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04/08/2008

Solution Selling Key To Barter Industry�s Expansion 

By Doug Dagenais

When BarterCorp was sold in 1999 to Intagio, Doug Dagenais became the new National Sales Manager handling their retail and national accounts. He also took over management of the Chicago Corporate owned location.

 

In 2003 he left to build the barter division of Shell Vacations Club. There, he coordinated $1 million annually in room-night trades with many exchange groups as well as direct vendor transactions.

 

Contacted by Steve White in 2007 to compliment the organic growth of ITEX, he was brought onboard as National Sales Manager. Subsequently, new nationwide account registrations for the company have exceeded 30% over the past year.

For most of the history of selling, one could present their product or service to the prospect and they either bought it or didn�t. By seeing enough prospects you could make a profit. But with our present competitive world, and messaging that bombards our every waking moment, this is no longer sufficient.

There�s a major paradigm shift that should be recognized and addressed if one is to stay on top of the curve and win customers for the long term. It�s Solution Selling.

I�m certainly not suggesting that this is new. Many organizations have been shifting to this format for some time. It is increasingly becoming not only the norm, but necessary. Major corporations of both products and services are finding the way of the future in defining each prospects� needs, and then tailoring their product/service to meet those needs. Find the niche and fill it!

Sound familiar? This has been a particular application used in the barter world, as our true function is to improve business for our clients. Solve their problems and you�ll have a long time relationship. Throw them into a network and expect things to happen�.and some things will happen. But neither we, nor our client, will realize the full potential of participating in a barter network. We�ll all leave money on the table.

Although application of this theory should extend throughout our client relationship, it really begins in the selling process. Are we presenting our program to anyone who will listen, or are we finding out what issues the prospect is challenged with and then solving the issues? Are we knocking on doors that every other B2B marketing effort is messaging, or are we approaching a prospect that we will have a �transactional� or �relational� basis with?

If we take the approach of solution selling, a number of elements take place that have ancillary benefits:

1. Targeting the prospect is significantly easier. It�s not the whole world, it is someone we have a specific issue with that needs to be addressed.

2. Getting the prospect to respond to the initial contact will tend to be immediate, as we are approaching someone that we have business for or that we can solve a problem for. This touches the very essence of why people make buying decisions�to either make a gain, or prevent a loss. Present the option of a new customer (with a specific order) or conservation of cash on a specific purchase, and you have a reason to meet.

3. The prospect is more willing to spend time in understanding our program. It will have immediate impact on his business.

4. The decision process is shortened and �I�ll think about it� isn�t an option.

5. Because transactions occur quickly, there is instant gratification for both parties. It not only creates transaction fees for the barter company, but gets the client engaged as well. This is essential toward improving the �business life cycle� of a client.

So-o-o-o, how do we apply this? By focusing on a specific approach to a specific prospect. And where do these come from? Our current clients. We work for our clients. Whether your base is one client, 100 clients or 1,000 clients, our clients� needs direct us. Thus, we become �partners� with our clients. We work together toward the goal.

Carry out this philosophy as a core business strategy and you�ll never run out of prospects, transactions, or satisfied customers.


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