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EXECUTION Progress Thread - Cloud Niche

Discussion in 'Progress/Execution Threads' started by DisLife, May 23, 2018.

  1. DisLife
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    DisLife Contributor

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    So I've had an account on this forum for a long, long time. I've started a few business in that time, most of them didn't generate enough income to hold my interest for long and I closed them down. I ended up figuring out that I was starting these business for the sake of starting businesses. I didn't care enough about what I was doing to keep at it.

    Last year, I partnered with a couple of co-workers to start a business. Each of us brings an area of expertise to the company. Currently, we have a few hundred dollars of profit. Not enough for us to live on, so we each still have day jobs.

    The business is centered around Oracle products. Both their cloud based and on premise offerings. We were all working for the same company solving issues for their clients, so we had pretty good first hand knowledge of what most of these types of customers would need.

    We've now reached a point where I feel I need to keep applying the pressure as we've plateaued on acquiring new customers, which is why I started this thread. I believe this is an opportunity that will actually payoff if I just keep at it.

    I've already tapped everyone on my network to let them know what I'm doing. That's what lead to the early customer sales. My next step is to start building a real sales funnel. I'm just not sure yet how to do this since I'm targeting businesses instead of the masses.

    Anyways, thanks for reading. I hope to have some updates soon.
     
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  2. Late Bloomer
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    Late Bloomer Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Hi Dis (I didn't see your actual name?). I've also used the Oracle RDBMS and PL/SQL in corporate development jobs. There are at least a few more database geeks on the forum. I took a quick look at your previous posts and it looks like you've tried several things in business. Congratulations on getting a team and starting a business that's profitable! As you know that's farther than many people get!

    I see some good news and some bad news about this. As you know well, Oracle sells incredibly complicated products to organizations with a lot of money. Then many of them buy third party help, like yours. That's good news. The bad news is that Oracle could squash the little guys offering services or companion products. They could buy out a company like yours for millions of dollars, but they could also develop exactly the same products and services internally and wipe out the third party market. This makes me wonder if it might be smart for you to also handle some other Big Enterprise Data systems like Microsoft's SQL Server, Postgres, etc., so no one elephant could stomp you as it dances its own tune.

    Another user just started a thread on sales funnels and there's not much action yet. Why not jump in there?
     
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  3. ay47
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    ay47 Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    Ok you weren't very clear on what you’ve tried. I’m assuming you guys are in the services business. But let me give this a shot. I'm in B2B sales in my slowlane job.

    I would start with target personas. B2B sales center around champions and decision makers. What does your ideal persona look like?

    B2B Sales funnels are very high touch.

    I would first start with finding where your target personas hang out and their method of consuming information. Go on LinkedIn and you can find that out pretty easily.
     
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  4. DisLife
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    DisLife Contributor

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    Thanks for the quick replies! (I'm Maynard, btw)

    You hit the nail on the head with Oracle. Their software is so complicated that there will always be opportunities for a third party to step in somewhere to help out. If what I'm doing now becomes unfeasible, there's always a way for me to pivot to something else related. I was actually talking to a company a few weeks ago that decided to buy a $10k piece of software to automate log shipping archive logs instead 1) Using data guard or 2) writing a script to do it manually...

    As for what I've tried so far, my efforts have been concentrated around using/building relationships.
    1) I've sent customized private messages to everyone in my linkedIn network to let them know what I'm doing. A year later, this led to an old coworker from 8 years ago contact me about hosting a tool (using postgres) his company is developing to sell to their clients. I've gotten a favorable response so far, but that probably won't pan out for a couple of months.
    2) I've kept in contact with people at the consulting company I used to work at. I've given them all a stack of my business cards and told them I'd pay a finder's fee if they referred a company that signed up with my services.
    3) I just started implementing the ideas that Andy wrote about in a thread on using forums How to use forums (and Facebook groups) Working on building my credibility and contributing to the community.

    I got sidetracked looking for that sales funnel thread. Too much good stuff on this forum...

    I'm trying to find some local business group meetings to attend. I saw one a few weeks ago on one of my linkedIn feeds, but I couldn't make that one.
     
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  5. Late Bloomer
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    Great!

    Oh and.. hi Maynard! Are you now living in Paris, or is the profile shot from tourist time?

    Wouldn't it be great to be the company selling that $10k software?? How did they do it?

