It's Time for Founders to Start Connecting with Prospects

In 2001, George Akerlof, Michael Spence, and Joseph E. Stiglitz (OBA), were awarded a Nobel Prize in Economics for their work on the “analysis of markets with asymmetric information”.

11 years later, on November 29th, 2012, it was Dave Evans, Cisco's Chief Futurist, who brought asymmetric information to life with his brief on the “Internet of everything” (IOE).

For a complete mind melt, lock yourself away for the holiday, and read how IOE will usher asymmetric information into our deal flow for the 21st century. Or, you can read my spin on the combination of these concepts, and what I am doing to solve for the challenge of the ever connected customer of the 21st century.

It is time for founders to start dating our prospects again

Dating did not come easily to me in my personal life. I cannot hear well when I am in large groups of people. As a result, I spent most of my time in my early 20’s with the pistol hand move and wink at the bar, which resulted in a less then favorable return. I got lots of smiles, but much like sales, acknowledgement doesn’t go far. I was also a serial monogamist, and with a relationship being my end goal, the bar scene was way too noisy of an atmosphere for me to sell why I was ‘the one’ to any particular young lady.

Ironically, when I started selling software, I was dealing with the same challenges I had experienced in my personal life. Noise! If I reached out to see if I could kindle something with a prospect via email, I was competing with 250 other vendors in their inbox. Voicemail! I tried Sundays, which has the same return as hunting at a church service for a date. There were months where marketing would give me some leads, but nothing steady, similar to a referral from a sister or brother, 80% of them were no good. I decided to apply some basic principles I learned in dating to my pipeline of prospects, with the end goal of consistency.

Listed below, In no particular order:

  • Be Persistent & Never Settle – Physical attraction matters, the bigger the logo, the sexier the deal. Do the work and leave the voicemails, send the emails, faxes, FedEx a COL, and attend the same parties. Push prospects to hear you, and ensure you stand out in the crowd! (Broadcast URS!)

  • Buy a new outfit – The uniform shirt works, but it might start looking like everyone else’s. Present yourself differently; Social Sites are a great place to learn more about your prospects, and vice versa. LinkedIn & Twitter are great places to start. Adopt a social strategy that is centric to sales!

  • Ask for a second date – First impressions are so important, and if a case study, white paper, webcast, tradeshow, or referral are how you met, the prospect might have already formed an opinion about your offering. Utilizing a unique method to establish a strong first impression will increase your likelihood of another meeting. You will close so many more deals if you get a second date. Be different! (Blue Ocean Strategy)

  • Serial Monogamist - Trust matters, and trust is often formed in relationships. People will quickly pick up on your level of commitment. By solidifying relationships, you can build value over the lead nurture phase.(Challenger Sale)

In information asymmetry, we learn that during contract negotiations when a customer is preparing to make a future purchase, they are already much further along in the sales funnel than they were a decade ago. With our marketing departments' content rich with digital assets, our future buyers have everything they need to learn about our various services and product offerings at their fingertips. This concept of the ever-connected customer is further explained in "The Internet of Everything" by Dave Evans. As a result, it is much more difficult for us to manage the decision making process. By 'dating' our prospects, we create stronger relationships earlier in the sales funnel, enabling us to build the vision of a future business challenge that our solutions solves for.