• sales training workshops

CustomerCentric Selling® Sales Training Blog

Sales Tips: Please Stop Selling!

Posted by Jill Perez on Aug 28, 2015 3:03:08 PM

Sales Tips: Please Stop Selling!

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Does anyone doubt that B2B buyers have gotten more savvy and sophisticated? As part of that trend people that have done research and are knowledgeable about offerings rightfully expect to be treated differently than novices by salespeople. What vendors are slowly coming to realize is that traditional selling approaches conflict with how buyers want to be treated and often result in poor buying experiences.

0-stop-signI believe vendors are unwilling or unable (or both) to let go of the notion of “selling.” When asked to describe selling, both buyers and sellers usually will use words like “convincing, persuading and overcoming objections.” Human nature is such that after air, water, food and shelter exerting control is a fundamental need that we all have. With that in mind people would much rather buy than “be sold.”

The baggage of old selling techniques remains alive and well. If you enter a retail store to browse and learn about a sound system that you know very little about and are asked: May I help you? Most likely you will quickly respond: No, I’m just looking. Despite needing help, the perception is that sellers will try to manipulate buyers into something that results in higher commissions rather than what meets a buyer’s needs. In many cases this is an unfair stereotype, but that’s where the buyer-seller dynamic continues to be mired.

Sales is viewed as a zero-sum game. Pre-internet sellers had a huge advantage in parsing out product detailed as they saw fit. That advantage vaporized as vendors have posted prodigious amounts of information on their websites. Beyond that, social networking has allowed buyers to “trust but verify,” as they make sure vendor claims can be backed up by users of offerings.

Product pitches and “telling” are perceived for what they are: Selling. Many buyers find it to be annoying. Asking relevant questions and listening to the answers will allow buyers to express their needs and in doing so help sellers build a vision of a solution. Most sellers, however, need help in knowing the right questions to ask.

Sellers and vendors are also guilty of taking ownership for business results with phrases like: My software will reduce your receivables by 37%. In the clear light of day a seller, a product or a vendor only provides capabilities with which a buyer could achieve the desired reduction in receivables.

Sellers telling and taking ownership reflect old selling approaches and they must go. Asking and empowering buyers to achieve desired business outcomes will better align with the way buyers want to be treated today. Pre-Y2K, I often said the better seller usually wins. In today’s environment, it seems the seller providing the best buying experience will usually win. 

What are you doing to align with the way buyers want to buy?

Grab a FREE Seat Now The LAST, tuition-FREE Sales Management workshop of the year is coming Oct 14!

Register for one of our sales training workshops to improve sales performance through a buyer-oriented sales process, or read more sales training articles for helpful sales tips and techniques from CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company.

Topics: sales tips, selling tips, sales process, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique

Sales Tips: 5 Prerequisites for Focused Call Debriefing

Posted by Jill Perez on Aug 25, 2015 3:40:24 PM

Sales Tips: 5 Prerequisites for Focused Call Debriefing

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company

Image courtesy of Stock Images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

manager-repAs a sales manager now on the other side of the desk, I asked rather than answered the question: How did your sales call go? My new perspective soon caused me to draw several conclusions:

  • Long pauses and stammering as sellers started to answer were bad signs.
  • A significant amount of irrelevant information was shared.
  • The more sellers talked, the less confident I became in how well the call went.
  • Good calls took far less time to debrief than bad ones.
  • Sellers were more effective in trying to convince me bad opportunities were viable than they were in selling to buyers.

Sellers with thin pipelines want managers to believe numbers will happen. Forecasts are roll-ups from sellers to districts to regions and ultimately to CSO’s, so managers want to believe.

I appreciate the value Sales Enablement initiatives can bring to organizations but believe they have limitations. The elephant in many rooms is that organizations don’t empower sellers to make better calls. Providing better collateral, industry briefs, Success Stories, leads, etc. are helpful but don’t address the root of the issue. 

Most companies view sales as more of an art than a science. It might be interesting to review the written job description for your salespeople. I think you’ll find it will be vague and focused more on the ultimate outcome (achieving quota) than the skills needed to do so.

