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CustomerCentric Selling® Sales Training Blog

Sales Tips: 5-Step Execution Plan for Q4

Posted by Jill Perez on Sep 27, 2016 1:45:05 PM

Sales Tips: 5-Step Execution Plan for Q4

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

Sales Tips for Q4The year is coming to an end for both you and your prospects. Are you prepared? Do you have a plan in place to maximize your use of fourth quarter dynamics, such as: 

  • Reduced selling time

  • Request for resources from prospects that aren’t real

  • Limited availability to decision makers due to the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays

  • Pressure for excessive fourth quarter discounts by prospects, etc.?  

You can’t approach this fourth quarter as business as usual. You have to approach the remainder of this year with a sense of urgency. Here are some steps that you can take with some suggested dates:

  1. Re-grade your existing pipeline using the Pipeline Grading Form.  Who are your real fourth quarter opportunities? When: Now!

  1. Take control of your sales pipeline. When: No later than November 1st.

  • Send an email to all C (Champion) prospects, followed by a personal phone call, advising them that this is a critical quarter and asking them if it is their intent to make a selection decision by the end of December. Explain to them that with the reduced amount of time, holidays, etc., that you would like to focus your energies and your company’s resources to provide them with the information they need to make an informed purchase decision by December 16th.

  • You might as well find out who is real or not. Why submit what could turn out to be an embarrassing sales forecast?

  • If it is not their intent to purchase, document and confirm your understanding of that decision via email, let them know you will contact after the first of the year, and invite them to re-engage if anything should change between now and the first of the year.

  1. Convert those existing C’s (Champions), those that responded affirmatively to your email and phone call, into E’s (Evaluating).

  • Ask them how they would like to complete their evaluation.

  • Sequence of Events - SOEIntroduce the Sequence of Events (SOE) as a way to accomplish what needs to be done before the Christmas holiday.

  • The final evaluation step in any mutually agreed-to Sequence of Events should be scheduled for the week of December 9th. After Friday the 14th you’ll find that many decision makers are going to be gone for the holiday. You’ll have potentially missed the opportunity to close this business by the year-end.

  • You’ve given yourself an additional two (2) precarious weeks if something slips.

  1. Withdraw any outstanding proposals that have been out for over fourteen (14) days. When: No later than November 1st.

  • If there has been no action, other than to simply tell you to ‘hang in there,’ withdraw the proposal.

  • Use the ‘Gentle’ or ‘Hard’ emails that I introduced in your workshop, depending upon the circumstance. If you need a copy, send me an email (gwalker@customercentric.com).

  • If they don’t re-engage, face reality. They weren’t going to close. Take them off the forecast.

  • If they do re-engage, schedule a refocus call, find out what else needs to be done, and issue an abbreviated Sequence of Events.

  • Close the business by December 14th.

  1. Use a Negotiation Worksheet - DO NOT wing it!

  • Expect to be squeezed on pricing. It’s your prospects’ right and obligation to get the best possible price for their company.

  • It’s your right and obligation to get the best possible price for you and your Think revenue and commission.

  • Resist negotiating unless you have been selected.

  • Negotiate with Decision Makers and know in advance:

    • Your positions when asked for concessions

    • Two potential ‘gets’ you can ask for

    • The price you are willing to accept

    • One concession you are willing to offer after gaining one of your ‘gets’

  • Close using a get/give strategy (if it’s even necessary)

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Sales Tips: BANT

Posted by Jill Perez on Sep 25, 2016 7:21:35 PM

Sales Tips: Revisiting the BANT Approach

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

sales tips for qualificationFor years many sales organizations have used the BANT approach (Budget, Authority, Need and Timeline) to qualify opportunities. Sales managers ask sellers to commit that all four of these criteria are in place. As explained below, these questions leave a lot to be desired. 

