Business apps are great. They are convenient tools that get us the information we think we need, to increase the quality of our business lives. Of course there’s the matter of deciding which tools to use. In order to make that decision, we need to have a handle on how our business operates. We need to conduct some sort of needs assessment. We need to identify the type of information we need to gather in order to make that decision.
Or do we?
How about using that startup CEO, hungry sales person or overzealous engineer as our business App?
Have you ever thought about yourself this way, taking the perspective of many of the folks you are prospecting? Think about those conversations you have with them, either on the phone, Skype or via email. What is the nature of their responses to you?
Do they tell you: Show me more? How do you propose to do that? To which you response blah-blah-blah-blah. Because you have the solution for their alleged pain.
Except they really aren’t in pain.
Perhaps you receive a response to an email that goes something like: “We are in the process of evaluating several new vendors at this time. Please send us information so we can include you in our decision-making process.” How do you feel? Could it be that you are jumping for joy and excitedly preparing a response full of details, facts, figures, design solutions, demos, and all sorts of what-not, in the hopes of positioning you and your company as the solutions-provider of choice for whatever it is that their company supposedly is making a decision about?
Except they are not making any type of decision at all. Not at this time, or any time. Gotcha! They are using you as their personal, business data-gathering App.
In your eagerness to demonstrate your value to them as a resource, you are sending them the equivalent of “showing up and throwing up” demos, designs, data, information, pricing, you name it. You are throwing everything at your prospective customer, thinking that they will review all this stuff and somehow figure out how you can be the answer to all of their business problems.
Think about it. Does your strategy make sense? To you?
You are basically giving away your intellectual property to them, for free. You are their App. You are more responsive, and certainly less expensive, than their asking one of their interns to gather the same information. You are more responsive, and certainly less expensive, than their hiring a consultant to gather the same information for them.
And you provide your App services for free, mistakenly thinking it will result in business for you.
Once you provide all this information to customers and prospects, free of charge, are you expecting them to pay for your services? You are setting yourself, and your company, up as a commodity and a stereotype: hungry for business, willing to “do what it takes” to earn business. You may not be making the distinction between providing value versus throwing a multitude of data at a prospect.
In this fast-paced, globally competitive, first responder world of business development, you still may not understand the rules of engagement for customer acquisition. No matter how “seasoned” you are.
Let’s make that a goal for us to explore, together, in 2013.
What are your business development concerns for the New Year?
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. 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.