From the CCS® Sales Blog

July 2016

Viewing posts from July , 2016

Sales Tips: Death of Product Differentiators

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<a href=”http://blog.customercentric.com/blog/sales-tips-death-of-product-differentiators” title=”” class=”hs-featured-image-link”> <img src=”http://blog.customercentric.com/hubfs/track-competition.png?t=1489093932032″ alt=”sales tips for competitive advantage” class=”hs-featured-image” style=”width:auto !important; max-width:50%; float:left; margin:0 15px 15px 0;”> </a>
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<p><span style=”font-size: 24px; font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif;”><strong><span style=”color: #152d53;”>Sales Tips: Death of Product Differentiators</span></strong></span></p>
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Sales Tips: Stop Spouting Features Buyers Don’t Need

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<a href=”http://blog.customercentric.com/blog/sales-tips-stop-mentioning-features-buyers-dont-need” title=”” class=”hs-featured-image-link”> <img src=”http://blog.customercentric.com/hubfs/flashlight.png?t=1489093932032″ alt=”sales tips for understanding buyer needs” class=”hs-featured-image” style=”width:auto !important; max-width:50%; float:left; margin:0 15px 15px 0;”> </a>
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<p><span style=”font-size: 24px; font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif;”><strong><span style=”color: #152d53;”>Sales Tips:&nbsp;Stop Spouting Features Your Buyers Don’t Need</span></strong></span></p>
<p><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”><em>By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, <a href=”http://www.customercentric.com”>CustomerCentric Selling®</a></em></span></p>
<img src=”http://track.hubspot.com/__ptq.gif?a=22968&amp;k=14&amp;r=http%3A%2F%2Fblog.customercentric.com%2Fblog%2Fsales-tips-stop-mentioning-features-buyers-dont-need&amp;bu=http%253A%252F%252Fblog.customercentric.com%252Fblog&amp;bvt=rss” alt=”” width=”1″ height=”1″ style=”min-height:1px!important;width:1px!important;border-width:0!important;margin-top:0!important;margin-bottom:0!important;margin-right:0!important;margin-left:0!important;padding-top:0!important;padding-bottom:0!important;padding-right:0!important;padding-left:0!important; “>

Sales Tips: Stop Spouting Features Your Buyers Don’t Need

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®

sales tips for understanding buyer needsMost salespeople are proud of the products/offerings they sell. The most significant mistake I made when starting my Sales career was to believe my job was educating buyers about offerings. One of the biggest challenges was determining which features were relevant to buyers I was calling on.

I’m not proud to share there were instances where I got into “spray and pray” mode by blindly telling buyers about features. This was a tremendous waste of the buyer’s time and made little or no progress toward earning sales. Beyond that, when buyers decided certain features mentioned weren’t relevant, they were likely to start down the road of concluding that my offering was too complicated and therefore too expensive. This was an early death spiral for most buying cycles.

Since we created CustomerCentric Selling® in 2002, we have said the primary difference between superior sellers (A Players) and the rest (B and C Players) is patience. There are many areas where patience is important, but presenting offerings AFTER understanding a buyer’s needs is critical. 

In my mind superior sellers earn the right to talk about specific capabilities of their offerings. The best way I know is to follow the Covey core concept: Start with the end in mind. By that I mean sellers should create diagnostic questions for potentially relevant features. Based upon how buyers answer these questions should enable sellers to present only those parts of their offerings that buyers are likely to find useful/valuable.

A seller’s mission in first calls can be defined as: 

  1. Learning a buyer’s desired business outcomes.
  2. Asking diagnostic questions so that buyers understand barriers to achieving outcomes.
  3. Offering only those capabilities that address the barriers.
  4. Asking the buyer if having those capabilities would enable them to achieve the outcomes.

Blurting out random features or worse yet, doing “spray and pray” demonstrations without first understanding buyer needs is like entering a dark cave without a flashlight. I strongly suggest sellers do pre-call planning by creating diagnostic questions, which can be very enlightening for buyers.  

