CustomerCentric Selling® Sales Training Blog

Sales Tips: "Always Be Closing"

Posted by Jill Perez on Apr 22, 2015 11:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: "Always Be Closing"

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

Image courtesy of Glengarry Glen Ross, New Line Cinema

glengarry_rectMaking a decision when buying sales training or process is difficult. Often prospects aren’t focused on the business outcomes they seek. Through the years in this business I’ve often had executives tell me that their salespeople aren’t strong closers. My first inclination (that I keep to myself) is that it’s likely they aren’t very good salespeople.

Part of the problem has been the misguided emphasis people place on closing. Any seller that has seen Glengarry Glen Ross remembers Alec Baldwin’s advice on the ABC’s of selling:  Always Be Closing. If only it was that easy. Wonderful endings to otherwise mediocre plays aren’t going to result in any Tony awards. Frequent closes in B2B sales can be offensive to buyers.

There are several aspects of closing that sellers are either unaware of or disregard because they have their own agendas: 

  1. Before closing buyers should understand their desired outcomes, why they can’t be achieved today, what capabilities are needed, the potential value and the price. In many instances they will want to compare at least 2 other vendors.
  2. It’s demeaning when sellers try to close non-decision makers. It’s awkward to ask for orders if they aren’t authorized to commit.
  3. Sellers make mistakes by not getting in front of decision makers to close. Some reply upon proposals they hope decision makers will not only read but also understand.
  4. Sellers pressure buyers when they close prematurely. Some buyers will be “put off” and may decide not to buy. Those that are willing to buy will almost certainly expect incentives (concessions and/or discounts) for buying sooner than they expected. 
  5. There are few instances in B2B transactions when closing and discounting will work if sellers aren’t the vendor of choice. Some sellers rationalize that is makes sense to discount even if they can’t win because the winning vendors will accept lower prices. I believe putting low-ball numbers on the street can come back to haunt sellers. 
  6. Unfortunately the old concept of selling is alive, if not well. The thought is a seller can convince, persuade and pressure buyers into giving them the business. This flies in the face of the reality that people prefer to buy without high-pressure tactics.

There is an entirely different way to consider the ABC approach. In long buying cycles it is important to gain commitment along the way. Rather than closing for the business earlier in buying cycles, there are other commitments to ask for: access to Key Players, agreement on potential value, an estimated decisions date, agreement of buyers to spend resources in evaluating offerings, having some staff see demos, etc.

Sellers in B2B buying cycles have to get many yesses with the ultimate one being an agreement to move forward. My hope is that sellers are patient enough to wait until they’ve earned the right to ask for the business.

Register Now for May 5-8! Time is running out! Less than 2 weeks from the next open workshop in Boston!

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 Optimize Your CRM for the Full Benefits

Posted by Jill Perez on Apr 15, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: How to Optimize Your CRM for the Full Benefits

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

Image courtesy of Sujin J. at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

crm-sales-processVirtually any company using CRM has either implemented generic pipeline milestones or ideally customized them to mesh with their sales processes. Some have taken a step further and have customized milestones for the different types of sales their sellers make. Once in place these milestones become road maps for monitoring the progress of opportunities that hopefully end with buyers making purchases. 

Management’s expectation is that sellers will report progress on these steps on a daily basis so pipeline information is current. Without CRM sellers usually provide updates either when asked to on an ad hoc basis or near month end so managers could finalize forecasts about what was going to close. 

Unquestionably CRM has provided more structure and allows managers at any time to assess the progress and status of opportunities in each seller’s pipeline. There are a few potential issues that companies may not have been considered and I’d like to bring them to your attention:

1. How many of your milestones are subjective? For these milestones you ultimately must rely upon the opinions of sellers under pressure to have pipelines that appear adequate to make their numbers. If a manager tells a seller that by next month he or she needs to get their pipeline up to $X, miraculously most sellers will find a way to get there. As you can imagine, there are no miracles in selling and most likely quality likely took a back seat to quantity in getting to the desired number.

