Unhung

Are You In Your Own Way?0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

If you follow my blog you know that I am firmly in the camp that see and approaches sales more as a science executed artfully, rather than free form art like many do. As with most things, success is rarely found in absolutes, it is usually about a norm derived from trial and error, and experiencing success and failure first hand.

Many managers and organizations are reluctant to let people explore, and experience a range of sales situations and outcomes, as a means of helping sell better. I get it, time is valuable, “if we already have a corpus, the experience and best practices, let’s just build it into a process, and have people walk the line”. They then proceed to build a rigid, and usually dated process, that everyone has to adhered to until the next Party Congress in a few years.

But a process needs to be dynamic, reflecting, anticipating the market, not reflecting where it was five years ago. The most important thing to remember about your sales process, is that it is the other side of the coin of the prospect’s buying process. In the spirit of “follow the money”, let’s not forget that the most crucial element of your sales process is the buyer, without them, who needs a process. So in light of the fact that the money flows from the buyer, our sales process has to reflect, and facilitate their process, if we are going to benefit from it.

UnhungGiven the fact that buyers, unlike sellers, do not set out to execute a process, but rather to achieve some business objective and impact, the buyer’s side of the coin continues to evolve and ignore our “sales process rules”. If we do not evolve our process, we can look to it to get in our way. This would suggest two things that usually don’t happen in the real world. One that process should be a bottom up exercise, not the top down approach you find in most organizations. If the senior leadership, or sales ops people are the only ones updating and shaping the process, it will always be out of step with the market, and limit front-line rep’s options.

The other is empirical objective inputs. Reps are notorious for not knowing why they win or why they lose. When they win it was their great skills, smile, and relationships. When they lose it is always product and price. But for your process to serve your needs it needs to reflect market realities, not rationalization or other things that lack facts and accountability.

A proper evolving sales process, continues to reflect market factors, and should be implemented as a channel within which reps can execute by leveraging the process and adding their skills and abilities. It should not be, as it often is in a tech driven sales environment, a means for people to validate metrics they are hoping will work, and then change the metric when it does not.

Success in sales is all about execution, so get out of your own way by implementing a process that helps execution, not one that rationalizes the results.

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EDGE Process

When All Else Fails1

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

I recently had the pleasure of recording a podcast with Jeb Blount, as part of the addition of Proactive Prospecting Program to Sales Gravy University. One area we explored was what we can do when we are having a day, or a streak, where everything we touch turns to shite, and it makes us afraid to touch the phone or the next opportunity. Now I know we pundits are supposed to be an optimistic lot, almost intentionally ignoring the dark side of sales, rah rah, and all that stuff. Fortunately, Jeb is a more real than that, and wanted to explore a reality all in sales face, and regularly.

As with most things in sales, the outcome is not based on one single thing or action, but a series of connected and incremental factors, executed simultaneously that lead to results.

This is why, those who do see sales as a science artfully executed will have an advantage, not just when things are going well, but more importantly, when they are not. At the heart of this is having a clearly defined, better yet, clearly “followable” process.

When in doubt, work your process. If you are a successful sales person, one that usually makes quota, and you have done that by sticking to your game plan, based on a clear road map, highlighting desired outcomes, paths to that outcome, contingency plans, and more; then you know that what got you there. Your process! Your consistent execution, your success, especially when almost half your peers are not making quota, is all driven by your process. At a time of struggle, don’t abandon it, double down, recommit and execute.

This isn’t about blind faith. Part of any successful sales process is that it is dynamic in nature. Meaning it evolves with your markets, not locking you into a singular means of execution, but instead reflecting changes in the market. For this to take place, a dynamic process, is an ongoing “feedback loop”. That feedback is captured from two key sources.

EDGE ProcessThe first is the customer; as their expectations, reactions, objections, change and evolve, so should your process. Many companies make the mistake of designing a process; then altering it not to reflect the market, but the inadequacies of their CRM. The second is the rep, if they fail to contribute their experiences in the field, and fail to contribute to process reviews (these are not opportunity reviews), then the process will stay as is. This allows your sales enablement team (when they are not fiddling with the latest app), to combine these two inputs, along with market sources to ensure that your process not only reflects the market, but that allows your sellers to leverage that view, and allow them to win not only more deals, but more predictably. This is how the process evolves, stays dynamic, and provides you with a proven and fair advantage.