Budget: As it relates to Sales, there are few things that always or never apply. For decades managers have asked sellers if budget is in place. In my mind, if the offering is complex (no price list posted on a website) and budget is already in place, a seller should always assume another vendor (Column A) has gotten in first. If that seller is competent, he/she will have the requirements wired to make it difficult for Columns B, C, D, etc. to win the business.

A better question for managers to ask: Whose numbers were used to establish the budget? If sellers can say in January they provided budgetary numbers before year-end to secure budget, the conclusion can be made that they are the preferred vendor. If not, they have work to do.

Authority: If a transaction is north of $50,000 it is highly likely to be a committee decision. The signing authorities and spending habits of the 90’s are a distant memory. To go back to budget, the manager would be better served to ask who had to authorize the budget and whether or not the seller had access to that person. Another caution is that it’s common for lower level staff to greatly over state their power to salespeople.

Need: If a committee is involved there will be different needs for the various titles.. In my mind the more important question would be: Is there sufficient value/payback to justify the proposed expenditure? For complex sales a seller’s job is to help facilitate an “enterprise view” of the value that summarizes potential benefits that each stakeholder can realize.

Timeline: Sellers with thin pipelines will be sorely tempted to provide timelines that meet their need to show they will be on target to be YTD or better against quota. If the potential value is significant, the buying committee can have sense of urgency because they realized for every month they wait, potential savings are being lost. In trying to be customer-centric, sellers should ask the buying committee what their time frame for making a decision would be. Creating a written Sequence of Events that shows steps and activities leading up to issuing a proposal would be preferable to getting a seller’s opinion of when a transaction will close.

The BANT approach was created to try to do sanity checks and qualify opportunities. Sellers would answer the questions in a way that served their needs. Companies would be far better served to evaluate achievement of pipeline milestones based upon buyer actions rather than seller opinions. 

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Sales Tips: Race to December 31st - Marathon vs. Sprints

Posted by Jill Perez on Sep 21, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: Marathon vs. Sprints

sales tips for making year-end numberSales can be viewed as a series of races that end December 31st and start the very next day. This is the time of the year that many salespeople assess whether they can make their number this year or should slow some opportunities down to get off to a fast start in 2017.

As a sales manager, most of my sellers hit the accelerator hard as needed. In other words, they treated a year as a series of sprints that were needed when pipelines were thin. I was usually fortunate to have some steady performers that viewed the year like a marathon and set the pace that yielded more consistent results and far less drama.

As there are 26 milestones in a marathon, these sellers broke the year into 12 parts. I wish I had the wisdom back then to encourage all of my staff to look a sales cycle ahead to evaluate whether their pipelines were sufficient to deliver the numbers needed for them to be YTD against quota or better. A steady approach is less stressful and reduces the peaks and valleys that otherwise occur. 

Let’s say you “sprint” the last few months of 2016. The best scenario is that you make your number this year but find 2017 is effectively a 10-month year because you had to close most everything that was in your pipeline. Sprinting and coming up short is the worst-case scenario.

I encourage sellers to make a New Years resolution now to build pipeline every month. Rather than rely upon inbound leads that are non-Key Players, do some proactive business development to targeted accounts and titles. I’d venture to say if sellers tried to contact two prospects a day, they would be on their way to more steady performance. Make 2017 a better year by making these changes NOW.

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Sales Tips: WHY Good Sales Teams Lose

Posted by Jill Perez on Sep 19, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: Understanding Why Good Sales Teams Lose in Competitive B2B Opportunities

Sales losses are hard. And they’re especially hard when the engagement has been long, difficult, and complex. Sales teams often feel as though they’ve given their best proposal, their best price, their best value proposition. But sometimes, that just isn’t enough to seal the deal.

After a loss, it’s tempting to walk away and not look back. After all, looking back can be painful. Better to start over with a fresh opportunity, right? Not necessarily.

sales teamUsing Win Loss Analysis to Learn From the Past and Win in the Future

It’s true that understanding losses can dredge up painful memories. But looking back and analyzing what went well, and not so well, can also provide insights for the next competitive opportunity. Not understanding what caused you to lose will cause you to repeat past mistakes.