2. Do some of your sellers lack the skills to achieve all milestones? As companies grow and staff up, members of their sales teams bring varied experience, backgrounds and skills. Few companies have given thought to ensuring that sellers have the requisite skills to achieve every milestone within their sales process. Selling problems can be due to skill deficiencies (can’t) or motivational/attitude issues (won’t). Managers can ask sellers to do things they can’t, but shouldn’t be surprised when results are poor.

3. How well do your sellers position offerings? I believe the biggest challenge B2B sellers face is how to make effective 30-minute calls on decision maker levels. There isn’t time for product pitches. If there were product pitches, executive levels won’t tolerate them. It will be important to uncover desired business outcomes and for sellers to discuss only the parts of their offerings that are relevant to achieving them.

CRM offers many advantages to companies. Those that do a better job of implementing them stand to realize the most benefit. Some ways to do that include:

  1. Finding ways to have achievement of milestones be based upon buyer actions
  2. Mapping the required selling skills to the achievement of each milestone
  3. Creating milestones for different types of transactions
  4. Helping sellers with sales ready messaging® for defined titles and business goals
Key: The full promise of technology can only be realized when companies support it with well-defined processes.

Register Now for May 5-8! Only THREE weeks left until our next open workshop in Boston!

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: Asking vs. Telling

Posted by Jill Perez on Apr 13, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: Asking vs. Telling

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

Image courtesy of Franky242 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

sales-meetingThe stereotype of sellers is nearly universal. The exception I’ve seen is Eastern Europe. Before starting a workshop in the Czech Republic a few years ago, the CEO made me aware that there were no salespeople under communist rule. With the advent of capitalism the job became necessary. Selling was viewed as a desirable career. The stereotype did not apply.

For the rest of the world, who hasn’t had a bad experience with a seller that took advantage of them with lies, hype or omissions? I suspect many of these situations occurred early in our lives in transactional B2C purchases but the stereotype is liberally applied to B2B sellers. 

If you doubt the underlying mistrust of sellers, imagine going into an electronics store to buy a new sound system with no idea what you needed or what was available. A clerk asks: May I help you? Despite desperately needing help, 90+% of people respond: No. I’m just looking. This knee-jerk response is caused by the perception that sellers are more concerned about commissions rather than buyer needs. The stereotype is alive and well.

Making calls with an objective of selling a specific offering causes tunnel vision. If you’re a hammer everything looks like a nail. Sub-optimal experiences for buyers abound. Vendors and sellers don’t seem to realize people prefer to buy rather than be sold. A better objective would be to determine if buyers have a need for your offering. In B2B selling this would be a business outcome with inherent value to the buyer (higher revenue, lower costs, higher margins, etc.).

Once a need is identified sellers should refrain from telling, which amounts to selling. Instead focus on asking diagnostic questions to determine which features of your offering are relevant to the buyer. The last step is to ask the buyer if they had the relevant features, could they achieve the desired outcome. Asking facilitates buying.

A first step in avoiding the stereotype is to scrap the notion that selling is convincing, persuading and overcoming objectives. It would be better for everyone involved if the objective of sales calls was to empower buyers to achieve outcomes through the use of a seller’s offerings. Superior salespeople help buyers buy.

Register Now for May 5-8! Sign-up NOW for the next open workshop COMING SOON May 5-8 in Boston.

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: Dangers of Selling Technology to IT

Posted by Jill Perez on Apr 8, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: Dangers of Selling Technology to IT

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

Image courtesy of Taoty at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

cautionFrequently when trying to sell technology, sellers start by calling on IT. Some always do.

Extensive product training make talking about products a "comfort zone" for salespeople. IT staff are the group most likely to be interested in learning about offerings.

There are several disadvantages of starting within IT:

  • It’s the place where most competitors will call.
  • IT plates are filled with projects and the staff is trying to meet delivery deadlines. Taking on new initiatives means reallocating resources from ongoing projects.
  • Budgets are already earmarked. Any new initiatives must either be deferred to the next fiscal year or planned expenditures would have to be changed.
  • IT is a cost center that exists to support the core business, so potential value of offerings is limited to cost reductions and/or efficiencies.
  • The most significant benefits are those that accrue to LOB’s (lines of business). These profit centers may be able to leverage new offerings to increase revenue with new capabilities or applications.
  • Cost-benefit analyses solely from IT perspectives are far less compelling.

