If you never receive inbound enquiries, there is something terrribly wrong
Organ pipe cactus and saguaros at Ajo Mountain Drive with Diaz Spire in distance at sunset, Sonoran Desert, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

Organ pipe cactus and saguaros at Ajo Mountain Drive with Diaz Spire in distance at sunset, Sonoran Desert, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

Most of the posts I read on the LinkedIn Sales Pulse are related to situations where it is very hard to find potential customers for what we offer and where selling to these potential customers seems very hard as well. Many of the posts sound as if sales is like marching in the desert looking for water. We are constantly thirsty (the sun is burning down mercilessly on our unprotected heads) and there is per definition not a lot of water around.

If we feel as if we are in this situation then we are definitely in the wrong place. We shouldn’t go to the desert looking for water. We go THROUGH the desert to reach a destination on the other side where everything is in abundance and where we can help selected customers derive massive value from engaging with us in a process where they also buy our products and services. That’s where we want to be and that’s actually where our customers want us to be, too.

The desert may be the learning process, the brand building process, the marketing process and the pipeline building process. It should not take forever and be a permanent situation. If we do not start getting steady streams of inbound leads then there is something very wrong with our business model and we need to consider if we should be looking for an oasis or be prepared to cross a different desert.

Not everyone is in the market for everything all the time

Thinking back on the many purchase decisions I have been involved in through the years it dawned on me that in the vast majority of cases (>90%) we started the project, identified the solution and found the vendor. Only in very few and actually insignificant purchase situations was a project initiated by a vendor. Introspection may not be a valid scientific approach (believing that the rest of the world behaves as we do), but my guess is that the vast majority of purchase decisions and the choice of vendor are NOT initiated by a sales person making a cold call.

First research -> then action

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We know for a fact that looking for a solution to a business challenge starts with research and today this research always includes trawling the Internet for information. It also involves reaching out to our peers in the industry to learn how they have dealt with similar challenges. Based on this research we will define the scope of the project, get an idea of the budget required and then we start calling the vendors that we have identified through the research process.

If we do not receive inbound inquiries from potential customers it means that no one is actively looking for what we offer or that those who are looking do not find us or that they consider us irrelevant.

Nomads live in the desert, the rest of us don’t

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Being in a “market” where no one is actively looking for what we offer is like living permanently in the desert. It is possible, but requires very specialised skills and is not for everyone. Living in the dessert is considered a tough life. Few people choose and enjoy this type of life permanently.

Being in a market where potential customers are looking for what we offer, but never reaching out to us is a sign that we are doing something terribly wrong. In any B2B market only a fraction of the potential customers are actively looking for a solution to a business problem at any particular point in time. Let’s say that 20% are somewhere in an active purchase process at any given time. Whenever these 20% research potential solutions our name never pops up.  Our name never gets mentioned and recommended. The only way we can be considered is by calling them at exactly the time when they start their research, otherwise it is mostly too late. Imagine the sales effort we need to muster in order to find those potential customers who are in the early stages of research. If we work very hard we may land a lucky punch now and then, but it’s hardly a scalable business model.

If we do not have a increasing stream of inbound inquiries for what we offer then we must take a serious look at our marketing and lead generation activities.

I write about issues related to revenue growth and globalization in the software industry.

You can follow me on Twitter: @hpbech


Hans Peter Bech is an author, economist and consultant. He is a frequent blogger on issues related to growing software driven companies to global market leadership and is the author of several books and whitepapers on business development in the software industry.  Hans Peter also facilitates workshops for software executives in the TBK Academy¨. Hans Peter holds a M.Sc. in macroeconomics and political science from the University of Copenhagen. He speaks Danish, English and German and is a certified ValuePerform, ValuePartner and Business Model Generation consultant.




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