Crossing the Great Divide: Build Markets for Products Through Geniune Collaboration with Prospects

Where’s the dividing line between sales activity and other activities with customers and prospects that may appear to benefit sales, but, ultimately prove to be detrimental?

In my opinion, successful enterprise sales strategies for today’s markets require a willingness on the part of marketers to participate, wholeheartedly, within a potentially lengthy interaction with customers and prospects. This lengthy interaction may include broken decisions, changing perspectives, internal turf battles, etc as customers and prospects wander in the desert on their way to an oasis of a decision to do something about your product of service. You must be willing to shed 95% of your typical sales behavior, replacing aggressive sales efforts with a collaboration that communicates a complete willingness to participate along with customers and prospects in all of the steps that will be taken as bonafide decisions are formulated over time.

Collaboration may include sponsoring independent studies to provide your customers and prospects with a comfortable authority which will facilitate a decision in favor of your product or service. Keep in mind that these studies, independently authored, may also produce undesired results that refute a decision to implement in your favor. No matter. The point is to genuinely participate in the process which, ultimately, will result in a long term position for your firm for the customer that will be impregnable to competition. After all, no one else would be willing to go there with the client, now would they?

Of course this type of collaboration, to be successful, requires that you maintain an ability to architect products and solutions on the fly, to flexibly change direction as your customers modify their requirements and their needs. Further, you should be comfortable vetting products with customers while the products are still in developments. The closer you can get to an accurate solution for the customer’s needs, the less likely that the customer will find anything remotely close to her needs from any other vendor.

The facts are that 2012 does not look to be an easy year for enterprise product sales. The businesses that will survive the close scrutiny and tight pockets that look to be the customer norm will be those tenacious organizations that will be willing to proceed lamb like for as long as may be required to bring home the order. As well, a great sense of timing will come in handy. Sound like fun, doesn’t it?

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2011 All Rights Reserved

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