A client I recently worked with offers a platform that enables IT to develop, release and maintain applications in significantly less time. They were calling on IT with a focus on: 

  • Increasing developer productivity
  • Reducing downtime of the development infrastructure
  • Quicker ramp up time for new hires
  • Sharing best practices in software development

The “baby step” I took was having them consider how powerful it would be to have an executive in finance recognize the potential benefit to the enterprise if application development times could be accelerated. Virtually every application has intrinsic value to the enterprise. When scheduling applications, organizations prioritize them based upon which provide the most potential benefit. What would it be worth to a CFO if he/she realized applications could be created in half the time it took today? All CFO’s welcome cost reductions. More importantly, what impact could accelerating LOB benefits have on the business?

Calling within IT nearly always means focusing on costs. Companies have been through numerous downturns over the last 50 years. Most are running with lean staffs. An enterprise view of the value of a product development platform can now be:

  • Reduced IT costs based upon increases in user productivity
  • Accelerated onboarding because all new hires are given a common set of best practice development tools
  • Happier end users because applications are delivered more quickly (an intangible)
  • Increased market share by responding more quickly to market needs
  • Reduced churn of customers because their needs are more quickly met
  • Increased revenue by bringing new offerings to market quickly

Reduced costs are significant and should be identified, but basing cost vs. benefit analyses entirely on cost reductions causes sellers and vendors to leave money on the table. While more challenging to sellers, getting executives in sales, marketing customer retention, customer service, etc. to identify potential revenue increases can make enterprise-wide buying decisions easier. One caution: Increased revenue must be multiplied by gross margins to convert them to bottom line benefits.

LOB executives have become more demanding of IT. Getting them involved early in buying cycles for technology buying decisions can be a significant differentiator to vendors that empower their sellers to do so. Doing so also allows qualification based upon potential payback to be done much sooner, a positive step both for buyers and sellers.

Register Now for May 5-8! Sign-up NOW for the next open workshop coming May 5-8 in Boston.

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: Does Buying Activity Always Mean Revenue?

Posted by Jill Perez on Apr 1, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: Does Buying Activity Always Equal Revenue?

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

Image courtesy of Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

buying-activity-1I’ve always been skeptical in blogs about statistics indicating as much as 80% of buying activities are completed prior to sellers being involved in buying cycles. While I could accept that 70-80% of product evaluations may be completed, there are several other activities that need to be done before companies are ready to buy. Some examples of those activities would include defining desired business outcomes of executive buyers, building enterprise-views of business cases that compare value vs. cost, allocating funds for offerings, evaluating vendor support, etc.

My gut feeling has been during the steady, but tepid recovery of the U.S. economy over the last several years most vendors were not experiencing revenue increases anywhere near those seen during the 90’s. It caused me to ask the question: If there’s so much buying activity going on, why has top line revenue growth been so elusive?

An April 5th Time Magazine article by Rana Foroohar cites a report from the Office of Financial Research about the tripling of U.S. stocks over the last six years. It concluded that companies achieved these gains through higher margins and “… not because the economy is booming and they are selling more stuff, but because they have cut costs, kept salaries low and not invested in new factories or research and development.” Paraphrasing: Despite strong business results, companies are struggling with revenue growth.

My hope is that vendors will rethink the perceived treasure trove of inbound leads. In my mind they remind me of ”bingo cards” from tradeshows of decades past that few if any executives attended. There is a revenue growth problem and I firmly believe part of the issue is vendor reluctance to abandon traditional selling techniques that conflict with how buyers want to buy.

Sales shouldn’t shoulder all the blame. The traditional silos of Product Development, Product Marketing and Marketing are letting Sales down when customer and market demands are after-thoughts when creating new offerings. These silos must find a way to communicate, collaborate and center development on customer/buyer needs. The effectiveness of traditional “push” strategies is in a well-deserved decline.

Historically when the economy tanks, belt tightening goes a long way toward weathering the storm. The outlook will be dim for companies that can’t find ways to achieve revenue growth before the next inevitable downturn occurs.