If you have that process in place, and you hit a slump, as every pro does along the way, then the resolution is simple, stick to what got you there. If you don’t have that kind of process in place you have two choices. One, find a company that does, and you’ll make money. Second, Hope the pinball ride ends and you bounce back before your run out of time.

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Sitting

Don’t Just Do Something – Sit There!0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

All too many people confuse activity or action with productivity or results. Think of how many times the best thing you can say about a movie or a game is that it was “action filled”. In sales, many often confuse activity with moving the sale forward or execution, bringing to mind the saying about the deck chairs on the Titanic. And while action is at times better than no action at all, it is not always the case. The difference would be in the intent and purpose.

Execution should be the tactical manifestation of a strategy, or more accurately strategies. An overall corporate sales strategy, territory and account strategies, and then a strategy for every encounter with a laser focus on logical next steps. Execution is not, or should not be, a means of formulating your strategy by trial and error. It is often those sales leaders who rely on the trial and error method that complain that their sales cycles are too long, and are looking for a way to shorten the cycle. Well, start by not doing unthought-out things that don’t directly support your goal, and more importantly that of the buyer.

Now don’t get me wrong, more often than not, it is good to put (new) skills into practice or action. This way we can review and adjust, and bring improvement over time. The key is the action being taken is in context of specific goals, one supported by a strategy (or at minimum a plan), and the execution is driven by a clear process.

Now before your roll your eyes – Anderson Style, like many do at the mention of process, consider how a dynamic process can make selling, if not easier, more straight forward. The challenge is that most confuse process with a series of predesigned steps.

While there may be a logical path or sequence in well thought-out sales processes, it is not the end all and be all, but a start. A process should allow you to best engage your buyer around their objectives, leading to the business impacts they were looking for, or more when they deal with a good sales person.

A good sales process is one that evolves with your market, one that is dynamic and reflects the market, rather than a static process that expects the market to bend to your view, which it usually does not.

As such, a key feature of a process, is not in telling you exactly what to do in each circumstance. This leaves one exposed when circumstances change, which is daily, or when we encounter circumstances our process, and the folks who designed it, did not take into account.

SittingThe best processes are those that encourage people to think about the specific situation they are facing. The means and steps with which to evaluate, and then respond or act, rather than many of the processes that send people off to do something and then try to figure out why things went wrong, after the fact.

The best sales processes are those that encourage you to stop, step back, evaluate, come up with a course of action based on the here and now, and then act. Ones that allow you to not do something for the sake of doing something, and instead execute those actions that drive value for the buyer, and move the process forward. It’s OK not to do something, and sit back and think instead.

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The Microphone

Process and Execution Rule in B2B Selling – #Podcast0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

For those not familiar with Andy Paul, here is your opportunity to discover a great resource. Not only is Andy knowledgeable about all elements of B2B selling, author of two great books: Zero Time Selling and AMP Up Your Sale; and most relevant today, he hosts one of the better blogs looking at all areas of successful B2B selling and everything around. His guests address very specific strategic and tactical aspects of sales you’ll be able to implement and benefit from right away.

In the episode below, it was my turn. Andy and I look at process and execution. Have a listen, and feel free to reach out if I can expand on anything or help you implement.

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Sales_Cartoon_sales process

Never Let A Good Plan Get In The Way Of Success!2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

In some sports and other skills based endeavours, for example figure skating, you can score points for artistic merit, and you also get scored on execution. Sales on the other hand is more like hockey or football (North American), while Artistic Merit is admired, execution is key, but the only measure that counts at the end, is the outcome, did we win, or, well really, what else is there? Execution is a means to an end, not an end on to itself, which is why teams and coaches use playbooks to help their teams execute better, but better execution without the results, i.e. winning a client and the revenue that leads to, does not lead to long term sales success.

Sales_Cartoon_sales processWhile I have always been a proponent of a good sales process, and having a playbook to assist and improve execution, let’s not lose sight of the overall objective: Revenue! I worry when I see sales managers and leaders put a greater emphasis on process and playbook than results. I have seen to many mistake one for the other, where sales people who delivered results were questioned about why they did not follow the process, rather than given credit for assessing the situation and acting.

