Q: What's the best way to contain our cost of sales without containing our potential revenue? We're a start-up Internet company with limited funds and an unlimited market.
A: In the past month, I've received five questions revolving around the same three issues:
- Compression of sales cycles
- Containment of pre-sales costs
- Qualifying good prospects
In my opinion, these problems are rooted in declining attention spans, brutally increased competition, and ever-increasing depersonalization in business relationships, arising from misuse or overuse of today's communications technology. In addition, there are more salespeople today than there are potential buyers. In short, your company, like many others, is suffering from what I call "New World Economy blues." The good news is, these "blues" are not incurable. This month, we'll discuss how two businesses have responded to the three issues mentioned above with the help of "marketing mobility"--and how you can do the same.
Kevin Dyevich, CEO of therapeutic mattress manufacturer Comfort Direct in New Brunswick, New Jersey, knows the importance of marketing mobility. He and his partner, John Wilkinson, strive to become the world's largest manufacturer and distributor of mattresses--and they're well on their way in spite of the woes of the economy and their competition.
Dyevich's first really big sale was made to a very large hotel chain. His cost of sales for landing this customer was the cost of one of his mattresses--plus shipping--plus a few phone calls. I'll let him tell the short version of his story: "I sent the CEO and his wife one of our mattresses. Shortly afterwards, I got a call from one of the CEO's top staffers with a request for a meeting. The order is so big that our small manufacturing facility can't meet the demand. So we're going to license them to build our mattress, and they're going to help us market it!"
This illustrates a key principle of selling with marketing mobility: Wherever possible, multiply your effects, not your efforts. Each one of your prospects must have the ability to tender more than one sale. They must be conduits for getting additional qualified prospects.
In Dyevich's case, his first big sale isn't the biggest sale he'll make from this transaction. Here's why: "When each guest checks out, they'll get a pitch about the mattress, my mattress that they slept on. Can you imagine it? We hit them with the wake-up call and the check-out pitch--and a 25 percent discount coupon!"
Here's another example. Heather Steven, CEO and founder of feng shui consulting firm Ch'i Wisdom in San Diego, admits that getting her company off the ground was a slow undertaking at first--until she did the following: "I sought out each of my friends and family members who had lots of satisfied repeat customers--chiropractors, insurance agents, real estate salespeople and the like. My plan was to give each of them a preview of my services.with the understanding that if they liked what they saw, they would give me the names of their best patients, clients and customers."
As you can see, the concept of marketing mobility fits a dizzying array of products, services and solutions. You get the idea: Make sure your sales efforts qualify a prospect who has depth of market and can lead you to future business. In other words, always pick a prospect who can take you to many more prospects. (I like to use a multiplier of at least 10, preferably more.) So put on your thinking cap, and figure out how your prospects can become your best marketers.
Tony Parinello is the author of the bestselling book Selling to VITO, the Very Important Top Officer. For additional information on his speeches and his newest book, Secrets of VITO, call (800) 777-VITO or visit www.sellingtovito.com.
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.
Tony Parinello has become the nation's foremost expert on executive-level selling. He's also the author of the bestselling book bearing the name of his sales training program,Getting to VITO, the Very Important Top Officer, 10 Steps to VITO's Office,as well as the host of Club VITO, a weekly live internet broadcast.