratio.

Above all, qualifiers should provide a detailed picture of what constitutes a decision maker within prospect businesses for complex products. To an extent a pattern of “serial” meetings with false decision makers can be tolerated, but patience will run thin; therefore, it is advised to carefully and thoroughly describe the type of healthy decision making process you are after before your lead generation resources start producing leads. It should be stated that it is not possible to be “too picky” with regards to your lead ranking system for complex sales.

We have considerable recent experience producing useful leads for complex sales to global business. Please telephone us at +1 631-673-2929 to discuss your products and needs. We are particularly interested in technology products–software or hardware–as most of our experience has been garnered from working with software and computer hardware manufacturers.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

28
Jan

Four IT Sales Fundamentals that Work for Selling Any Products Targeted to Global Business

Despite current market conditions some IT sales fundamentals must be utilized. Therefore, it is worthwhile to recap some features of these fundamentals. These “must have” techniques should underpin other, mutable strategies. At the core of these fundamentals are four important sales activities:

  1. Mapping decision makers within specific global business prospects
  2. Verifying the credibility of decision makers identified through step one
  3. Composing a useful picture of the condition of prospect requirements for relevant products/services/solutions
  4. Engaging with decision makers on topics depicted within the picture of relevant requirements or needs at the prospect

Notice that “engaging” is the last of the four activities in my list. The activity of engaging is to be differentiated from the activities of gathering information, qualifying levels of prospect maturity, and testing hypotheses about prospect needs. It is entirely acceptable to proceed on the activities just mentioned. In fact, it will not be possible to proceed on prospect engagement without the data that must be produced through gathering, qualifying and testing. It is critical to hold off on engagement pending collection of useful, definitive information about the prospect.

I highly recommend a direct marketing approach to performing these activities. Through direct, cold call outreach to contacts at prospect businesses much can be learned (surprisingly quickly). On the other hand, one can argue that leveraging influential individuals to gain access to contacts at prospect businesses is a means of potentially shortening the sales cycle, but picking the right influential individual may be impossible if one approaches these activities with the assumption that the prospect business is, indeed, a tabula rasa. This assumption, if it is to work its magic (I strongly believe in the power of keeping an open mind as hypotheses are tested, contacts vetted, etc–in other words approaching the prospect as a blank slate), requires sales to focus on listening, and to hold off, for as long as possible on presenting anything.

The purpose of gathering information is to ensure that a decision to proceed on a sales campaign for a specific prospect makes complete sense. Why waste precious time on a campaign that will go nowhere for reasons that may lurk within some early conversations that ought to have been scrutinized carefully for important signs of prospect maturity.

If these four activities can be practiced consistently, then any markets, whether driven by commodities or not can be successfully mined for business. I have much current experience with each of these four activities and would be pleased to expand on my views upon request. Please call me directly at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

26
Jan

Global Business Markets Require New Product Marketing Strategies in 2012

Technology innovators looking to build mission critical requirements within today’s global business markets must develop new product marketing strategies. Pervasive disappointing performance of big ticket technology purchases since the mid 1990s have graced technology buyers with a new tough skin — hard to penetrate and bullet proof just like rhino hide. Portfolio management is now a pervasive reality for IT departments at global businesses. Products without a cogent value proposition are not only unwelcome, they are ignored. Therefore, marketing teams must come up with new product marketing strategies to stimulate interest.

We think it’s helpful to characterize the global business market for technology as dysfunctional. Buyers pursue solutions to requirements that may vanish at any time as the result of dwindling technology budgets. As well, management may rethink needs, deciding that the pain of unmet needs will prove less expensive than a solution. With these assumptions in mind, the prospect of fabricating new product marketing strategies for complex products designed for global business markets takes on a more promising glow. Better get with the program, after all, February, 2012 is already just around the corner.

Collaboration ought to be the new mantra for technology vendors vying for global business markets. Maintaining a collaborative position with customers, prospects and the overall market means crafting opportunities to discuss requirements, objectives and long term planning with buyers as well as the important business managers that have been identified within prospect businesses. An ability to transpose the objectives of technology manufacturers into customer and prospect objectives is welcome. Successfully transposing objectives renders prospect discussions into a level playing field where all parties are after the same objective. As well, once all objectives are uniform and completely aligned, then prospects, customers and vendors take on similar roles that all parties (particularly buyers and business management) will look to perpetuate over the term during which relevant solutions are under discussion.

