Sunday, April 19, 2009

The secret of business development and resolving the paradox of consultative sales

Part one:
1. Figure out what's the easiest thing for you to do that is hard for someone with money to do.
2. Then do that.
3. Then find more people for whom it is really hard to do.
4. Go back to step 1.

Part two:
1. Keep looking for other things that are hard for them and easy for you.
2. Then do that.
3. Then find more people who will spend money to make their lives easier.
4. Go back to step 1.

The paradox
The easier you make their lives, the less they need consultative sales. That's why sales people mostly hate DIY printing (Web2Print) and system based solutions to hard problems. It just means you always have to find new ways to make their lives easier. Then they will value you not for what you have done, but for what you might do in the future.

Three hints:
1. Don't waste people's time telling them what you know.

Your mother sometimes cares. Every once in a great while your spouse cares. You can often make your children care. It's confusing because in school what-you-know was a big deal. But in the world outside of school, people don't care. People only care about making their own lives easier, now or as close to now as possible. Plus they usually get resentful. Then they jump to the conclusion that you are bullshitting them.

2. At the C level the easiest thing to do is to write a check.

The hardest thing to do is to spend time. So figure out what you have to do to make it easy for them to write a check without having to get into meetings that take time. They won't do it. Plus they will make up a story to explain that they don't have the time to think about what you are saying. Usually the story is about "ROI" or "I have a better way to solve X, Y or Z" or "that doesn't make sense" or "I don't trust this guy" or . . .you can fill in the blank.

3. If something is hard for you, don't try to sell it, until it's easy for you.

That's why "educating" the customer or the sales force is a loser. That's why purl's have not gotten to scale. That's why outfits with OPM DNA don't become VARs. Hard is good for school. Hard is good if you get paid to transform hard to easy. But easy is the only way to make money.

It's only common sense. But if you want to read my blablabla about why this works, you can start with this post.


  1. This is brilliant. Right to the point. These comments will be the subject of my next sales meeting, with proper attribution of course.

  2. Thanks. If I said anything useful I blame it on 30 years selling and managing print, 7 years trying to teach designers about print production and now the time to think about all the mistakes I made.

    Good luck with your team. I hope it helps.