To shift the balance more toward science it may be necessary to have a fresh look and consider creating the following five (5) prerequisites:

  1. Define milestones for different types of transactions that sellers work on. Most companies have 5 or more types of sales (National accounts, new accounts, SMB opportunities, renewals, professional services, etc.). Often milestones have only been created for large opportunities. One size does not fit all, so steps should be proportional to opportunity size. Sellers will rightfully rebel when asked to use cannons to kill mosquitoes.
  1. Provide the skills needed to achieve each milestone. If you give a detailed road map to a person that doesn't know how to drive they’ll never reach the destination. Think about the varied backgrounds of your sales staff. Without a common skill set that aligns with your defined process you run the risk of asking sellers to do things they don’t know how to do.
  1. Whenever possible there should be measurable buyer actions to allow sales managers to validate milestone achievement. Without objective measures, pipelines will be based upon subjective opinions of sellers under pressure to show adequate activity to make their numbers. The result is usually a focus more on quantity than quality.
  1. Identify Key Player titles (the people sellers must call upon to sell, fund and implement offerings). For each Key Player, create a menu of business outcomes that can be achieved through the use of each offering. This allows organizations to help salespeople know who to call on and potential reasons they would buy.
  1. Each title/outcome becomes a conversation sellers should be prepared and able to have. Map only the capabilities/features that are relevant to achieving business outcomes and provide questioning templates to help sellers more consistently position offerings. By doing so you are defining the potential components of Key Players’ visions.

Having all of these components in place along with providing sellers the skills needed to execute each step in the process will make manager call debriefs much more focused. After making calls sellers should be able to answer the following questions: 

  1. What title did you call on?
  2. What goal or goals did they share with you?
  3. For each goal summarize the barriers that stand in the way of achieving them?
  4. What capabilities address those barriers?
  5. What value did you establish?
  6. Can/will the buyer provide you access to other Key Players? 

The costs of competing and losing to other vendors or to ‘no decision’ are high. In my mind the primary responsibility of a first level sales manager is to be a second set of eyes to ensure that all opportunities in a seller’s pipeline are winnable. Having standard debriefing questions that sellers should be able to answer goes a long way toward improving pipeline quality.

Grab a FREE Seat Now The LAST, tuition-FREE Sales Management workshop of the year is coming to Denver, October 14. Save your seat now before it fills up!

Register for one of our sales training workshops to improve sales performance through a buyer-oriented sales process, or read more sales training articles for helpful sales tips and techniques from CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company.

Topics: sales tips, selling tips, sales process, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique

Sales Tips: Realizing the World Isn't Flat

Posted by Jill Perez on Aug 19, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: Realizing the World Isn't Flat

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company

Image courtesy of Suphakit73 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

holding-worldSomething within our DNA makes most of us resistant to change. I believe the term “becoming a dinosaur” is unfair because dinosaurs did nothing to cause their demise. Many companies choose to avoid changing. The larger they become the harder changes are to implement. In staying with the status quo a few different attitudes are taken: 

  • Denial is an approach analogous to an ostrich putting its head in the sand when facing dangerous or unpleasant situations.
  • Rationalization can find reasons why change isn’t necessary. Part of this is the lemming syndrome meaning other aren’t changing, so it doesn’t appear to be anything we should be concerned about. Similar to politicians smugly saying that Social Security will be solvent until 20xx, so why change it now
  • Just keep going. Everyone else is over-reacting so we’ll just stay the course.

The fear of change is most powerful when uncertainty looms. Fear becomes paralyzing when companies don’t know how to react to or resolve issues or circumstances they face. I think this is the primary reason companies have stonewalled the changes in buying behavior over the last 15 years. Even before these changes, few organizations had a good handle on how top-line revenues would be achieved. They have and continue to stick to old ways that even in the 90’s were decades old. How often is the adage: If it’s not broken why try to fix it? invoked when things were/are in fact broken? 

Several major shifts have occurred since Y2K. I challenge organizations to check the areas below where they feel proud about how they responded with changes to their sales approaches, techniques, or processes to align/address the following changes: 

o   Sellers are involved later in buying cycles than ever before.

o   Buyers don’t want sellers’ help when determining requirements. They fear being manipulated as they have been in the past.

o   Product cycles are shrinking to a point where long-term sustainable competitive advantages are fleeting or non-existent.

o   Line of business executives are making decisions with minimal/no IT involvement.

o   The number of people in buying committees is steadily increasing.

o   Buyers want to buy rather than be sold.

o   Marketing now owns most of the top of the funnel for lead generation.

o   Lower level buyers prefer DIY education about offerings and executives won’t sit still for product presentations and yet the same (or more) product training as ever is being done.

o   Self-appointed committees without executive sponsorship waste their own and sellers’ time because value is seldom established.

o   For large opportunities inbound website activities provide poor entry points.

o   Sales Enablement should help sellers make better calls.