CCS Evangelists

Sales Tips: LinkedIn Social Selling

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<a href=”http://blog.customercentric.com/blog/sales-tips-linkedin-social-selling” title=”” class=”hs-featured-image-link”> <img src=”http://blog.customercentric.com/hubfs/linkedin-social-selling-cropped.png?t=1489093932032″ alt=”LinkedIn Social Selling Sales Tips” class=”hs-featured-image” style=”width:auto !important; max-width:50%; float:left; margin:0 15px 15px 0;”> </a>
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<p><span style=”font-size: 24px; font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif;”><strong><span style=”color: #152d53;”>Sales Tips:&nbsp;How to Leverage LinkedIn Social Selling</span></strong></span></p>
<p><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”><em>By Gary Walker, EVP of Channel Sales &amp; Operations, <a href=”http://www.customercentric.com”>CustomerCentric Selling®</a></em></span></p>
<img src=”http://track.hubspot.com/__ptq.gif?a=22968&amp;k=14&amp;r=http%3A%2F%2Fblog.customercentric.com%2Fblog%2Fsales-tips-linkedin-social-selling&amp;bu=http%253A%252F%252Fblog.customercentric.com%252Fblog&amp;bvt=rss” alt=”” width=”1″ height=”1″ style=”min-height:1px!important;width:1px!important;border-width:0!important;margin-top:0!important;margin-bottom:0!important;margin-right:0!important;margin-left:0!important;padding-top:0!important;padding-bottom:0!important;padding-right:0!important;padding-left:0!important; “>

Sales Tips: Why Sellers Should Always Stay Curious

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®

sales tips to always stay curiousThere are many successful professionals I know that would struggle in a selling role. The skill set needed to be a successful B2B salesperson is daunting. When people are asked what the requisite characteristics of a successful salesperson are, one of the most common responses is having “nice way” with people. That may be true of a greeter as Caesar’s Palace but sellers have to be much more that that.

As you might expect, some characteristics of successful sellers include:

  • strong verbal skills
  • intelligence
  • extensive industry knowledge
  • resiliency
  • willingness to risk compensation on performance, etc.

Once acquired, most skills remain assets for salespeople but I feel there is one notable exception: Curiosity.

In my mind superior sellers go into initial meetings or conversations with a strong desire to find out as much as they can about the buyer:

  • His/her desired business outcomes
  • A mutual understanding of why they can’t be achieve today
  • A good idea that the potential benefit will outweigh the cost

Sadly, over the years sellers can get to the point where they feel they’ve “seen it all.” This attitude usually causes fewer questions to be asked. Shortcuts are taken in need development as many assumptions are being made. To a buyer, this attitude may be perceived as a lack of interest.

Without realizing it, buyers may conclude the seller is merely going through the motions. In fact, an early sign of waning curiosity is sellers deciding pre-call planning and preparation aren’t necessary.

Most likely, an experienced seller has been guilty of not putting his or her best foot forward in some calls for whatever reason. My suggestion is to try to be sure to focus on being curious about each buyer.

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Sales Tips: How Sellers Should Respond to “What Does Your Company Do?”

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®

sales tips for handling buyer questionsCompanies are intensely focused on their offerings/products. I appreciate there are many valid reasons this is necessary. A major issue is passing this focus onto sellers who are given a great deal of product training despite that it can become a barrier for them to be “customer- centric.” Products unto themselves provide buyers neither value nor payback. Having buyers understand HOW offerings can be used to achieve desired business results should be a seller’s primary focus.

An unfortunate consequence of extensive training is that for B and C Players, talking about offerings becomes their comfort zone. Is it any wonder this opens them up to objections and premature discussions of price? Key Players are generally unwilling to tolerate product pitches. Some calls will end abruptly with sellers being delegated to lower levels starting the “death spiral” for opportunities.

Buyers, sellers and vendors would be better served if:

  • Companies and sellers viewed each offering as a potential means to an end.
  • Ends were defined as desired buyer business outcomes having inherent value.
  • Sellers realized titles might have different desired ends than others in buying committees.
  • Each person’s perspectives were known, enabling sellers to present “enterprise-views” of the potential value that can be realized. Sellers that fail to get each person’s perspective leave potential benefit on the table and will have less compelling values to present.

The way sellers answer a simple question can go a long way toward determining the outcome of a sales call. When asked: What does your company do? Answers that refer to offerings give buyers options to drive conversations in sub-optimal directions. If a seller answers by saying, “We offer sales training,” then buyer responses can be:

  • Our salespeople don’t need training.
  • There’s no budget for sales training.
  • How much does the training cost?
  • Tell me about your training.

Consider the last response. A seller is 30 seconds into a phone call and being told to describe his or her offering with no idea of a buyer’s needs. It is analogous to being invited into a dark cave without a flashlight! Somehow sellers must attempt to get buyers talking about their situations.

A better seller response would be to reference results the vendor has helped clients achieve, followed by a question to start a conversation such as: We help clients identify and share best practices to empower a higher percentage of sellers to achieve quota. How do you share your top performers’ techniques with other salespeople?

Steven Covey created the brilliant concept of starting with the end in mind. “A Players” learn the ends first. Next, they help buyers understand why ends can’t be achieved in the current environment. They offer the means (only the relevant capabilities) and seek buyer agreement. Lastly, they ask buyers: If you had these (capabilities) could you achieve the desired outcome? 

At Key Player levels, vendors and sellers are more likely to be successful when B2B buying decisions are focused on outcomes and usage rather than offerings.

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