How to manage this transposition? It’s helpful to realize that the business objectives of vendors include placing products within solutions at global businesses. Buyers truly have the same objective, do they not? In fact, buyers are looking to implement solutions. They will maintain that objective as long as solutions appear viable and rich in value. Therefore, seeing matters clearly is the same as realizing that everyone at the table is after the same thing. With that understanding in place marketing and sales make more sense. Get it?

If you have a product or service that you think makes sense for global business markets, we’d like to hear about it. Please call Ira Michael Blonder directly at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

25
Jan

Complement TeleProspecting Lead Generation with Online Sales and Marketing to Hasten Global Business Opportunities

We presently hold the opinion that online sales and marketing are no longer a detriment for innovative businesses looking to sell complex products to global customers and other large organizations. This evolution for a set of media that led many a technology innovator down a “primrose path” to commoditization is entirely positive. In part, the act of transforming interactive media into something useful can be attributed to global business buyers who are demonstrating a new attitude in fiscal 2012. Others have pointed out this new pervasive buyer attitude, most notably the folks at Alinean (http://www NULL.alinean NULL.com). They have posited that 2012 looks to be a year of frugalnomics (http://www NULL.alinean NULL.com/fight_frugalnomics) for global business buyers.

Alinean defines frugalnomics as “an environment where buyers demand quantification of benefits, significant ROI, fast payback and superior value from each purchase.” In our opinion the information gathering stage within the hunt for these value rich products will transpire online. Global business buyers will troll websites to glean as much information as they can in preparation for any dialogue that might be warranted with sales people. In other words, global business buyers in 2012 look likely to identify:

  • the solutions that make sense
  • implementation plans for these solutions
  • and, finally, components of these solutions

prior to engaging with any sales people.

Therefore, it behooves technology innovators to include as much meaningful content about product value propositions online in websites, or web 2.0 vehicles (Twitter (http://twitter NULL.com), FaceBook (http://www NULL.facebook NULL.com) and Google+ (http://www NULL.google NULL.com/plus)) as possible. But these venues should be carefully crafted to communicate value without:

  • a disclosure of competitive advantage to business rivals
  • or a failure to gain a commitment to at least share contact information from global business buyers

The challenge for marketers will be to successfully cross these two lines. For those who will succeed at this challenge, the volume of useful business leads will increase and, therefore, business should be easier (whatever that means). When more leads are fed into a direct marketing machine highlighting teleprospecting techniques, the return on investment should be very attractive.

The specifics of how to position information online will, of course, require ongoing management. It will be necessary to balance so-called “on page” optimization of editorial content with “off page” link building and the rest of the task of infusing sites, etc, with the qualities of authoritative online resources.

We are presently working with clients looking to optimize an online message for complex products and services. We are utilizing some feature rich technology that provides us with a panaromic view of online performance. Therefore, we will welcome opportunities to discuss specific needs that may be at hand for your business or your business plans. Please call Ira Michael Blonder directly at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

25
Jan

Look to Teleprospecting for a Superior Business to Business Lead Generation Program

Useful Sales leads are food for any business, nutrient rich supplements that promise to enrich cash flow and sales staff alike.

But what constitutes “useful” with regard to leads?

Leads are useful when they include information that can be used to forge successful sales campaigns with appropriate prospects. There is no better way that I know of to accumulate this type of information for innovative technology providers targeting global business and other large organizations than teleprospecting, meaning an outbound telemarketing effort that eschews hard selling for information gathering. Business to business lead generation requires a “hands off” attitude on the part of the teleprospector. Further, top teleprospecting talent will communicate a genuine interest to contacts in the subject of discussion, thereby encouraging a free exchange of information that typically leads to collection of useful sales information.

I do not believe in the value of buying contact lists. The task of identifying companies that constitute realistic targets for products and services is very useful endeavor that will help train a teleprospecting team to qualify contacts; therefore, why hand the team a set of businesses from a purchased contact list? If sales has participated in the business from inception (as I have advocated elsewhere in this blog) then there ought to be plenty of time to canvas the marketplace slowly and carefully to identify businesses that ought to be contacted once selling efforts begin. With regard to contacts within the prospect businesses that pre sales efforts identify, once again, researching contacts online, through address books, etc. and, generally, through sales team collaboration is superior route. Once again, the process of working to identify these contacts helps sales to refine the qualification process that will have to be in place to land the business. It is safe to say that the process of qualifying leads cannot be too precise an activity. The finer the grain the better as far as leads are concerned.