I’m embarrassed about the tepid lip service most vendors have paid to the changing landscape. Those that stick to their old ways, unlike dinosaurs, will be accountable for their demise.

Register Now Grab a seat in the LAST open workshop in Boston this year, coming Nov 3-6. All previous workshops have SOLD OUT!

Register for one of our sales training workshops to improve sales performance through a buyer-oriented sales process, or read more sales training articles for helpful sales tips and techniques from CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company.

Topics: sales tips, selling tips, sales process, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique

Sales Tips: "WHY Do I Need Sales Training?"

Posted by Jill Perez on Aug 14, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: "WHY Do I Need Sales Training?"

By Gary Walker, EVP of Channel Sales & Operations, CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company

gary-racecarI recently received an inquiry from a consulting company wanting to subscribe to My CCS® Coach in order to “train their 300 consultants how to sell.”  I initially faltered at the request, but I explained to the caller that My CCC® Coach is a ‘post workshop’ reinforcement application used by salespeople and managers to re-familiarize and reinforce the sales process and concepts that they learned and practiced in the instructor-led CustomerCentric Selling® workshop. 

“Why do I need instructor-led sales training when I can simply jump online and get whatever I need?” 

Years ago I attended a stock car driving school at Rockingham Motor Speedway in North Carolina. Former NASCAR champion, Buck Baker, father of famed NASCAR driver and television personality, Buddy Baker, conducted it. At the beginning of the class we attended an educational session about the car, the seat belt harness, driving suit, helmet, the high banked race track, the flags given by the flag man, where to enter and exit the corners at high speed, and where to pass, etc. He also explained how the actual on-track training would take place; we would follow an instructor and the flagman would signal which car was suppose to pass and when. Following that briefing, while I had been educated, I wasn’t a racecar driver. But I thought I was. I couldn’t wait to climb through the window and get behind the wheel of that 750 HP Chevrolet Monte Carlo. The entire class (all 6 of us) was eager to get going!

After lunch we headed out to pit row and were assigned our cars. Putting on the helmet, climbing through the window, and fastening that six-point harness went exactly as we were told. However, nothing that I learned in the morning educational session prepared me for what I experienced when I flipped the ignition switch and that car roared to life. I couldn’t hear a word my crewmember was saying. We had to resort to hand signals to communicate. The power of the engine made the car and me shake ‘comfortably’; after all it was a racecar.  

The six of us pulled onto the track and began following our instructor. He set the pace. We did about a dozen laps at around 60 mph practicing where to enter and exit the turns. The car’s chassis and wheels are setup to go through the turns like they are on rails. However, the high banks and centrifugal force want to pull the driver out of the seat and into the right hand side of the car. It was a very strange feeling. Nothing you would know from watching a race on television. You have to fight to keep your head up straight. Additionally, because of the way the car is set up, when you exit the turn, the car’s natural tendency is to head right up to the wall. You have to hold on to the steering wheel and steer it to keep it off the wall. After a few hot laps (about 60 MPH vs. 150 MPH for NASCAR drivers) we came into the pits, were debriefed by our crewmember and flagman, and sent out onto the track again to continue to practice and refine our new driving skills. At the end of the day my neck was sore, my arms were numb, and I had an entirely different perspective of what driving a racecar is all about. Additionally, I concluded I can drive a car, but I’m not a racecar driver. I’m not.

How does this relate to the above question regarding instructor-led sales training? Anyone can read a book, watch a video, participate and become educated about selling. However to develop selling skills you have to practice what you have learned. You have to be trained. This requires an experienced instructor, practice, feedback following the practice, and continuous coaching. Simply said, the difference is in the doing.

Only 5 Seats Left Grab one of the last seats available in the Denver open workshop coming SOON Sept 15-18.

