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Beating The Typewriter (Part 1)

by Doug Davidoff | May 4, 2011 10:11:00 AM

Selectric IIImagine selling word processors, when the IBM Selectric typewriter with self correcting tape was considered cutting edge technology.  Think about the challenges you'd have as a salesperson:

    1. You couldn't focus on "your solution" because no one knew they had a "word processor problem."
    2. You couldn't rely on explaining your features and benefits because no one would understand them.
    3. There'd be no word of mouth, because no one was really using them.
    4. You'd have no case studies, because it has little to no history.

I could go on.  Let's just agree that it would be very difficult.

So, what would you do?

Here's how I'd handle it:

    1. I'd get real clear on the critical business result I would focus on.  In the case of word processing I'd choose between productivity and costs.  Here I would focus on costs over productivity as the primary result, putting productivity very much in the background.  The reason for this is that productivity focuses on gains, while costs focus on loss avoidance.  When asking people to change, loss avoidance is far more powerful than gain.
    2. Next I would decide what a good sale is.  Do I one to sell one software package at a time, do I want to sell several, do I want to sell in bulk, etc.?  In my case, I've always been a fan of leverage so I would focus on selling hundreds of licenses at a time.
    3. Then I'd focus in on what types of organizations are incurring costs that I could impact in a big way.
    4. As I brainstormed the list I'd be looking for a sweet spot.  Who are the people that absolutely need what I do and have the ability to buy at the level I want.  It's important that I focus not only on the types of companies that I want to sell to, but who inside those companies do I want to connect with.  I want to connect with the people who have the power to cause change and displace the status quo.
    5. Once I've settled on the key customer types that I want to focus on and who I want to connect with, my job becomes immersing myself in their world and understanding them better than they understand themselves.
    6. Now my job is to sell.

Tune into my next post to learn the specifics of what I'd do.