By Cara Aungst
HappyValley Industry debuted its first workshop yesterday. Here’s what the session revealed about sales in the area.
On February 28, leaders from companies in the Happy Valley area gathered at the Hyatt Place in downtown State College to talk about a gap in the ecosystem. Long story short, research and innovation is booming, but breakthroughs aren’t always reaching the right consumers. Companies and customers with pain points aren’t finding the right solutions. And businesses with millions (or billions) in potential are finding growth slow or nonexistent.
Keynote speaker Ben Lawrence, author of The Heart of the Wolf: The upside-down secret to being a kickass salesperson, told workshop attendees that there’s a solution.
“We have to stop talking about our companies and what we do and instead focus on our prospects and the pain that they are feeling,” he said.
Lawrence, who most recently was Chief Business Officer at Happy Valley’s KCF Technologies, and instrumental in the company’s rapid growth from $2 million to $50 million, said that roughly 3% of the prospects on your list are in the market for the solution that your company can provide. A scant few beyond that are willing to listen. But the 90% that remain? Lawrence said that reaching those prospects requires a total mindset change to focus on problems that those companies have rather than solutions that your company offers.
Attendees workshopped together to look for problems that their prospects needed to solve, brainstormed to create solutions, and then looked at what Lawrence calls “becoming a flashlight educator” — proactively looking for issues that will create problems in the near future for their client base.
Attendees came from across the Happy Valley ecosystem, from an indoor climbing facility to sensor companies to hospitality to software solutions. Everyone had something in common: deep expertise that they could leverage to solve problems for their clients, or, what Lawrence likes to call “their wolfpack.”
“My key takeaway is that people buy from people,” Kiara Yough from Actuated Medical said.
“I learned to earn my audience,” Jason Oakman from Loop Software added.
Liz Holtzinger from AguaVivir said that it reminded her of her days working in hospitality. “It’s about anticipating guest needs,” she said.