Experiencing difficulty getting appointments with over-booked and over-whelmed prospects? Are folks not clearing out their calendars for yet one more customer discovery conversation for your startup? Perhaps it’s because new customers – the object of your desire – are a bit jaded. Especially by third quarter. They lump anyone asking for their time into their “same old” category. You end up fighting their stereotypes of salespeople as the proverbial carnival side-show snake oil salesman.
Then again, perhaps you, yourself, aren’t really convinced about what you are trying to sell to them.
Are you selling snake oil, after all?
After 2 ½ quarters of quotas, revenue goals, strategic planning, team meetings – perhaps you and your company are more off target than right on the mark – and money.
Small to mid-sized businesses, and yes solopreneurs and entrepreneurs, are exquisitely sensitive to any fluctuation in the marketplace. And while these types of companies could be more nimble in the marketplace than big companies, well, they aren’t.
There are too few folks involved in too many tactical things. With that type of short-sighted focus, it’s difficult to see the big picture. With too few people wearing too many hats, how many of your human assets are comfortable developing business for your company?
You see what I’m getting at. Big companies have the bodies to put against business development activities, even if the sales folks aren’t too comfortable working with marketing or techie types. In small to mid-sized businesses, however, there’s no comfy cushion protecting employees from their unavoidable role in developing business (aka “sales”) for the company.
Selling (no matter what you call it: customer discovery, customer conversation, business development, customer relationships, you got it) involves everyone in your organization. It’s up to you to communicate what’s involved in a manner that makes everyone a part of the whole. Organizational synergy.
If you, as the leader of your small to mid-sized business, see yourself as a snake-oil salesman, you may not be effective at rallying the troops towards long term revenue objectives. If you are selling the idea of collaborative selling via status quo mindset and language from a post-industrial / non-digital economy (think pre-2008), then perhaps you are Snake Oil Salesman #1.
Take the time to take the time with your staff. Find out what their concerns are about your company, culture, your business model and, quite frankly, the type of folks you do business with (e.g., your customers). Sort of a personal walkabout.
Once you understand your internal customers, and can communicate effectively with them about your vision and goals, they may be less reluctant to assume a cross-functional role. They may be less resistant to selling your vision and your company’s output to your customers.
Otherwise, they perceive themselves as nothing more than a snake-oil salesman or saleswoman. Because no one has taken the time to communicate to them why it doesn’t have to be this way.
How does the culture of your company contribute to a collaborative sales strategy…. Or not?
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo and business- and revenue-producing collaboration and communication tools to small and mid-sized businesses and startups. Download her newest White Paper at her Free Resources Page. She was named one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers 2013. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? focuses on technical / non-technical collaboration strategies and tools.