I was discussing the economic slowdown with some friends over the weekend. We were trying to predict the likely depth, length and impact but we came to the conclusion that logic and a sound understanding of economics alone couldn’t help. You’d need to apply complex chaos psychology first. The issue, we realised, is that whilst people anxiously focus on the harsher trading conditions, we’re not focusing on the positives – the things that will bring us out the other side.
I’m not going to suggest that all we need to do is shut our eyes and wish it away but if we stop anxiously focusing on the negatives, we can turn a bad situation into a better one. That said, I do recognise that it would be churlish to suggest to someone that has just lost their job that they should simply look on the bright side of life. But someone’s loss has to be someone else’s gain – even if they were previously on the losing side. It’s the way of things.
I believe that in enterprise software sales, generating interest is going to be tough for a little while yet. But it is at precisely this time that market dynamics can be completely turned on their head. The share of voice and vendor pecking order that “naturally” exists in a given segment can be completely, positively turned around when our staunchest competitors are focusing on the problem and not the opportunity created.
And as it is such a precious commodity, once we have generated a sales lead and it is handed over to the lead maturation process and ultimately the sales team, we better be completely sure that a) we’re saying the right things when we’re on our feet in front of the client and b) we know what the competition will be saying. This means laying traps for the competition, focusing on the things you do well and providing proof of the claims you make.
I think long-time marketing guru Seth Godin has captured it well when he talks about focusing on the wrong boxes. And I think that the NLP fans out there would refer to the need for positive perceptual filters. Either way I think it’s time to stop focusing on the red box and pay some attention to the others.