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Sales Tips: Honest Customer Feedback is the Cure for Insanity

Guest post from Primary Intelligence, CCS® Partner

It’s been said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

This is obviously a cultural rather than a medical definition, but if you sell for a living, and you cannot figure out what you’re doing that’s causing you to lose deals you were sure you were going to win, you might start to feel like you’re losing your mind.

When you get some honest feedback, and start doing different things, the outcomes change, and the insanity goes away. Suddenly the world makes a lot more sense, and you’re closing a lot more deals.

Customer Feedback

Tell the Truth

If you want to one day benefit from honest feedback, you should start building truth-telling relationships. That means telling prospects “no” when “no” is the correct answer. “No, our solution won’t do that yet.” “No, I cannot offer you a larger discount.” “No, we cannot implement the solution any faster than that.”

You can steer them to positive features of the solution or favorable aspects of the contract terms, but being honest is key to becoming a trusted advisor, a key position in B2B sales.

Creating a relationship of mutual honesty takes courage because when you’re selling, you want to present desirable solutions. But in order to influence the final decision, it’s best to be seen as an expert rather than a “pleaser.”

Hear the Truth

When someone – a friend, a co-worker, a supervisor, a client, or a prospect – is honest with you, it is proof that you are respected and admired. People are honest when they know that you are strong, capable and smart enough to hear the truth. They don’t have to pretend everything is fine when it’s not. They don’t have to pretend you did a great job when you didn’t. Because, to amend the famous line from A Few Good Men, “you can handle the truth.”

You need to hear the truth so you can improve – your preparation, your pitch, your presentation, your product – and win more deals in the future. Colin Powell said, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.” Sales can be a hard career unless you view failures as opportunities to learn and are willing to listen. Other people hold the lesson to your failures and your successes.

And yes, you can also learn from your successes. What did you do right? How can you make sure you repeat those good practices that helped you close the deal? The truth isn’t always bad. Sometimes, it’s commendation and acknowledgement of the preparation and hard work you put in to be successful.

Elicit the Truth

First, you start down the honesty path, as stated above. If you are not honest with your prospects, you will be lucky to get any feedback at all, and if you do, it will likely be painful to hear. Successful professionals want to work with people they trust, and avoid people they don’t trust.

Second, ask for the feedback as a favor – a positive form of assistance rather than some kind of bitter medicineyou have to take. Explain that constructive criticism will help you be more successful. Otherwise, people’s desire to be polite and not hurt feelings can filter out the hard truths you need.

Third, ask for tips on ways to improve rather than just their opinions. The people you are selling to have seen lots of sales presentations, some that work, many that don’t. Allowing the feedback to come as a helpful tip removes any uneasy feelings that might come from criticism alone.

Get the Right Truth

The only honest customer feedback that really matters is the truth told by the decision-maker. Do your best to get that feedback directly from the source. It doesn’t make sense to change what you do based on feedback from people who didn’t make the decision. While their feedback may be generally helpful, the adjustments you make might not be aligned with the result you want – winning more deals.

Conclusion

The world of B2B sales begins to make a lot more sense when you know why buyers say “yes” and why they say “no.” But until you have those answers, you are going through the same motions and pitches every day and getting the same results. It is insanity: it’s hard work, it’s disappointing, and it’s leaving deals behind that you might have won. Learning from honest feedback makes the world of B2B sales a much saner – and more successful – place.

Sales Tips: Losing Slowly – 6 Signs That All Is NOT Well

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®

You would enjoy a lavish life style if you were on the PGA tour and finished second in each golf tournament you entered. In stark contrast a salesperson that came in second on every opportunity would have to live on their base salary and make frequent job changes. By its nature selling is a winner take all proposition. There are no parting gifts or consolation prizes.

During a workshop I taught, a CEO had an epiphany he shared with his team:

Most of his salespeople had an annoying habit of losing slowly.

warning-signBy that he meant they worked on many opportunities that had little chance of closing. These deals remained in their pipelines (pipe dreams) to make it appear as though the numbers could be made.

Sellers ultimately must decide which opportunities to pursue. Competent sellers understand the difference between activity and progress.

The worst possible outcome of sales cycles is going the distance and losing, whether it be to another vendor or to no decision.

