Growing Business


Last month, I was honoured to be invited to judge submissions for several award categories for the Comms Dealer National Awards. The awards are a highlight of the Comms Reseller Channel allowing resellers of all sizes and experience to share in the collaboration of the channel, to celebrate good practice…. Or just show off!

This was an insight of how tenders must be reviewed by the faceless procurement teams. The submissions were sent to me with each entry to be marked against the specific questions asked. Was the question answered? Did they explain what they did? What was outstanding about the sale that their peers would look at it and say ‘Job well done. I wish we’d done that”. The true value of the competition should be to improve the quality of the Channel. Looking at the winners should inspire everyone to try that bit harder to be the best.

The first peice of advice for next year’s entrants – Answer the question. Do not add something pre-prepared that sort of answers it. Do not give it to a PR company to fill in. Answer it without embellishment. Explain why it was a good sale.

I was particularly interested in how the opportunity was discovered. As a ‘part-time Marketeer’, understanding how the latest ‘Marketing Trend’ was performing was going to be interesting. How many cold calls were made to generate the interest? How many speculative emails were sent? Did LinkedIn give the winners the edge they needed to penetrate the barriers that surrounded the decision maker? The answers in the submissions were thought-provoking and gave the following insight.

Cold Calling.

None of the submissions I read were the result of a cold call. None of them resulted in a ‘Smile and Dial’ campaign. Not one was a result from knocking on the door of an office. Perhaps Cold Calling generates activity, but not sales.

Mailers (including bulk email)

Given the profile of how email broadcasts can get your message in front of your prospects, you would expect that there would be a good representation of how email had opened the door to the opportunity. Not so. None of the entries I read, featured a sale as a result of email or snail mail. Whilst it can enhance the recogniion of the brand, it dodn’t seem to generate sales.

Advertising and Social Media

Google is making a fortune out of web based advertising. Similarly, Facebook and LinkedIn are growing their advertising revenues. Even Amazon with their related ads impacting thousands of web site are growing revenues exponentially. With all this growth, how many of the best sales in the Channel came from these sources? Not one. Again, raising the profile of the brand may be useful, there was no sign that sales were made.

Events and Roundtables

How many leads came from the traditional shows, where the potential customers run the gauntlet of the suppliers to get coffee or lunch? Zero. How many came from a quality round table event where pundits and thought leaders discuss changes in the market and innotive solutions? Not one. Again, these events are good for education of the brand, but they didn’t create a sale.

Where did the Sales come from?

The answer is probably obvious. They all came from existing customers. Organisations that had bought something small or simple some time ago and were now expanding or growing. The suppliers were showing how they had nurtured these small contracts into something outstanding. The best examples talked about how the customers had built a relationship with the suppliers and equal trust had developed.

Any farmer will tell you that there is a lot of hard work and a full lifecycle of activities which results in a crop. From seed to seedling, from seedling to an immature plant and then finally to a crop. In our industry, I have seen too many times that there is an expectation to go from seed to crop. Very little time is spent on nurturing. Giving the first-time customer a service that delights plus showing them the kind of service that they can expect for more and larger services is the best marketing that an organisation can provide.

How many organisations have expensive salespeople chasing the seeds whilst the seedlings are dealt with by telesales or even sometimes outsourced? How many times do we ignore the small orders by new customers as they ‘aren’t worth getting out of bed’ for? The winners don’t…They know that these are huge opportunities in the making. They aren’t going to crop this quarter, but they will in the future. The winning organisations know this and build this into their plans. Those that just focus on 90 day harvest lose in the long term.

Look at your organisation. What is your new customer experience, if you are not a large spender? How easy is it to contact you? What do you do that delights the customer? How do you make them feel special? How do you engender yourself to be best positioned when the big opportunity with that customer arrives?

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