    Sounds like you've got that covered well. Now to add people who haven't met you yet, but will be happy to get to know an expert like yourself.

    The Beginner's Guide To The Sales Funnel

    I suggest you do both business and technology groups. There maybe people in a database or dev group, who would like to learn or share Oracle tips and news about who's looking for a consultant.
     
  6. DisLife
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    Actions taken this week (what I'm doing to build up my reputation):
    1) Invited 100 people that I've met as a consultant on my previous job to join my network on LinkedIn. These are people that work with the Oracle software that I offer services with, so they are my target market.
    2) Made a few posts on LinkedIn that highlighted the work I've been doing with my company. Saw an immediate boost of people in my network taking the time to read my profile and then click through to my website.
    3) Started posting answers to questions in a few technical forums on the Oracle community boards. Give back to that community.
    4) Attended an in person networking meeting. I'm not 100% sure that's going to be a good resource for me. The type of referrals you get there seem to be more consumer based and local. It might still pan out for 1 or 2 business referrals, but I'm not banking on it. Will try to foster a relationship with the group moving forward anyway.
    5) I started writing an article that highlights some of the problems or gotcha's companies would have moving their back-office systems to the cloud, then I ran across a similar article that zdnet (Cloud computing migration: More expensive and complicated than you thought | ZDNet) put out at the end of last year. I'll use that as a way to lend credence to my own article.
     
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  7. Late Bloomer
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    Late Bloomer Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Awesome! I recommend you look up Elsom Eldrige's book "How to become the obvious expert." (He was giving it away on his web site for a while.) His advice would be perfect for you. He talks about all of these techniques and a few more.
     
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  8. DisLife
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    Thanks for the recommendation.
     
  9. DisLife
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    So since the last update I had 2 good prospects. One of them postponed to next year and the other one is still kinda hanging on out there.

    My question for you seasoned B2B sales guys. How often do you follow up with a client? I reach out once a week, but sometimes I feel like I'm becoming a pest instead of building a relationship. How do you get them to move to the next step in the process? They've expressed interest, it sounds like they want to move forward, but they keep coming up with an excuse not to go further.
     
  10. lowtek
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    lowtek Platinum Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    Sometimes an excuse is just that.. sometimes it's legit. If they're mr. Bigwig at Megacorp and they tell you it has to wait until next quarter due to budgeting, that may very well be the case.

    You can ask straight out, if X wasn't the problem, would there be any other reason you wouldn't move forward with this deal?

    As far as follow up goes, always make sure it's a value add. If you're coming with new ideas and information, then you can't really be pestering them.
     
  11. GoGetter24
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    GoGetter24 Silver Contributor Speedway Pass

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    "When value is clear decisions are easy".

    What's your current sales pitch?
     
  12. DisLife
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    Right now, I'm working through my networks of contacts (2nd tier and such) that I had when i was a consultant. This allows me to invoke my 1st tier contact's name in my opening email or phone call. I'm trying to keep the emails as personable as possible.

    Here's a sample of a recent cold email I sent out:

    Hi Justin,

    I wanted to catch up with you and see how you're feeling about Velocity after the takeover from MTG. Phil X over at Company Y mentioned you'd been looking for a replacement. I've talked to a couple of other companies hosted by MTG that I knew during my time as a consultant with Company Y and I haven't heard a lot of good things since the transition. If you're willing, I'd really like to hear more about what Velocity has been doing right for you and what can be improved upon.

    I'm sure you're aware there are many alternatives to Velocity. If you get to the point that you're looking at them, I'd just like to make sure that you're aware that <My Company> is out there. I'd love to speak with you more about what we can offer.

    In case you're wondering who I am, I've been working with Oracle products for over 25 years. You're welcome to take a look at my LinkedIn Profile (<Link to my profile>) to see my credentials.
     
  13. GoGetter24
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    GoGetter24 Silver Contributor Speedway Pass

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    It sounds very beating about the bush. These people are busy. Don't be so apologetic and diplomatic; you'll just irritate them. I'm irritated just reading all those longwinded sentences, and it's not even aimed at me.

    ---
    Hi Justin,

    How are you feeling about Velocity after the MTG takeover? Phil X over at Company Y suggested you want an alternative, and a few other companies hosted by MTG have spoken critically about the transition.

