Friday, November 23, 2012

On Selling Capital Equipment and the Spinach Syndrome


Many Sales Managers and or Directors, have this strange idea that the potential clients a sales-person visits, the better. In Industrial Marketing, which comprises of high or medium value systems selling, “cold-calling prospects” is definitely not a good idea. 

Now folks, let me tell you a story. You know how your Maa used to say ‘don’t do that-it invites the evil eye”. and… if you asked why? The answer was invariably “.. That-does-not-concern-you" or “because –I-said-so”? My mother said that my gran had said 'spinach should not be eaten at night'.Now, I had a nice think on this one and I think I deduced the reason. Indian spinach has some green bugs, which in the night, are difficult to see and separate.A 100 years back everything was done by kerosene-lamp-illumination. 
Probably, an important man found a few bugs in his spinach at night. So, what did he do? The man of the house contemplated the question and said " Bingo! I'll just put this rule “no-spinach-at-night" and I won't tell them the reason too”. So most probably, that's the way it happened, with all old sayings too.
Now, maybe you can appreciate the reason for the anecdote. Cold Calling in sales is something like the spinach and insect at night case. Decision makers in Industrial Plants have no time to entertain sales-people on fishing expeditions. Cold calling was never very popular with customers but it had to be done. This was the situation earlier as without cold calls; there was no way to collect authentic market information. Now as you are aware, information is power. The person with the greater power wins. 

Hence, the earlier Gurus of sales boasted of their cold calling prowess. Sales book even had chapters on how to get past the ogre which was always the tough secretary of the decision maker, chewing nails. What these guru’s don’t realize that times have changed. (Irrespective of how many copies of Spencer Johnson’s Who took my cheese? they may own-they don’t understand change) So, they continue to send new sales people into the market …” a sales person and working in the office…” No! that will never do. These people have sever affliction of what I call  the spinach syndrome”.

  In Industrial Sales & Marketing of Capital Equipment, the internet has unseated the cold-call from its “ throne of indispensability" . Cold calling now  can be retired off and allowed to stay on for a few years more as an adviserInformation is power. Having information gives you an immense advantage over your competitors. This is all the more true in industrial marketing, where competition is limited but of the best quality and the value of a small order is not less than $25,000

But then comes the million dollar question, how can information be collected then. From the internet of course...this is evolution, you can't stop it so you do the next big thing, you join it. There are many people who will disagree but aren't there always?

How can one collect information from the web? Company web sites hardly give out that kind of  information. It is here that a little bit of creative thinking helps. I have listed out a few types of web-sites below where all information, industrial marketing managers require are available.

(1)B2B trading portals and Business Directories: These give out all the information and all you have to do is to know where the information is. (An example is which has a section on projects. You are given the location, the value and the promoter. The website even has the projects classified sector wise. What else do you need?'
(2)Job Portals: These give out information in the form of “Project Managers required for…” or “We require for our new project…”
(3)Stock Market sites: Watch out for the analysis given in these sites. All new projects from the plan level may be found here.
(4)Websites of Consultants: Consultants often give out details of new consulting jobs they are working on.If you think that you will get full details of a project from tapping into the above or similar resources, you will be disappointed. What you will get is “leads”. Taking these leads, do some research. With practice, you will soon become adept and fast in the research. Industrial selling initiated by researching the web, is called SBR (Selling by Research).
Teach your sales people to research encourage them to do so and I can guarantee you that you will never be short of leads. In many companies, employees are not allowed to browse the net. This is a prime example of the spinach Syndrome. Here, the onus lies on the marketing manager to convince the management that this should not be applicable to the Sales & Marketing Department.

The next time your salesperson visits a potential customer, insist that he or she he knows what the prospect requires. Ask the prospect for a presentation permission. Ask them to tell the prospect how your products can help them save money. During the presentation, practice relationship selling. Show and prove that you know your product. Now, compare this to the competitor’s sales rep that pesters the customer with questions. No prizes for guessing who is more likely to be favored by the prospect for the order! Monetize your sales pitch. Don't say my equipment has 90% efficiency- say "with my equipment your energy costs will come down 20%, which means a savng of $10,000 p.a. (just a figure I plucked from the air)

Hope you liked the post. if you did, please bolster my spirits by clicking on the icons below. Have an awesome day


Thursday, November 08, 2012

What is Relationship Selling?

           Today in the capital equipment and machinery market, business volume is growing and so are the targets. But, you know that plum order from the nice customer is all yours”.  Then one day you go to your customer one fine morning, after several weeks, and ask him about “my order” [ look at the arrogance] .And he says “Oh that order, it went to the competition Ltd”.. as you realize that the order is lost forever-the one high value order on which your target was built up on.

Later on, after you finish berating your juniors and your boss stops berating you; you realize that you never had a relationship with the customer at all. This is an example of what-not-to- do in relationship selling. Do not take anyone for granted! In our line (high value engg. equipment selling) it makes you redundant and in our race (homo-sapiens)it leads to your extinction

Say, you are looking over 20 accounts, do an accounts versus sales analysis. You will find that at the most 5 or 6 account for 70% to 75% of your sale. You try to find out how many visits you made this year in 7 months, and it so turns out that you made only 1 visit, because you thought that would buy only from you. In addition, you tried to sell to the 15 customers who give you maximum 25% of the sales. What foolishness

In relationship selling, you make a relation with the customer’s key man. He may not be the person who signs the order but it is his decision, all the way. Develop a professional relationship with him. Tell the truth to him and no bullshit please. Tell him that you want the order but you also want to have a seller-buyer relation with him, so that it’s not one way traffic.
You try to help him in whatever way possible. You offer suggestions, which can help the customer increase his productivity. At first, the customer may be suspicious but later he will realize that you are sincere and honest. He will trust you although he may not trust your product. If that happens, you have to hard sell him (or her) and you should be able to do what you promise. Visit him once a week-fortnight.  This gentleman or lady then will be your friend come hell or high water. It’s you he will trust and your word will be the last word on the subject.

Build up your relationships today, all in your major revenue-earning customers, and you will not regret it no matter which company you represent, in the future. If you have a good product, the customer will buy it just because you are selling it. Hard to believe, but this is true folks. I have done it myself. There are exceptions to every rule. If you are selling swords to Atilla-the –Hun, then maybe it will not be wise to have a close relationship.

With price becoming so competitive and quality being measured in microns, the day is not far away when your relation will count. Build win-win relationships with your customers, and not only will you get the business, but you will also gain a friend. This is the magic of relationship selling.

I know a gentleman (very senior) who is now in IOCL Gujarat Refinery. We still keep in touch. And I know that if I go to him with a proposal, he will consider it, because he will be sure that what I propose is a win-win thing.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

A Sneak Peek of my NEW BLOG

I can hardly wait for this,

Encounter Specialist Sadhu Agashe is back in town. And this's personal....Good lines
..Hope Ramu does justice to the story.