Register for one of our sales training workshops to improve sales performance through a buyer-oriented sales process, or read more sales training articles for helpful sales tips and techniques from CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company.

Topics: sales tips, selling tips, sales process, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique

Sales Tips: "Just Do It!"

Posted by Jill Perez on Aug 12, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: Business Development - "Just Do It!"

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company

Image courtesy of Imagery Majestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

seller-on-phone-2Business development (BD) is one of the most challenging parts of a salesperson’s job. Building and maintaining strong pipelines is a leading indicator of sales success. Sellers that rely primarily upon inbound leads are backseat passengers hoping cars will take them to their desired destinations. They don’t control their destinies without the ability to proactively initiate new opportunities at Key Player entry points.

Most people have concluded (I agree) that traditional cold calling techniques won’t deliver the desired results. Sellers face sobering realities:

  •       About 4% of phone calls will be answered by Key Players
  •       On average more than 7 touches are needed before contact is made with executives
  •       Few sellers make more than 3 contact attempts

Sellers that view BD as a random activity are unlikely to be successful in generating new opportunities. There are shortcomings of not having an overall plan: 

  •       BD activities stop as soon as pipelines are deemed to be adequate.
  •       When pipelines are thin “binge calling” (i.e. making 20 calls in one sitting) amounts to frantic random attempts to contact executives.
  •       Many of these BD calls are “one and done” with about a 4% chance of reaching the intended target. It’s virtually assured the 7 contact threshold won’t be met.

My suggestion is that BD should be an ongoing, consistent effort and that general territory salespeople should allocate 10% of their time regardless of how strong their pipeline may be. Sellers should build a process by:

  •       Defining a series of touches (phone calls; voicemails; emails; collateral)
  •       Each touch should focus on a potential business issue for a specific title.
  •       The frequency of touches should be determined so that 7 attempts occur in a fairly concentrated period of time. My suggested “stake in the ground” is to try to contact prospects every three business days. Each attempt starts with a phone call. If the seller gets voicemail they reference a business issue and commit to send an email with some relevant collateral to the issues stated. The suggested maximum is 10 touches which worst case would be 5 voicemails and 5 emails.
  •       Try contacting 2 or 3 new prospects a day. While that sounds like a modest number, keep in mind that until you make contact with a prospect, the number of calls (first plus second, third, fourth and fifth touches) will quickly ramp up. 

With that in mind understand there are no perfect scripts, emails or cadences. My thought is that it would be better to try to contact executives early and late in business days because I believe you are more likely to have success. That said there are statistics to justify all different times. My ultimate justification of calling early and late is that it leaves prime hours of your business days to making calls on identified opportunities. 

There are many excuses for not doing BD. Some sellers are paralyzed in trying to figure out the ideal approach. In point of fact unlike death, gravity and taxes, no BD approach ALWAYS works. There are no silver bullets. My thought is the salespeople that put a process in place and try to adjust as they see what does or doesn’t work will stand the best chance of being successful.

Nike’s brilliant tag line from years ago still seems to apply. Figure out what you feel is an optimal BD approach and “Just do it!” Using a consistent approach can allow sellers to make changes moving forward based upon what is/isn’t working.

Listen to Episode 19 with Rita McGrath! Download our newest podcast with special guest, Rita Gunther McGrath in Episode 19.

Register for one of our sales training workshops to improve sales performance through a buyer-oriented sales process, or read more sales training articles for helpful sales tips and techniques from CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company.

Topics: sales tips, selling tips, sales process, sales prospecting, business development, prospecting, prospecting skills, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique

Sales Tips: How to Avoid Premature Product Discussions

Posted by Jill Perez on Aug 5, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: How to Avoid Premature Product Discussions

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company

Image courtesy of Franky242 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Most everyone has heard the expression that patience is a virtue. Through the years when someone asks me to describe the major difference between A Players (superior) and B/C Players (average) salespeople in one word, my response: Patience.

seller-buyer-mtgB/C Players often get into premature product discussions. Once product is mentioned, many buyers will ask: “How much does it cost?” This often begins a death spiral because if no value has been identified, any cost will seem high.

I believe there are a several reasons sellers dive into product too soon:

  • Their companies provide extensive product training.
  • Many sellers and vendors believe part of a seller’s job is educating buyers (even though few executive buyers want to learn all about offerings).
  • Talking about offerings is a comfort zone for salespeople.
  • Asking relevant questions and responding to buyers’ answers is challenging.