Once a lead list has been assembled, then a teleprospecting program can be successfully implemented to deliver very high quality selling opportunities. There is no error in combining this type of direct marketing effort with online product promotion. With recent improvements in online marketing communications opportunities, as well as with a tendency of today’s prospects to research just about everything they need to know about a product or service by themselves, with little to no hand holding from sales, online promotion can be successfully crafted to support the sale of complex products to global business.

I am wholly engaged with clients who are implementing teleprospecting programs with web 2.0 online marketing. I welcome opportunities to discuss specific needs that may be at hand for your business or your business plans. Please call me at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

21
Jan

Develop a Thorough Familiarity with Competitors to Keep Market Development In Perspective

I never counsel clients to enter markets where competitors cannot be identified. The only exception, as I see it, is a market that services a niche set of needs that have arisen from a larger, more familiar and competitive market.

For 95% of innovative technology businesses, markets without competitors are, at best, not worth entering and, at worst, traps capable of sinking entire businesses. Most so called break through products are really, when analyzed, solutions to needs that are either confined to very small markets for which a first provider with little capital may be able to capture most of the business, or to needs that have been underestimated or otherwise unknown (in a television interview aired in January, 2012, Bill Gates communicated some of his own “shock” at the great success that became of the Microsoft that he and Allen founded. He noted that neither of them ever planned on the massive size of the market that would develop for personal computers). With regard to the former type of opportunity, once ensconced in the leader position, a pioneer will be able to fend off competitors “late to the dance”. But these types of opportunities are seldom readily apparent. Usually a first provider of this type will be founded by someone who has personally spent time as a user in the market, knows the need very well as well as the solution.

With regard to the latter, big splash break through products require lots of capital, not only for developing products and solutions, but also for developing and nurturing markets themselves. Therefore, these opportunities are usually the stock and trade for Venture Capitalists with deep pockets. Not the everyday turf trod by under the radar technology driven businesses.

Therefore, business plan 101 dictates that chosen markets must include the participation of competitors as a demonstration of the viability of the revenue potential of the market to feed the business. Once these markets have been identified it is essential that as much information be gathered about competitors as possible. This information will prove to be invaluable when it comes time to select a distribution model for a product, service or solution. After all, why leverage a channel distribution strategy if no one else in your vertical is doing the same? They may well know something that you do not. In this case, what you may not know may be able to hurt you in the form of dollars spent needlessly on intermediaries who no one else is using to win their business.

I am presently working with clients facing just this type of challenge. I welcome opportunities to discuss specific needs. Please call me at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

19
Jan

Engineering CEOs should Pass Sales & Marketing 101 Before Chasing Revenue from Global Businesses and Other Large Organizations

Technology companies headed up by engineering management usually need to undergo a “rethink” on certain basic assumptions about products, markets and sales. I include in these basic assumptions at least the following three seriously incorrect assumptions:

  1. My product is unique. If global business prospects do not realize that my product is unique, then they are not capable of understanding what my product offers
  2. I do not need to market and/or sell my product. The value that my product delivers is clearly superior. I will use opportunities to interact with prospects to determine whether or not a prospect has the minimum qualifications required to use my product
  3. My job, and the job of my engineers, is to conceptualize, design and produce technology. Once we have done our job, then we will pass our creation over to marketing who, in turn, will pass the creation with its market message over to sales

Let’s set the record straight on each of these erroneous assumptions. With regard to (1), as Marshall McLuhan (the seminal force in twentieth century marketing as far as I’m concerned) made clear, “The Medium is the Message.” McLuhan’s conclusion is, in my opinion, synonymous with the old cliche, “it’s not what you say, but how you say it”. In other words, how you frame your statement is, effectively, your statement. Scary thought. Nevertheless, keeping this conclusion in mind throughout an ongoing effort to produce lucid marketing communications (whether for offline product promotion, online search optimization efforts, or face to face interactions with prospects and customers) that is accurately crafted to deliver your message to the lowest common denominator for your intended audience is absolutely mandatory. Therefore, if prospects still are not hearing your message correctly post marketing communications efforts, then there is something broken in your marketing communications efforts that needs to be fixed right away. Opacity of message is not a problem to be taken lightly. Fix it now or your product, service, etc will wither on the vine.

