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Portfolio > ETFs > Broad Market

Sell fast or finish last

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“The world is changing very fast. Big will not beat small anymore. It will be the fast beating the slow.”-Rupert Murdoch

The most successful companies continually transform themselves to remain competitive in a constantly changing marketplace. Automakers change models every year, fast-food restaurants change their menus to reflect the changing tastes of consumers, and computer and tablet manufacturers continue to make their products faster, lighter and cheaper.

Be forewarned, being first to market with the newest product or best service won’t ensure you become a market leader if your sales process is old and in need of a transformation. Consider these examples of how smaller companies have embraced the new buying process and used it to their advantage.

Look at the way business computers have been marketed and sold over the past 25 years. When first released, business PCs were sold either by large computer manufacturers or “Value Added Resellers” that were authorized by the manufacturer. Computer resellers sometimes had storefronts, but most transactions occurred at the client’s office. The sellers controlled the selling process by having a salesperson make calls on the IT or purchasing department. None of the “big boys” ever thought that a corporate client would consider buying their products from a non-tier one manufacturer. Dell proved them completely wrong.

Michael Dell understood that prospects wanted competitive pricing and the ability to buy products configured to their needs. Dell’s selling model allowed for both face-to-face and virtual selling that gave it an immediate advantage over some of its largest rivals. The one-size-fits-all mentality of the large manufacturers was forever transformed and “The Fast” quickly replaced “The Big” in that space.

Next consider how Apple Computer transformed itself through speed and innovation. While Dell was getting “big” and capturing market share from their slower competitors, small little Apple was reinventing itself. It identified and created new markets in both the consumer and business space by investing in technology and sales process. It realized that some buyers wanted the in-store experience while others wanted their relationships online. Apple anticipated their prospect’s needs and acted on them quickly and is now almost the second largest market cap company in the U.S. Some of their largest competitors like Hewlett Packard are considering exiting the PC and tablet business as a result of Apple’s domination in that space.

Now, take a look at your company. You may not be big but you can be fast. A good first step is to look at the way you sell to your prospects. Are you still selling the way you sold five, 10, or even 20 years ago? If you answer yes, a sales transformation can help you speed up your selling activities. Consider the following questions to avoid the dreaded shoot-ready-aim. They will help you make some fast adjustments.

Five ways to sell fast

  1. Review your pricing and proposing process. Don’t treat every opportunity like it was a best and final submission. Build the process for speed and agility; having faster throughput is better than being perfect every time.
  2. Build a sales pipeline dashboard that is understood and trusted by the entire executive team. The best use of their time is helping you strategize on winning the next deal, not questioning a pipeline number.
  3. Ensure that all sales and marketing incentive programs are geared to devising the sales plan and completing transformation activities.
  4. Investigate the use of marketing automation technologies that will help drive more prospects into the top of your funnel and ultimately provide a greater flow of qualified leads to your sales team.
  5. Be patient with any new process. It takes time to implement and tweak them to be truly effective.

For more on sales techniques, see:

Dan Hudson is the co-founder and president of 3forward and has a B2B sales and sales leadership background of more than 30 years. He can be reached at [email protected].


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