“You don’t understand, Dave, our business is different.”
If I had a nickel for every time I heard that over the last 30 years, I’d have a stack of nickels this high! (it’s a pretty high stack).
Nineteen out of twenty times when a business owner or VP or Sales Manager says this about their business they go on to explain the same things many of our clients explain to us (often it’s verbatim).
If you think your business (& the sales problems associated with it) are different, that’s ok – it’s perfectly normal. It means your business is important to you, it’s serious to you & you care. All good.
Sometimes, a look from an outsider provides a new perspective, a different perspective, a perspective that gets you to reality. We’ll provide that perspective for you. Here goes:
7 Examples of how Your Business is No Different Than All the Others
- “We have a really long sales cycle – it’s very relationship-based.”
There’s not a business that we work with that isn’t relationship-based. As for the length of sales-cycle, yes, long would describe them all. The longer, more comprehensive, enterprise sales take time. They’re not transactional. There is a strategic approach that needs to be taken to these deals. Expectations must be managed every step of they way or deals could fall right off the tracks.
- “Our prospects are looking for the lowest price – that’s all they care about.”
Who’s NOT looking for the lowest price? They must say this. It’s their job. Whenever we hear this, we ask our clients to take a deep breath & think of the last deal they closed that was not at the lowest price. They always come up with an answer – & it never takes that long. You know as well as we do, people say they want the lowest price, but what do they really want? The best value. Two different things.
- “Our salespeople have to prospect for new business AND maintain the business they have (hunt & farm).”
A common business model these days. Gone are they days where the inside team schedules sales appointments for the outside team to qualify & close. Some companies use this approach. But most employ people that must have hunting & farming skills. Truth be told, when we hear this, what they are really saying is, “our salespeople don’t have time to hunt & farm for business.” And when they say this, what they are really saying is, “our salespeople don’t have a prospecting system that works for them.” Simply stated, “our salespeople don’t prospect. They hang out in the office or at the current customer where they are known.” (I know it hurts, but you have people on your team right now that fit this description).
- “Our business is very technical – our salespeople need that technical experience – not everybody can do it (sell it).”
Most all of the successful businesses are technical these days. Some have salespeople (Account Managers) & Sales Support (Engineers or Application Engineers). This makes two key people with direct access to the customer or prospect. Then, there are the businesses with in-house design, project managers, program managers – all with customer interaction. There are not many people in your company that don’t “touch” sales in one way or another. Yes, your business is technical, & you have the technical experience. Question is, are they skilled in communicating with prospects & customers? Can they take off their technical hat & put on a sales hat when needed? Those that can do it are stealth bombers – under the radar. Those that can’t are costing your company money. Lots of it.
- “We have lots of competition, lots!”
The funny thing about this, when we hear it, is that most people say it as if it we’re a “bad thing”. It’s a good thing. Unless you are polluting the market (selling for less) you have the opportunity to capitalize on the poor selling skills of your competitors. And they are out there. Think back to the last deal you won based on the errors of your competitor(s). You want competition.
- “We’re at the higher end of the pricing structure (our products are high-priced)”
Good. You should be. We’ve just addressed polluting the market with lower pricing. You know how long that strategy lasts. Somebody will always be lower. Kmart found that out. Find better salespeople who are able to qualify opportunities. Who understand value vs. cost. Who are proud of their products. Who are completely comfortable selling in this environment. Remember: Price might be higher, but cost (total value) will be lower. Should not be a foreign concept to anyone on your team.
- “We’re not guaranteed the business. We must fight for everything we get. They put us out to bid on all projects.”
That’s the way of the world. It’s called professional selling. Nothing is guaranteed anymore. This requires your sales team to be ultra in-tune with current accounts, prospected accounts & the industry in general. A crazy reality is: Every day you have a piece of business you are one day closer to losing it. If you don’t think your competition is creeping at your door-step you’re fooling yourself. Just like you are creeping at their doorstep (or should be). If you have salespeople who think their relationship with the Account is so strong that they can just “rest on their laurels” & wait for the phone to ring or wait for the email request, find new salespeople. It’s 2018, the rules have changed.
The products are different. The services are different. The people are different. The business itself (relative to sales challenges) same. Always has been. Always will be.