My view is that sellers should earn the right to talk about offerings by having buyers conclude early in sales calls that they are sincere and competent. In order to avoid boiling the ocean it would be helpful for sellers to go into calls with a menu of business outcomes that are relevant to the title they are calling on and can be achieved through the use of their offering. Sharing title-specific Success Stories and asking some probing questions are ways to have sellers share business goals.

Having buyers share a business goal is a watershed event. Both seller and buyer now understand a desired outcome. Once again, however, patience is necessary. Many B/C Players dive right into their offerings. The downside of doing that is that it will be a “spray and pray” exercise without knowing a buyer’s requirements. A Players begin asking diagnostic questions to understand why the buyer can’t achieve the desired outcome.

After doing so, they can present only the features/capabilities of their offerings that are likely to be relevant to the buyer. Patience in earning the right to discuss a seller’s offering should provide superior buying experiences for Key Players.

Listen to Episode 19 with Rita McGrath! Download our newest podcast with special guest, Rita Gunther McGrath in Episode 19.

Register for one of our sales training workshops to improve sales performance through a buyer-oriented sales process, or read more sales training articles for helpful sales tips and techniques from CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company.

Topics: sales tips, selling tips, sales process, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique

Sales Tips: What Happens When Inmates Get the Keys?

Posted by Jill Perez on Jul 28, 2015 4:21:00 PM

Sales Tips: What Happens When Inmates Get the Keys?

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company

Image courtesy of Stock Images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There is an enormous spectrum of selling approaches and skills being used in B2B sales today. It is disturbing to me that this statement applies within many companies. How odd would it be if members of a vendor’s accounting or manufacturing staff were given the latitude to get creative in how they performed their jobs? Chaos would reign. Bankruptcy would loom.

give-keysHaving owned the keys to selling approaches, most vendors should be given failing grades for improving buying experiences over the last 15 years. This has been an especially turbulent time given the changes in buying activity. Failure to meaningfully respond to these changes in my mind has caused an ever-widening chasm between how buyers are treated and how they would like to be treated.

About the turn of the millennium buyers were “given the keys” by vendors that posted everything they could about their offerings on websites. When pendulums of human behavior swing there often are over-corrections. While few sales organizations have implemented sales process, buyers haven’t distinguished themselves with their newly found empowerment.

The pervasive negative stereotype (learned early in our lives in regrettable interactions with B2C salespeople) has been applied with a broad brush to all. In fairness there have been abuses by B2B sellers over the years, but by its nature there are significant differences in selling complex offerings costing over $50,000 (SaaS transactions over $4,000/mo.):

  • There is a desire by vendors and sellers to have long-term customer relationships.
  • Sellers don’t want to sell things that customers don’t need.
  • Vendors often must provide services, support, maintenance, etc.
  • Vendors are concerned about customer satisfaction and references. The Internet and social networking have put positive or negative word of mouth on steroids.
  • Sellers and vendors are concerned about results that clients achieve with their offerings.

The empowerment of the buying community has been fueled by an availability of product information. Primarily non-executives are the members of the buying community that access this overwhelming volume of information. In doing so, they often lock out salespeople based upon the belief that they will try to convince/persuade/manipulate them into buying something that doesn’t address their needs.

Vendors have mistakenly concluded that research represents buying activity. If you step back, however, what percentage of product research (usually done on multiple vendors in a given space) is being done with: 

  • The knowledge of higher levels in organizations?
  • Budget already approved?
  • A concern or understanding of potential payback to justify expenditures?
  • An idea of required professional services and implementation issues that will arise?

By doing unauthorized research employees can waste a great deal of time. In evaluating enterprise B2B transactions, an early step should be a sanity check to determine the potential value of implementing the offering being considered.

It is a brave new world for companies considering large B2B offerings. With social networking it is no longer necessary to “take a seller’s word” for ease of use, ease of implementation or how significant the benefits realized will be. Buyers have the ability to poll communities of people they trust and get first hand “transparent” information by people that don’t have a vested interest in what vendor they choose. Long-suffering buyers no longer need to fall victim to seller hype, omissions or outright lies. 

