There are the obvious factors such as the challenged economic environment, decreasing customer budgets, aggressive competitive behavior and pricing, as well as increasing labor costs, etc. I am sure you think about these factors daily and are proactively adjusting and responding to them. However, I want to focus your attention on some less obvious factors that will also need to be considered as you revise and adapt your business strategies.Read More
Summer is ending, back to school signals the start of the Fall Selling Season or does it?
Take a quick look back and compare the following benchmarks for your company over the past four years:
- The number of new customer additions (new license sales only – not transfer of VAR)
- The number of deals you chased that you didn’t win.
- Your cost of sale (includes all your sales rated costs + marketing costs dived by the number of net new customer additions).
There’s something about boarding a plane to another continent that causes one to reflect on how things are different (and the same) in different parts of the globe. As I head to post-Olympic London, I can’t help but wonder about whether the inflection point for Cloud demand has been passed in both Europe and North America.Read More
What did you say you would do this week and didn’t? What was on your urgent to-do list that you were too busy to complete? Your business plan? Something at the house that needs fixing? I know, we all have more to do than we can possibly complete in a day…. and some things simply won’t ever get done. But it’s often the wrong things that are getting done and the important tasks that are being postponed. If you look closely, you may discover that the main reason you don’t have enough time to do what you say is most important is because you often procrastinate. I know; you’re not a procrastinator; you are a successful “get things done” kind of person. Well think again. It’s our blind spots that get in the way of our success in the long term.Read More
Are you ready for the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference?
With WPC just around the corner, many Partners are wondering what big changes are coming. With the highest attendance expected in years, the 2012 Microsoft WPC is a must-attend. The buzz word right now is cloud, so in honor of the “next big thing” in the ERP industry, we’ve put together some of our best cloud resources. Happy reading!
- Developing Your Own IP In The Cloud: Part 1
- Developing Your Own IP In the Cloud: Part 2
- Forget Software As A Service, Think Of Software As A Utility
- Transitioning to a Cloud-based CRM or ERP Business
- There’s Risk In Those Clouds, But Not for Customers
- SI Revenue at Risk
- Are You Cloud-Ready?
- Developing Your Own IP In The Cloud: Part 1
Early March, Brandee Barker wrote a piece about turning your company into a finely tuned b2b referral machine with every employee enthusiastically spreading the word that “you are always looking for a few new clients.” Today, I’d like to talk about some of the lessons we’ve learned in helping Dynamics partners execute this strikingly effective marketing program.
It became apparent a number of years ago that partners, on average, do great work in putting in complex business systems under very stressful circumstances and happy customers were more than willing to pass the word. Almost all of these b2b referrals (up to 50% of all new closed business) were generated without any additional effort from the partner. The downside was that many partners where exhibiting behaviors that were “anti-referral” and thus reduced the potential for attracting new business.
Here are the top 7 things we have found partners consistently do or believe that prevent a higher percentage of b2b referrals business from being generated by their loyal client base.
#1 – You Assume You Have Mindshare
Since you did great work at the client’s site, you assume the client will recommend you to their contacts or colleagues without any additional effort on your part. The trouble with this belief is that your clients are just as busy as you are and most will forget about your work in a very short period of time. It’s all about frequency of the reminder. Each of your employees should be asking throughout your client’s organization and throughout the year for referrals. Consider them human “fridge magnets” that keep your company top of mind.
#2 – It’s The Job of Sales
Most employees don’t think it is part of their job to market on behalf of the firm. There are a lot of reasons why this is believed, none of them are valid. It’s everyone’s job.
#3 – You Believe You Only Have to Ask Once
Asking can be hard and often comes with a fear of rejection. It is neither difficult nor is there much chance of being rejected. Remember that mindshare is important and the message needs to be delivered at a reasonable frequency to be effective.
#4 – We’re Too Busy Now
A lot of us put out the message, either consciously or not, that we are too busy. We are always in a hurry and the stress levels are high. As a result, most of our clients think we don’t need the work. Some clients will get protective of your services thinking that if you get a new client there will be less time for them! Stop acting so busy and let your clients know, there’s always room for one more great client like them.
