Winning is for Losers
I was thinking about competition and it caused me to remember a contest I entered a few years ago that I WON!
I had to submit a creative idea for a movie that would best describe the company I was working for at the time. I chose Toy Story, because “We have an extremely eclectic and diverse cast of characters that includes a cowboy, a spaceman, Barbie and a potato head or two; our suppliers are like the little army guys – always helping us out; and finally our founders actually believe we can go “To Infinity and Beyond”…”
And I won! The truth is, I am the only one who entered. But it doesn’t matter…I won! My point?
Non-starters NEVER win.
A few months later I won another contest. We had a wellness challenge in the office and over 30 people entered to track their exercise, healthy eating, and good habits over a total of 10 weeks (kinda like what my Fitbit does for me now). You got points each week for all the things you did that week.
And I won! But the truth is, I am the only one of 30 who started the contest who finished by tracking and reporting my points each week. But it doesn’t matter…I won! My point?
Non-finishers NEVER win.
So how does this relate to winning sales and customers, RFPs, quotes, evaluating opportunities?
Have you noticed that customers are pretty much asking for the SAME thing they always have, BUT are expecting different results this time? The decision makers coming on the scene are pretty savvy and really want technology and process – they just know it must exist – but are mired in the historical practices of “value equals controlling the price”. They don’t realize that value extends far beyond what something costs. Our job in sales is to engage into Conversations of Insight so that new outcomes can be co-created together with the customer. Getting the customer to allow you to do that is the challenge.
So, I’ve started this with if you don’t enter you don’t win and if you don’t finish you don’t win…but you have to know when to hold them and know when to fold them…related to whether or not your prospect is really ideal, worth the time…going to produce. This can be a tricky business these days to be sure…especially if the prospect has already done all the online research and has moved way down the buying cycle without you.
I led a team that “Respectfully Declined” to participate in a RFP and gave very specific reasons why we believed their program, as requested, would fail. They asked us to participate anyway, and so we entered the race given we could run it our way. And we WON.
Soon after, we entered another RFP race and during it, it became clear that the current customer aptitude was stuck in the old ‘vendor provides a commodity’ mindset and wanted concessions such as inventory ownership, low margins, unrealistic fulfillment expectations and a first born child (I made that last part up).
It became clear that it was the same old model which would fail and would simply be bad business. So we walked AWAY. And by doing so — we WON. (Yet – some lucky vendor really wanted that business and bought it, oops, I mean got it. I guess they haven’t realized that cash flow is not the same as profit)!
My point – the trend is toward a new day where the customers are expectantly searching for solutions that only an investment in people, process and advanced technologies can produce. Yet we often fail to articulate how our investments in these areas have evolved our offering. This is why sales, marketing, operations and service must be aligned. It is your charge to find that path to value – why and how what you sell matters for driving the economic engine of YOUR customers. This is what makes the difference. And for the customers who just aren’t ready…well…they just won’t be our customers I guess, at least for now, and that’s okay!
So the real winner…sometimes appears to be the loser…and the real loser is the one who hasn’t changed to meet today’s sales demands.
How long has it been since you visited your pathway to understanding the finish line you’ll be crossing?
If you’d like me to send you a cool ZMap tool for this type brainstorming process, email me.
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