Business Development Training: Services reaching Maturity?

Are you seeing more competition for each engagement?
Is it harder for you to get a decent price for your services?
Are the Purchasing Dept involved in getting you to drop your price?
Are longtime clients putting out RFPs for “your” work?

Maybe it’s time to recognise that your services have reached the Maturity stage or commodity stage of their Cycle.  It will get more and more difficult to make money on that particular work.
You’ll begin to see lower-cost competitors, off-shoring, or begin to lose to in-house teams as the mystery goes out of your services. The symptoms above are reliable indicators that it’s time to begin reducing your dependence on that work and find new problems to solve

One of the big factors that causes price pressure in mature categories is decreased risk. The first time a company tackles a problem the perceived risk is high. They want to get it done right, and quickly, so they’re less sensitive to cost and place greater value on external expertise as a way to reduce risk.

After something has been done a number of times, the risk of getting it done right goes way down, so the perceived value of the service declines,and the client no longer feel the need to pay expensive external consultants.

When risk and business impact declines, so does your access to key people. While the top people pay attention to unfamiliar matters with potentially high stakes, once the risk goes down, they delegate downward and move on to emerging issues that have greater risk and impact. They’ll still like and respect you, but it you’re associated with issues that are no longer relevant to them, neither are you. This is why when your problem matures, you need to be associated with a different business problem within the same industry.

To avoid suddenly realizing that you’re in a tough spot such as described in the opening paragraph, become an industry expert, knowledgeable about your clients. Challenges and opportunities, and keep yourself well informed so you can recognize the early signs that the problem that drives demand for your service is maturing and declining in significance. If you know what’s going on in the industry, you’ll know which problems to shift your association toward.

Always invest in emerging issues, preferably in robust, growing industries.

Rainmaker Training ; A Cross-Selling Workshop?

Can the people across your company describe what you do for your customers?  

Can they really describe it to your satisfaction?
Could their descriptions motivate a client to ask for more information on the service?

Try these workshops with your team as a test.

It helps if your cross-selling workshop facilitator has had some exposure to Sales and Marketing concepts and References /Case Studies.
If you need help You can email us on  info@rainmaker-coaching.co.uk

Conversational Elevator Pitch and Value Propositions

This workshop is designed to get your teams to articulate what benefits you and your people deliver to your clients.
First you go around the room explaining that you are the Chief Executive of one of your major clients.
Shake people’s hand and say ” Hi I’m John Smith. I’m Chief Executive here. Who are you and what do you do around here?”

We suggest that you try this now (go on stand up from your desk now! )
Go and see what your team actually say!!

Common things we hear are….

  • I’m a Q.S (that’s a Quantity Surveyor for the uninitiated)
  • I’m an Enterprise Solutions Architect…  ? Well if we ever need one we’ll ask!
  • A few use technical jargon loaded statements that are unintelligible to the non expert
  • Others give a detailed description of the project that they are working on and the people they work with
  • Or One Wag just said …”Do you know where the loos are here?”

If your people give you sensible short and succinct answers then stop now.
There’s really little to be gained by continuing ..
HOWEVER if they can’t deliver that kind of message then carry-on

Step 1. What are the long / the medium / the short answers?

  • Introduce the team to the 5 areas of Business Benefits
  • Get them to describe something that you and your team do that delivers …
    1. An ability for your client to increase their revenues
    2. An ability to reduce their costs per transaction
    3. Increases their employee productivity
    4. Allows them to increase their customer satisfaction
    5. Makes the business compliant with one or more laws of the land
  • Have the teams connect what you do to one or more of these benefit areas
  • Get them to come up with a 5 or 6 sentence answer to the above CEO’s question
  • Get them to shorten it and make it punchy
  • Next job is to have a 2 sentence summary that still mentions major benefits

Expect to see people deliver sentences that are full of techno-speak. Disallow those
However you’ll see people come up with benefit connections you hadn’t seen.
You might also see that the team does not know what benefits you bring to your clients at all! 
You might also see that given some of your answers that your marketing collateral does not make benefit statements at all!! ( We did only find that in one case)

You should now have your Elevator Pitch and you should make sure everyone in the company can say it.