In Win Loss Analysis, loss drivers—reasons for losing those hard-fought competitive deals—can be broken down into several different categories:

1. Sales Effectiveness:

  • How effective was the sales approach in convincing the buyer that their offering was better than that of the competitor’s?
  • How well did the sales team know the product or service they were selling? Could reps answer questions about the product’s functionality? If not, did they enlist the help of a technical expert to fully address the buyer’s concerns?
  • Was the sales team responsive when the buyer reached out for information or follow-up detail? How quickly did sales get back to the buyer?Was the response in the medium in which the buyer prefers to communicate (email, text, live call, etc.)?
  • How well did the sales team understand the buyer’s needs? Did they take the time to do
    discovery with the buyer to really understand their pain points? Or did sales lead with a discussion about their own solution’s capabilities without fully understanding what was relevant to the buyer?
  • How well did sales demonstrate the product and company’s capabilities? Was the presentation personalized to the buyer’s company, such as using their company logo? Or was the presentation generic, unpolished, or too high level? Was an online presentation offered when the buyer really wanted an on-site visit?
  • Did the sales team facilitate the purchase transaction for the buyer, including transitions between groups within the vendor organization, contract discussions, and legal hurdles?
  • How well did sales understand the buyer’s industry? Did they research macro environmental forces shaping the buyer’s environment? Did they dive deep into the buyer’s firm, as well as competitive pressures, to better understand the operating environment?

2. Solution Capabilities:

  • How effective was the solution that was proposed in meeting the buyer’s needs? Did it address key pain points highlighted by the buyer?
  • Was the solution intuitive? Did it have a good look and feel? An easy-to-use interface? What was the buyer’s first and last impression?
  • sales management teamWas an explanation given for different configurations, options, and customizations that are available for the product? Can customers scale up or down as business needs change? How easy or difficult is this to actually accomplish?
  • How well did the solution compare to competitors’ offerings? Were key differentiators of the solution described by segment, vertical, and/or geography?
  • Is there a partner ecosystem for customers who may fall outside of traditional solution fulfillment? How was this positioned to the buyer, including responsibility for service and support issues that may arise?

3. Company Impact:

  • How solid is the company’s reputation? Is the firm recognized as a leader in the market? A laggard? Why does that perception exist and how can a good reputation be leveraged and a poor reputation be improved?
  • How effective is the organization’s service and support capabilities? How long are hold times when customers want to talk or text with the support team? What’s the abandonment rate for service requests? Are SLAs consistently being met?
  • Were customers provided with solid customer reference accounts that underscore the benefits of the solutions being offered? If prospects ask reference accounts for additional references, will those customers also provide positive feedback?
  • How well was the organization’s long-term financial viability demonstrated to buyers so that prospects are assured the firm will be around over the long term? For start-up companies, this may be of particular concern for buyers.
  • How much experience can be cited in the buyer’s industry? Are there specific accounts that can be highlighted in which industry-specific problems were solved similar to what the prospect is facing today?

4. Pricing Model:

  • Was the price of the solution higher or lower than theother short-listed vendors?
  • Was pricing higher in some areas and lower in others (i.e., low licensing fees but higher professional services fees)?
  • If your price was higher, is pricing causing you to lose deals?
  • If your price was lower, are you leaving money on the table?
  • Did the buyer see value in purchasing your solution?
  • How did you demonstrate that value?
  • How understandable is your pricing structure? Do you intentionally try to obfuscate pricing to fool your buyers?

As you can see, there are many potential reasons for losses. While sales reps and sales leaders sometimes shy away from loss reviews because they assume any negative feedback will be targeted at them, buyers frequently cite factors outside of the sales team’s immediate control that can negatively impact the final selection decision. Feedback is not intended to point the finger at sales teams, rather, feedback should point to how they could win more deals.