In many cases, sellers fail (or are afraid) to see signs that all is NOT well:

  • Buyers already had budget in place, often provided by “Column A” vendors
  • Buyers already had determined their requirements
  • Sellers had limited or no chance to influence the requirements list
  • Sellers couldn’t gain access to Key Players
  • Sellers couldn’t establish value
  • Proposals issued months ago hang in their pipelines

Many sellers fail to realize buyers may need pricing/proposals from other vendors to make comparisons or to leverage pricing to get a better deal from the vendor of choice.

If access to Key Players isn’t granted, sellers do have the option to say they are unable to make a recommendation without first understanding the needs of Key Players.

This can become a “quid pro quo” of gaining access in exchange for submitting a proposal. If buyers refuse to grant access, it allows sellers to lose more quickly and look for better opportunities to work on. This is consistent with the core concept of “bad news early is good news.”

A question for your consideration: Over the last 12 months, how many opportunities have you chosen to walk away from? My hope is that the time you would have spent losing could be spent finding winnable opportunities.

A final parting thought: After Column A is awarded the business, Columns B, C, etc. are often told they came in second. It’s the most expedient way to let them down without rehashing why they lost.

When in doubt, save the below infographic for easy reference:

INFOGRAPHIC_6 signs that all is not well

Sales Tips: 5 Steps to Quantifying Value for Buyers

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®

In initial calls it is important for sellers to conduct them in a way that helps buyers conclude they are sincere and competent. In my mind these are pre-requisites for having buyers share their business goals (or problems) so that potential value can be determined.

establish value

Once a goal has been shared, sellers should try to perform these five (5) steps to quantify value for buyers:

  1. Establish base lines. For example, if a VP of manufacturing wants to reduce scrap a seller should ask what percentage of production must be scrapped and/or what dollar amount that represents.
  1. Ask questions to determine if there is a trend and that by projecting a year ahead buyers could see increased benefits. Sellers can pose questions such as:
  • What was your percentage of scrap last year?
  • Have scrap percentages been increasing?
  1. Help buyers understand the barriers to achieving the goal that can be addressed by features or capabilities of the offering being discussed.
  1. Based upon the barriers the buyer shared, offer the specific capabilities that address them and ask if they would empower them to achieve their goal.
  1. If a buyer agrees, the seller can try to quantify benefit by asking: If you had these capabilities how much improvement do you think you could realize?

Remember: Establishing value can be a competitive differentiator.

Sellers that focus on goals, baselines, trends and quantifying improvement can instill a greater sense of urgency to take actions that can result in higher win rates.

Save the infographic below for easy reference.

INFOGRAPHIC_5 Steps to Quantifying Value for Buyers

Win Loss Best Practices: Competitive Intelligence Leads to Strategic Decisions

Guest post by Primary Intelligence, CustomerCentric Selling® Partner

Any electrical socket around you provides a tap to a near endless supply of energy. Inside the wires, there is enough power to run a houseful of gadgets, recharge your electric car or deliver an awful shock (don’t try that at home).

But, until you use the power to do something (turn on the lights, recharge your phone, etc.), it really doesn’t offer much value. For the electricity to be effective, it must power something that is important to you. Otherwise, it is just a bunch of electrons with potential energy sitting in copper wiring.

Your competitive intelligence is very similar to the electricity in your wires. You can collect as much competitive intelligence as you like, but until someone uses it to power change in your company, it really isn’t effective at all.

competitionCompetitive Intelligence for Strategy

Your competitive intelligence is most effective if it:

  1. Strengthens your company’s position when you compete
  2. Enhances your offerings to create desirable solutions that customers will buy

Answer These Competitive Analysis Questions

To maximize effectiveness, we recommend answering these questions:

1. Top-line Revenue

  • Does this intelligence create new revenue opportunities?
  • Can we take away sales from the competition?
  • Will our existing accounts stay longer and be more profitable?

2. Bottom-line

  • Can we be more efficient or learn best practices?
  • Are there better ways to manage our processes?

3. Application

  • How easily will we be able to act on this data?

What’s Your Best Source for Competitive Intelligence? Your Customers!

How often do you talk to your customers? If you add up the touches made by sales, account management, marketing, and other client-facing services in your company, you might find that each of your customers is talking to you on a regular basis.

You should have a central management group that has established some formal information gathering processes. Very common programs would include Customer Satisfaction, Account Loyalty, Win-back, Win Loss, Client Retention and Defection. Usually, these programs fall under the heading of “Voice of the Customer” (VOC). (Check out our Resources page to learn more about these programs.)