Step 2: Describing your Value Propositions to parts of your client decision making unit (DMU)

  • Ask each team to describe the various players in the typical DMU for their customer
  • Ask ”What do these people worry about?
    • Senior Executives  (MD, FD, ITD, Engineering):
    • These??  Courts / Cash / Customers / Competition / Competency
    •  Middle Management (Business, Financial, Technical)
    • Specialists (Business, Financial, Technical)
  • Have them describe your value proposition to each category and segment
  • Capture and share the output with the team
  • Get the team to own sharing stories on clients

If this sounds like something you could see working in your team…

If you’d like us to act as a Cross-Selling workshop facilitator and run this workshop for you

Call us or email us info@rainmaker-coaching.co.uk

 

Sales Training : Be Interested THEN be Interested #2

This is a follow up and taking a different slant from our previous blog …

Be Interested then be Interesting #1

When meeting new people, many people put themselves under pressure to talk.
Their head is filled with fears like “What should I talk about? What shall I say? ”
They enter these initial encounters with themselves at the centre of their mind!
They forget about the other person because they’re too busy thinking of what to say!
They’re not really listening at all..
A conversation with them is merely taking it in turns to talk.

Don’t rack your brains thinking of things to say. Think questions and listen well.
That way you invite the other person to do most of the talking.

We suggest that when you go into a situation where you are meeting someone for the first time, go into that encounter with only one thing on your mind – THEM.
Treat that person like they are the most important person in the world.
Why? Because to that person they are the most important person.

To build rapport you need to find common ground. Yes?
How do you find common ground? You need to discover it.
How do you discover it? Be curious and ask questions about the other person.
You know the possible common ground from your side.
Your challenge is to get the other person talking so that you can discover Their common ground with you.

Let’s get them talking.  What do other people like to talk to about?

1. Themselves
Get them to talk about their favourite subject with questions like

  • “What are YOU up to these days?”
  • ” What’s the job you do for Oracle? and What does that entail?”
  • “What are the top 3 things you do for your business?”
  • “Tell me about yourself “
  • Alternatively you may want to say ” Go on then , give me the two minute elevator pitch on you” .
    • That avoids you standing there for 30 minutes listening to a complete life history
  • * “I hear YOU have been doing this…Is that correct? “

2. Opinions:

Ask questions like

  • “What do you think of the traffic getting here tonight?”
  • “What is your opinion on the Tube strike?”
  • “What do you think of that TV programme last night?”
  • “Does your business have issues with this?”
  • “Lots of our clients are saying they have issues with this. Is that something you’ve dealt with?”

3. People :

Ask questions like

  • “Would you vote for them if they asked you to?”
  • “Do you know anyone who can help me with this isssue?”
  • “I really like John’s sense of humour. Do you?”

4. Things:

Ask questions like

  • “I love YOUR car, how old is it?”
  • “Are you APPLE or Microsoft?”
  • “iphone or Android”

When they ask about you and then it is your turn.
When you do talk however, link it into what the other person has already said and you’ll be on common ground.
They’ll have a great conversation with you.

Try this and let us know how you get on    info@rainmaker-coaching.co.uk
and Do read the other blog too Be Interested then be Interesting #1

Rainmaking Training : Preparing for the initial meeting

Here are my 6 Steps to have a Great First Appointment with a new Prospect:

We do cover this and other topics on our sales training and Rainmaking Training workshops

Your first step is to establish with your prospect that this is what we call an “All Ears” meeting.
In that we will be “All Ears” whist you tell us about , you , your business and your issues.

1. This is a fact finding trip
Explain that you are on a fact finding mission with the prospect.
Yes, you have a service that may improve their business.
However you need to learn more about them and their business in order to know for sure and to make any suggestions or recommendations.

2. Agree an outcome for the meeting with them …
You should have sent an email with an outline agenda to them to cement the meeting in their diary.
Go through that quickly with them if you did.
If not, then agree early on what you want to cover with the prospect and ideally how long it will take.
Say something like “I think this meeting wil take about 45 minutes of your time. Is that ok?
How about we jointly conclude at the end of the meeting whether it’s worth taking a next step together or not?”

3.Get down to business quickly.
Please do talk about the weather and traffic and do accept a drink if it’s offered.
Some small talk can develop a little rapport and start to develop a relationship with the prospect and putting them at ease.
However do keep it to a minimum.
Respect their time and yours.

4.Don’t talk about you and your solution too soon.
(See also the blog on the trap door question)
The purpose of this meeting is to learn more about your prospect’s business.
Then you can determine the best solution for them and if it’s what you do at all.

5. Prepare your questions:
The questions you ask need to yield the answers you need. Poor questions will not do that.
With good questions you can and will control the meeting and get your prospect talking and you listening.
You can use thought provoking questions to challenge the thinking of your prospects.
You can also demonstrate by good questions that you have knowledge and interest in their business.
Over time write down the questions that work for you and build a library for yourself that you refer to before key appointments.

