How many of the conference speakers you see are technicians, not business owners?
In conversation with a client of my own, it transpired that my frustration about this didn’t exist in its own little void. She expressed this frustration to me, and as she did I found myself surprised that her view of her industry mirrored my view of my industry.
Conferences aren’t really for business owners. They’re for technicians and employees: People whose technical skills are amazing, and who need to share them, but whose experiences as business owners is either thin or non-existent. This includes those who are contractors; technically freelancers but actually employees, working for one company at a time, not interested in employing others, living contract to contract.
In my industry, as in my client’s industry, these people talk about things that most businesses won’t pick up. They’re great topics, often inspiring. They just don’t address real-world business problems, ones that business owners deeply care about. They’re in the business of solving employee and technician problems, ones that those deep in the doing care about.
My client presented the example of some amazing VR technology that that is incredible, but it’s technology that no small business owner is going to pick up. They’re still working out whether they need websites. She can spot this, because she’s a business owner; they can’t, because they are technicians. They work in large businesses, specialists in small areas where they can hone their skills and think about one thing to the exclusion of all else.
There is a huge gap between the talk that goes on, and the reality of selling. It’s one that most conferences don’t bridge, and likely won’t bridge.
It’s not surprising therefore that working on a business is a lonely thing. Even when you’re doing incredible things, your key issue as a B2B seller is solving problems of other businesses. You can talk about all the amazing things you like. But if it won’t work for the majority of small business – which, in Australia, employs about 70% of the population – then, even if your big ideas about changing business behaviour are inspiring, it will be about as effective as pissing into the sea and hoping it’ll turn yellow.