You can see the opposite of this when sales people who continue to underperform, but are maintained (and rationalized) because they were “compliant”, followed the process. Don’t be that seller who continuously achieves also-ran status with high artistic merit, and low points for execution.

A process and playbook are meant to be dynamic and evolving, the only way to improve and to ensure that it is effective in the only thing that counts, Revenue, to continue to evolve it based on market realities. The market and out prospects continue to evolve, treating your playbook and process as though they are impervious to change will only lead to more work, and over time diminished results.

Playbooks are a collection of best practices, which requires we continue to test, examine, deploy, review and execute again. They are guidelines not divine declarations, every day your process does not evolve in some way, is a day you fall behind. We cringe when prospects say “because we have always done it that way”, yet we seem to be comfortable with allowing that thinking when it comes to playbooks and processes.

Too many sales managers and organization spend too much valuable time on pipeline reviews, a deep dive of ass covering. Instead they should be doing process and playbook reviews, after all what is in your pipeline is a result of how good your process is and how well it is executed. In fact, they should be doing Pipeline Previews, this allows my clients to look ahead, and understand which elements of their playbook and process will help move the sale forward, and which need to evolve to ensure they win the sale. Good execution of a bad process or playbook means nothing at the end of the day; may look good, but little more.

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EDGE - New Web

Don’t Talk Yourself Out Of It0

Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

People have an amazing ability to convince themselves of almost anything. This is great when they are facing a challenge and they reach inside and not only conceive a means of addressing the challenge, but taking extraordinary action and successfully hitting it head on and overcoming it. Of course the opposite is also true and more common, when people see a challenge, a big challenge in their eyes; so big and seemingly overwhelming, that when they look inside, all they find is the rational for giving up and a list of “why nots”.

Stop Talking To Yourself

Ask any good sales manager or sincere buyer, and they can share numerous examples of sales people who have talked themselves out of a sale. By this I don’t mean the more common example of a sales person who doesn’t shut up long enough to allow the buyer to place the order. This is more about specific instances where the sales person, faced with some difficult options, convinces themselves of “the inevitable negative outcome”, and as a result stops trying to do anything to change the situation in their favour, and settle for the deal being lost.

Sales Process Overview

Let Your Process Do The Talking

To avoid this, and be able to overcome more hurdles you face in selling, you need to turn to something many sales people find boring, and fail to see as a strategic advantage, their sales process. This assumes they or their company has a defined and viable sales process that continues to evolve with the market and buyers. If the have one of those, the other factor is the rep’s propensity to follow it to succeed. Many pretend, or cherry pick, “I like this, I’ll do it; skip that, don’t like it”. If the process is in fact a good one, you need follow it as it is, not your interpretation based on likes, dislikes. If you don’t follow the parts you don’t like, you will not only lose sales, but more importantly, not improve in ways that help you leverage the process and win sales.

Objectivity Rules

One of the best things about having a process is that it takes a lot of the subjectivity out of execution. Rather than your execution reflecting your mood on any given day, the process allows you to perform the right activities, for the right reason, and the right tools at critical stages of the sale. Even in difficult sales or scenario, taking the emotion out of it, and focusing on specific activities, allows you to execute, examine results, adjust and execute again. The same time and energy that went into the emotional side of things, is now applied to specific actions and impacts.

This is why a key component of a viable and evolving process is metrics. The process drives the activity, the measurement allows you to evaluate and set out the next set of actions, measure again, and repeat. Sure you will lose deals, but you will have tried, and understand why you lost after the fact, not because you talked yourself out of things in advance.

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GR 948-29-2

It’s A New Year – Let’s Go Backwards4

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Assuming your fiscal year started on January 1, you probably have your new targets or quotas by now. Although I did sell for a company once that did not give us our quotas till mid-March. Among the many things you should do is start by going backwards, not in how you sell, but how you plan and set yourself up for success.

Specifically breaking down your success into manageable components. Manageable meaning things that need to be done – and are also in your control. Things beyond your control, well, are beyond your control, instead of worrying about it, plan ahead, and when the time comes, react if you have to, or harder for many, ignore them since by definition, you cannot manage them.

