From the CCS® Sales Blog

January 2016

Viewing posts from January , 2016

How to Herd Cats (Buying Committees)

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®

sales tips for handling buying committeesWhile knowledgeable buyers present unique challenges another trend has been the increasing number of stakeholders in making buying decisions. Selling isn’t easy but when there is just one person to work with, it is far easier than having to herd a committee of 5 people through buying cycles.

Part of the difficulty stems from the fact that everyone has different agendas. While political agendas can make frustrated sellers, they exist and have to be dealt with as best sellers can. Something sellers overlook at times is that desired business outcomes vary by buyer. In my mind there should be an attempt to uncover value for as many committee members as possible.

Being successful during one-on-one conversations creates building blocks that can be used to move opportunities forward. A primary reason decisions lag and ultimately wind up in “no decisions” is that sellers fail to provide an enterprise view of the potential benefits that their offering can enable buyers to achieve

Herd Together
After calling on key stakeholders sellers should consider scheduling a conference call or meeting to summarize all the areas of potential savings. With all other things being relatively equal, sellers that can get all committee members to see enterprise level benefit will likely present the most compelling cost vs. benefit. Once compelling value has been established, buyers are incented to accelerate the decision process as they realize delays mean benefits are not being realized.

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Sales Tips: The Key to Obtaining Buyer Goals

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®

sales tips for obtaining buyer goalsPrior to an important meeting or discussion, many people prepare by identifying their objectives. For salespeople making calls on a regular basis this is an important step that is likely to be skipped as they become comfortable and experienced.

A core concept of CustomerCentric Selling® is: No goal means no prospect. In other words, if sellers can’t get potential buyers to share desired business outcomes (or problems) they’re willing to spend money to achieve (or address), there’s no selling to be done. This core concept was written well before B2B buyers were leveraging the Internet and social networking to better understand what offerings are available prior to contacting salespeople.

I suggest a logical objective for an initial conversation is to have a buyer share one or more business outcomes or goals they want to achieve through the use of a seller’s offering. Knowing the type of company and the title of the buyer should allow a seller to develop a menu of potential goals.

As with many things in life, a seller may want to step back and realize they have work to do before Key Players will be willing to share business goals. Steven Covey said there are two components of being deemed trustworthy in that someone must display sincerity and competence. Most executives will share their business goals or problems with salespeople that they believe are trustworthy.

Buying cycles don’t start until buyers share a goal or a problem they’re willing to spend money to achieve or address. It is a watershed event when goals are shared and once it occurs the buyer starts to realize there is potential value if a seller’s offering can address their needs. Whether or not your buyers share their goals with you depends upon how they feel about you. Would they consider you trustworthy?

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Sales Tips: Managing Distractions in a Disruptive World

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<h1>Sales Tips: Managing Distractions in a Disruptive World</h1>
<p><em><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, <a href=”” style=”color: #152d53;”>CustomerCentric Selling®</a> – The Sales Training Company</span></em></p>
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Sales Tips: Managing Distractions in a Disruptive World

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

sales tips for managing distractionsWe live in an interrupt-driven world as people and companies compete for thin slices of our time and mind share. A recent study concluded we now have a shorter attention span than goldfish. I’m afraid it’s a trend with no end in sight.

In going through a year and driving toward achieving quota, competent salespeople remain focused on what’s important. In my mind there’s a major difference when reviewing pipelines. B & C Players often have high numbers of low probability opportunities while A Players will have a lower number of high probability opportunities. Another way of saying this is that mediocre sellers have high levels of activity while top performers focus on progress.

Since we launched CCS® we’ve shown ways to do sanity checks when qualifying that are based upon buyer actions vs. seller opinions. After making calls there are standard debriefing questions sellers should be able to answer:

  • What are the goal(s) (desired business outcomes) of the buyer?
  • What capabilities are needed to achieve the goal(s)?
  • What is the potential value to the buyer?
  • What other titles would be involved in making the buying decision?
  • Will/can the person the seller called on provide access to those titles?

These questions apply whether contacts are proactive or reactive. The first question above is based upon the first core concept of CCS®: No goal means no prospect. This simple wisdom applied to inbound/nurtured leads could allow B & C Players to better decide which opportunities they should pursue. Once they’ve asked for access (to qualify a champion), both the seller and manager have a measureable buyer action to determine if the Champion milestone has been achieved.

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Sales Tips: Important Sanity Checks for Sellers

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

sales tips for qualifying leadsEconomist Fredmund Malik said, “Results should give pleasure.” People often get distracted or confused in certain selling activities. Top performers seem to have a sixth sense about when buyers or committees aren’t going to buy and will remove them from their pipelines. B and C Players on the other hand get excited just because prospects are willing to talk or meeting with them.

In my mind, progress in determining if opportunities are qualified should be measured with buyer actions. Mediocre sellers are delighted to receive blind RFP’s inviting them to bid. Better salespeople realize RFP’s are likely to have been wired by other vendors and realize that if they are unable to influence the requirements they in all likelihood have about a 5% chance of winning the business. In this case, A Players will contact the person overseeing the RFP to request access to 2 or 3 likely titles that would be involved in making the decision. If access is refused, the best course of action may be to send a written response saying that without understanding the business issues it would be impossible to make a professional response, so the seller respectfully no-bidding the RFP.

Another example of activity is having several calls with lower level staff that cannot buy. B & C Players will expend resources, provide pricing or even submit written proposals without gaining access to higher levels. Fairly early on in the process, if a prospect requests a demo the seller can offer a quid pro quo such as: You had indicated that (higher level title) would have to approve budget. If you like what you see in the demonstration, would you be willing to schedule a meeting with him/her?

While there are many examples of activity vs. progress, I’ll leave you with what I feel is one of the most important buyer actions. This applies not only to direct contact sellers have with prospects. It’s also relevant while nurturing website visitors and is based upon the first core concept of CCS®: No goal, no prospect. The question comes in two variations based upon the level of the prospect:

  • Ask Key Players: What are you hoping to accomplish with (the offering)?
  • Ask non-Key Players: What is your organization hoping to accomplish with (the offering)?

Having prospects share a goal or problem they’re willing to spend money to achieve or address starts buying cycles and is the start of helping a buying committee see the potential value of offerings. Absent shared desired business outcomes, how likely is it that prospects will ultimately spend money?

These and other buyer actions are sanity checks for sellers and their managers to try to ensure opportunities are worth a seller’s time, effort and resources.

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