The CEO of an IT services company recently shared his belief with me that every two years for one hour, his prospects are so angry with their existing supplier that his company had a chance to take the business away from his competitor.
This is not an unusual belief. He was talking about demand fulfillment, which is safe and easy.
To follow a demand fulfillment â€œstrategyâ€ you wait for the phone to ring or â€œnetworkâ€ and then make plenty of proposals and presentations, with the hopes that enough of your pitches succeed for you to stay in business.
A better strategy, especially in â€œred oceanâ€ industries like IT, is demand creation. To create demand, David Sandler suggests the following:
1.Â Find someone who thinks they are healthyÂ â€“ Prospects who think they are healthy will say things like â€œweâ€™re happy,â€ â€œweâ€™ve already got that,â€ â€œweâ€™re always open to new ideasâ€ and/or â€œeverything runs through procurement.â€
2.Â Make your prospect sickÂ â€“ Even though your prospects are sophisticated business people who probably went through a rigorous process to select their current supplier, they donâ€™t buy your product or service every day. They arenâ€™t aware of the problems you can solve that might be lurking inside their organization. Sandler-trained individuals know these as â€œpain indicators.â€
3.Â Take your prospect from sick to criticalÂ â€“ Once a prospect acknowledges they might be slightly â€sickâ€, help them discover that the sniffles they feel today could make them bed ridden or out of commission (or, out of business) in the very near future. Sandler-trained individuals know this as getting to the â€œpersonal impact of pain.â€
4.Â Make your prospect (now client) healthy againÂ â€“ Like a doctor/patient relationship the key part of demand creation is when your prospect says, â€œhow can you help?â€ Then you and your prospect should co-create a new working relationship. Next, sign the appropriate documents and begin working together.
If youâ€™re in an industry that uses long term agreements with no exit clause or severe penalties for early termination â€“ commercial real estate comes to mind â€“ you can still follow the demand creation model, you just need to be more patient.
To really grow your business, stop fulfilling demand and start creating it.