Well I am back, and I want to thank all those who contributed guest posts while I was away.
With help from Bill Bruton
Those who know me know I am a big Tull fan, yes still blowing it out, great shows this summer again. One of the things that makes a Tull show a great experience is Anderson’s banter between songs, creating a connection with the audience. And so it is in sales, the greater your ability to create a connection with buyers, the greater success you will have. What’s the connection between sales and Tull -> BANTER, master the elements of BANTER, and you will increase your sales and client loyalty:
Over the next few posts we will look at each element, how to prepare, utilize and execute. As with most things in sales these may not be new to everyone, the goal is to put a focus on some specifics and help link them together for maximum impact. I’ve said it before, when it comes to sales, the wheel has been invented, the question is how you spin it.
Budget – It goes without saying that without budget, there is not much likelihood of a sale. But many sales people forget that there are different types of budgets, and budgets can be created even where at first they may not exist.
At the core, the two different types of budgets are capital and operating. Knowing which is the most common used to purchase your product helps one position their product in a way that aligns with the specific budget. Knowing this should also help you think about how to position your product as something that can also fit the other class. Specifically if your product is usually bought through an operating budget, and you are working with a prospect who has no operating budget left, you still have choices. One is to be able to move the discussion to how you product can be made to qualify as a purchase from the capital budget. This may not work for all products, but it does in others, it just takes a bit of understanding of the buyers’ environment, priorities, and buying process.
A second factor is the language you buyer speaks. If they are accustomed to spending capital budgets and you persist on presenting your product as something that is understood by the buyer to be an operational in nature, you could end up facing an unnecessary barrier. Based on the situation and your research, it is important that you describe and define things in a way that helps the buyer understand and perceive your offering as something that does fit into their budget, in this case capital.
There is also the reality that some people are given a budget and once allocated or spent, it is done. They cannot create new budgets, and in some cases lower down in the decision tree, they may not even be able to reallocate budget without permission from above, which sometimes requires a massive case plan that many see as not being worth their time. But there are those in organizations who can reallocate budget with ease, further they can create budgets and make unplanned purchases. These are usually people at the higher end, I guess commonly called the ‘C’ Suite. I know I have sold to Sales VP’s who initially swore up and down that they had no budget for training, then based on validation of the results Renbor has been able to deliver, went ahead. I have seen the same with CFO’s who saw efficiency gains by buying an application; VP’s of Operation who chose to contract with an outsourcing organization based on specific returns and payback periods. Key as always is the ability to deliver.
Accountability – It is important to remember that accountability is multi-directional. In sales a primary accountability is that of the vendor to the customer. Some of this is simple as motherhood and apple pie, which it is less about the definition, and more about the delivery. Talking about accountability is one thing demonstrating and living by it is a different challenge. The commonly accepted tactic of “under promise and over deliver” is one example, but a common one that can help a long way is the way we as sellers deal with problems before and after a sale. No one is perfect; the test is in how we handle issues when they arise, studies have shown that buyers consider how problems are handled as a key balance to price. If you are accountable, deal with issues, and save the customer time and money in resolving them, you can usually expect that the buyer will be less price conscious, as they are realizing savings and value in other forms.
This takes us back to budget for a second. Another form of accountability is who is your buyer accountable to internally. A senior person, who has power and can play above the rules, can also be the ones who can create or easily redirect funds. We have all sold to senior buyers who stepped outside the buying process to make things happen. They saw that they were accountable for the success of the company or their group, you are accountable for helping them see the real value that will make them take the step. Even last year as budgets were slashed or removed, these people were buying those things they saw as critical for their companies’ success. All this of course results from the quality of the interaction between you and them, the interactive nature of the sale, the banter. More on Wednesday.
Note of a change:
Up to this point I posted on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The comments and feedback I have received suggest that readers have less opportunity to read the Saturday post. Moving forward I will post Mondays – Sales eXchange, Wednesdays and Fridays. If you still need your fill, I also contribute weekly to Sales Blogcast’s Mindshare, and monthly to The Sales Bloggers Union.
What’s in Your Pipeline?