Are you a sales person who avoids calling on manufacturing and technology-intensive companies full of engineers? Then you are limiting your sales potential. Because you feel the type of personalities in these companies make you feel stupid.
I’m speaking to you in these two scenarios. Read on.
Scenario 1: Business is getting harder and harder to acquire in this post-recession, global economy. Every appointment you make, phone conversation you have, prospecting voicemail and email message you leave, counts. It counts a lot. Your competitors are prospecting the same companies that you currently call on. You are looking for ways to expand the types of companies you can prospect, but are avoiding many companies in the manufacturing sector because their style of talking and listening doesn’t match up very well with yours or the sales spiels created by your company. You are leaving out what could represent more than half of your potential business. You are short-changing your business intelligence as well.
Scenario 2: You have a business development or sales role for one of these manufacturing and engineering-intensive companies. You may feel the execs and project managers dismiss your expertise once you identify, qualify and cultivate prospects and bring those warm leads in-house. That’s when your responsibilities apparently end and theirs start. Although you have brought the prospect home, the internal managers end up continuing the dialogue you started. The internal project managers handling your input achieve the accolades when the project becomes won business and the technical work begins. Either way, you both are engaging in only half of what your relationship could really mean in terms of business and revenue generation.
Whether you work with or for engineering-intensive companies, or sell to these design and manufacturing companies, your future sales success hinges on your ability to develop your skill set so you can have these business developing conversations with current and prospective customers. The best way to liberate yourself from being marginalized in these selling scenarios is to put yourself in the shoes of your potential and current customers, and your employer, and see the situation from their eyes. Otherwise, you will continue to let yourself be marginalized on the fringes of the business development cycle. You, as well as your clients, colleagues and employer, lose out with this status quo model.
So how to pry your fingers (and everyone else’s) off the status quo represented in these two scenarios? Become a lifelong learner. Create projects from prospecting and customer development. Here are two suggested projects which are readily available to you.
Project 1: Select a current customer and follow the business development process through delivery of product, service, or platform. Remain part of the internal and external customer conversations so you understand that your input looks like as it’s throughput your organization, and delivered as output to your customer. It’s hard to be marginalized when you become an essential and insightful component to the business development process.
Project 2: From the insights and learnings gained from your “current customer” project, select a prospective customer with whom to develop a relationship based on your remaining involved throughout the business development cycle. You may find that these potential customers will realize your value to them as a resource, instead of marginalizing you as a stereotypic salesperson.
You will find that what you learn from these two projects will be adopted, adapted, and applied to your future sales efforts. You’ll be developing business and customers, instead of limiting yourself to the sales process.
Let me know how you do.
Babette Ten Haken works with technically-focused companies, entrepreneurs and start-ups, enhancing team performance for revenue generation. Her popular blog, Sales Aerobics for Engineers® helps bridge the gap between technical and sales/marketing professionals. Click here to read the first chapter of her new book, “Do YOU Mean Business?”