Register Now for May 5-8! Sign-up now for the next workshop coming May 5-8 in Boston. 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: Negotiation Problem - or Process Problem?

Posted by Jill Perez on Mar 30, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: Do You Have a Negotiation Problem - or a Sales Process Problem?

By Frank Visgatis, President & Chief Operating Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® - The Sales Training Company

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

broken-linkOn a recent flight home returning from vacation I picked up the magazine from the seat back in front of me. While flipping through it, I noticed directly in the middle an advertisement for a two-day negotiation skills seminar. As I perused the agenda, the thought occurred to me that if it takes you two days to learn how to negotiate, you probably didn't sell the deal the right way to begin with.

Unfortunately, for many salespeople and sales organizations, the "close of business" is an artificially large event in the sales process filled with anxiety and a certain level of "dread" on both sides of the table. Moreover, this is usually a self-fulfilling prophecy and worse, a self-inflicted wound on the part of salespeople.

Why does this happen?

In all likelihood, it's because something was missed as part of the sales process. In other words, the salesperson likely rushed through the early stages of the sales process in order to meet an artificial deadline, usually one tied to the end of their month or their quarter. 

What typically gets missed? It could be any of a number of things:

  • the true business driver was never identified;
  • there was no clear vision on the part of the buyer that the capabilities the seller could bring to bear would help them achieve whatever the desired business outcome is;
  • no "unique" business value was established as part of the process and as a result, the seller's offering is viewed as a commodity and now price is the only variable;
  • the true decision maker was never identified as part of the sales process and now the salesperson is relegated to “negotiating” with someone who may not even have the ability to buy;
  • there was never a mutual understanding as to the desired timeline of the prospect so the salesperson imposes that artificial deadline tied to his/her own month or quarter end.

While this is, by no means, a complete list, it is a good place to start.

The reality of the situation is this: The quality of the job that the salesperson does throughout the sales process will dictate the ease or difficulty of negotiation at the end of the process.

Register Now for May 5-8! Sign-up now for Frank's next workshop in Boston, coming May 5-8. Seats are already filling fast so save yours 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: Create Superior Buying Experiences

Posted by Jill Perez on Mar 25, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: Create Superior Buying Experiences

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

Image courtesy of Stock Images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

superior-buying-experienceOne of my clients told me within the first six months of implementing CustomerCentric Selling® (CCS®) that they had 2 clients compliment them because their buying experiences were markedly better than any other sales they had been involved in.

I think part of that is because CCS® sellers understand their first objective in a call is to uncover business outcomes that the titles they’re calling on want to achieve. Once that happens, the relationship between the buyer and seller changes. They both understand there is a reason they should continue the call.

The next step is a diagnosis to uncover reasons the outcome can’t be achieved. It establishes a level of credibility with buyers who appreciate that sellers understand their current way of doing business. The seller can then offer only those capabilities that address the reasons and validate that with them the buyer can achieve the desired outcome.

Selling doesn’t have to be manipulative. Buyers determine their vision based upon the way they answer the seller’s questions. Ultimately they are empowered to buy rather than being sold. People appreciate the control that affords them.

How important are buyer experiences? I believe they are one of the few sustainable, competitive advantages vendors can enjoy. Beyond that, I wanted to share the results of a Forrester Research and Watermark Consulting study that tracked stock results for 2007-2012. Over this period, the S&P Index increased 14.5% while laggards in customer experience suffered a 33.9% loss in stock price. Customer experience leaders realized gains of 43%. 

Takeaway: Your quality of customers' buying experiences can have a significant impact on your business.

Register Now for May 5-8! Sign-up now for the next open workshop in Boston, coming May 5-8. Seats are already filling fast so save yours 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: "How Did Your Call Go?"

Posted by Jill Perez on Mar 18, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: "How Did Your Call Go?"

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

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

sales-call-debriefingAfter being promoted to sales management I got to ask rather than answer the question:  “How did your call with ABC go?” From my new perspective I quickly recognized signs that indicated that sellers had not made great calls: 

  • Pauses or stammering before answering
  • Limited or no eye contact
  • Sharing irrelevant information
  • A lot of talking

Have you ever notice debriefing good calls takes far less time?

