Positioning vs. Prospecting
Motivated Selling vs. Tactical Marketing
A prospect who "finds" you first is more likely to buy from you, than if you find him.
Has your medical doctor ever called you on the phone during dinnertime, asking if you might be looking for help fighting a flu bug?
He doesn’t find you, you find him. And when you do see him, he tells you what medicine you need to take and you take it. If he says you need surgery, you might seek a second opinion, but you’re willing to pay good money for that opinion. And most likely you end up taking the advice, no matter how painful or inconvenient it is.
Do your customers respect you as much as they respect their doctor? Why not? They don’t know him any better than they know you. His diagnosis of problems are not correct more often than yours is. You went to school. You have expertise. You know how to solve difficult problems. So what’s the difference?
Positioning vs. Prospecting
The difference is positioning. The doctor is perceived to be an expert, so you seek his counsel. You believe what he has to say while your premiums go up every year. The truth is, the medical industry knows things about marketing and positioning that most people in our industry are simply ignorant of. Most people just imitate their competitors, and everyone just gets dumber every year.
In the world of corporate sales, people are still doing things the exact same way as they did 20, 30 or even 50 years ago! And they consume enormous amounts of effort! But when you replace manual labor with automation, the difference is dramatic.
The Decoy of Sales Motivation.
I endured a bitter struggle with this before I finally figured it out. I thought the problem was that I wasn’t motivated enough. I listened to tapes constantly. I learned the Power of Positive Thinking. I smiled everywhere I went and shook people’s hands. I remembered their names. I chatted with them about golf and fishing and their grandkids and the plaques in their office. I looked at myself in the mirror every morning and said "I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggonit, people like me."
Isn’t that pretty much what most salespeople learn how to do? Believe great things, be nice to people, work like a banshee and think positive, until success sweeps you off your feet and your bank account is filled with cash? Stop and think about it for a minute. Does it really work?
That’s what I did, and I was working very hard at it. But it wasn’t working, and every month I was falling further and further behind. You can only do that for so long before something finally gives. And I knew I was close to the breaking point.
"Motivation is NOT your real problem"
But I remember exactly when and where I found the answer I was looking for. It was May 7, 1997. I was at an-all day sales seminar in Peoria, Illinois, where I was, once again, trying to get more motivated. I had robbed Peter to pay Paul, just so I could be there that day. They had all kinds of speakers who were going to motivate me to achieve great things in my career.
But the last speaker of the day did not talk about motivation at all. He talked about how to bolt a marketing turbocharger on the front end of your sales organization, so that your customers would call you instead of you having to call them. He said if you had a steady stream of qualified prospects to talk to, you wouldn’t have a motivation problem in the first place.
Now I’d be lying to you if I told you that this speech instantly solved all of my problems. But it WAS the tip of the real iceberg. It radically, permanently changed my perspective on the entire problem and finally pointed me in the right direction.
I eventually realized that this whole motivation thing was a huge decoy. Why? Because I was already motivated to begin with. The problem was, I was trying to dig a basement with a shovel when I really needed a bulldozer. I didn’t need to be more motivated! Why?
Because no matter how motivated you are, the laziest guy in the world can still move more dirt with a borrowed bulldozer than you can with a shovel!
I went on a mission to study the most brilliant minds in marketing today, across dozens of industries and professions. And what I discovered was that with a good marketing system, you can have people lined up to have you help them solve their problems. You can be a welcome guest instead of an unwelcome pest.
Why My Sales Career Was So Miserable
I began to understand why the old way was not working. In hindsight, these were the problems:
The companies I was selling for did have marketing and advertising budgets. And they certainly did attempt to generate sales leads. But here’s the problem: Most technical, industrial and business-to-business marketing and publicity is simply terrible. Abysmal. Everyone just copies everyone else, and the whole industry gets dumber and dumber every year.The sales leads were low quality and there wasn’t nearly enough of them. If you’re going to get better results than everyone else, you’re going to have to do something different.
You shouldn’t spend your time prospecting any more than absolutely necessary. Your time is too valuable and expensive. You should only spend time with qualified, interested potential clients, discussing your solutions to their problems. A good marketing system, which helps customers find the salesman, can do this for far less money than paying the salesman to find the customers. My problem was that I was spending so much time prospecting, I didn’t have time to sell.
Once an effective marketing system is in place, you can spend twice as much time in front of interested customers and double your income.
There’s a hidden benefit to this: When the customer finds you, instead of you finding the customer, his perception of you is different. He perceives you as a consultant, not a peddler. Customers don’t respect peddlers as reliable information sources. I was improperly positioned as a ‘peddler’ and could never accomplish what I was trying to achieve.
Over time I discovered an arsenal of powerful tools that cause people to see you as a "valuable resource" instead of "unwanted pest." Each customer has a unique category for you in his mind, and you’re no longer "just another salesman."