So, you have two types of contact:

  1. Informal, everyday conversations
  2. Formal programs to gather Voice of the Customer data

The fact of the matter is that your customers know nearly as much about the competition as they do about you. They evaluated the competition before selecting you as their vendor. They are regularly courted by the competition and many of your best clients also have purchased from your competitors, either in the past or currently.

Take a minute to see if your win loss program is generating competitive intelligence.

buyer-meeting-customer-experienceIn our experience, most customer satisfaction and loyalty interviews focus on the client’s experience with their present vendor. Go one step further and:

  1. Ask your clients who they perceive as your biggest threats.
  2. Find out what they are hearing about the competitors’ recent initiatives and offers.
  3. Understand how you stack up in various performance areas.

Put the Competitive Intelligence Collected to Work

The competitive information collected from your customers will not only be enlightening but will show your company what is happening in the market place in real time. (For more reading, download 7 Competitive Intelligence Strategies Used by Successful B2B Companies.)

Your company will benefit in the following ways:

  1. Sales will know what is being said about your company by the competitors. They will have more intelligence to sell more effectively and counter negative messages.
  2. Marketing will know what the prospects and clients value in the marketplace and will be able to establish messaging that drive home the most important value propositions.
  3. Product Development will know the advances being made by the competition and will understand how well these innovations may be received by the marketplace.
  4. Executives will have the right competitive intelligence to make strategic decisions.

Last thoughts:

Are you sharing competitive intelligence with the stakeholders in a timely manner to make sure that your company is capitalizing on the market as efficiently as possible?

Collecting data and sharing customer insights are valuable competitive strategies, but competitive intelligence must be converted to actionable decisions if you truly want change.

Sales Tips: Responding to “What Do You Sell?”

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®

A quick insight into how sellers view and position their offerings can be gotten by asking a simple question:

What do you sell?What do you sell?

It’s a question sellers should be prepared to answer whether in social settings or sales calls.

Many sellers feel this question is an invitation to describe offerings and launch into product pitches. This is due in part to the extensive product training they receive, but responding in this manner isn’t likely to get conversations started. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that leading with product is unlikely to move the ball forward.

If I were asked what I sold and responded with: I provide sales training and consulting, it could elicit the following reactions:

  • A yawn
  • What type of training do you do?
  • How much does your training cost?

None of these responses is headed in a positive direction. I suggest any references to offerings should be avoided.

In 20 words or fewer, share an outcome that you help clients achieve.

In my case it could be:

I help organizations identify and share best practices of their top performing salespeople.

It won’t always lead to conversations but I’ve succinctly answered the question and am more likely to have discussions about outcomes before any product discussions.

You may want to create a positioning statement so that you’ll be better prepared with an answer to what should be an innocuous question.

Sales Tips: 8 Things All Sellers Should Do Now to Make the Quarterly Number

By Kasia Kowalska, Growbots – Sales Platform

For sales representatives, success and failure can often be measured with one metric: the sales quota.

With warmer months fast approaching, now is the time to set yourself up to fight the dreaded summer slump before a bunch of “Out of Office” messages get you down. When it’s time to make the quarterly number, you’ll be glad that you put the work in now to ensure that you’ll knock it out of the park.

Here are our top eight suggestions to ensure you can make the quarterly number without breaking a sweat.

making sales calls1. It’s time to hustle.

At the end of the day, the reality is that sales people can’t make anyone buy your product or service. What is within your control is the number of opportunities you create for yourself so that someone else can say ‘yes!’ For example, the conversion rate for cold calls hangs right around 2%. Which means that if you call 100 leads, you will likely snag two sales. The more calls you make, the more emails you send, the more meetings you schedule, the greater the likelihood that you make the quarterly number.

2. Get serious about who’s serious.

Oftentimes, if you’re not constantly vigilant, it can be easy to end up spending a lot of time with prospects that are never going to buy. If you aren’t sure you are going to make the quarterly number, it’s time to do a pipeline clean up. Look through your contact list and say goodbye to prospects that aren’t going to pull the trigger. This can often result in renewed interest that can lead to a sale. And if it doesn’t, you will have freed up time to focus on warm, qualified leads instead.