Before forecasting opportunities I’d ask a series of qualifying questions. The same conclusions applied, but I added one. If sellers could sell as well to buyers as they were selling me on how good bad opportunities were, they’d be top performers.

Sellers with thin pipelines want managers to believe the numbers will happen. Their forecasts are roll-ups from their staff, so sales managers want to believe. Looking back it would have been better for everyone if I used the following debriefing questions:

  • What is the highest title within the organization that you’ve called on?
  • What business outcome(s) are important to this buyer?
  • Why can’t the outcome(s) be achieved today without our offering?
  • What capabilities can you provide to allow outcomes to be achieved?
  • What is the value of achieving the outcome(s)?
  • What other titles will be involved in making a buying decision?
  • Can/will this contact be a champion in providing access to other titles?

Taking it a step further, if those questions could be answered it would have been helpful for sellers to imbed them in correspondence to the potential champion. As a manager I could then measure progress by buyer actions (getting access to the titles requested), a far more accurate gauge than asking sellers their biased opinions.

Register Now for May 5-8! Sign-up now for the next open workshop in Boston, coming May 5-8. Seats are already filling fast so save yours 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: What NOT to Say with Executive Buyers

Posted by Jill Perez on Mar 11, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: What NOT to Say in Sales

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

Image courtesy of Photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

close-mouthThe objective of product training, skill training and sales enablement is allowing sellers to make better calls. Companies hope that the information they provide and sellers’ interpretation of it result in words that resonate during calls on different titles and vertical markets.

Everyone is concerned about what sellers say. Few worry about what they shouldn’t say. Words and phrases that are noise rather than relevant content can distract or even offend buyers. I’d like to suggest some words or phrases to avoid, especially when calling on executives.

The only thing worse than failing to gain access to high levels is making calls and not relating to them. Here are words and phrases that may contribute to the problem:

1. Honestly is a dangerous word for salespeople to use. Even worse, the dreaded “let me be honest with you now”. The implication being that you had lied earlier in the call. The pervasive stereotype is that sellers take liberties with the truth. Invoking the word “honest” raises red flags from buyers. As you can imagine the phrase “trust me” is another dangerous word. Sellers must earn rather than ask for a buyer’s trust.

2. Automatically amounts to asking buyers to trust that whatever you are selling works. To imagine how vacuous the phrase is, consider how buyers would react if the term auto-magically were substituted. Rather than say server failures are automatically avoided it would be more helpful to buyers if you said: When pre-set activity thresholds for a server are exceeded, the system will transfer some of the volume to other servers that have available capacity to avoid crashes. As a side note sellers should never wink when using the word automatically.

3. Obviously is a completely unnecessary and perilous word. If something is obvious it need not be acknowledged. Saying something is obvious (that would be to lower levels) may not be to executives. If this happens you may have insulted the executive.

4. Filler words. Using verbal crutches can be difficult to self-assess. You may want to engage your spouse or a friend in helping you. During sales calls sellers need to keep conversations going. Rather than pause (which can be powerful in having buyers listen closely when you continue speaking) some sellers use “filler words.” These verbal gems generate noise without requiring thought. This allows them to formulate follow-on questions.

These words include: “like, ah, um, basically, you know, candidly, etc.” I recently had a phone conversation with someone that used the phrase “you know” so frequently it was distracting. For a while I kept count in my notes. In college I had a professor whose pet phrase was “in effect”. His record was saying it 61 times during a 50-minute class. Most people are completely unaware of this annoying habit and will be horrified to realize they’re guilty of doing this. 

5. Acronyms, especially for technology companies, have become a large part of the vernacular. Calling at lower levels, sellers can gain credibility by using and then being asked to explain what acronyms stand for. That said if sellers use acronyms executives don't understand, several bad things happen. You aren’t relating to buyers and in fact may embarrass them. They won’t ask what the letters stand for and may delegate you to lower levels that will. This means you’ve squandered an opportunity to gain traction with someone that will be involved in making the buying decision if things progress.

