I recently met a small business owner for the first time and after explaining how our project-based sales service works, he asked “Can we close some business this month?” On one hand, this was music to my ears. Meeting someone with clear needs and an appetite to move forward is always welcome.
However, in this case there was no qualified pipeline, much less forecast- able orders, or even clear business value linked to their software. My response was that in this situation, arguably the worst thing to do is to just “get on with it”. Unless you have your ducks lined up properly, there is a strong chance that you will waste valuable time and money chasing shadows. Just doing something for the sake of it is rarely the solution.
Unless you know how you are positioned in relation to your competition, how can you be truly confident of winning? Are you familiar with the phrase “you must be equal before you can be better?” After all, your prospective buyer has no allegiance with you or your business and as we are constantly being told, is likely to Google his way to a short list of potential suppliers. At that point, faced with several similar looking suppliers with almost identical products or services, he tries to distinguish between them and decides the only viable way to do so is on lowest price. So, he calls or emails around asking for best price.
I don’t suppose you have ever done this yourself, have you?
Unless care and attention have been invested in defining an addressable target market, together with appropriate messaging linked to your unique business value, plus proven, independent examples of your competence in a given area, then winning new customers could be a long and painful process. Plus, your pricing must be pitched in the context of what else is on the market that could be viewed as similar. If you are making a buying decision yourself and are being quoted a high premium price, wouldn’t you want to be clear on what you were getting in return for the extra cost?
So what’s all this got to do with sales? Everything.
If you don’t work on profiling your target market, competitive positioning, messaging etc, you will run a high risk of being one of those “lowest price quote” suppliers, in a race to the bottom. In this position, how long could you afford to run a professional sales operation? Without any meaningful differentiation in your marketplace, you would end up selling on price alone. How long can you be the cheapest option for?
What happens when you aren’t?
Coming back to the start of this post and before you attempt to scale your sales and pipeline cover, it is worth exploring how well prepared you are (or not), in order for sales to consistently deliver the required growth and drive your business forward.
How would you score your state of readiness on a scale of 1-10?