6. Have a conversation:
Having a clear goal and outcome for the meeting is great…
However please have a conversation with a fellow human being.
Don’t make it an interrogation of a robot.
Srike a balance between asking questions and putting your prospect at ease.
Use a conversational tone.

If you can do these 6 steps I think you will have a great first sales appointment

You might also like our appointment Planning guide . It’s FREE to download Simple Rainmaker meeting Planner
T
ry it out the next time you meet a new prospect. See if it helps

Let us know what you think of it. How do you plan your initial meetings. info@rainmaker-caching.co.uk

Business Development Training: Focus on your “Home” Dept? Maybe not

Services Deliverers who aim to be Rainmakers usually think that what they really, really want is a relationship with the key person in their “Home Department”. Accountants probably want to pitch to the FD, IT consultants the CIO, Surveyors the Facilities Director, Lawyers, Head of Legal.

Most consider it to be a success to be able to pick up the phone and chat to them.

Why do I suggest Rainmakers also pay attention to line-of-business management?

The Home Dept. is typically a trailing indicator of demand for your services, not a leading indicator. You’ll usually find that it was a business change , requirement for new behavior, competitor change, sudden change in performance up or down that created the demand for your services.

IT matters don’t always start as IT matters.
They often derive from someone saying something like “Couldn’t we use technology to cut our costs here / Improve our responsiveness / Flexibility”.
Some readers may be thinking, “What about when IT upgrades their servers. Isn’t that the start of the deal?” For that example maybe. However I suggest that it would be of benefit to understand why the business needs more / better / faster capacity and who in the business originated it.

I think you’ll find that the line-of-business managers, out there in customer facing positions trigger much of demand for your services. They’re the first to be aware of the business issue that may later become an IT issue, or require an IT component to its solution. If you participate in those discussions you’re very likely to know about opportunities or threats before the company’s team know about it.
If you’re part of that early conversation, because you understand it more and can influence the thinking (write the spec) your odds of being chosen to participate in the solution go up a lot.
By the time it’s defined as an IT issue, you enter the game as a vendor begging for a slice of the pie.

I suggest that using a higher level industry or company level issue may well be the key that opens the door for you. You can differentiate by your knowledge of the business issues as well as the great services you deliver.

Business Development Training: Do you have an outcome and plan in mind?

Vision without Action is a Dream
Action without a Vision is a Nightmare

I think lots of business development actions I hear of seem to be doing something but with no clear purpose or plan.
For me they fall into the Nightmare category.

Often in the context of business development people say things like
“I’m having lunch with…”
“I’m writing an article about…”
“I’m speaking at…”
“I’m going to this networking event”.

However they often don’t consider what’s the goal? And What’s the return on investment? is that activity for its own sake? Is it TAMO management (Then A Miracle Occurs) and business is generated.
We should really ask and “Then what? What happens next”?  Can we define a credible sequence of events that may lead to a desirable outcome?.

Here’s an example.

“I’m going to the XXYZZ Conference this November in Birmingham.”

With the conference fee, travel expense, and four days out of the office, that’s a pretty significant investment. Let’s ask what’s your goal for the event?

“My goals are to
1. Associate myself with the problem of the industry talent shortages.
2. I also want to find six people who are willing to discuss the topic in more depth with me after the event.”

What will you do between now and November to raise the odds of achieving those goals and justifying your investment?

“I’ll email my industry contacts to see how many are attending.
I’ll try to arrange to see them at a specific time/place during the event.
For those unable or unwilling to commit to that now, I’ll exchange contact details
and get permission to contact them after the event.”

Then what?

“I’ll develop a profile of the size and type of companies, and the key stakeholders within them, for whom my big enough to invest problem is likely important. ‘I’ll scan name badges looking for appropriate titles and appropriate companies; no match, no chat. I’m not networking; I’m hunting for prospects. After a minute or so of their response, I’ll graciously say I don’t want to monopolize their attention, and ask if it makes sense for us to continue the conversation after we return from the event.”

Then what?
“When I get home, I’ll send ‘follow up’ emails, reminding them of our topical discussion and that they thought it made sense to pick up the thread this week, and ask when it would be convenient to do so.”

Then what?
“During that discussion, after drilling down into the industry-specific topic, I’ll transition to exploring their company-specific version of it. If they acknowledge having the problem, or likely being subject to it before too long, I’ll learn the Cost of Doing Nothing. Assuming it’s significant, I’ll have confirmed that this is a legitimate sales opportunity. I’ll then begin the stakeholder alignment process to identify the core decision group and logical internal champion.”

