What do landlines, books, postage stamps, greeting cards, and taxis (and the companies that sell them) have in common? Obsolescence! Meanwhile, startup companies like Uber and Airbnb have reached unicorn status with with zero inventories, and Amazon has changed the face of retail forever.
The fact is, there are forces at work that are changing everything. We are in the middle of a strategic reinvention of every industry as a result of cloud computing, mobile apps, social media, data analytics and the Internet of Things. A new study by IBM found that the “Uberisation” trend, or industry disruption caused by an unlikely competitor, has become a dominant concern of the C-suite.
Executives understand that the biggest threat to the future of their company is what they don't know, they don't know. That uncertainty is the lever that opens the door to outside sources of information and ideas. How can you help your prospects and customers become masters of digital disruption?
Step 1: Develop Growth or Trouble Mode
Digital disruption creates an opportunity for growth and a danger of trouble, simultaneously, and not just for companies in the high tech sector, if the examples I listed above are any indicator. If your customer thinks technical innovation doesn't affect their business or they're not vulnerable to disruptive change, it is your responsibility to help them adjust their thinking.
In Miller Heiman Group's Strategic Selling sales methodology, we've identified criteria for a successful sales strategy, including one or more key buying influences in growth or trouble mode. With it, the door is open for a dialogue and potential sale, otherwise, you must create it with questions that unlock areas of growth or trouble. For example, your customer wants to create an unfair advantage over their competitors, ask questions to explore this terrain. If your customer wants to make sure they avoid threats to their business, ask questions that uncover their areas of concern.
Step 2: Utilize Use Cases
Once you've established agreement on the growth or trouble potential of digital disruption, step into the open space you've created with a use case that demonstrates how a customer in a similar situation expanded into new growth opportunities or avoided potential trouble spots. For a business executive, new technology's primary value is as a means toward a business outcome.
Primary areas of executive focus for use cases:
- Increased revenue
- Market share expansion
- Improved customer engagement
- Decreased operating expenses
- CapEx reduction
- Reduced security threats
Step 3: Dialogue Around Insights and Ideas
Don't stop there! While use cases demonstrate what another company has done with your product, executives strive to innovate. To do that, they need to see what hasn't been seen and think what hasn't been thought. They need your help with this, because technology is a new language for many Fortune 500 executives. Helping them understand “What's next?” and how it applies to their industry and company is a great vehicle to establish a collaborative partnership.
To disruptive technology sellers, you have a window of opportunity to gain access at the executive level. Create value by providing education combined with solutions to pressing problems and you will attain the position of trusted partner.
About the Author
Barbara Geraghty is recognized as an authority in high level sales skills and customer collaboration. Her career encompasses 25 years of sales and sales management experience with Fortune 500 telecommunications companies and founding an organization that developed and delivered skills training in how to sell to executives. Her current role of Vice President, New Business Partnerships at Miller Heiman Group focuses on partnering with tech sector clients to improve revenue generation and sales productivity.