KEY: It is incumbent upon vendors to up their games in realizing that introducing value discussions early in buying cycles with Key Players is a qualifier for both parties. Whether buying cycles are initiated proactively or reactively sellers should be able to determine early if the payback looks to be sufficient to warrant the time and effort by both sides. The buying community should scale back its paranoia about sellers taking advantage of them. The playing field has been leveled and the pendulum should move toward center. Vendors should consider reducing product training and focusing on more business training.

Buying and selling doesn’t need to be the zero sum activity it often becomes.

Grab a FREE Seat Now CCS® Clients: Don't miss our tuition-FREE Sales Management workshop coming Oct 14!

Register for one of our sales training workshops to improve sales performance through a buyer-oriented sales process, or read more sales training articles for helpful sales tips and techniques from CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company.

Topics: sales tips, selling tips, sales process, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique

Sales Tips: Another Way to Engage with Senior Executives

Posted by Jill Perez on Jul 23, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: Another Way to Engage with Senior Executives

By Gary Walker, EVP of Channel Sales & Operations, CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

working-at-deskAre you having difficulty engaging with the senior executives you would like to speak with? If so, here is something you can immediately put into action to improve your engagement rates.

If you weren’t already aware, the most effective means of engaging with a senior executive with whom you want to speak to is through a referral or an introduction from someone who knows that executive. The fact is most salespeople understand the power of referrals but don’t obtain them; or of if they do obtain the referrals, they utilize them ineffectively. However, did you know that LinkedIn contains a feature that allows you to automate finding, requesting, authoring, and obtaining that referral/introduction? Well it can.  I don’t have time here to fully explain how to use it, but I’ve included a link here that will connect you directly to LinkedIn’s online help forum.

Jumping to the next step, let’s assume that you’ve used LinkedIn’s referral/introduction capability and you just obtained the referral you were seeking.  Now what? 

Most email client applications (i.e. Microsoft Outlook) provide you with the ability to Request a Meeting. As soon as you have obtained the introduction/referral, rather than picking up the telephone and attempting a ‘warm call’ or sending a ‘warm email’ (two of the least effective means of engaging with senior executives), instead send the executive you’re attempting to reach a Request for Meeting. Why?  A Request a Meeting

  • is different than email
  • warrants the recipients’ attention
  • requires immediate action by the recipient (accept, decline, or propose an alternate date and time)
  • allows you to reference the introduction
  • allows you to author and deliver a relevant message with your request (think TRIGGERING EVENT)
  • allows you to include a call to action

The tactical use of LinkedIn’s Request An Introduction and Outlook’s Request a Meeting, when used in parallel will enhance your prospecting and business development success. Don’t be afraid to try it.

Download Episode 18 Listen to PART 2 of our conversation with bestselling author and consultant, Geoffrey Moore on Sales Rehab!

Register for one of our sales training workshops to improve sales performance through a buyer-oriented sales process, or read more sales training articles for helpful sales tips and techniques from CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company.

Topics: sales tips, selling tips, sales process, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique

Sales Tips: How to Make the Most of Your 168 Hours

Posted by Jill Perez on Jul 22, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: How to Make the Most of Your 168 Hours Every Week

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company

Image courtesy of Hin255 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

time-is-moneyTime is a precious commodity for everyone. It’s especially critical for sellers to make good use of their time. They’re under pressure to achieve revenue targets each quota year. As sellers become more competent they understand the difference between activity and progress. They start more stringently qualifying “opportunities.” At a high level, one of the primary responsibilities of first level sales managers is ensuring that sellers work on opportunities that have a high probability of closing. Statistics show about half of sales cycles end with prospects making no decision. This outcome means the buyer organization and all vendors that competed wasted valuable time.

While enticing, I question whether the torrent of activity from inbound non-Key Player researchers is helping salespeople achieve their numbers. As mentioned in several previous blog posts, nurturing programs that pass leads to sellers run the risk of confusing activity with progress. A few simple questions can save researchers and sellers from spinning their wheels.

My concern is the volume of inbound research that is being done today:

  • Without the knowledge of Key Players within prospect organizations
  • Without budget/funding approved for offerings

How to Maximize Your Time

1. If and when sellers contact or are contacted by people knowledgeable about offerings it is important to have them share the list of requirements they feel are needed and determine if a seller’s offering is a fit. A common mistake is failing to establish value early in the process. Absent strong payback, it’s unlikely sales will happen further down the road.

