This year, we'll be featuring a new monthly series from Paul Boucherle, principal at Matterhorn Consulting LLC., aka the Swiss Sherpa! Paul will be providing lessons to help system integrators climb their sales mountains.
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Lesson #1: Study the mountain
When you plan to successfully summit a new sales peak every month and failure is not an option because you have obligations, you better study the mountain’s terrain before you begin your ascent! This analogy certainly rings true to those of us that make our living selling technology solutions to new prospects and customers.
Take the retail market as an example of a mountain that is both challenging and rewarding for those who choose to climb its peaks. The retail market is a vertical I am very familiar with, having sold to and consulted with big box, specialty, QSR, grocery, and banking retailers. Their needs continue to evolve as the battle between brick ‘n mortar and web-based stores rages on. How can you safely ascend this retail mountain?
Carefully study their business. Do your homework.
I don’t mean knowing what security equipment they buy and at what price. I mean their BUSINESS. This requires understanding how and where they make and lose money. What areas of the store are the most profitable per square foot? What are their strategies for attracting customers to do business with them? How are they organized? What advertising strategies work best and in what regions? What is their conversion ratio of foot traffic to register sales? You get the picture. This does mean you may have to climb on different sides of the mountain to get to the top. You must expand your relationship to different departments. Want some good news?
Retailers are hungry for Business Intelligence (BI) that will help give them competitive advantage. There are now new BI tools available to you to help support those new dialogues with store operations, store planning and advertising/marketing departments.
These new tools represent new “routes” to summit your personal sales mountains. New BI tools include analytics that are delivered through video and software applications. In the old days, we delivered store traffic data with industrial strength photo beams, program logic controllers, and dial-up modems. Those solutions were costly to install and maintain. The new technologies are much more elegant but require careful application planning on your part. You will need to build new working relationships.
So, what is the upside?
New relationships can mean new and bigger budgets that might be available to those wise enough to understand the “mountain terrain” better than their competitors. These new relationships may be completely outside of your “climbing safety zone.” Nonetheless, these relationships may represent the most efficient route to the top of your sales peaks.
So, how do you get started?
By stepping back and looking at your best retail customers and committing to expand your knowledge of their business operations, not just their loss prevention needs. You may just be surprised how open customers are to sharing information about their business with someone who really wants to listen and learn.
So, get busy learning the “lay of the land” before you begin your climb in 2013.
Next month, I’ll share thoughts on lesson #2: Establishing your base camp.