It seems that the preferred CRM Cold Call script goes something like this, ”I’d love to jump on a call with you and learn more about your company.  I am sure we can help.”  Really?

The roots of this approach may be from the “Sell me this pen” sales model whereby the sales representative queries the prospect seeking to find a need that can then be filled.  Understanding your customer and her business needs are a critical selling skill.

However, a cold call (using this sales model) from someone the prospect does not know and may even be unclear about the product/service being offered is usually a non-starter.  Yet, increasingly this is the opening gambit in many digital marketing campaigns materials.

What is missing from all of this is the construct of homework.  The race car driver, Bobby Unser is credited with saying, “Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.”

Somehow, I don’t think he jumped in the car ‘cold’ the day of the race.  Long hours of preparation preceded race day.

B2B selling is all about solving a specific issue or challenge the buyer is facing.  Whether the potential customer knows about the issue or is unaware (for example, the first-generation smart phone), he or she must perceive value from the selling firm.

While it is usually impossible to know the details of an issue, the rep must have a starting point.  Rather than, “let’s jump on a call” articulate that the rep has some actual knowledge about the prospect.

Value Proposition

If the purchasing authority works on average ten hours a day (plus or including commuting time) a 30-min meeting is 5% of his or her day.  Is talking to this sales rep the best use of that time?

Frankly, teaching an uninformed individual about the company and fielding a battery of probing questions probably is not worth it to most of us.  A more valuable approach would be to develop a ‘strawman’ value proposition.

The usual benchmark of value is financial.  An increase in the top/bottom lines, stock price or more recently reputation (great place to work, etc.) drive operational excellence initiatives.  Whether tangible or intangible organizations seek value from business cases put forth by suppliers.

Unfortunately, value often remains loosely defined; as shown in the text box.  Moreover, it is often difficult and time consuming to develop a viable and valid value proposition.  No matter, this homework must be done!

At a recent conference about the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), two panels extoled the (technology) virtue available to heavy industry.  An inquiry from the audience regarding the project risk of implementing enterprise level IIoT was impressively answered.  Likewise, when questioned about the value proposition one panelist timidly answered that IIoT was simply necessary to remain competitive.

Trust me, it’s going to be good!  Not the most compelling use case.

Early in my sales career, this rep often put forth value propositions along the line of the IIoT example.  Often, the company provided me with presentation materials to that end.

My sales life forever changed at a Mexican restaurant one lunch when I was going through the usual pitch and was interrupted by the prospect.  His question to me paraphrased, “If I buy from you will I be promoted?”

I thought I knew this individual reasonably well and was speechless at the question.  Later I realized that instead of a laundry list of products, spares and other materials, he was looking for a solution.

His problem would have been apparent if I had done my homework.  He was charged with installing all the instrumentation in a $ 1 billion refinery retrofit.  When successful, he believed his career would advance

Grilling him about his business would have made me persona non-grata as he did not have time for that.  Once I proactively engaged his organization it quickly became clear how to win the deal.  Three million dollars later our manufacturing facility was in over drive.  And he did get promoted!

Finally, there is a level of impersonality from this selling model.  This includes the much ‘loved’ follow up email driven by CRM, “I haven’t heard from you so I thought I would resend my email.”

Certainly, persistence is required to close deals; however, pestering will drive prospects away as fast as they can run.  Professional behavior coupled with persistence are two sales KPIs.

You want me to give you some of my valuable time?  Then do your homework and show me why I should

Further Reading

The author and others have published extensively on this subject.  The list of appropriate articles and papers is too extensive to list here.  However, readers are invited to peruse Dr. Shemwell’s extensive list of blogs and publications.

See our Economic Value Proposition Matrix® (EVPM) for additional information and a free version to build your own EVPM.

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