That’s what I mean by having thought the first action all the way through to the desired outcome.
Will it play out like this?
Maybe, maybe not, but it certainly could play out exactly like this.
The point is that you’re no longer hoping for the best, but are now applying a considered strategy that requires only reasonably predictable responses to succeed.
At a large multi-day event, you should easily be able to come home with six legitimate prospects — which was your measurable goal.

The “then what” discipline isn’t just for major events and investments like conferences or trade shows.
You should do it for everything.
“I’m going to have lunch with Steve Jones.” Then what? Or, “I’m going to write an article for Computer News.
” Ok, then what? Or, “We’re meeting with CIO at XYZCo.” Then what?
If you can’t envision a sequence that results in getting what you want, the odds of it happening are miniscule.

Business Development Training: Suspects, Prospects, Opportunities…

I thought I’d write a little more about the differences that distinguish
suspects from prospects, prospects from opportunities,
opportunities from deals and deals from clients.

1. SUSPECTS  qualify for the minimum investment from you:
This is someone who, because of their position or membership of a Decision Making Unit (DMU) in a segment that you suspect experiences the (big enough to invest) problem that drives demand for your service.  Or perhaps their circumstances make it likely that they mayexperience this problem in the not too distant future.  Any person who you SUSPECT COULD buy your service is a Suspect.

SUSPECTS progress to be A PROSPECT 

2. If she has made contact with you and she seems to agree that this maybe a problem and you may have a role in it’s solution. A quick definition is that there is a Prospect or Chance that the problem may be discovered or brought out into the open at some point in the future. Your role maybe simply to PROSPECT  (as in prospecting for gold!) with the person to discover the problem

The PROSPECT progresses to an OPPORTUNITY 

3. When she confirms that her company is experiencing your big-enough-to-invest problem. There may well be an opportunity for you to influence or write the initial specification for the desired solution and all that this does to your chances of winning the later deal.

NB**Nothing in the above 3 categories should ever be forecast in any future review of possible business meeting

The OPPORTUNITY progresses to a DEAL

4.  A working definition of a DEAL is where the person or company will “Buy something (that you can supply) from someone in the next business period (month / qtr / yr)”
This is evidenced by the fact that your contact reveals that the Cost of Doing Nothing in her informed opinion is too high to ignore
She concludes that the company must take action to solve the problem
She actively helps you identify and engage the other decision stakeholders
Until all these things happen, please don’t list this as a “DEAL”.
Up until this point you should not invest any major amount of time into your Sales Funnel except to write outline specs for your solutions.

However once at this point your Business Development processes and skills should kick into high gear to close this DEAL.

5. Obviously, a CLIENT is someone who has hired you.

Each of these 5 states in your Sales Funnel have a different value.
Each justifies a different investment level and different actions from you.

If you have comments or questions please get in touch info@rainmaker-coaching.co.uk

Business Development Training: What’s your Focus? Individuals or Sector?

I’ve worked with different services deliverers, accountants, engineers, consultants, surveyors
All of them want to be Rainmakers and generate business for themselves and their businesses.
Often they initially decide that their best approach is to target a few people in a small number of specific companies. They invest lots of time trying to develop a relationship with one specific person in the hope that they may buy their services.

The focus on individuals is risky.
I suggest that there’s a less risky and in the longer run more effective way to go.
If the person you’ve targeted leaves that company or that company merges with another company or is taken over the playing field is changed irrevocably and you are not even on square 1.

I get that the logic that applies is

“This person buys this kind of service.
I’m really good at delivering this.
If I spend enough time with them they’ll buy some of me
Once I’ve landed we can expand”

Often the individual in the company is “known” by the Business Developer.
I have even seen where this approach has worked …

However I think there is a way to Re-Frame this problem of getting New New Business.

I’d suggest you would be better to build  a “Funnel” of Opportunities in a specific industry .
A funnel because it’s wider at the top than at the bottom in a way that you will see below.

Your aim is to attract Opportunities to you rather than you having to wait for and push for opportunities. You want to work with people who want to buy-from-you rather than identify people-to-sell-to

This lowers the risk and gives you choice of the kind of work to do and people to work with.
People identify themselves as ready to buy and by working with them you are not waiting for people to be ready. You could describe this as the difference between Marketing (one-to-many) and Selling (1 to 1).

Either way you approach this requirement you will be judged by

  • your understanding of the industry/business context
  • knowledge of it’s issues and problems
  • the applicability and usefulness of your ideas
  • the creativity of the solutions you advocate

If you join in the industry conversation, share your thinking on problems and issues
that have sufficient impact that companies must take action to deal with,
and that you can solve, you’ll create the following Opportunity Funnel

Sales Funnel

 

From the total universe of possible people in the industry who might “buy-You” a % who see your ideas will find them relevant, and pay attention to you.

