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Trigger Event Selling

by Dan Fisher on Jun 25, 2015 9:51:00 AM

Like a lot of things in life, sales is about timing. If you called a prospect right after they signed a deal with one of your competitors do you think they will have much of an appetite for your offerings?  Probbaby not. If you call your prospect and ask for a meeting shortly after they outsourced their IT department, do you think they will want to meet with you discuss how your two organizations can work together? Again, most likely not.

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Your Prospect Went Silent on You? Here's Why & What to do

by Dan Fisher on Jun 16, 2015 6:23:00 PM

I’ve certainly been burned by this one and I bet you have too.  You have a great conversation or meeting with a prospective customer. They tell you they are the "economic buyer" and are in the market for your service or product. They tell you all the things you need to hear to make you believe this is a real opportunity and that they want to do business with you.  You both even agree to a follow up call. Then … the prospect goes MIA….silence. Off the grid. And you sit there....waiting for the phone to ring. Well, hopefully you don't don't do that:)

So, what happened here?  Heck, this happens in our industry every day. Here are a few likely reasons why this happens and how to remedy the situation.

Evolving and/or Competing Priorities

What may seem like a hot, top priority on a Monday can move down to the bottom of the priority list come Wednesday of that week.  It really is amazing how quickly priorities can and do change in corporate America. Many IT hiring managers see you and your value during a conversation and want to hire you and your firm or consultant on the spot because they are so focused on the problem at hand (it's at the forefront of their mind) but once your conversation concludes they are off and running to solve a different set of problems.  As a result, it is easy for them to lose focus and forget about you and your conversation. Heck, they have a new “fire” to put out after all. 

In this case your prospect’s priorities have changed. Something else, something more important and urgent came up and is now taking precedence over your solution and solving the problem that you and your prospect had discussed.  In fact, it may have even taken the funds that were budgeted for your project. Here's the kicker, your prospect isn't ready to abandon working with you or hiring your consultant though. In fact they may even tell you they think  your consultant is an excellent solution and want to put things "on hold for a few days" to  “think it over.”  The problem is “I need to think it over” almost always results in a “no.” So you get a mixed message. What do most sales people? They hold on hoping for that phone call!

Your best course of action is to go back and uncover the compelling event or re-evaluate the compelling event.  Is there is an economic consequence of taking no action and not solve the problem or achieve the stated goal?  Is solving the issue time bound?   Find out how the impact of the solution will impact the company as well as your prospect on a personal level.  For example, you might say, "Mr. Customer, if things stayed the same, how would living with this issue impact you personally?”  “Where does this initiative stand relative to the other initiatives you and your company are working on?” “What needs to happen before you will be ready to take action on this project?" The answers to those questions will provide you with insight and help you determine your next steps.

Fighting the Status Quo

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Riches in Staffing Niches Branding Your Firm as a Leader

by Dan Fisher on Apr 10, 2015 8:18:00 AM

Written by guest blogger Maurice Fuller  

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Account Management: Reactive or Proactively Adding Value?

by Dan Fisher on Mar 11, 2015 8:53:00 AM

I read some very interesting research the other day and learned that the likelihood for sales people and account managers to win new business in existing accounts is between 60 and 70%.  Can you imagine closing 60-70% of your opportunities? Wow!  On the other hand, when it comes to developing new business with brand new accounts the success rate drops to between 5-20%.  If you knew your sales win rate could be that high would you take the time to effectively plan, measure and manage your existing accounts? I would sure hope so.

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Topics: strategic account development, account planning

Why Niche IT Staffing Firms Crush Generalists

by Gerry Gadoury on Mar 4, 2015 6:55:00 PM

In my last installment of this series we talked about the dangers of taking an IT generalist position when developing new accounts. To recap, IT staffing firms without a niche face a number of challenges including but not limited to:
• Difficult to create compelling, relevant value propositions
• Requires unmanageably large candidate pools
• Lack of depth in the candidate market creates a reliance on job-boards and often allows the best candidates to go untouched
• Long recruiting cycles
• Perception in the market that you are a commodity
• Difficulty establishing credibility with prospects in need of specialized/hard to find talent

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The Importance of Strategic Account Planning

by Dan Fisher on Mar 2, 2015 9:59:00 AM

Your key customer accounts first and foremost must be protected and second, they need to be managed to grow to their full revenue potential. Failure to do so can result in financial ruin. Sales professionals including account managers need to have both short-term and long-term goals including a methodology for actively managing and growing strategic accounts. Without a strategic account development methodology including metrics to measure success, it can be difficult to assess if your account managers are simply passive “order takers” or as I like to refer to them, “relationship builders.”