Understanding Your Market Position Measured Against Competitors

Understanding where you stand in these different categories is important. But equally, if not more critical, is understanding where you stand vis-a-vis your competitors. By understanding your performance in relation to other firms, you’re more accurately understanding your relative areas of strength and weakness, leading to success or failure. When asking for feedback, most Win Loss interviews will request (and buyers will provide) feedback about all short-listed vendors, thereby providing competitive comparisons and differentiation.

Turn Data into Action

It’s also important to act upon buyer feedback, particularly when it’s constructive in nature. Most B2B buyers, after going through a multi-month (in some cases, multi-year) evaluation and procurement process, will gladly give their input. Not only were these buyers heavily invested in the details of their firm’s evaluation, they also have a genuine desire to see the greatest number of vendors survive and thrive, providing buyers with the highest number of choices for future consideration.

Outcomes 2016One way of putting findings into action is to conduct 360 reviews, asking not just buyers for their feedback, but account teams and those in supporting roles as well. At Primary Intelligence, we help clients put feedback into action by conducting 360-degree review sessions. After talking to buyers to collect their feedback from the evaluation, we then talk to account teams and others involved in the proposal (such as pricing, product, and support groups) to understand likely reasons for buyer perceptions.

When sales teams tell us what they did that was so effective and contributed to a “win,” we help them put those best practices into place throughout their organizations. Likewise, when buyers identify a root cause problem that pushed an opportunity into the “loss” column, we help clients understand what led to those outcomes as well.

Bringing It All Together

Having a greater understanding of loss drivers—factors that caused you to lose against other shortlisted vendors—is critical. While it’s hard to get over the initial disappointment and shock of a loss, taking a deep breath and asking for sincere feedback will help you and your teams to improve over the long term. And that’s what makes winning organizations consistently successful.

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Sales Tips: Nick Saban and Sales - What's the Connection?

Posted by Jill Perez on Sep 9, 2016 3:18:52 PM

Sales Tips: Nick Saban and Sales - What's the Connection?

By Gary Walker, EVP of Channel Sales & Operations, CustomerCentric Selling®

sales lessons from Nick SabanThe college football season kicked off last week. Reigning national champion, the Alabama Crimson Tide, began right where they left off last season with a convincing 52 to 6 win over the University of Southern California.

A while ago, CBS 60 Minutes did a segment on Alabama football coach Nick Saban. He's one of the best coaches in college football, having now won four BCS championships with Alabama in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2015, and another with LSU in 2003. I included a link to the segment. It’s under fourteen minutes long. If you have the time, and you’re a salesperson or sales leader, I think it is worth watching. There are so many lessons in this brief segment.

Most notably to me is that he attributes his team’s success to following and executing what he calls a football process. He insists his players not look at the scoreboard or worry about winning, but instead to focus on executing their individual assignments, perfecting their skills, and each offensive play that allows them to move the ball systematically, yard by yard down the field, and ultimately score. Now, they don’t sit around all week and decide they will go play a game on Saturday. When they are not playing an actual game they are practicing; about five (5) days of practice prior to the actual game. They practice their process for hours on a daily basis. That is the Alabama footbalprocess and it achieves the desired results.

So why is that notable to me? CustomerCentric Selling® is a sales process. If you are a salesperson and will continually focus on understanding, practicing and mastering the sales process, perfecting your sales skills, and moving the opportunity systematically through the company’s sales process, you will ultimately win. If you are a leader of salespeople, if you drive the execution of the sales process, you’ll drive the required revenue. It will require skill practice and opportunity coaching on a daily basis. You will help your salespeople prepare to win.

What practice do you have scheduled for your team?

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Need some help to increase sales? Take a look at the sales training workshops available to get started and improve sales performance. Your Roadmap to Revenue Growth® awaits!

