Are You Being Innovative And Creative?
When the editors at Business Solutions magazine evaluate whether a company is worthy of the title "Channel Innovator," we primarily are evaluating the technology solutions that were developed and implemented. Yet, a technology solution alone does not make a channel innovator. In fact, I believe a company's sales strategy can be just as innovative — and thus important — as the solution sold. After all, you could have a cutting-edge type of product, but without a sound sales strategy, that product may never get sold.
Go Beyond Cold Calls And Word Of Mouth
In some instances, innovative may not be the best way to describe a successful sales strategy; perhaps creative is a better word. For years, I've enjoyed hearing about VARs, integrators, and ISVs (independent software vendors) who rely on more than just cold calls and word of mouth referrals to generate leads. It's companies such as those that host their own mini conferences/traveling road shows or the ones that develop partnerships with other VARs selling noncompeting products that keep me intrigued. Some of these types of innovative sales strategies are discussed in the following pages. For example, the winner of the wireless Channel Innovator Award closed more than $500,000 in new business after it installed a wireless mesh network in a 550-acre city park — for free. The integrator, Axispoint, spent nearly $100,000 of its own money and between 400 and 500 hours of labor to complete the project, which ultimately generated enormous buzz (and subsequent business) for the company.
Future POS Ohio, Inc., the winner of the POS (point of sale) Channel Innovator Award, is another good example of a company trying new ways to drum up leads. The company's president, Steve Pritchard, joined a networking group of area businesses that don't compete with each other. Not only can a group such as this help you learn some best practices for your company, it can become a source of new business. In Pritchard's case, he received a call from a food service provider in his networking group who knew that a local university was seeking to replace its antiquated POS system with a newer solution that could handle credit cards. The result for Future POS Ohio, Inc. was a $200,000 sale.
All of the companies profiled in this issue have proven the merits of being innovative and creative with both solution development and lead generation. Even if their examples aren't applicable to your business, use these success stories to spark an evaluation of your current business practices and line card. Could you be more innovative? Maybe next year your company could be profiled as one of our award winners.