3. Get organized.

Whatever it might mean to you, it’s time to get organized. Whether you need to clean up your Google Calendar, clear off your desk, or start writing comprehensive notes during cold calls to refer to later, it’s time to get your ducks in a row. An organized sales rep is an effective sales rep. It is so much easier to offer value, delight prospects, and demonstrate why your product and your brand is the right choice when you’re not scrambling to remember names, conversations, or showing up late to meetings.

4. Follow up on your follow-ups.

One of the rules of sales that is important to keep in mind is that people buy when they’re ready to buy (not when you’re ready to sell). A prospect that wasn’t ready three or six months ago might be ready now. The only way you can know is to follow up with them. The Rule of 7 comes into play here too. On average, it takes seven interactions with a brand before a customer is ready to hand over their hard-earned money. Be tenacious and follow up with your prospects. Remind them of your company and why your product will make their lives easier.

email prospects5. Switch it up.

Not everyone communicates the best in a specific medium. You might feel most comfortable calling prospects, but some prospects might prefer email where they can think over the information in their own time. If you’re not getting the results you want, try contacting your prospect another way. And if you’re not a fan of email because you think it takes too much time, it doesn’t! The most effective emails are between 50 and 125 words (about the length of this paragraph)

Creating different avenues for communication with a prospect also offers you additional opportunities to restate your message. You might know the features of your product like the back of your hand, but your prospect doesn’t – yet. Each contact offers you another opportunity to explain why your product is so wonderful.

6. Create time to become a better salesperson.

No one knows all the secrets of sales. Human psychology is deep and vast and plays deeply into how and why we spend our money. Each salesperson will develop their own selling styles that work best for them, but there is always room for improvement. Set aside time each day or each week to consciously develop your skills. That can take the form of a more experienced mentor, seminars or conferences, webinars, curated reading lists, or whatever else inspires you.

7. Use active listening to get an extra boost.

The classic image of a superstar sales rep is a smooth talker with the right answer in her back pocket. But in actuality, active listening is an equally important skill for sales reps to hone.  Active listening is not simply giving your prospects the space to talk, but also learning how to ask the right questions. Productive conversations with prospects aren’t one sided.

You should be aiming not just to sell your product, but to get information. These pieces of knowledge will reveal your prospects true pain points. Your prospects might not always come right out and say what they’re looking for (or they might not know yet!), but a few key questions can help you understand their needs. Which means that you can talk about the benefits of your product or service in a way that speaks to your prospect’s needs.

hit sales target and make the number8. Don’t focus on how to make the quarterly number.

This might seem counterproductive, but if you can feel your monthly quota slipping through your fingers, it’s easy to fall into the realm of desperation. When your main priority switches from, “How can I help this prospect?” to, “How can I sell to this prospect?” it’s going to be infinitely harder to close a deal. Your enthusiasm for your product or service (and not your need to make a sale) is what is going to excite your prospects and convince them to buy.

Coming to the end of a quarter doesn’t have to be stressful when you set yourself up for success. Creating opportunities, using your time wisely, and focusing on what your customers need are good guidelines that will help you in making your sales quotas.

What are your best tips for setting yourself up for success? Let us know in the comments how you plan to make the quarterly number?

Kasia Kowalska - GrowbotsAbout the Author: Kasia Kowalska
Kasia is the Content Manager at Growbots, an all-in one outbound sales platform that helps you get new customers faster. By automating prospecting and prospect outreach Growbots allows salespeople to spend more time on closing deals. 

Sales Tips: 4 Components of a Repeatable Sales Process

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®

Henry Ford is credited with creating production lines allowing cars to be built consistently regardless of the staff that assembled them. I’ve worked with consulting companies that wanted to “cookie cutter” engagements because repetition makes people more competent and efficient. It provides the added benefit of being able to identify and share best practices.

repeatable sales process

That said, many people feel sales calls are like snowflakes in that no two are identical. While calls are never identical, there are ways organizations can make them more consistent by defining parameters to provide context.

  1. One of the key components is creating sales ready messaging®:
  • As sellers go higher in org charts, calls become more predictable, largely because the primary focus shifts from offerings/products to desired business outcomes.
  • By leveraging the collective expertise of internal resources, vendors can identify the high level titles sellers must call on to sell, fund and implement a given offering. Many sellers find it helpful to understand what titles they should target.
  • Once titles have been identified, menus of business outcomes or goals can be created for each potential member of buying committees. Ideally the value of achieving the desired outcomes should exceed the cost of the offering. The start of buying cycles can now be defined as a particular title sharing one of more goals from the menus that were created.
  • Each title/goal becomes a conversation sellers should be able to execute. To help them position offerings consistently, Sales and Marketing (and other departments with relevant input) can map only those features/capabilities that are relevant to a title achieving a specific goal.
  • Once the features/capabilities have been defined, packets of diagnostic questions can be created for each capability. These questions allow sellers to uncover needs based upon buyer answers to diagnostic questions. Sellers can then offer only capabilities relevant to achieving the desired outcome. This approach allows sellers to clarify buyer needs and avoid discussing extraneous features/capabilities that would actually be distractions.

