Do you have a designated role in sales for your company, or are you a technical professional who finds themselves as a non-traditional, perhaps unintentional, seller? Perhaps you are the CEO of your startup. You are responsible for driving revenue for your company, even if you think this is not part of your professional responsibilities. So What?
One of the best questions you can ask yourself, before you hear customers or investors fire it back at you, is
I recommend parking this question on the back burner of your brain.
Before you have another business development or sales engineering conversation, give yourself a firm dose of “So What?” That’s what the folks on the receiving end of your deliverables are asking, like your boss, your colleagues, your customers, your investors. The new business “So What” is when you ask yourself that question before you rush out to the marketplace.
Asking yourself “So What” after each of the following scenarios allows you to become proactive and anticipatory of the ecosystem in which you intend to do business. By creating responses to these questions, you develop a clearer sense of the value you bring to the business table, no matter what your professional discipline.
Connect the dots between “what” you think you need or want to do and “who” and “why” you want/need to do it with. This exercise is a great diagnostic for your team, your company, your customers, and for your own professional development.
- I want-need-have to develop business for my company. “So What” criteria am I using to define the types of customers and markets that my sweet spot is best tuned to serving? Instead of relying on the “qualified” leads my company may feed me, perhaps it’s a better use of my time and talent to do my own homework and start developing A-List Customers.
- I need investors for my established “entrepreneurial” company. “So What” does my situation really represent? Is my company a true startup, or have I latched on to defining myself as an entrepreneur in order to address what I perceive as a new source of funding? Could this cash flow problem be resolved by becoming more successful at new business acquisition? Maybe what I really need is a business coach instead of incurring further debt service to investors.
- I have a great chance of closing any sale if I can schedule a demo. “So What” criteria am I using to determine when, how and to whom to demo? Demo-ing isn’t selling, it’s demo-ing. There still needs to be a selling process and a way to filter “to demo or not to demo.” That, indeed, is my question.
- My passion and commitment about my startup will convince investors to fund me. “So What” is the tangible outcome that I am channeling my passion and commitment towards? Yes, I want to save the world! It will take more than enthusiasm. I will hold off pitching to investors until I can articulate the outcomes that my startup, and my passion, bring to their investment portfolios – and the world.
- If I just keep doing more of what I already am doing, I will build my business. “So What” is involved with “doing more”? I already know the answer to this question. If my “doing more” involves identifying trigger events which may represent business development opportunities, and I follow up with relevant, valuable and insightful information at multiple touch points when pursuing these leads, that’s a productive form of “doing more.” If I make more single-contact, one-and-done, phone calls from leads lists I purchase or my company throws at me, without a strategy to qualify or follow-up, “so what” do I expect to happen, aside from the same-old, same-old?
We all get caught up in the day to day activities of running our businesses. This busy-work may prevent us from assessing our Self-Worth. Take a break every hour or two, get up, walk around, and ask yourself “So What?” have I accomplished today?
Try this exercise out for a week. You may find that it keeps you on task, focused on activities which not only produce business results, but also reinforce your value to your customers, colleagues, company, and Yourself. Let me know how it goes.
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo to small and mid-sized businesses in the manufacturing sector and builds vibrant revenue-producing business strategies for technical startups.