Topics: Sales Training, sales tips, selling tips, sales process, sales methodology, improve sales performance, sales training methodology, sales approach, sales training approach, sales training methodology approach, selling process, crm, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique, sales performance, selling approach, alabama, nick saban, alabama football

Sales Tips: Losing - From Bad to Worse

Posted by Jill Perez on Sep 7, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: From Bad to Worse

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®

sales tips for avoiding long lossesIf someone were talented enough to finish second in every PGA tournament they participated in, they’d have several mansions, a private jet and sportswriters wondering why they can’t win.

If a salesperson were to come in second on every transaction he or she competed for, it would mean having to live on their base salary until a sales manager decides to replace them.

I’ve said for years the worst possible outcome is to go the distance (an entire sales cycle) and lose, either to another vendor or to no decision. 

Recently I came to realize going the distance and losing is worse than I suspected. Research done by the TAS Group concluded that it takes 50% longer on average for sellers to lose deals than to win them. At first blush that seemed hard to believe, but would you agree most sales cycles that you win tend to have a fairly good pace to them? 

One of the CCS® core concepts is: “Bad news early is good news.” By that we mean as soon as a seller knows he or she isn’t going to get the business, they should consider withdrawing. It’s hard to do, but I hope the realization that if it takes you 4 months to win transactions, you likely will spend 6 months losing opportunities that will help give you courage to walk. Hopefully the found time can be spent finding winnable opportunities.

CCS Evangelists

Need some help to increase sales? Take a look at the sales training workshops available to get started and improve sales performance. Your Roadmap to Revenue Growth® awaits!

Topics: Sales Training, sales tips, selling tips, sales training workshop, sales training workshops, sales process, sales methodology, sales training company, improve sales performance, sales training success, sales approach, sales training approach, selling process, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique, sales performance, selling approach

Sales Tips: Different Differentiators, Different Buyers

Posted by Jill Perez on Aug 29, 2016 2:42:26 PM

Sales Tips: Got-to-Have vs. Nice-to-Have

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®

red-umbrella.pngIn previous posts, I’ve referenced Rita Gunther McGrath, a professor at Columbia University, who authored The End of Competitive Advantage. In this book she references shrinking product life and development cycles and makes a strong case that vendors no longer enjoy sustainable competitive product advantages.

In working with many companies, one of the most common complaints is that offerings are viewed as commodities. This often leads sellers to presume it’s all about price. Despite this, in nearly all buyer surveys you see in large B2B transactions price seldom makes the top five. One potential explanation for this may be that when telling a seller he or she lost, blaming price is the cleanest way to end the discussion. That said I’ve always believed if sellers didn’t get a chance to tweak pricing then they lost for other reasons (i.e. they got outsold).

As it relates to differentiators, I agree with Ms. McGrath that broad differentiators are becoming elusive. My belief is the seller that better understands the customer’s issues and desired outcomes will have a better than average chance to win. In order to do this I suggest sellers must do the following:

  1. Get title-specific with Key Players in buying committees.
  2. Keep features/capabilities that promote ease of use off the table.
  3. Relate value that quantifies how a differentiator can be used to improve business results.

I also suggest that a given feature or differentiator can mean different things to different buyers. A few years back I worked with a company that offered furnished condos as an alternative to hotel rooms for extended engagements in a given location. They felt a working kitchen was a crucial benefit, but I helped them realize how it impacted different people within prospect organizations.

For consultants living in the condos (users) it meant the option to make their own meals to:

  • Eat healthier and/or less than they would eat dining out.
  • Take less time to eat (potentially work during part of the evening).
  • Avoid the awkwardness of eating alone at restaurants.

For the consultants’ manager it meant potentially happier, more productive employees with the potential to reduce meal expenses and reduced burnout from traveling. For HR it was a potential tiebreaker when recruiting new hires, could improve employee satisfaction and reduce turnover. For the CFO it was a roll-up of all these things netting out to an improved bottom line.

If you can have different titles ascribe values to differentiators they become “got-to-haves” vs. “nice-to-haves” and should give sellers a better chance of winning the business. 