I’ve briefly described the process of creating sales ready messaging® to gain more consistent positioning of offerings.

Once messaging has been created, three other components are needed to facilitate consistent execution:

  1. Sellers need a common set of skills. The elephant in many offices when managers try coaching sellers is that they ask them to perform tasks they don’t know how to execute. This makes them likely to fail.
  2. Milestones for different types of transactions should be defined. The steps should vary based upon the size and complexity of offerings. One size does not fit all. Whenever possible, achievement of milestones (based upon sellers executing messaging) should be determined by buyer actions rather than seller opinions.
  3. After executing sales ready messaging® prompters, sellers can imbed answers to five debriefing questions in correspondence to buyers. These letters or emails allow managers to ensure opportunities are qualified and grade the pipeline.

In order to have sales process defined milestones, consistent positioning of offerings, a standard skill set and the ability of managers to audit pipeline by reviewing correspondence with buyers are required. Sharing best practices can provide organizations sustainable competitive advantages.

Sales Tips: How to Maintain Key Player Access

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®

maintaining key player accessInitiating opportunities at high levels offers several potential advantages to salespeople:

  • They can take prospects from latent to active need by uncovering desired goals.
  • They can enjoy the benefits of being “Column A” from the start.
  • Key Players can fund can find funding for unbudgeted initiatives.
  • Discussions about capabilities can be done at a conceptual level.
  • Transactions can be larger because buyers are not budget-constrained.
  • Buyers will self-qualify themselves.
  • Shorter sales cycles.
  • Higher win rates.

In my previous blog post, I raised the issue of when “ugly” conversations take place. By “ugly” I mean very product-focused discussions that involve lower level staff asking esoteric questions about things Key Players would not be interested in.

The later in buying cycles ugly conversations take place the better for sellers. They are important and necessary conversations.

If and when delegated to lower levels it is important that sellers maintain connections to the Key Players they’ve called on.

After calling on mid and lower levels, sellers will be much more familiar with a prospect’s current way of doing business and the specific capabilities buyers need to achieve their goals. Being delegated by Key Players is a “get” for them and a “give” from sellers that have to commit time and potentially technical staff for ugly meetings.

PRO TIP: When delegated to become the “eyes and ears” for Key Players, my suggestion is that sellers should request that they be able to keep higher levels apprised of their findings as they work with lower levels to better understand the companies needs at far more granular levels. Without such access some opportunities fall under their own weight because executives are no longer involved.

Sales Tips: 3 Sales Productivity Traps to Avoid

By Lisa Cook, Chief Operating Officer, Cien

While selling has never been easy, it hasn’t become harder either. Selling has become a more refined process where efficiency is key. Increasing sales productivity requires operational awareness of the quality of leads generated from marketing as well as the productivity of individual salespeople.

With artificial intelligence (AI), your business can understand the deeper dynamics of the sales process and make it possible to see the incremental value created by sales and marketing activities. You can then better allocate time and resources to unlock the productivity gains within your organization. There are pitfalls to avoid, however. Here are three of the biggest, and what to do about them.

Sales Productivity

#1: Misallocating Sales Resources

One of the biggest productivity traps that organizations fall into is not understanding sales’ contribution to the revenue generation process and failing to allocate resources accordingly. This comes from recognizing the true revenue contribution of each salesperson and understanding the actual role that marketing and sales develop activities play in generating quality leads and opportunities. A mistake that many firms make is assuming that the people generating the revenue are the same ones who are closing the sales. This is not always the case.

The best sales person on the team isn’t necessarily the one who has signed the most contracts. Instead, it’s the one who has added the most value to the leads and opportunities received by the marketing and sales development teams. It may appear that sales professionals sell more because they’ve received more valuable leads from marketing, or they work a territory that has greater demand than another representative. An external market factor, such as a local competitor leaving the market, can also distort the picture of sales person’s performance.