    Alternatives to Velocity include <My New Up and Coming Company>. Our primary advantage over them is [x,y,z], and we're receiving rave review about our superior performance (link to testimonials). If this could make your life easier lets talk more.

    I'm an Oracle expert of 25 years. My LinkedIn Profile (<Link to my profile>) and [big name references a,b,c] will confirm my credentials.

    ---

    I know your pain. Alternative to the pain. Proof of trustworthiness.

    Mix a couple more like that in, and see how it performs. Also mix in some direct cold calls. Also mix in "giri method" (you ask those contacts of yours to let the target know in advance about you, so you're warm instead of cold).
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2018
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  14. DisLife
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    Still got a lot to learn! Thanks GoGetter24!
     
  15. DisLife
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    DisLife Contributor

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    Talk about long sales cycles. Go back to January of 2017. We'd just signed up our first customer. I knew this other company that was taking steps to get their IT systems into compliance and a Disaster Recovery site would be necessary to meet that compliance. I was confident they'd go with us, so I got in contact with their IT Director and even gave him a trial system on our hardware with his database.

    Then nothing. No replies. No returns on the phone calls. Just a dead end. I figured there wasn't an actual no and kept him on my mailing list and just kept sending the occasional message. Even a friendly happy holidays email around December.

    Last week, I received a message from the contact us form on my website. Who was it from? The owner of that company. She needed a DR site for compliance and came to me because her IT guy had a company already talking to him about it. Took less than 3 days from initial contact with the owner to having a signed contract, a year and a half long sales process.

    It wasn't luck that got me that sale. It was actively working to keep my name in front of the right person for as long as it took.
     
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  16. DisLife
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    DisLife Contributor

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    Action Taken Today:
    This is dedicated to all the forum members that have repeatedly said to just take action.

    Like many here, I experience cold calling anxiety. I decided to take it head-on and go up a level by cold visiting several business. It was hard to do it. No doubt about it. The first client I showed up at, I sat in my car for a few minutes, palms sweating wondering what I was doing. The usual cold call anxiety. But I had spent the last 45 minutes driving through LA traffic to get there and I was not going to let that go to waste. I got out of my car and went up to the receptionist and asked for my target contact (CIO of the company). Several minutes of cold sweating in the lobby and then one of his employees comes out to talk to me. I went through my spiel, with more than a few flubs, but I was able to leave my business card and an informational flyer with the employee. That turned out to be a lot easier than I made it to be in my head.

    I drove off to the second business of the day and went straight in to ask for the business owner. He was in a meeting, but I was able to talk to the IT manager and again leave my card and info. It got easier to do with every new business I went to.

    By the end of the day, I'd visited 8 businesses. I had 1 hot lead for my services. I had 1 possible pivot for services I hadn't considered. 2 good conversations with influencers of the decision maker and four businesses that the decision maker was out.

    I know it's not a very efficient use of my time, but one thing that really struck me was my hot lead was with a company that I'd been emailing to for a while now (not the VP I spoke with). When I sat down with the VP to discuss my services, it was like a light went on and suddenly I was the right person at the right time at the right place and I had the exactly solution for a problem he's been trying to solve. The person I had been emailing either wasn't sending the info up the ladder or was doing a poor job of explaining my services.

    At the end of the day, I'm more confident in my ability to talk to the business owners and execs about my business. I don't feel as anxious about calling businesses now and I'm trying to hold on to that feeling moving forward.
     
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  17. DisLife
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    Quick update for today. For one of the businesses I stopped at for my warm/cold visits last month the person I wanted to meet with was on vacation at the time. I sent a follow-up email last week where I referenced that fact that I was at his office and didn't get a chance to talk:

    Hi John,

    I came by your office on October 30, but the receptionist said you were out travelling the world. Now that you're back, I was wondering if you had some availability in the next few days for a lunch meeting to discuss EBS hosting or DR hosting with you. I know the holidays are tough timing, but I'm pretty flexible to meet your schedule.

    Would Tuesday next week work for you?​

    We had that lunch meeting today and he basically told me that he's ready to go on the deal, but thought we can work out something on the price. WTF!?! That was the hold up on the deal!?! He wanted to negotiate the price, but if I hadn't talked to him face to face, I'd have never heard that!

    I'm sending him a quote with a 6 month intro price and then it goes back up to full price after 6 months.
     
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