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Need some help to increase sales? Take a look at the sales training workshops available to get started and improve sales performance. Your Roadmap to Revenue Growth® awaits!

Topics: Sales Training, sales tips, selling tips, sales training workshop, sales training workshops, sales process, sales methodology, sales training company, improve sales performance, sales training success, sales approach, sales training approach, selling process, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique, sales performance, selling approach

Sales Tips: A La Carte Sales Training

Posted by Jill Perez on Aug 24, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: Avoid A La Carte Training

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®

sales tips to avoid a la carte sales trainingWhen dining out my preference is ordering from a menu and being served rather than filling a plate from a buffet. That may seem to be an odd way to start a sales blog, but I find many companies that go to the trouble and expense of training their salespeople make it an a la carte affair.

When salespeople return from training the standard management question nets out to: What “keepers” are you going to use? This seems analogous to providing a seller with a textbook and black marker and asking him or her to redact any the unimportant words or phrases. Do the exercise with 20 sellers and no two will be the same. This is a major factor in doing “drive by” sales training that doesn’t stick.

In my mind, a more logical approach would be for a small group of selected people to attend a sales workshop to determine if the content and skills are a good fit for their organization. Prior to any internal training, the agenda and content should be tweaked so that ultimately every topic or module that is covered has been deemed relevant and necessary.

Whether training military personnel, production line workers, fireman, law enforcement staff, etc., there is tremendous benefit to be realized when everyone in an organization has a standard set of terms, a common skill set and a defined way to perform tasks. 

The major beneficiaries are sales managers because a common structure and skill set provides a framework to measure the production and skill levels of each seller and determine how to develop and enhance their competencies. Companies that make sales training part of their culture can reap benefits for the long term.

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Need some help to increase sales? Take a look at the sales training workshops available to get started and improve sales performance. Your Roadmap to Revenue Growth® awaits!

Topics: Sales Training, sales tips, selling tips, sales training workshop, sales training workshops, sales process, sales methodology, sales training company, improve sales performance, sales training success, sales approach, sales training approach, selling process, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique, sales performance, selling approach

Sales Tips: Knowing When to Walk

Posted by Jill Perez on Aug 17, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: Knowing When to Walk

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®

sales tips for knowing when to walk awayThe worst possible outcome for sellers and vendors is to go through entire sales cycles and lose. This is especially true for large opportunities because it means the seller, support staff and management have spent time, effort and resources with nothing to show for their efforts. My belief is that there are signs along the way and it doesn’t make sense to pursue opportunities that are unlikely to result in orders.

Early in my sales career with it became clear management didn't like unpleasant surprises. If high visibility transactions didn’t close, formal loss reviews were conducted. They were the equivalent of autopsies to figure out how and when things went bad. These sessions were career limiting if and when sellers were found to have made mistakes and hadn’t asked for assistance.

My sales manager was great at telling sellers what to do without sharing HOW to do it. I didn’t like making calls with him but learned early that if opportunities in my pipeline were going sideways, I’d be sure to get him involved. If he didn’t like how things were going he would consider getting his manager involved. Loss reviews went much better when they started out with the question: What could WE have done better? versus What could YOU have done better? 

There was an over-arching expectation that the company should win every opportunity they competed for and a pervasive belief that winners never quit and quitters never win. In retrospect, this was a ridiculous attitude to take. In the clear light of day, when I got my manager involved I felt a loss was likely. If he escalated it to his boss, he felt the same way. Withdrawing from opportunities was never an option.

In Sun Tzu’s Art Of War, required reading within some sales organizations, there are five different strategies that can be employed. One is to choose not to fight if a situation isn’t winnable. Sellers often express surprise when opportunities in their pipelines are lost. Many have cast blind eyes to signals buyers give throughout sales cycles.