Point 2 incorporates the points I have made in the above paragraph with regard to erroneous assumption (1), and then some. Any/all products and services need to be marketed and sold. The erroneous assumption that marketing and sales are not critical components to building a business that delivers technical products and solutions to global businesses and other large organizations stems from one in a million success stories like the rise of Microsoft®, which grew from some completely reactive conclusions of two engineers on an immediate and fleeting opportunity into the mammoth company of today. The lack of big picture market vision that was missing from the early business building work of Messrs Gates and Allen is, in my opinion, at the root of this company’s diminishing stature in the global business technology market. Bottom line: marketing and sales are mission critical components of the business plan and need to be in place from commencement of efforts to build the business, period. Further, any and all prospects represent opportunities that must be qualified. Once qualified, the opportunities need to be nurtured through to purchases by sales staff capable of managing global business prospects.

With regard to point 3, it is pointless to build “solutions without problems”. Do not waste precious time dreaming up market needs that are neither apparent, nor tested by competitors, etc. Going down paths “not traveled” is dangerous for technology businesses with limited developmental budgets. Product Marketing must be in place from the moment product ideas are evaluated for worthiness of investment. If a CEO is not capable of providing product marketing due diligence, then either an outside professional consultant with the right credentials should be brought in, or staff hired to fill the void. Proceeding on product development without marketing is, I fear, a ticket to a possible disaster.

I specialize in these types of discussions. If you have a technology product with some broad market appeal for global businesses and other large organizations, I’d like to hear from you. Give me a call at +1 631-673-2929.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

18
Jan

A Post on Rising Above the Commodity Fray

I met recently with the president of an Independent Software Vendor (ISV) with software offerings built with the Java® programming language who expressed disbelief when I let him know that his prices are too low. I later learned that when I took a break to leave the meeting he asked of a trusted colleague “what does he mean that our prices are too low? Each of our competitors are priced into our range? How can we raise our prices?” I should state that this ISV offers a product in the online marketing category, a piece of software that delivers lots of reports about search engine placement for products by keyword, etc. I should also note that I’ve written elsewhere in this blog about the controversy implicit to online marketing for the sale of complex products to global businesses and other large organizations; specifically does marketing online get you anything besides a big dose of commoditization if you’re offering complex products with intangible value to an uneducated prospect? From my conversation with this CEO I must say that the same question applies to vendors of online marketing software, as well.

All well and good, but what’s relevant to marketing and selling big ticket software and other technology products to global businesses and other large organizations in 2012? Specifically that the old adage, “a sales person without a sense of urgency is no sales person at all” rings true. With a product with an entry level price of $199.95, lots of competitors, and a limited universe of prospects, I am of the opinion that the price of this software has to go up, one way or another, if this CEO’s business is to grow to any size of significance. I should also add that this ISV is located in Eastern Europe, where the cost of living is substantially lower than the cost of living here in the States, but no matter. Opening offices internationally will be an inevitable step forward for this ISV if/when they do manage to grow; therefore, at some point they will have to pay out higher salaries which will put lots of pressure on the present pricing model.

When I returned to our meeting I attempted to educate this CEO that he should think about turning some weaknesses of his product into the foundation of his higher pricing model. Our discussions illuminated the fact that this ISV assumes that its customers are presently only utilizing 10% of the capability of their product. My response was, is there a common additional value that most any customer can derive from the remaining 90% of the product that is under utilized? If there is such a common additional value, then why not take a proportion of that additional value (in hard dollars and cents) as an entirely justified additional cost for customers who want, need, and “must own” the remaining 90% value that is presently alluding them. Of course, then let’s take that proportion and build it into the pricing model of the product.

There is an old time precedent to this strategy. Just look back to the mid 1980s when Xerox Corporation successfully sold high end laser printers into the global business market against HP LaserJets. How did Xerox bring off these sales against a competitor with drastically lower prices? Xerox took the steps to integrate its laser printer products into the predominant computing environment of the mid 1980s–distributed mainframe and PC computing. Fact was that their printers had the necessary “hooks” to print mainframe data where HP’s products did not. It doesn’t matter that the required connectivity was rather trivial. What matters is that Xerox had it and HP did not. Xerox made the sales at a higher price point within a heavily commoditized market.

I specialize in these types of discussions. If you have a technology product with some broad market appeal for global businesses and other large organizations, I’d like to hear from you. Give me a call at +1 631-673-2929.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved