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Sales Tips: Wakeup Call for Sales – Today’s Realities and How to Adapt with Your Buyer

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®

At the risk of sounding like my parents, selling seemed so simple 25 years ago. Sales was on its own island and were the keepers of information buyers had to contact if they wanted to learn about new offerings.

Sellers could enjoy “Column A” status for most of the buying cycles before Columns B, C, etc. were brought into the fray late as fodder to provide leverage in negotiating the best price from Column A. Many of my blog posts have discussed how buying has changed, but few organizations have fully understood the implications of Sales 2.0.

Best of breed technology was the trend in the 90’s until organizations started to realize the exorbitant cost of integrating disparate offerings. This was also the time the buzz about integrating Sales and Marketing died because there were so few Success Stories.

ducks in a row

Getting Your Ducks in a Row
In today’s environment sales organizations make their own decisions about sales training or process as marketing does. Product Marketing tries to identify specific market segments they want to reach out to. Product Development (furthest from buyers) attempts to create new offerings that address buyer/market needs. It seems there are several silos making what they feel or hope are good ‘best of breed’ decisions with little or no thought for the other silos’ requirements and how to integrate the different approaches.

Absent a coordinated approach that views revenue generation as an enterprise rather than a sales responsibility, it will be nearly impossible to react in a coordinated and meaningful fashion to the changes in buying behavior.

When choosing a process for revenue generation I’d suggest the following capabilities are needed:

  • For each offering, sales and marketing must agree on the titles that comprise the buying committee.
  • For each title, sales and marketing should agree on desired business outcomes that can be achieved through the use of the offering.
  • Sales and marketing should create messaging for each conversation (title/outcome) to help sellers more consistently position offerings.
  • Standard milestones in the buying process should be developed that can be verified based upon buyer actions rather than seller opinions.
  • A common vocabulary that all four silos use should be agreed on so that customer-facing staff can more effectively articulate buyer/market needs for future offerings.

Organizational changes are necessary and difficult to put into effect, but having all silos understanding one another’s’ responsibilities in revenue generation would go a long way toward making vendors more customer-centric.

Sales Tips: Who Is Calling On Whom?

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®

Geoffrey Moore has written several books on product life cycles and when different types of companies are likely to buy.

  • Early market buyers comprise about 15% of a buying population. These companies want to be on the cutting edge of technology and can endure product pitches, determine how they can use offerings and make quick decisions. They don’t need a long list of references, reassurance nor much help from sellers. They buy quickly. If offerings fail to meet expectations they view it as a cost of doing business and are onto the next offering.
  • 85% are mainstream market buyers comprised of the early majority, late majority and laggards. They buy only after offerings have received market acceptance. They are cautious in wanting to avoid making mistakes so that “no decision” is a common outcome of their long buying cycles. Unlike early market buyers, product pitches will fall on deaf ears. This amounts to inept sellers calling on buyers that don’t understand how offerings can be used

Calling on Executives

A survey by Sales Benchmark Index found 87% of sellers are B and C Players. If you do the math (.85 late market) x (87% B/C Players), you realize:

74% of the time you have sellers leading with product to buyers that are unable to see usage and value.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that after exhausting early market buyers many companies struggle to get their share of the mainstream market business. In a single word the difference between A vs. B/C Players is patience.

A Players uncover desired business outcomes, help buyers understand the barriers to achieving them by doing a diagnosis and then present only relevant capabilities that address the barriers.

Companies that codify and teach B/C Players to emulate calls A Players make can increase and accelerate revenue from the mainstream market. It amounts to migrating sellers from product to business outcome sales.

Sales Tips: Avoid Negotiating with Buyers Unless You’re “Column A”

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®

A common ploy buyers use toward the end of buying cycles is having someone (often a non-Key Player) request a “best and final” pricing. Smart buyers with multiple vendors in the mix will negotiate with Column C to use their price against Column B, all in an attempt to get the best possible price from Column A, their vendor of choice. Some buyers may just fabricate pricing.

Some salespeople see this as an opportunity to win the business with aggressive pricing. In my experience, vendors selling non-commodity offerings can seldom discount their way into becoming Column A.

sales negotiation tips

In selling, the words “always” and “never” seldom apply but I’d like to make a case that sellers should always negotiate as though they were Column A.

When asked for a “best a final” I suggest asking the buyer if you are the vendor of choice and if price is the only obstacle.

  • If you are told the buyer is not yet to that point, consider responding as follows:It sounds as though you haven’t finalized your decision yet, so let’s leave pricing as an open item. If I become your vendor of choice we can see if we can come to terms.

If the person asking for a better price is a non-Key Player, try to avoid negotiating with a messenger. When asking if you are the vendor of choice, suggest that if you became the vendor of choice you’d have to get your manager and the Key Player involved in finalizing the transaction.

  • If you aren’t the vendor of choice you will at least kept your dignity and pricing in tact. Any number you provided would have been used as leverage with Column A. If you are the vendor of choice they will come back to you and you start at the original price quoted rather than a discounted best and final they will try to further whittle down.

Sales Tips: Beware of Your Adversaries

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®

Committee decisions are exponentially more difficult than single buyer transactions. They are longer buyer cycles and by nature more strategic.

Conversations with first-line managers often identify roles of different people involved in decisions:

  • Who are your coaches that will provide information and do internal selling?
  • Who is your champion that will provide access to Key Players?
  • Who are beneficiaries that see personal value if a buying decision is made?
  • Who will be responsible for implementing the offering being considered?
  • Who will provide funding?

Many internal conversations focus on people that are in the seller’s camp, but I suggest being aware of potential adversaries that prefer a competitor’s offering. These buyers will work as hard as your advocates to steer buying decisions.

head in the sand

Ostriches are known for putting their heads in the sand when in danger. So it is many sellers choose to ignore adversaries.

I suggest:

  • Make attempts to win them over.
  • Failing that, try to neutralize their influence on the ultimate decision.

Having a conversation with your champion about adversaries and how to deal with them can be critical to winning. There may be times when one on one calls won’t be productive and it would be advisable to ask a champion or coach to accompany you on a call with an adversary.

Committee decisions when everyone agrees on the same vendor are rare. Try to evaluate how high in the organization your champion is vs. your competitor’s champion. Execute strategies to win over or neutralize your adversaries.

Sales Tips: Always, Sometimes or Never in Selling

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

In high school I was fortunate to have an outstanding Geometry teacher as a sophomore. On some quiz or test questions Mr. Fisher would list statements and students had to provide the answer of alwayssometimes ornever that they felt applied. It caused us to consider all options.

Always or Never in Selling

One of the most fascinating things about selling is how different sales can be.

Because selling is so unstructured in most companies, the terms “always” and “never” seldom apply.

I had a situation with a student years ago that helped me realize an “always” in sales. Chris was worried about a $960K opportunity he was working on. He approached me on Tuesday and told me the CIO would be making a decision on Friday. An internal “coach” had shared with him that $850K had been budgeted and suggested that Chris “sharpen his pencil.”

Over lunch with Chris and his manager I asked if he was “Column A.” He felt he was in as he had initiated the opportunity and Column B, a large player in the space had gotten in much later. Chris’ manager had already said they could meet the $850K price and be even more aggressive if necessary.

I suggested that Chris call the CIO, leave the price where it was and ask if he could bring his manager in for a meeting on Friday. I told him that if he got the meeting I was pretty sure he was Column A because I didn’t feel a CIO would schedule the meeting if Chris wasn’t going to get the business. Chris informed me awhile later that the meeting was set.

On Monday Chris called. He had gotten a $960K order on Friday. Amazing in that they were willing to go to $850K or lower.

After we hung up I realized if Chris had not been Column A any number he gave would have been used to get a better price from the other vendor. The lesson learned:

A seller should always negotiate as though they are the vendor of choice.

This also means that if you are pressured for better pricing you can respond by asking if you are the vendor of choice and that price is the last obstacle. If the buyer says no you can acknowledge they need to finalize their decision and that if you are the vendor of choice you could try to agree to terms. If you are Column A they’ll come back to you.

Don't just win more.Win BIGGER.

Sales Tips: How to Determine If Your Sales Quota Is Realistic

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<a href=”http://blog.customercentric.com/blog/bid/102764/sales-training-advice-to-determine-if-your-2014-quota-is-realistic” title=”” class=”hs-featured-image-link”> <img src=”http://blog.customercentric.com/hubfs/2nd-ed-promo.png?t=1489093932032″ alt=”Sales Tips: How to Determine If Your Sales Quota Is Realistic” class=”hs-featured-image” style=”width:auto !important; max-width:50%; float:left; margin:0 15px 15px 0;”> </a>
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<h1>Sales Tips: Setting a&nbsp;Realistic Sales Quota</h1>
<p><em><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>By Joel McCabe, Sales Benchmark Index (SBI)</span></em></p>
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<img src=”http://track.hubspot.com/__ptq.gif?a=22968&amp;k=14&amp;r=http%3A%2F%2Fblog.customercentric.com%2Fblog%2Fbid%2F102764%2Fsales-training-advice-to-determine-if-your-2014-quota-is-realistic&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: Has Your Selling Approach Changed? Your Buyer Has.

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<a href=”http://blog.customercentric.com/blog/bid/89364/sales-training-article-has-your-selling-approach-changed” title=”” class=”hs-featured-image-link”> <img src=”http://blog.customercentric.com/hubfs/buyer-center-whiteboard.png?t=1489093932032″ alt=”Sales Tips: Has Your Selling Approach Changed? Your Buyer Has.” class=”hs-featured-image” style=”width:auto !important; max-width:50%; float:left; margin:0 15px 15px 0;”> </a>
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<h1>Sales Tips: Buyers Have Changed. Has Your Sales Approach Changed?</h1>
<em><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®</span></em>
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<span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>It would be hard to disagree that today’s buyers:</span>
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<li><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>Leverage the Internet and social networking</span></li>
<li><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>Bring sellers into buying cycles later than ever before</span></li>
<li><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>Feel they know their requirements before talking to salespeople</span></li>
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<img src=”http://track.hubspot.com/__ptq.gif?a=22968&amp;k=14&amp;r=http%3A%2F%2Fblog.customercentric.com%2Fblog%2Fbid%2F89364%2Fsales-training-article-has-your-selling-approach-changed&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: Has Senior Management Given Up on Sales?

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<a href=”http://blog.customercentric.com/blog/sales-tips-senior-management-apathy-towards-sales” title=”” class=”hs-featured-image-link”> <img src=”http://blog.customercentric.com/hubfs/magic-bullet.png?t=1489093932032″ alt=”Sales Tips: Has Senior Management Given Up on Sales?” class=”hs-featured-image” style=”width:auto !important; max-width:50%; float:left; margin:0 15px 15px 0;”> </a>
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<h1>Sales Tips: Has Senior Management Given Up on Sales?</h1>
<p>By Frank Visgatis, President &amp; Chief Operating&nbsp;Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – <a href=”http://www.customercentric.com”>The Sales Training Company</a></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-senior-management-apathy-towards-sales&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: Emphasizing Strengths

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<a href=”http://blog.customercentric.com/blog/sales-tips-emphasizing-strengths” title=”” class=”hs-featured-image-link”> <img src=”http://blog.customercentric.com/hubfs/strength.png?t=1489093932032″ alt=”Sales Tips: Emphasizing Strengths” class=”hs-featured-image” style=”width:auto !important; max-width:50%; float:left; margin:0 15px 15px 0;”> </a>
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<h1>Sales Tips:&nbsp;Emphasizing Strengths</h1>
<p>By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, <a href=”http://www.customercentric.com”>CustomerCentric Selling®</a> – The Sales Training Company</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-emphasizing-strengths&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: Discussing Risk to Win the Next Deal

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<a href=”http://blog.customercentric.com/blog/bid/102104/sales-training-article-about-discussing-risk-to-win-the-next-deal” title=”” class=”hs-featured-image-link”> <img src=”http://www.customercentric.com/assets/files/90375.png” alt=”sales training workshops” class=”hs-featured-image” style=”width:auto !important; max-width:50%; float:left; margin:0 15px 15px 0;”> </a>
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<h1>Sales Tips: How Top Sales Reps Discuss Risk to Win the Next Deal</h1>
<span style=”font-style: italic;”><a href=”http://www.salesbenchmarkindex.com//bid/102048/how-top-sales-reps-discuss-risk-to-win-the-next-deal?source=Blog_Email_[How%20Top%20Sales%20Reps%20D]”>By Dan Bernoske, Sales Benchmark Index (SBI)</a></span>
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<span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>The sooner you discuss risk with the Buyer the better. Why? Two reasons:</span>
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<span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>1. You can dispel “false risk” by eliminating misconceptions the Buyer may have.</span>
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<span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>2. You address risk early. When it’s time to launch your solution, you will be ready to deliver.</span>
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<span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>Gartner Group published a study about failed enterprise software implementations. 20-30% fail, and up to 80% exceed time and budget estimates.* </span>
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<span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>They attribute much of these failures to organizational issues. For sales reps that sell these platforms, there is enormous risk of failure. To close the deals and make the number, these reps must confront the probable risks.</span>
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<span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”><strong>5 Types of Risk</strong></span>
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<span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>Let’s be honest, most solutions do not perfectly solve a problem. You close a deal because your solution was the best fit. Not the perfect fit. It will have shortcomings. The customer will find reasons to be unhappy. Something might break.</span>
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<span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”></span>
<span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>You have a choice. You can ignore the risks and pretend that everything will be perfect. Or you can embrace the risks and discuss them with the Buyer. Here are the 5 primary areas of concern your Buyer may have. These risks can come from the client or from you. Either way, keep an open mind and address them.</span>
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<span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”><strong>1. Career.</strong> Apprehension that a failed implementation could lead to termination or demotion. This could be the toughest subject to talk about. If your solution is innovative and new, it could carry this added risk. Sometimes the status quo is what keeps a job. Will your Buyer get sacked if this fails? On the flip side of that coin, will this launch their career?</span>
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<span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”><strong>2. Talent.</strong> Risk their team lacks the ability to adopt and manage a new solution. Managing the status quo is the easiest way to hold down a job. For many, learning new capabilities is extra work for the same pay. This closed-minded attitude can doom a project to failure. Then there is the issue of raw talent. Your Buyer may not have the technical expertise to launch and manage your solution.</span>
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<span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”><strong>3. Execution.</strong> Uncertainty about whether the desired implementation timeline can be met. A great idea is only as good as its execution. Lack of management support can jeopardize a project. Perhaps the timing of a deployment falls in the middle of a busy season. Or maybe the needed resources are on leave or tied up with other priorities.</span>
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<span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”><strong>4. Operational.</strong> Fear of the potential business disruption during the transition to a new solution. Your Buyer’s organization may have competing responsibilities. There may be a potential interruption of service. A transition period my not be successful. Workflows may need to change and be re-trained.</span>
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<span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”><strong>5. Financial.</strong> Concerns regarding implementation delays or errors. Will a delay cause a loss in revenue? Will the Buyer assume extra costs? Would this give the competition (yours or the Buyer’s) an advantage? This pain is most easily quantified.</span>
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<span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”><span style=”text-decoration: underline;”><strong>What’s Next</strong><br></span>Schedule a meeting with the Buyer to discuss potential concerns. Position the meeting as one where you share the risks with them. Discuss some common concerns and some specific ones you see here. The objective is to come up with mitigation plans for each.</span>
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<span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px; color: #152d53;”>Develop a mitigation plan for each known risk. Share your findings with your manager. Then work it out with the Buyer. The sooner you discuss risk with the Buyer the better. You will prove yourself to be a trusted resource.</span>
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<a href=”http://www.customercentric.com/app”></a>
<span style=”color: #152d53;”><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px;”>Need some help with your sales performance? Take a look at the </span><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px;”><a href=”http://www.customercentric.com/browse-23547/SalesTrainingWorkshops.html” style=”color: #152d53;”><strong>sales training workshops </strong></a>available to you and </span><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px;”><strong>improve sales performance</strong>.&nbsp;</span><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px;”><a href=”http://www.customercentric.com/browse-23570/SalesTrainingArticles.html” style=”color: #152d53;”>Read more <strong>sales training</strong> articles</a>&nbsp;from </span><span style=”font-family: georgia, palatino; font-size: 14px;”>CustomerCentric Selling® – <a href=”http://www.customercentric.com/browse-22997/Home.html” style=”color: #152d53;”>The Sales Training Company</a>.</span></span>
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