I’ve been advised that Microsoft has stopped prospecting on behalf of their partners. Sage, I’m told, has ceased prospecting for their partners, too. The easy leads of the past decades are gone: resellers must now find and qualify prospects on their own. Add to this the economic turbulence of the past few years, the fact that what worked just a short time ago no longer functions, and the result is Panic! The IT Value-Added Reseller (VAR) world is turning upside-down.
Before, a reseller might turn up the dial on cold calling. They might tell their sales staff to lean on happy clients to generate referrals. Yet now all that results is the tippy-toe syndrome: everyone’s standing on their tippy-toes now, and they’re all ready to fall over.
The truth is that most VAR salespeople were pretty content with things just prior to this changing of the rules. No prospecting, if they could get away with it, and pulling in the odd referral. Mostly, though, farming existing clients. Now the game has changed.
What is suddenly necessary in the VAR world to survive and succeed is not simply sales training. Sales force transformation is what is desperately needed over the next year or so: a pep talk and orders to crank up the dials is not going to be enough. Everyone is going to be doing that, so the result is simply going to be increased bombardment of suspects by features-and-benefits-oriented sales callers. Uh oh! How do you think the poor suspects and prospects are going to react to this?
When we talk of “transformation”, we speak of a deep change in the underlying beliefs, concepts, methodology and reason for or pertaining to the sales process. It’s not just a fancy buzz phrase. I am a prospect for a new accounting/CRM/ERP system, and I am not interested in the specific bells and whistles of whatever package you offer, Madam Salesperson. You had better sound different. You had better be truly trying to help me. Or I won’t have time for you at all.
The Information Technology field needs a complete Sales Force Transformation. The alternative is bombardment of prospects with a thousand cries of product features and benefits—which they will quickly become startlingly deaf to. The VAR way of prospecting has to become different. Changed. Transformed. Starting to get the idea?