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Trouble is Your Friend

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Last weekend I set out on mission to Home Depot. Lately, I have found myself involved in a number of short projects around the house, and I had come to two conclusions:

  1. Having a portable light would be very handy.
  2. Even though I have a portable light, it requires a wall plug and I’d rather not haul around a bulky light with a large orange cord and then seek an outlet.

I knew from keeping a casual eye on technology that LEDs and even some of the new efficient fluorescent bulbs put out plenty of light on battery power that lasts a long time. Sure enough, I accomplished my mission. Ten minutes and $31 later, I had my problem solved. I have already used it twice and it works well!

I bet this story doesn’t surprise you at all. You set out to solve problems in your life all the time, and often find good solutions, right? So when it comes time to approach a prospect, why do so many of us forget one of the most fundamental rules about capturing someone’s attention? It begins with identifying a potential problem within the business that needs attention. Otherwise, why would the prospect pay attention to you? The bottom line is that people only buy when there is a discrepancy between what they need to happen and what is actually happening. Motivated prospects are usually in one of two modes:

Growth Mode 

This is really another form of a problem because the prospect has an opportunity to do more and better, but so far has not been able to capitalize on the opportunity. If their segment of the market grew at 8% last year but they are not matching that growth, this is an unrealized opportunity. What is holding them back?

Trouble Mode 

Something is affecting the business in a negative way and the prospect must find a solution or suffer a hit to sales and profit. If a competitor adds several lines of products very similar to theirs, the natural advantage they enjoyed in the marketplace may evaporate. That’s a problem.

Think about it.  If things are going along just fine, why would the prospect even consider doing something different?  A change could actually mess things up, so now not only are you and your services not compelling, you are a threat!  Is it any wonder they don’t return your phone calls, ignore your emails, and look the other way when you ask to connect on LinkedIn?

So, if you haven’t been able to speak to your prospect yet, how do you identify potential trouble that may be on their doorstep?

  • Look at the trends in their industry. There are numerous insights you can uncover with some research on their business category. That’s why we have entire segment of our practice dedicated to Category Briefs, Category Intels, and Consumer Trends.
  • Analyze your prospect’s website. The good news is most businesses these days provide you strong insight about their needs and priorities on their site. If you know what to look for, you can determine which products and services are the most important to them, what the customer experience is like, and even who does what in the business. Prepare yourself to make digital discoveries and you will learn a ton in advance and have a Valid Business Reason that is tailored and compelling.
  • Spend some time with business on social media. Review their LinkedIn page, what they tweet, if they blog and about what, and their business’ Facebook page. In a matter of a few minutes, you will learn a lot.
  • You could also go old school and actually drop by one of the business locations. Check them out in person not to make a pitch, but rather to be a sponge and learn as much as you can. Talk a few people while you are there. Most people will be willing to help you.

Remember, it’s your job to point out a gap that could be closed, an opportunity they have yet to realize, or a genuine threat that must be addressed. That way, you become a priority as someone bringing a solution. Otherwise, you are just another vendor, and people have gotten very good these days at ignoring those.

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Topics: Needs Analysis, Sales, prospecting