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Choosing Sales Targets: Displacement vs. Disruption

There are several cold calling campaigns for cloud services providers. Here's how they can be used to sell to targeted market segments.

Carrie Simpson

September 4, 2014

3 Min Read
There are three kinds of campaigns when cold calling customers commodity displacement gamechanging displacement and disruption
There are three kinds of campaigns when cold calling customers: commodity displacement, game-changing displacement and disruption.

When we hear “disruption” we immediately think of a brand-new technology that hasn’t been widely adopted or integrated. Disruption in a sales case refers to the perception of the user or purchaser of a product or service, not the product or service itself.

When cold calling customers for cloud, there are essentially three types of campaigns: commodity displacement, game-changing displacement and disruption.

Commodity displacement. They already have a particular product, and you want them to replace it with your almost identical thing. Example: photocopiers. Everyone has one, everyone understands what they are, and you will eventually get another one.

Game-changing displacement. They have something already that you can replace with something significantly different. Example: managed print. Don’t replace your photocopier with another photocopier. Buy a service that will change how you print.

Disruption. They don’t have one yet, and they didn’t know they needed one before speaking with you.

Example: mobile hotspot printing. Print anything, anywhere from any device? What? Sign me up.

In the above description, one company offers multiple products and services, and they all fall in to different categories. They can easily classify their level of disruption by the offering, regardless of the target.

When selling cloud solutions, it isn’t as cut and dried.  Here, your target will dictate the level of disruption; not your product or service offering.

Let’s use a cloud-based CRM solution as an example.

Selling a cloud-based CRM solution to a company already using Salesforce.com? This is commodity displacement. They are already using something almost exactly like what you’re selling.

Selling a cloud-based CRM solution to a company using an on-premise version of Goldmine? This is game-changing displacement. They are already using something that does what your system does, but your system will significantly change how they do business

Selling a cloud-based CRM solution to a company that isn’t using a CRM solution at all? Disruptive. They have nothing to compare it to and are creating a new process by purchasing it. You create this market.

Commodity displacement campaigns are all volume-driven. Ask enough people the same question and eventually someone will say yes. The challenge with most commodity displacement campaigns becomes ROI. Your product or service needs to cost enough that the law of numbers (1 sale in 100 conversations) will tip in your favour. If you are pitching targets in this space, you need money, talent, training and quality control. The upside is you can use much more junior sales reps. It’s a relatively easy campaign if you have the quantity of leads you’ll need. (At least a thousand every month per rep.) The biggest issue here will always be timing.

Game-changing displacement campaigns require more education. The sales cycle will be longer as you have to change a teams’ entire way of thinking about things. The “this is how we’ve always done things” mentality is a hard nut to crack. This is the most challenging place to cold call. You’ll need more experienced (read: higher priced) cold calling talent, and a good marketing team. Nothing happens quickly in this space. You’ll get to speak to fewer prospects, as you will need to engage with a higher point of contact within organizations to pitch ideas instead of infrastructure.

Disruption is really the sweet spot for cold calling. You’re not hoping to replace something they’ve already made an investment in. You’re helping a company create something entirely new. Here you get to present interesting ideas to people that can make change happen.

Indentify where your solution lies for different targets. Are you commodity at the enterprise level and disruptive at the SMB level? Are you game changing for law firms and disruptive for health clinics?

Once you have identified and classified your targets, you can create the right type of campaign for all of them. A much better strategy than the spray-and-pray “let’s just call everyone and see who buys it” approach.

Identify where you can be disruptive, and you’ll close more, more often.

How do you present your sales targets to your cold calling teams? How do your customers perceive your solutions and products?

Carrie Simpson is founder and CEO of Managed Sales Pros.

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About the Author(s)

Carrie Simpson

President, Managed Sales Pros

Carrie has 20 years of inside and field sales experience. She is the founder of Cold Calls Lead Generation, a business to business sales appointment setting firm. For fourteen years she has helped technology companies sell more, more efficiently. Carrie spent two years building the Managed Services lead generation program at The Eureka Project before founding Managed Sales Pros, a sales cycle acceleration firm that focuses exclusively on the managed services ecosystem. She was named by MSPMentor as one of the 250 most influential people in the technology channel for 2013.

Carrie still cold calls daily. She is responsible for client strategy at Managed Sales Pros and is available for consulting, training and speaking engagements. Carrie’s client list includes MSP industry guru Robin Robins, RMM vendors AVG Managed Workplace and Nable by Solar Winds, Network Security firm OpenDNS, the document management startup ITGlue and emerging and established MSPs from Seattle to New York City.

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