This is part two of a series on Approaches to Selling Strategic Digital Services. You can read the first part here.
In the beginning there was the 5-P Model.
Product pushing through personality, persistence and price.
Well, that is interesting (and likely annoying - sounds like the car salesperson I try to avoid)… But, what if there is no pre-defined product and no single price, let alone that the “product” will suffer if price is heavily discounted?… Granted, personality and (appropriate) persistence always help. (But, please don’t get pushy.)
Over time, the 5-P model seems to have given way to the Mental Conditioning Model, which seems to rely on some kind of brainwashing technique. Work really hard to keep your sales people excited and enthusiastic about what they sell… Maybe they won’t notice what it actually is, or that it is or isn’t working… Isn’t this a chicken and egg thing? If it is good, and it sells, and you wanted to sell it, that will be exciting. If it stinks, and it is painful to sell, why should you get excited about that?
The Relationship Model says, and I am paraphrasing, that it is best to know the buyer on a professional and personal level, via repeated contact over a period of time; this will facilitate selling. Okay, it makes sense. We want to work with our friends.
But… how long does this take? I know a lot of people I really, really like and enjoy communicating with who have, in my view, no need for my company’s services at this particular time. Wouldn’t it be better to spend time speaking to people who actually have an active need? I would tend to think my friends would tell me if they wanted to discuss enterprise software. And, if am focused on coffee with them, how will I also find time to form the better contact?
So, yes, be nice and a pleasure to work with. Yes, hope for evolving, quality business relationships. And, yes, perhaps most importantly, TRUST matters.
The relationships that matter in business development are those based on earned trust and a shared, relevant commitment. And, a shared commitment generally includes some element of shared risk.
So now let’s move on to a few more advanced concepts:
Kind of the like the 5-P Model, the Value Added Model, in my view, has little to no place in consulting. As the theory goes, when the price objection is raised, throw in something (different) of value for free. Sweeten the pot. Well, I do not think a client is going to overcome a $100,000 price objection for a gift-certificate to Starbucks, and I know someone’s head is going to roll (probably mine) if I give away the services from one department in service of selling those from another. In other words, this approach is really unlikely to yield anything but confusion in a professional services context.
The Problem Solving Model is one I often come across. Many sales managers believe if you cannot find the pain, you cannot make the sale. I agree that if someone really needs something, it is easier to convince them to invest. But, I would advise it is limiting to focus only on pain. What about opportunity? Sometimes a client just wants a new, possibly better approach, even if nothing is “broken”. Granted, starting with fixing something that needs some attention, and growing from there, is a reasonable way to start. But don’t get stuck there.
Similarly, I find it is important not to fall into the trap of over-complication. (Tune into the next chapter to see what I mean.)
Ellen Cowan is the Director of Business Development & Client Services at DOOR3.
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