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:
- Mapping decision makers within specific global business prospects
- Verifying the credibility of decision makers identified through step one
- Composing a useful picture of the condition of prospect requirements for relevant products/services/solutions
- 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