The number one reason my phone rings is to help security companies find new business. As sales professionals, we’ve become overwhelmed in managing current customers and don’t focus that much time on finding new business. In fact, most of the sales people I meet in our industry do minimal to no prospecting.
Don’t get me wrong … today’s sales professionals are talented, hard-working, and not afraid of prospecting. In fact, many of them miss the good ol’ days when they spent much of their week proactively introducing themselves to strange accounts and people. It’s been such a slow evolution to today’s sales process that they don’t know what happened. One day they woke up, and realized they were spending 60 hours per week managing accounts. What happened?
Well, a whole lot has happened. Specifically, a lot has changed in the way our customers buy security technology and services. Like NFL defenses react to new offenses, we’ve reacted to the new buying practices. As an industry, we’ve summarily stated to our markets: “Ok, if you’re not going to see me, then I’m going to win business by taking care of my customers.” Again, this has been a slow change that none of us really noticed, but now we’re a bunch of account managers … for the most part.
So, what led to this shift in behavior? I’ve determined that there are three primary reasons we don’t prospect anymore. Today, I’m sharing the first reason with you. In the next two Tuesdays, I’ll post reasons #2 and #3.
The #1 reason we don’t prospect anymore: You’re not the primary source of information anymore.
Fifteen years ago, your prospects learned about the latest technology from you – the sales professional. Sure, they had a few trade magazines in their lobby and attended the local ASIS show every other month; but you were their primary source. If you stopped by a prospect’s site in 2004, your point of contact might be annoyed that you popped in, but they were also thinking: “I don’t have time right now to see a sales person, but I need to learn about this IP video stuff.” And they’d give you a few minutes. Not today.
Today, your prospects have online access to free and instantaneous information. (For the record, I’m not claiming that it’s good information, but it’s information.) If they can gather information at their convenience, why would they give you any of their time. Even if they have an immediate need, they’ll usually choose to do their research online before calling sales people for quotes.
Solution: Become the perceived expert in yoru market place, and use your prospecting efforts to do so. Don’t email asking to stop by and introduce yourself. Send a white paper on reducing IT costs and increasing access control resiliency. Offer to deliver an assessment of their perimeter protection. Send articles that are unique and relevant. As you’re asking for appointments in this way, you’ll be building familiarity and credibility. “I want to stop by and introduce myself” doesn’t work anymore.