Activating a breadth market

I have been asked to write something on the principles of activating a breadth market in the UK.  A breadth market is one where there is clearly  no possibility of visiting all the customer personally, imagine trying to visit all the Small Business Owners in the UK, there are about 4 Million of them; I define that as a breath market.

The Small Business Owner Manager (SBOM) is an interesting market, extremely diverse, some growing fast, some lifestyle, across all industries and sectors, and yet there are some elements they all have in common.  They are relatively easy to segment by looking at the role of the SBOM, they are likely to be the one making the purchase decisions and therefore they are the one to influence.

Neil Churchill segmented Small Businesses back in the 80’s, long before personal computers came along, it seems like a good place to start.  His article in the HBR  Stages of Growth and Strategy identified that in each stage of growth the business under goes a number of changes that lead to a different focus, the need for formal systems and strategies changes at each stage. (HBR 1983).

It struck me that if you were going to sell to the SBOM then these stages are important.

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The “Business and Owner and relationship to business” defines the position and effort of the SBOM (White Circle) in the overall business (Blue Circle).  So the SBOM starts within the business and later stands to one side.    We all know people like that.

So for the Small Business market this is the place to start.  In my next article I will look at the way in which SBOM look for advice and guidance.

What is a trusted advisor?

I have been asked talk about “becoming a trusted advisor” to a group of Microsoft Business Managers next month.   One of the right places to start is Charlie Green’sweb site.  If you don’t know the constituent  elements of “trust” Charlie does a really good job of defining them.  And he is bright enough to know that sales people don’t want to read a load of stuff so he provides video vignettes.   So what am I going to say to these Microsoft people.

Trust is interesting because even people engaged in a criminal activity usually have to trust each other.   So trust is not an indicator of good.  And yet it is an indicator of something intangible, beyond evidence, trust can develop over time or can be created in an instant.   The bond can be very strong or very weak.  It can certainly be broken.    I believe it can only be created or destroyed by our own actions.

Hume, the Scottish philosopher saw trust as a problem of reassuring people who know of the benefits of co-operation that, if they co-operate, they will not be vulnerable to those who would take advantage of them. The solution, then, lies in each person seeing the advantages of trusting each other.

You may be able to rely on the trust generated by the Brand you represent For Microsoft many people would see that trust generated by Bill Gates.  But you must create trust of your own quickly.

So trust is down to you and what you do to foster it.   Inevitably it is about your ability to communicate effectively .  I don’t mean that great communication skills mean that you can automatically create trusted relationships… I just believe that it makes it easier.

So if it is down to us then we had better be self aware.  A good way of looking at this is JOHARI’s window

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Key to this is the Blind Spot, what others see in us that we do not see in ourselves.   There is a relationship to the other elements, as the Arena area grows  other quadrants must become smaller.  My point is that if people understand your motives and make up they are more likely to trust you.   So know yourself.  One of the best ways of doing this is to take a few Psychometric tests, like Strength Finder,  or volunteer for a 360 Degree assessment.

The Second element is more subtle, I think there is a pinch of vulnerability to people that we trust, we see in them the courage to be unsure about things.  I do not mean they lack confidence, more that they don’t look like they have drunk the “cool-aide” and take the corporate line come what may.

Tom Peters suggests a long list in  his Success Tips  Trust is of course there. Even he admits that is it OK to be vulnerable, if you have seen him present you will know he is full of energy and yet in Tip 170 he admits to being tired.

The third and most important element is your focus, it must be on the client and not on you, your product, your team or your organisation.  There are  a great many distractions and most of them are put there by those that believe that they are trying to help you do your job as a sales person, I summaries some of these in my 25 Articles paper. But when you are with a customer be in that meeting not distracted by all the other stuff.

Finally, look at someone who is your trusted advisor and see if you can see these things in them.