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Posts Tagged ‘key decision maker’

5 Basics for Prospecting Fortune 1000 Companies

Posted on: November 21st, 2014 by Monika No Comments

In a consultative sales environment, companies that target Fortune 1000 prospects all struggle to stand out from the crowd. How will my sales people get the attention from these prospects? That’s really the big question that keeps all sales managers awake at night.

Some companies think that hiring as many sales people as possible, having them hit the phones and “dialing for dollars” will be the answer. At times they end up hiring “telemarketing” people or sales people who only work on a commission basis to play the numbers game.

But honestly, in today’s ever more competitive environment, do you want your sales efforts to be all about quantity? If you’re looking to stand out and embrace a consultative approach, you’ll agree with me that it’s really all about quality. Once you know who to target and what your unique positioning is, then you can ramp up the call/e-mail volume. But first you need to know how you can serve your prospects best and who your target is.

Be Consultative, Mindful and Relevant

A consultative sales approach starts with understanding what you want to say to your prospects.  Did you develop a message that will resonate with your audiences? Remember, in order for people to buy, your solution has to help them make money, save money or time, maximize their potential and achieve their goals or elevate their company’s or their own reputation.

Focus on Value, not Features and Benefits

Therefore a message focusing on the greatness of your product or service will most likely not be as effective. Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes and try to find out why you would buy your service. Your message needs to focus on the value to your decision maker. Most sales people lead with features or benefits and forget that their counterparts do the same. For example, good customer service is essential but hardly unique and certainly not a differentiator. Good customer service is also something that people take for granted. Every company with a service offering will claim to have good customer service, they certainly wouldn’t mention it if it sucked, would they?

A global presence on the other hand can be a differentiator, as long as it is important to your prospects.

In the End – People Buy from People

The next step is to develop a message or script that you as the sales person can own. If sales people don’t believe in the message they are communicating, they will come across as inauthentic. Prospects will feel that they being “sold to” rather than advised. As soon as a sales person sounds scripted, people will most likely lose interest. Even when you prospect Fortune 1000 companies you shouldn’t forget that it is people who are making decisions. People don’t like to be sold to, but they appreciate help. If you can offer something of value to them, it will help you build rapport and trust. Trust is essential in building relationships, on a personal and on a business level. Remember the old adage? Know – Like – Trust. Never forget that it is people you are targeting.

Who Are the Decision-Makers?

And then comes the really, really hard part. Who within the organization should you call on? In using a consultative sales approach, it is essential to be clear about and establish who the final decision-maker is or, more likely, who the decision-makers are.

In prospecting Fortune 1000 companies you will need to approach and build relationships with multiple decision-makers, or perhaps a committee making the decisions together. There will be different levels of decision-makers or buyer influencers. And if you want to stand out from the crowd, you’ll work to understand what is of value and relevance to each of these different influencers. Will they actually be using your solution? Will they be passing on recommendations to use your solution? Or, will they be making the final decision? – In other words, can they say “no”, when all others say yes?

Do Your Research & Be Relevant

A CFO will most likely respond to a message that will help him save money. A COO will be interested in optimizing workflow and a CTO will want to hear about the latest and best technology solutions. A CMO on the other hand will want to hear about the benefits that a technology solution will bring to optimizing marketing efforts and not the benefits of the technology itself.

Knowing who your decision maker is will help you customize your message and it will enable you to speak directly to their needs and the industry challenges. That is why research is essential when it comes to good prospecting.

We have documented time and again when applying a consultative sales approach, how important it is to be relevant (mention industry challenges) mindful (remember, it’s people we are targeting) and to do your research so you come across as a knowledgeable and professional advisor – not as some unqualified sales person trying to sell something.

RFPs – Curse or blessing?

Posted on: February 21st, 2012 by Monika No Comments

Is your company struggling to respond to RFPs? Are you at times almost going into a lockdown? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you probably know what I am talking about. Resources being pulled from all departments, long work days and sometimes nights, frantic scrambling to make your company and service offering look the best. But have you considered the possibility that all the effort often doesn’t matter?  For there are many RFPs that were really written by somebody else!

What do I mean by that?

It means that the incumbent provider or perhaps the “new kid on the block” helped shape and design the RFP. The decision whom to award the contract was already made before the document was sent out. Many companies are required by law to issue an RFP or RFQ.  Sometimes they honestly consider other contestants but often they know who will end up winning the project.

Why do companies then respond to RFPs?

I have asked myself that question many times. About five years ago I was consulting for an event marketing agency in New York and during one of their strategy meetings (where I was invited as an advisor) the subject of a new RFP was brought up by one of their account managers. There was a large RFP that needed responding to issued by a major Pharma company. There was an intense discussion about resources and costs. When I asked whether they had considered NOT responding, the expression on their faces said it all. They had never even entertained the idea. It was almost as if I had asked them to move Christmas to the 25th of January. An interesting discussion followed and it was agreed to put together a checklist of qualifying criteria for responding to further RFPs, such as

  • Are we in a good position to answer to this RFP (from a resource standpoint)?
  • Do we know enough about the prospect to stand a fair chance?
  • Does our service offering truly match what is outlined in the RFP?
  • Do we have access to the people who issued the RFP?
  • And many more…..

Why do some companies struggle with an RFP if it doesn’t make sense?

Because it’s a widespread view that it’s easier to respond than to actively prospect. Instead of establishing a mindful sales process where prospective target companies are chosen and a pipeline is built, many organizations just sit back and wait for RFPs to come in. It provides the “false” sense of sales activity. And in addition it drains resources that could be better put to use in business development. Building a mindful sales approach and choosing to target companies that are a better match than the ones that issue RFPs might initially cost some time and money. Your end result will be a much more cost effective client acquisition and more rewarding.

When does it make sense to respond to RFPs?

In my opinion, the following two elements should always be present: 1) When you or someone in your organization has access to the key decision makers(s), and 2) When the RFP requirements are well aligned with your company’s offerings and resources. In other words, if you are invited to shape the RFP and you know that the RFP was issued because the prospect is not happy with the current provider, then go for it. If, on the other hand the prospect tells you that they are quite happy with the existing provider but an RFP is issued to find out if there are potential improvements, the chances of winning will be fairly low.

When prospecting and developing business, always ask yourself those questions:

  • Does my service offering help my clients make money and/or
  • Does my service offering help my clients save money and/or
  • Does my service offering help elevate my client’s reputation internally