It’s unpleasant to realize losses are likely. When that realization occurs, sellers have a choice:

  • Continue spending time and effort on opportunities likely to end in losses OR
  • Withdraw and find higher probability opportunities to work on

The road less traveled is likely to take sellers to a better YTD position against quota.

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Need some help to increase sales? Take a look at the sales training workshops available to get started and improve sales performance. Your Roadmap to Revenue Growth® awaits!

Topics: Sales Training, sales tips, selling tips, sales training workshop, sales training workshops, sales process, sales methodology, sales training company, improve sales performance, sales training success, sales approach, sales training approach, selling process, sales technique, sales tip, selling technique, sales performance, selling approach

Sales Tips: Behavior Follows Belief

Posted by Jill Perez on Aug 12, 2016 3:33:27 PM

Sales Tips: Behavior Follows Belief

By Frank Visgatis, President & Chief Operating Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®

sales trainingBack in the 1970’s, IBM was the gold standard of sales training. They would put their salespeople through a program that lasted up to six months and relied heavily on high-intensity role plays and simulations. While brutal for the students, the end “product” was salespeople who were accustomed to high pressure selling environments who weren’t afraid to work whatever hours were necessary to successfully navigate a sell cycle. 

When I got into sales in the late 1980’s, companies were still, for the most part, willing to invest heavily in training their salespeople on the best practices of the day. Many programs that I went through, including my introduction to ones that specialized in how to sell complex, often disruptive, expensive offerings to diverse buying committees, were the proverbial “walk of fire.” Although not six months in length like the IBM model, they were nonetheless multi-day, intensive programs that required commitment, focus and late nights of casework.

Then, as time went on, I noticed the length of time of most training agendas (and coincidentally the corresponding investment requirement) began to erode. Sales organizations and the executives who ran them seemed to come to the conclusion that “we don’t need a whole week of training, we can do it in one or two days.” The advent of CBT (“Computer-Based Training,” for any of you who are not old enough to remember that term) and its sexy successor “e-learning,” became the excuse everyone needed to justify what would ultimately prove to be an ineffective solution.

Over the years, I have seen companies fall into a disturbing pattern of “train-fail-rinse-repeat.”

In other words, when faced with underperforming sales organizations, someone (usually the new VP of Sales) decides, “We need to train our salespeople.” They then venture forth into the marketplace, much the way their buyers do, and evaluate various sales methodologies and approaches based either on the recommendations of their peers on LinkedIn, general Internet research or worse, becoming enamored of whatever the “bright and shiny” methodology du jour is.

Then they face a real challenge.

Often times, the vendors in the sales training space fail to effectively communicate the value they provide, usually by not even following their own approach, and they immediately cave to not only price pressure but more significantly, time pressure. Their customer demands that what used to take a week to accomplish must now be done in a day or two and sadly, the training vendor acquiesces.

But logic says that you can’t magically compress 96 hours into 48, so “something has to give.”

And that “something” is usually the most time and resource-intensive part, the role-play, skill development and case study exercises. Without these components, the “training” becomes an intellectual experience that makes sense to everyone, but since no real behavior modification has taken place, salespeople leave with some interesting knowledge and perspectives, but then default back to their old ways of doing things.

With no real behavior modification and often, only lip service support from first line management, nine months go by and nothing changes. No improvement in revenue production. No improvement in forecast accuracy. Long sell cycles that continue to die the slow death of “no decision.” Then management decides, “We must have done the wrong training”.

Train. Fail. Rinse. Repeat.

In order for companies to break this vicious cycle, they need to recognize that as much as their salespeople need training, they need behavior modification more.

Salespeople will only embrace and succeed with a new approach when they believe they can be more effective, make more money and achieve their personal goals and objectives by changing the way they do things. That will only happen when they experience that change firsthand through the self-discovery process of leaving their comfort zone and actually trying to do things differently in a controlled and facilitated environment.

sales training workshop

Need some help to increase sales? Take a look at the sales training workshops available to get started and improve sales performance. Your Roadmap to Revenue Growth® awaits!

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