2. A seller may want to ask if budget has been approved. If the offering is fairly complex, understand that if buyers say they have budget, it’s likely there is a Column A vendor driving the evaluation. Gaining access to Key Players will be important in qualifying these opportunities.

3. If budget has not been allocated, honesty may be the best alternative. The seller can thank the prospect for their interest and acknowledge that both parties’ time is important. He or she can then express concern that many product evaluations have come to grinding halts when funding is requested because potential value was never established. It would be a shame to waste time in moving forward with the evaluation until potential payback had been defined.

4. At that point, the seller can ask what business outcomes can be improved through the use of the offering being considered and whether benefits had been quantified. In my mind the seller should consider a quid pro quo (give and get) at this point: 

  • I’m willing to commit my time and effort in making a recommendation (the give) if:
  • You’re willing to work with me in giving access to the people that would need to provide input so that a preliminary cost vs. benefit could be completed (the get).

5. The understanding in moving forward would be that the value would have to be adequate to justify a purchase. If not there would be no point in moving forward and spending additional time and resources. It would be a pink (if not red) flag if a prospect was unwilling to work with the seller on trying to build a business case.

In today’s environment, sellers with extensive product knowledge don’t bring much to the table for researchers that have poured over multiple vendor websites and are intimately familiar with offerings from several vendors. Introducing the concept of business issues and cost justification is a way to differentiate from other vendors.

Oddly enough, it turns out to be a potential win-win because there’s little sense for buyers and sellers to spend time and resources only to end up with a very common end to buying cycles: No decision.

Register Now for Nov 3-6 Don't miss the LAST open workshop in Boston this year, led by CCS® President/COO Frank Visgatis. Mark your calendar and save your seat now!

Register for one of our sales training workshops to improve sales performance through a buyer-oriented sales process, or read more sales training articles for helpful sales tips and techniques from CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company.

Topics: sales tips, selling tips, sales process, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique

Sales Tips: Buyers Are NOT Always Right?

Posted by Jill Perez on Jul 19, 2015 10:26:03 PM

Sales Tips: Buyers Are NOT Always Right

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

buyer-mtgWhen I started in Sales, a common phrase was that "the customer/buyer is always right." While I’ve always believed sellers should respect buyers, nobody I know is right all of the time. I’d like to share a situation where it was appropriate to challenge a buyer’s opinion.

Several years ago a new CCS® Business Partner asked me to make a call with him on a VP of Sales that he had known a long time. He felt the VP would be a good candidate for implementing our sales process. The three of us met for lunch and after a few minutes of rapport building, we started discussing some of the challenges the prospect was experiencing.

He initially indicated things were going fairly well, but after a few more minutes said the majority of his sellers weren’t making his numbers. He went on to say that he didn't feel that there would be much benefit in doing any sales training for his staff. He then asked if CCS® did anything in helping sellers improve their presentation skills. I shared with him that we didn't, but there were some other people that I’d be happy to put him in touch with.

One option was to finish the lunch and at the end of our call share some empty words about any future needs that might arise. I was mildly upset the Business Partner hadn’t uncovered some areas for discussion prior to our meeting, but what really bothered me was his thought that improved presentation skills would allow his staff to drive higher revenue.

With little to lose, I asked: How much impact do you feel improved presentation skills will have on driving higher revenue?  He hesitated for several seconds and seemed surprised in admitting that it was unlikely that better presentation skills would address his revenue shortfall. We then went on to have a detailed discussion about the underlying reasons many of his reps weren’t achieving quota.

Earlier in my sales consulting career, I probably would have challenged him sooner and more directly. In hindsight, admitting that I couldn’t help in presentation skills and offering him others that could, allowed me a little later in the call to challenge the direction he planned to take with his sales staff.

Download Episode 18 Listen to PART 2 of our conversation with bestselling author and consultant, Geoffrey Moore on Sales Rehab!

Register for one of our sales training workshops to improve sales performance through a buyer-oriented sales process, or read more sales training articles for helpful sales tips and techniques from CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company.

Topics: sales tips, selling tips, sales process, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique

Subscribe to CCS®

Stay Connected with CCS®