In our last post we discussed the importance of careful targeting and lead development.
Today we will discuss how to initiate and develop effective dialogues with our target markets and the high-priority prospects within them. These days there are many channels one can use to reach these markets and begin what we like to call the “Conversation” – that meaningful, collaborative business conversation that ultimately has the best chance of developing into a business relationship. While there are more ways to communicate with your markets than ever before, it is becoming increasingly noisy and harder to get someone’s attention. In fact, statistics show that at least 7 “touches” or messaging events are required to cause a prospect to any action at all.
In this and the ensuing three posts we’ll discuss four critical paths our clients are finding very helpful in developing fruitful business relationships. All four relate directly to developing and engaging in that effective “Conversation” mentioned above. These are a), Knowing the Conversation Points, b) Aligning Communication Styles, c) The Elevator Pitch, and d) The Diamond Approach.
An important first step to developing and engaging in a business conversation, whether traditional in form like a phone call or new media like Facebook or some other social media tool, should always begin by mapping out your primary conversation points which include 1) the prospect’s typical role/tile, 2) what they are concerned about and 3) how your product or service has helped other companies like your prospect’s company and how it positively impacted individuals in the same or similar roles as your prospect. So let’s talk about three roles.
The Decision Maker
He or she is setting the direction and leading the organization, a business unit or project. They are concerned with strategic and tactical solutions that impact business results, i.e., things that intersect with their key business and personal objectives. So when engaging in the Conversation with a Decision Maker, avoid technical benefits (the most common mistake) and develop conversation points that align your products and services to his/her business objectives and the benefits thereto. Some common examples are increased revenue, increased market share and an improved competitive advantage, to name a few. Also, consider aligning your company’s vision, mission and values to those of the decision maker. A few minutes invested in thinking through these things in advance of your call will give you much greater insight and the ability to advance the Conversation and business relationship.
The Manager is concerned with the advantages that your product or service can offer their business. This role is often overlooked, but Managers are charged with execution and implementation of the vision, mission and goals established by the Decision Maker. This individual is charged with making sure that the operations of the business are on budget, on time, the staff is performing and the business overall is on plan. For the Managers, be sure your conversation points are crafted in such a way as to align with this person’s organization and personal objectives.
The Technician is concerned about reducing risk and avoiding mistakes as it relates to the technical or functional aspects of your product or services. The Technician will welcome engaging conversations with you and will often seem like a Decision Maker. But 90% of the time they are not a Decision Maker at all. A high percentage of sales people get fooled chasing these folks down the proverbial rabbit hole, learning really nothing about the company or decision making process. Sales people “feel” they are being heard because the technician is always asking for more data. Don’t be fooled!
Technicians are highly risk-averse and their role is to screen, assess or validate your offering. It’s hard to avoid them as they play the roles of effective gatekeepers and influencers. Just don’t start with them. Where possible, have the Decision Maker introduce or refer you to them after the business benefits and advantages have been established.
The End User
End Users are concerned about the features and whether something works well and/or will help them make their job easier. This is an important conversation point because it’s the End User who often will use your product and service and determine if it stays or goes, i.e., you can win or lose here also. End Users are great sources of prospect business and competitive intelligence that can be used for product/service development or positioning, and can help you win against the competition.
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Until next time, keep your Sales in OverDrive!