I joined a small software company—and when I mean small, I mean I was the second hire. The four founders were operating in the very earliest days of PCs and PC operating systems. I was brought on as a salesperson with a prospect list of 50 software distributors. They were all associated with an early PC manufacturer which ran our small business financial and accounting software.
How do you sell $15,000 software source licenses over the phone? By making the three area managers for the PC manufacturer your best friend! Anything they wanted, any help they required—I was their buddy. Was this investment in service worthwhile? Yes. In 18 months, I closed 49 of the 50 prospects. The one I couldn’t close could not pay us in U.S. funds.
It took many years to replicate this approach, but you can achieve similar results because of the advances in sales and marketing technology. The concept of 1-to-1 marketing has been around for over 20 years, but without the data, personalization tools, and channels like the internet you just could not replicate this model of 50 prospects in/49 customers converted.
This software business, through innovative products and channel expansion, became the largest developer of small business software. Not one of us had relevant experience. The market was new, the product category was new, and the technologies were all new. We trusted our instincts, were willing to take risks, stayed close to customers, and became an $18M business with 180 employees.
Now do you understand why I am so passionate about the Intelligent Sales Pipelinetm approach I developed? I hate to waste money, time, and productivity chasing a large number of poor prospects. Sales funnels ARE dead!