March 23, 2013 By Dan Kraus

Why is the Hound Dog Howling?


hound-dog-sittingA salesman is walking down the street the street and he hears an old hound dog howl. He looks around and sees an old hound laying on a porch, his owner nearby in a rocking chair. The salesman walks a little further, getting closer to the house, and the dog howls again. This time, the salesman is close enough to give a short wave. He keeps walking and sure enough, the dog howls again. Now, the salesman is close enough to talk to the dog's owner.

He says to the owner, “That’s a peculiar dog you have there. I can’t tell whether he’s greeting me or warning me.” The owner says, “Oh, it's nothing to do with you; he’s laying on a nail.” The salesman replies, "That really is peculiar. Why is he staying there?” To this, the owner says “ Well, the nail is sticking up enough to bother him but not enough to make him move. So every once in awhile, he just lets out a howl to complain.”

So here’s our question: is that nail the issue keeping your business development process – sales or marketing – from being successful? Are your prospects feeling a little bit of pain, but not enough to take action to get rid of it?

The best tool to use in working with a nail is, obviously, a hammer. And with that hammer (to stay with our story above), you can go under the porch and either pull that nail out or pound it up higher. Either way, you change the conditions and the dog either moves or stops howling.

For your business development process, you can take much the same approach. You help your prospect recognize the pains you solve or change your packaging/pricing/service approach to move the nail.

Your ongoing communication and nurture marketing programs should expose your prospects to insight you have into their likely problems. It should help them understand that the nail bothering them is probably just one of the ones they're aware of and that there are other issues and challenges you can help them address. This communication is NOT about telling them what you do  it's asking questions and offering insights into possible solutions when they say “Yes, we do have that issue.”

And for prospects where driving up the nails still won't cause them to take action, go the opposite way. We’ve written several posts recently on packaging. Take a look at what you're proposing to them and do some reconfiguration. How can you start them off with something smaller or less risky? How can you get that prospect to move from standing still to any level of forward momentum? It doesn’t have to be free, it just has to fit better (and feel more comfortable) so they feel more relaxed with you.

If you’d like to talk this through, take a few minutes to drop us an email or pick up the phone and call. And as always, thoughts and comments are welcome.

About Author

Dan Kraus

With more than two decades of experience in sales, marketing, and go-to-market strategies, Dan Kraus has developed a deep portfolio of experiences that he now uses to help small businesses profitably grow their businesses. As an entrepreneur, Dan understands the challenges of growing a business with limited capital and human resources. As a line of business manager in larger companies such as SAP America and Great Plains Software (now part of Microsoft), his experience launching new business ventures inside reputable organizations established his reputation as a creative and effective executive that could both plan and execute within corporate confines.

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