#5 – It’s Not Part of Everyday Business
This reason is related to #2. Most of our employees haven’t been asked to do this type of work and have therefore not incorporated it into their daily activities. Now’s a good time to change that behavior!
#6 – But I Don’t Know How to Ask
Either the timing was wrong or I just don’t know what to say, are common phrases used by consultants that can’t seem to get the words out. Don’t sweat it. This is normal. Create your own words, find the right people to ask and the rest will happen. Practice with someone else and make it a habit.
#7 – It’s Scary
Most of us fear rejection. This is completely understandable. What is worth noting here is that when we ask for a referral, we shouldn’t be expecting an immediate answer. Great if it happens, but your primary job is to make the “ask” and pass the message that we are open for business. You are the human fridge magnet. Keep it as simple as that and the results will happen.
PARTNERWORKS has rolled out a program designed entirely for Partners to turn their businesses into a referral engine. Learn more about what the Referral Program can do for your business: http://www.partnerworks.co/store/sales-referral-program-kit/Read More
Drive Referral Leads in B2B
It’s common for us to trust the advice of our friends and colleagues. Often if they mention a product or service at a time when we are looking for something similar, we explore their recommendation. It’s human nature to share experiences and help each other out when we can. That’s why referrals make sense. No matter what business you’re in.
In the B2B sector referral leads have been underutilized. There are countless excuses as to why referrals won’t work, but what about the reasons why they will? When someone comes to you on the recommendation of a colleague, they already have an expectation that you can help them. The sale becomes that much easier because your credibility has already been established. Who wouldn’t want this kind of lead in their pipeline?
The thing is, not a lot of businesses in B2B are actively asking for referrals. The key to success in gaining these warm referral leads is to know how to get people talking about you, and this can be a steep hill to climb when you don’t know how and where to begin.
If you’re going after referrals it’s easy to make these top 3 mistakes:
- Asking Once
You ask for referrals once, and when nothing comes through you close the book on your attempts at generating referral leads. Asking for referrals isn’t a passive activity. Your request won’t stay top of mind forever.
Asking too many times and through improper methods. You don’t want to come off desperate and if you breach the idea of referrals when it isn’t warranted you will have missed out on an opportunity down the line.
- Poorly Communicating Your Business
When asking for referrals you give too little or too much information about what you do. If you’re asking contacts outside of your work environment for referrals you need to provide them with enough information about how you can help their network, or else they won’t tell anyone about you. Similarly, don’t overload them with minute details of your business that they’re unlikely to understand.
Don’t fall victim to these mistakes! Discover the step-by-step process of successfully attaining referrals.
PARTNERWORKS has developed a referral methodology specifically for the B2B environment that takes away all of the guesswork. Learn more about what the Referral Program can do for your business: http://www.partnerworks.co/store/sales-referral-program-kit/Read More
- Asking Once
Now that you’ve settled on the idea of specializing in a vertical market and developing a cloud-based application, do you have all your ducks in a row:
- Market defined? Check
- Version 1.0 developed? Check
- Reference sites? Check
Before you accelerate too far down the vertical market road, let’s take a look at how to build strong foundations to support your go-to-market journey.Read More
Optimize your B2B Software Sales
Changing customer buying behavior has resulted in the rapid proliferation and availability of trial engines; publicly available software configured to provide prospects and tire-kickers alike with unfettered access to their full capabilities.
Software publishers and their partner communities have made (and will continue to make) significant capital investments in robust trial engines with an expectation that the trial experience will provide sufficient “proof” and “comfort” to intelligently inform and drive an accelerated decision making process. If only it were that easy.Read More
Recently, I worked with some Dynamics Partners in Africa. Like Partners everywhere, they seek to aggressively grow their businesses to gain the twin benefits of scale and market position, so they can survive and prosper in the long term. They are keenly aware that growth is not optional, and that the industry is materially changing underneath them.Read More