In complete candor, this is neither a knock on vegetarianism or an endorsement, rather an admission to lack of self-awareness until it hits you in the head. Which leads to self-examination and reflection – if I missed this one, where else has “going with the flow” made me susceptible to a lack of self-awareness.
Taking my wife and kids out of the equation, since they regularly keep me grounded in my weaknesses, I often need strong voices in my life that tell me when I am off base. In business, I have a peer who has been telling me that we are not being clear enough in our value proposition for MDF automation, and particularly customization through configuration (see SaaS My A*%# blog). This same person pointed today out that I had just consumed homemade (vegetarian) lasagna for a week, and since I have not eaten beef in over six months, I am getting pretty close to being a vegetarian. Good news on the spinach lasagna front is that I train for triathlons and even weave in yoga and Pilates daily, so calories be damned. Bad news is that I realized that I am so busy that I am failing at listening and processing key data.
The result that followed my epiphany about my move to a vegetarian diet, was that we are not working well enough with our clients and prospects to provide valid selling points for MDF automation. And while this is a problem for me, in that we can miss sales opportunities, the other side is that we have customers who really need automation in their businesses and I/we have failed to either share or package correctly the data they need to get something that would be beneficial to them and their partners.
Frankly, MDF automation purgatory is a bad place to be, and if suppliers can’t provide the right data points to help vendors get where they need to go internally for budget and resources, well, it is a failure on both sides. And as we see so many smaller growth companies with limited budgets being populated by folks from big established houses with big established budgets, we all need to work together better.
On our end, we as suppliers can be less salesy, less assumptive, and more clear and direct. But to do that we in return need clear answers and engagement on the vendor side. As a buyer, tell the supplier how you want to be engaged and exactly what you need to be successful. We as suppliers all have our processes; no reason we can’t follow your buying process. Just communicate them.
I was in a client’s office one day and he answered the phone from a sales guy who had called six times that day. And even though the vendor wanted to buy from this supplier, when he answered, instead of clarifying the situation and creating a communication process, he just said, “I am busy, call back later.” And no surprise he got six calls again the next day, even though the deal had internal challenges that had to be worked through before he could make a purchase. If you want suppliers to be less salesy, stop treating them like an annoyance and tell them what you want and how you want it.
On our end, we are going to completely rethink the ammunition we give clients and prospects to successfully sell internally. We have to stop assuming that what we think is relevant is actually relevant, and make sure that we are providing the right data in the right way. And to do this we need feedback – is it budget, internal conflict, IT constraints, data complexity? Help us provide relevant data – ROI, case studies, white papers, testimonials. Whatever the need, we are a pretty small community in the channel. Let’s figure out how to work better together. Even if feedback points out a weakness, we can all use a little more self-awareness.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Steven Kellam, President at CCI
As a growth specialist, Steven is responsible for driving CCI’s evolution to expand its offerings and grow across its product suite, utilizing marketing to position the organization for continued, long-term success. He is also responsible for developing the strategic alliances necessary for CCI to achieve its revenue and profit goals, including technical alliances, service partnerships and sales relationships. Steven has experience in both the VAR space, having run a successful managed services IT business, and a background in manufacturing where he built a channel of over 2,000 partners.