I have heard from business people on numerous occasions that Walmart does not make it easy to do business with them. They make the rules when it comes to selling your product through their stores. Why then do so many companies bend over backwards to cater to Walmart’s demands to sell their product? It’s simple, for a retail product Walmart is high on the food chain, they are about as far upstream as you can go in regard to a retail distribution channel.
We have made a concentrated effort at Resolutions to identify the best way to get as far upstream as possible when selling our e-learning solutions. It has made a dramatic impact on or business and how we approach different markets. When I say selling upstream I simply mean going as far up the food chain as possible to find one company who with the stroke of a pen will provide you with access to a large portion of your market.
I had an interesting call with a prospect last week that really brought this concept front and center for me. This prospect’s business happened to overlap two of our different industry vertical businesses, Mining and Insurance. The prospect is an officer at a large insurance company that caters specifically to the mining industry. As we talked through the potential of working together he asked my why I don’t just sell our Mine Training directly to the mines? My response was simple, we do, but working with you would provide us access to hundreds of mine operators and contractors by signing one deal.
It may seem like an insanely simple concept, but think about your business. How would it change your selling strategies, and possibly even your entire business strategy if you were able to focus on just a few key prospects far enough upstream that it opened up your entire market to you with the signing of a single contract? Take some time to evaluate your customers, find out what they have in common, how your business can add value to another that is higher on up in the food chain. It may take some time, thought, research and patience, but in the long run it could change your business.
What are your thoughts on selling upstream? Can you provide any good examples?
We have all heard the old adage, sex sells. While that me be true, sex may not have the ability to generate incremental revenue and solidify customer relationships as well as e-learning. This may come as a bit of a surprise so let me explain. Every company selling a product or service has educational material available to their customers, but are they realizing the potential of that material to expand their business model and develop stickier customer relationships?
A fundamentally sound e-learning platform developed around your business and your customers can be a huge differentiator in the marketplace and most importantly could be an unrealized revenue source. Let’s look at a software business as an example. Company A is selling an enterprise software solution to mid-sized companies. There is a certain about of ramp up and training time required to implement their solution, as well as ongoing support calls. Chances are this is being handled by a small staff initially to handle installation, initial training either in person or via online meeting. Ongoing support is probably handled by a 800 number help desk, support email system or FAQ database. On the surface the systems are in place, and by most standards this is an acceptable practice in the software industry, but leveraging that internal knowledge base and transforming it into customer focused e-learning platform could open the floodgates to incremental revenue and better customer relationships! All of the internal knowledge, manuals, trainers, webinars should be transformed into a tactical, engaging and interactive online training curriculum of courses that is on-demand 24/7 for your customers to have all the answers to their questions with real-time tracking, scoring and possibly even product certifications! This type of online content delivery could drastically reduce ongoing support and internal manpower, while increasing the image and quality of your training product. It also opens the door to up sell subscription based access to your world-class customer training system, providing a real return on investment.
If you read my post about the blurred lines between training and marketing, you would know that the training system you built to educate your customers may be the best way to market to and engage prospects searching for your company’s solution. The needs of your prospects and customers only very by degree not kind.
E-learning is a powerful tool for education in both the academic and professional world. Why not leverage its power in your business. It could be the differentiator in your product or service, help generate more revenue and create stickier customer relationships.
When times are tough we all have to manage expenses. Tighten the belt, cut the fat, get lean, whatever catch phrase you want to use. This is as true in our personal lives as it is in business. Luckily in business there is a cure. Sales! Sometime sales is considered a dirty word or has a negative connotation, but trust me when I tell you that sales can be the cure to whatever ails your business.
I hold the dubious title of Director of Sales and Marketing for our company, but let’s be clear. I get paid when I sell. The role of marketing is to generate leads, but those leads aren’t going to close themselves, it requires a proven sales centric approach to our business to convert prospects into customers. A sales centric philosophy gets lost at times in the business environment, especially with entrepreneurs who have a passion for their product or service, but may have never sold anything in their life.
Being sales centric from the top down in a organization can have a dramatic impact on how the business is run an the approach to everyday operations. A focus on sales makes you look at your potential customers differently. I makes you think, get in their head and really try to understand what makes them tick. Honestly, it makes you a better vendor partner. In order to sell you must be consultative, fully understand your prospects business and embrace their business objectives when considering your product or service. This approach builds relationships that will stick and turn into repeat business.
A sales centric approach to your business also has an affect on your product or service. Looking at what you offer based on how you will have to sell it can make you rethink and consider your entire offering. If sales is your focus then you ultimately want a product or service that is easy to sell and once it is sold it should be of such high quality that the re-sell/up-sell is not even a SALE at all, rather a continuation of the relationship you have built around a superior product or service.
When it comes down to it, organizations with a sales centric approach to their business make actual selling easy. It becomes something entirely different, it becomes a consultative relationship built around a superior product or service that is focused on the business objectives of your prospects and customers.