Where do you think the really big deals get done?
If you want to win the really big deals. If you want to command the premium price and if you want to build mile-high barriers to entry for your competitors, then you need to be on the inside looking out, rather than the outside looking in.
Metaphorically speaking, most organisations invest all their time and energy running round the outside of the building trying to pick off a few easy wins and hoping that by process of osmosis and hard work, they will eventually make their way in and beyond the reception desk and maybe into the elevator and just maybe into an office or two.
And when they get there, what they find is that they now join the long queue of their competitors who have also been on the same journey and invested them same effort and resources to get to the same place.
And then what?
Then they all have the same conversations with the same sort of people about the same sort of stuff. And it doesn’t matter if your “thing” is better, or faster or does more stuff …you will now be lobbying for your rightful share of mind and share of the same budget and eventually (if you’re lucky) you may just get a chance to under-cut the competitor in front of you.
In an office of someone no one else gets to speak to, another company is shaking hands on a huge deal that you and your fellow competitors never had a clue about. Price will be premium and never in question and customer will never for one moment have considered that there may be other companies out there he should approach as an alternative.
The company he’s shaking hands with never planned to get into the elevator and to join the queue to pitch an alternative to the person with the budget for the known and well understood requirement.
Instead, that company invested in a very real and very deep understanding of the customer. It found and learnt about the problems, ambitions, challenges and drivers that were core to the customer but would make no sense at all to the competitors looking from the outside, simply trying to find a quick way to sell their products or services. It sought to work with and help the customer address one singular but significant problem.
That problem was so close to the customer that “solving it” hadn’t yet been tasked out to the various departments to “go and find me a X”….that would mean all those in the queue could have a go at pitching for it.
It never got that far.
It never left the boardroom at all.
And of course, having solved that one seemingly arcane but significant problem, the company is able to extend their engagement and open up the rest of their products and services as a trusted adviser/partner or collaborator. They will go on to build deeper, wider and higher barriers to entry and the queue of reps in the hall way will be left with less and less to fight over.
If you’re looking for the big deals at the premium prices, they are not to be found where all your competitors are looking.
Being on the “inside” doesn’t require decades of investment and years of research or countless hours at networking events.
It requires a different approach to your preparation and the way you develop your proposition. Most of all it requires a willingness to stop doing what everyone else is doing and assuming if you know a few buzz words and few hot buttons “it’ll do”…because it won’t. You’ll sound like an opportunist and you’ll be given your place in the queue behind all the other competitors.
This week I have seen one organisation moving from a position of “also ran” to one where they could be the “supplier of choice” in a vast and hugely profitable market simply by taking this approach. It will have cost them a great deal less and was in fact a great deal quicker than the usual approach they would have taken to “join the queue”.
I suspect you could achieve that too.