Grizzly or Coyote?

A few days ago I posted. Rob commented and I replied. The following is Rob’s inaugural post.

I sometimes feel jealous of guys like Rick Roberge. He sells a product (please allow me to group tangible products with services for this discussion) that can help almost anyone he bumps into. He and his colleagues can go to any trade show they choose and consider the folks in virtually every booth to be prospects. Rick is a grizzly bear wading into a stream full of tired salmon. All he has to do is reach out his big paw and grab hold of a fish.

Our customers are few in number, and they’re scattered all across North America. My products are useful to a select few people and companies that build or perform specific products or tasks. When I attend a trade show for one of the industries we address, I’ll be lucky if 2% of the exhibitors can be prospects. If we are exhibiting at the best shows for us, it is unlikely that more than a handful of the attendees can use our products. Picture Wile E. Coyote chasing that darned roadrunner!

When I stop feeling sorry for myself after a bad day, I come to recognize that Rick is not close to being the only grizzly wading into that stream. In order to eat, Rick has to be quicker than his neighbors. Sometimes, he may even have to fight them off if they try to steal his salmon. When I speak to a prospect, there is only a small chance that he knows of anyone else who can do what our company can. He may have other methods he can use to achieve his goals without using my products, but if he is convinced of the benefits we provide, he won’t have many other choices.

So, who has the better deal? Would you rather sell to a huge market against lots of competitors, or to a niche market that doesn’t attract a lot of other players? Is it better to be a grizzly or a (fictional) coyote?

8 thoughts on “Grizzly or Coyote?

  1. I can’t relate to well to Rob’s plight. Of all the sales jobs I’ve had, there’s been ways to target the right prospects at events, online, list buying, etc. Even though I can’t relate personally, I have helped some clients with similar issues… It looks like Rob’s company might be a good candidate for generating leads through internet marketing. Trade shows are expensive, especially if you’re only walking out with a handful of leads. If there aren’t many companies targeting his niche, and his prospects have compelling need for his service….it is easier to attract the right prospects to his website and capture the leads once they are there… assuming he uses the right systems and methodology to do it. Similar to a trade show, it’s harder to sell something that 500 or 5,000 or 500,000 people are trying to sell on the web. Think mortgages. There’s a Million brokers out there. But, if he’s one of a handful of only a handful of companies focussed on his niche, it’s easier to corner the search rankings, blogosphere and social media sites. Of course, it’d take a bit of online keyword and competitive research specific to his business and industry to see whether it’d help or not.

  2. Peter – On good days, I enjoy the fact that it is pretty easy to find our prospects, even though they are so widely spaced. I just can’t find a lot of them in one place for face-to-face meetings. When we do meet, I don’t worry much about having to beat the competition, I just have to match the value of my customer’s problem to the value of my solution.Lead generation is not a big problem for us. We know virtually all the big players, and know about most of the smaller ones. We just have to continue getting out there in there plants.My answer to my own question varies from day to day, based on what kind of day I’ve had! Sometimes the grass is greener on my side of the fence, and sometimes not.Thanks for your comments.

  3. I felt compelled to comment because for the past six years I was a coyote, constantly trying to be creative about how to reach new people and ultimately settling in to a customer service type role within the niche. I wasn’t doing any SELLING, I was just exsisting in our unique space. Tired of this I blew up my career to become a Grizzly. For the past five months I have regained my passion for sales and prospecting. I’m having a lot of fun and looking forward to work now. Of course being a Grizzly has it’s challenges but those challenges can be over come with hard work and creativity. In my particular coyote job that just was no longer the case. Great post Rob.

  4. Steve – your description of “settling in to a customer service type role” is right on target. There is a significant tendency for that to happen. I think we were guilty of that a few years ago, but with some positive changes, we’ve sparked improvement. I now believe that it is important to find at least one dramatic action that snaps the group out of complacency every couple of years to prevent that problem. I congratulate you for the courage it must have taken to blow up your career!

  5. It has been nearly a week since my “inaugural post.” I expect that the response time it done. Nobody else will be here to comment. One thing came as a surprise to me here: While all the responses we got were positive, interesting, and appreciated, only Steve Ide attempted to answer my closing question! I’ll have to remember to ask Rick next time I see him if this is typical. I’ll probably try another post down the road a little bit. Next time I’ll make fewer statements and ask more questions. I now understand that blogging can be a good way to practice sales skills? Thanks Rick, for this opportunity to post, and thanks to all the rest who took the time to read and respond. More later . . . Rob

  6. Rob, I was happy to facilitate. You may get comments down the road as more people find my blog and/or your post, so don’t be surprised when it happens. I have two suggestions if you want to continue without much effort.Put a link to your post in your email signature with a little blurb like, “I was recently asked to ‘guest post’ to a blog on selling. If you haven’t seen it, you can read it here“. If you do read it, please tell me what you think publicly as a comment on the blog or privately by sending me an email.Second, as you consider whether you want to post again or start your own blog, you may want to read this

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