6. Overused/Overhyped words. Some overused words have become trite especially to executives: “integrated, cutting edge, robust, elegant, seamless, synergistic, etc.” I can only imagine how many times sellers have stressed that one of their product strengths was being “user-friendly” and needed tech support to do the demo. A string of these words late in the afternoon can cause induce drowsiness.

7. Ownership words. Sellers, vendors or offerings taking ownership of achieving a business outcome such as: “I/my company/my software will solve your forecasting accuracy problem.” Oddly enough, this statement borders on asking executive to trust (referenced above) you/your company/your software. Issues arise when this phrase is invoked: 

  • Sellers/vendors don’t have any organizational authority within clients and therefore can’t achieve business outcomes or solve business problems. Many sellers take ownership with good intent with buyers that have been let down in the past. Reliance upon sellers/vendors to achieve outcomes also increases perceived risk in making buying decisions.
  • Software won’t improve forecasting accuracy. The customer would be responsible for making sure everyone uses the software, inputs clean data into the system and that managers interpret the reports to forecast. Most offerings provide capabilities that buyers can use to achieve business outcomes. Empowered buyers take ownership of results and therefore see less risk in making buying decisions.
  • Once sellers or vendors take responsibility for achieving outcomes, buyers are within their rights to ask for guarantees. It affords a prime opportunity for watching sellers/vendors stammer and squirm. Their position sounds like a car salesperson - your mileage may vary so we can’t guarantee it.

8. Where do I/we need to be? I refer to a phrase used in negotiation as the most expensive six words sellers can utter – Where do I need to be? It compromises a seller’s/vendor’s position on several fronts:

  • The seller acknowledges discounting will be necessary
  • The seller gives the impression they have tremendous pricing flexibility
  • The buyer can take control by giving a number they want to pay rather than what they’re willing to pay. The lower their response, the lower the final price will be.

I appreciate there may be times when sellers can ask this questions of a person they’ve   done business with before and enjoy a good relationship. This often will happen at month/quarter/year end. I suggest never asking prospects this question.

I’m not saying buyers won’t buy if you use these words or phrases. In sales calls words convey either noise or a relevant message. Reducing noise should make the message more relevant and powerful to executive buyers. Key: Relevant words aren’t annoying, insulting or distracting.

Register Now for Boston Sign-up now for the FREE, 1-day sales management workshop in Boston, April 1st. But hurry - it's filling fast!

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: The Challenge with Sales Enablement

Posted by Jill Perez on Mar 4, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Sales Tips: The Challenge with Sales Enablement

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

0-teamworkCommonly used terms can take on lives of their own. A Google search for “sales enablement” yielded 1.17 million hits. Despite its wide acceptance or maybe because of it, the term means dramatically different things to different people. Many of the Google hits apply the adjective “evolving” because nobody seems to want to get cornered into a firm definition.

Like aspirin, sales enablement can be used to relieve almost any malady. It can be invoked by senior executives when: 

  • Old sales and marketing approaches aren’t delivering results as they once were
  • The power in making purchases has shifted to empowered buyers
  • The sales organization is on a remote island while all other major business disciplines are on the mainland
  • Traditional sales approaches make improving buyer experiences a fleeting hope

Telling a concerned board of investors that a VP of Sales Enablement position has been created is a way of limiting what might be ugly discussions and buying time.

Despite the dramatic changes in buying behavior in the last 15 years, one measure of sales has been a constant over several decades: Only about 50% of salespeople achieve quota each year. It begs the question: In what other departments would CEO’s tolerate having half their employees fail to meet expectations?

Ironically Sales is the most easily measurable profession. You can exactly calculate a seller’s, manager’s or CSO’s percentage of quota attainment. That said, Sales is different than other departments. It’s a sink or swim proposition in companies that have not meaningfully broken sales down into a repeatable process, provided a common set of skills to execute the process and consistent messaging for specific titles and desired business outcomes.

Absent sales process, sales enablement efforts are limited in empowering sellers to make better calls so a higher percentage can achieve quota. Isn’t that the ultimate measure of sales enablement?

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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

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