They’ll subscribe to blogs, email list, Twitter, LinkedIn,
Let’s call these “Your Suspects”
Add your list of people in specific companies into here

a % of those who engage with you will decide that they like how you think. They’ll link you to that industry issue in their minds
Let’s Call these your “Prospects”

a % who link you with the solution to the problem will have to deal with it.  Let’s call these your “Opportunities”

a % who have to deal with the problem will seek your opinion.
They will have to buy something from someone
Let’s call these your “Deals”

 

a %  who consult you will discover that they like you
as much as they like your thinking and they’ll hire you
Let’s call these your “Clients” ?

Now your task is to pick an industry or a segment of a market where

1. The problem you solve is emerging.
2. It has significant enough impact that it commands action and investment
3. It occurs frequently enough that you don’t have to have a huge market share to succeed.

It will not be easy, but in my experience, it will be easier and more successful
than targetting companies and people in them and trying to SELL to them.
It will also give you a regular flow of business opportunities that you can work on alone or with others in your firm

You may also be interested in:

Business Development Training: Focus on your “Home” Dept? Maybe not

Services Deliverers who aim to be Rainmakers usually think that what they really, really want is a relationship with the key person in their “Home Department”. Accountants probably want to pitch to the FD, IT consultants the CIO, Surveyors the Facilities Director, Lawyers, Head of Legal.

Most consider it to be a success to be able to pick up the phone and chat to them.

Why do I suggest Rainmakers also pay attention to line-of-business management?

The Home Dept. is typically a trailing indicator of demand for your services, not a leading indicator. You’ll usually find that it was a business change , requirement for new behavior, competitor change, sudden change in performance up or down that created the demand for your services.

IT matters don’t always start as IT matters.
They often derive from someone saying something like “Couldn’t we use technology to cut our costs here / Improve our responsiveness / Flexibility”.
Some readers may be thinking, “What about when IT upgrades their servers. Isn’t that the start of the deal?” For that example maybe. However I suggest that it would be of benefit to understand why the business needs more / better / faster capacity and who in the business originated it.

I think you’ll find that the line-of-business managers, out there in customer facing positions trigger much of demand for your services. They’re the first to be aware of the business issue that may later become an IT issue, or require an IT component to its solution. If you participate in those discussions you’re very likely to know about opportunities or threats before the company’s team know about it.
If you’re part of that early conversation, because you understand it more and can influence the thinking (write the spec) your odds of being chosen to participate in the solution go up a lot.
By the time it’s defined as an IT issue, you enter the game as a vendor begging for a slice of the pie.

I suggest that using a higher level industry or company level issue may well be the key that opens the door for you. You can differentiate by your knowledge of the business issues as well as the great services you deliver.

Business Development Training : ASSUME makes an ASS out of U and ME

Ever got yourself into the mindset where you ASSUME that the prospect should buy what you’re selling?

Ever found that making that assumption comes back to bite you?

Yes me too…

Because of our biased view we have moved from
“Based on what I know, if I were in their place I would buy”
to
“Therefore, they should buy.”

Two problems here:
1.”What I know” cannot ever be what the prospect knows
2.I can never be the person and know all they know, so any conclusions I make are guesses at best

Often we do this unconsciously and sometimes even with the best of intentions.
If we do not co-create our solutions, by definition, we cannot represent the buyer’s view;

Assuming causes us to begin presenting our service/solution.
We try to get them to agree that we’re right and that they should buy.
Now it’s almost impossible for us to explore what the prospect would welcome discussing with us.
We’ve effectively moved passed that phase in the selling buying process and it’s difficult to go back.
Because whatever we say , the buyer thinks we’ve shown our hand and now want to sell them whatever we said.

Instead, we should always start our business development meeting aiming to investigate with an open mind to learn whether or not the prospect’s circumstances, challenges have sufficient impact to require him to buy any solution, much less our own.
If there’s insufficient need to take action at all, there’s no chance of getting them to make any decision.
And that means there’s no need to take a specific action such as hiring you.

Don’t sell TO that prospect;
Co create a solution (with you at the centre of it) …
Sell WITH them.
And sometimes be prepared to work through a scenario with a client which leads to them not hiring you.
That will do loads for your credibility and they will come back to you when the chance arrives.
However you’ll have to go find another short term prospect.

You’ll find that his help will make all the difference in the world in your rate of success.

Remember: ASSUME makes an ASS out of U and ME  so don’t do it!