Tom Pisello, Chairman and Founder of Alinean, Inc recently published a short article, Recovery Makes Selling IT Much Easier into 2012? Fahgettaboudit!. I was particularly taken by Mr. Pisello’s prediction that “[a]chieving success in 2012 will require evolving or implementing new strategies to help buyers navigate tough budget waters, and help facilitate sales to connect and engage frugal buyers to achieve sales goals despite the challenged economy.” Note his reference to a hopeful sales strategy that will look for opportunities to “connect and engage” the “frugal buyer” that he predicts will be the norm next year.
To me, Pisello’s hopeful sales strategy proceeds along the very lines of the right way to navigate away from the “dry run” as described by Jeff Thull in his book, “Mastering the Complex Sale”. Note that Thull recommends thoroughly reviewing “how you are currently engaging customers.” as a powerful method to overcome “dry runs” (lengthy selling efforts that ultimately fail). On pages 29 and 30 of his book he specifies three separate situations where connecting and engaging with prospects and customers may be helpful. I summarize these three opportunities as follows:
- Where the customer has a need, but can’t recognize this need. You can help illuminate the problem that needs fixing, but you need to connect and engage the customer to help
- Where the customer lacks the ability to specify the best solution to a problem, including implementation planning and, of most importance, calculating the specific value of solving the problem. You can help fill in these critical gaps, but, once again, connecting and engaging the customer are imperative to start the process.
- Where the customer lacks internal resources and should look to a third party, for example, your company, as the right resource to implement the solution and ensure that the sought after value is delivered. If you do not connect and engage, then you will not be in the running for this role with the customer.
Understanding how the techniques that Thull specifies can be utilized in the scenario that Pisello depicts, I can understand Pisello’s suggestions that a winning strategy for enterprise technology sales in 2012 will include methods of customer engagement that will, for example (he offers three examples of positive methods of engagement) demonstrate for the customer the real, substantial value to be realized through an effective solution to a recognized problem (in other words, bringing the customer to recognize the high priority of solving the problem as the result of illuminating the value of the solution).
I strongly recommend a quick look at Pisello’s article for any practitioners of Thull’s techniques to master the complex sale.