#2: Assigning the Wrong Leads to the Wrong Salesperson

Many firms have inadequate awareness of the true dynamics of the sales process, because they don’t understand which sales professionals are actually producing the most value. This skewed assessment leads to many firms assigning some of the best leads to salespeople who are less likely to convert them into won deals.

With a better understanding of sales performance, organizations can optimize sales productivity by allocating the best leads to the most productive sales professionals or those who can maximize the sales volume for a lead. This is accomplished by having the best product knowledge or closing effectiveness, generating incremental sales value without increasing marketing expenses or sales headcount.

#3: Inefficient Training for Your Sales Staff

As counter-intuitive as it seems, sales professionals can actually destroy value when marketing activities have produced a quality lead. Negative sales value often arises when a rep has insufficient product knowledge, a low work ethic or inadequate closing skills. Having the right operational intelligence, makes it easy to train the right sales professionals on the right skill.

With better awareness of the true contribution of each sales professional, implementing spot training for those who need it can have a huge impact on overall sales productivity.

Avoiding Productivity Traps

While improving sales productivity requires better operational intelligence, most firms do not have the time, skills or resources to analyze their sales data comprehensively enough to generate this insight.

The good news is that advances in statistical science, machine learning, natural language processing and AI now allow businesses to analyze their sales and CRM data for new levels of understanding that were not possible before.

For a deeper look at improving your company’s sales productivity, check out Cien’s  Guide to Solving Sales Productivity Traps.

Lisa CookAbout the Author

Lisa Cook is Chief Operating Officer at Cien, a new AI-powered sales productivity app for B2B sales teams. Cien gives sales leaders an immediate edge by using the power of artificial intelligence to increase the productivity of their teams. The mobile app automatically detects problems, predicts outcomes and recommends the shortest path to success. For more information visit www.cien.ai.

Sales Tips: When to Make “Ugly Calls”

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®

As a salesperson one of my best customers was a large insurance company in downtown Boston. Their CIO was an astute businessman who wasn’t very current with technology. He depended upon his staff to handle technical details. The company had two IBM mainframes whose performance was bottlenecked because processor memory (Bill still referred to it as “core”) was maxed out. This meant that programs had to be paged out of memory to disk drives that were orders of magnitude, slower devices and significantly increased user response times.

At the time, upgrading a processor was a seven-figure decision.

buyer meeting

I met with Bill and discussed the potential of using a device that could address the performance issues immediately and allow the company to defer processor upgrades for at least a year. I asked if he would consider it. He said he would and wanted to know the estimated cost. I shared with him that it would be $250K per processor. He quickly realized the short-term performance benefits would more than offset the cost. The ability to defer purchasing new mainframes that were trending to be cheaper with future announcements made the decision a financial slam-dunk. He then asked me to schedule a call with to Tom, his technical guru, who was by far the smartest person in the organization.

The business case had been made and now it was time for a technical evaluation of my offering.

I brought my top Systems Engineer for the meeting with Tom that lasted about two hours. He wanted to know specs of the auxiliary storage, how it would be supported by IBM’s Operating System (it emulated an IBM disk drive), approximately how much response times would be improved, etc. While I was fairly competent technically, there were blocks of time when they could have been speaking a foreign language. I did my best to understand the gist of the conversation.

At the end of the meeting Tom told us he wanted to run some things past members of his staff but he was comfortable that it was a device that would certainly allow them to address the performance issues and therefore would make IT’s life easier because they could deliver end users the better response times they wanted.

Within a week I had an order for one unit and a commitment that if it performed as advertised they wanted a second unit (which they installed).

ugly sales callsWhen selling technology or any complicated offering it is often necessary to have what I refer to as “ugly” calls.

By that I mean that they are highly product-focused. User-level staff that will be impacted will want to know things about offerings that even salespeople can’t be expected to know. I sometimes refer to ugly calls as “mind-melds” between technical staff of the prospect/customer and vendor.

I believe a seller’s quality of life (and win rate) will be significantly better if executive calls are made to establish potential value so that ugly calls can be deferred until a later time.

It amounts to executing top-down vs. bottom-up buying cycles.

Oddly enough, both buyers and sellers stand to benefit because there will be no need to take the technical staff’s time if a business case can’t be built.

Buyers and sellers are both beneficiaries when agreeing to defer ugly calls.