In my experience “relationship builders” do nothing to help the customer or to move the relationship forward. Relationship builders are reactive in nature and simply try to find business but they can’t create business. Instead they focus on appeasing the customer and ensuring “they don’t step on people’s toes.” They don’t engage in the tough conversations because they don’t want to rock the boat. Perhaps this is one of the major reasons why IT staffing firms in general don’t engage in strategic account planning? This complacent behavior holds IT staffing firm’s hostage and eventually kills their business. Your key customers are far too important to your organization to be managed reactively.

What IT staffing firms need is a strategic account development methodology for effectively planning and growing key accounts. A strategic account development methodology provides both short-term and long-term planning for your key accounts. Like your opportunity funnel, good account plans provide milestones and expose your blind spots. They include measurable objectives that allow you to see if progress is being made. Equally important are indicators that help you identify and correct small problems before they become critical issues.

Some IT staffing firms have account managers who focus on farming and managing their strategic accounts while others have their sales people manage those accounts. Arguments can be made for both models, but what both fail to include is account planning. I’m talking about account planning that goes well beyond simply filling out an account profile template at the end of the year and never following through.

I understand that sales people don’t enjoy the planning process and the paperwork that comes with it. Account planning takes time and requires patience. I also understand that account planning doesn’t provide immediate gratification, yet requires an upfront investment in the form of time and energy with an unknown return. But when you fail to plan you tend to engage in reactive behavior and never give yourself the chance to become the incumbent vendor let alone the trusted adviser. With no planning you are not focused on your client’s critical business issues or goals. When you are not aligned and focused on helping your client achieve their goals and/or helping them solve their critical business issues you are seen as just another vendor, a commodity. And when you’re viewed as commodity the conversation always focuses on price. Do you see the pattern?

When you invest in strategic account planning you can align you service offerings around your client’s business goals, making them real business solutions. When you engage your clients in strategic account planning you can gain real insight and visibility into their business which enables you to become a part of the decision making process. This creates value for the customer, reduces pricing sensitivity when contract talks take place and makes it more difficult for a competitor to replace you.

When IT staffing firms engage in strategic account planning they; 

  • Have a road map for bringing the entire account relationship into view
  • Identify high value relationships
  • Uncover the overall account revenue opportunity
  • Identify the best sales strategies for each opportunity
  • Understand the customer’s perception of the business relationship
  • Open opportunities you wouldn’t have known about without account planning
  • Learn how to manage the business relationship to avoid pricing sensitivity
  • Avoid being surprised by loss of a key client
  • Systematically grow revenue and profitability

To learn more about strategic account development and the planning process you can check out our five week strategic account development class that is currently open to the public.

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Topics: strategic account development

Executing Your Strategic Account Development Plan

by Dan Fisher on Feb 23, 2015 6:11:36 PM

One of the things I have learned over the years is that it’s very difficult for sales reps to develop and execute account plans. There are a number of strategies and methodologies to follow but there seems to be very little support and practical advice on how to best to put it all together into an effective and cohesive account action plan, without overwhelming sales reps. After all, what is the point of putting a strategic account development (SAD) plan in place if you don’t have the tools and action plan to execute?

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Sales Coaching, Your Path to Improving Sales Performance

by Dan Fisher on Feb 23, 2015 10:18:30 AM

You know what the most powerful sales management tool is to improve sales performance?  Sales training? Nope. Reporting and business intelligence? Nope. Incentives? Nope. Performance reviews? Nope. CRM and ATS technology? Not even close.

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Topics: sales coaching

How IT Staffing Niches Impact New Account Development

by Gerry Gadoury on Feb 2, 2015 2:25:00 PM

Opening new accounts isn’t easy. That’s not news. Competition is high; prospects are busy and difficult to reach. This also isn’t news. The answer that many firms come up with to combat this is to utilize an “IT Generalist” go to market strategy. They believe that by being all things IT to all customers they will increase their opportunities to engage more prospects (True!) and that they will have an easier time generating new business (Not True!).

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Sales Call Planning. Are you Prepared or Will You Be Left Behind?

by Dan Fisher on Jan 28, 2015 1:52:00 PM

We have reached a new inflection point within the sales profession. Look around and you will see what I’m talking about. Decision makers are more difficult than ever to get a hold of. The lines of vendor differentiation are as murky as ever. Engaging prospects in meaningful dialog and gaining legitimate consideration (to do business together) has never been more challenging. The reason for all of this is buyer behavior has changed. The world of sales has reached a new inflection point.

An inflection point can be defined as a point in time for either opportunity or failure. Looking back on the history of the sales profession there have been two major inflection points. The first inflection point occurred when Dale Carnegie opened his sales training courses in 1912 and released his best selling book, How To Win Friends & Influence People in 1936. This book remains a classic today. His philosophy was that it is possible to change other people’s behavior by changing one’s reaction to them. Many of today’s world leading organizations continue to apply these concepts.

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