What you can control are activities that lead to specific and planned results, like exceeding quota for example. As discussed in Monday’s post, detailing the high-value activities in each stage of your cycle is crucial. But to know which activities and in what proportion, you will need to start at your goal, and work backwards from there. Understanding what that quota looks like in the real world beyond a dashboard will help you not only to exceed that quota, but create a detailed plan for the journey.

For simplicity, let’s say you closed 2015 with $1.05 million in revenue, and your 2016 quota is $1.2 million, a 12.5% growth. Making your monthly goal a $100,000.

What you need to know:

  • What is your average deal size?
  • Average length of your cycle(s)
  • Some core conversion rates:
    – Number of proposals that close
    – Number of real prospects required to generate a REAL proposal
    – Number of people/companies you’ll need to engage to land one REAL prospect

There are other important conversion rates, like number of connections to appointments (live or virtual) or engagements, and others, plug in those that drive your results. What I find interesting is the number of sales people that do not know any or all of the above, when you ask, they respond: “depends”; on what?

The one thing that does not change year to year, is the amount of time you have to sell to prospects. (Well you do have one extra day this year, and every Leap year). If you don’t know the above numbers, how will you chart the course to 12.5% increase?

Those that do know them, and they are not hard to track these days, given all the data available, can begin to make choices.

Will you increase your average deal size; some have that option some don’t. Will you focus on improving your proposal to close rate, or one of the others? This could involve being more diligent in Discovery and rushing to proposal, allowing you to work with less prospects but with greater results, how will that impact your time allocation mix?

While there are a number of moving parts, it has to be done, our clients use our Activity Calculator Tool, to ensure efficient execution and continuous improvement. This not only helps reps take control of their activities and success, but also serves as a great coaching tool if you lead a team.

The key is to execute a well-planned strategy, rooted in the real numbers to drive real results. With that in hand, you can get creative and unleash your god given sales skills; without it, you are going to work harder than you really have to, and looking to god about 12.5% more than you did last year.

Tibor Shanto

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Are Sales People Masochists?4

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

No Pain

Sales people are always looking for “the pain” or “pain point”. One reason I am told they are looking for the pain is that they can then offer up the cure along with an invoice, and have a happy client. Given that a relatively small part of the market will admit to pain, I am not sure this is the most prudent approach to starting a lasting relationship, but it is what it is.

Many tell me, backed by a string of pundits, that people will do more to avoid pain, than the steps or actions they will take to achieve pleasure. Theory being I am told, is if one can touch a raw nerve, a painful nerve, the buyer is more likely to act, and therefore potentially buy the “fix” for that pain from the seller. Given the choice, they believe that focusing on pain yields better results than focusing on pleasure.

I had one consultant, a successful one according to him, tell me that his role as a sales person is “to find the soft underbelly of the beast, stab it, and offer up the cure.” Nice, feel free to take a minute and wash.

This piece is not meant to debate that, but rather explore how this concept plays out when applied to sales people themselves, and their success.

I work with a lot of sales people, and have seen how willing or unwilling they are to take on new or alternate sales views, skills and practices. I know that when I carried a quota, the biggest pain I was trying to avoid, was the pain of not making quota. Not only because of the stigma associated with failing at your chosen craft, but because I had three kids to feed. Exceeding quota always struck me as a better alternative, especially not having to tell the kids they can’t eat this quarter. But let’s make like a pundit and pander to the masses and go to the pain side for a minute.

The Puzzle

Given that over the past few years the number of B2B reps to hit quota has hovered at around 60%, you have to wonder why those suffering the reality of not making quota don’t do much if anything to avoid that pain. If they saw their prospects “suffering” in this way, they would be advising them to change, and change now, relieve themselves of this unnecessary pain. Just the incongruity of that must be a challenge, imagine suppressing your pain as you look your prospect in the eye telling them to take action (buy your product) and address that pain.

I am not even going to get into the financial reality, but there is the tribal reality of being a burden rather than a contributor. Many of the sources that show that only about 60% make quota also show that a higher percentage of sales organizations are hitting their collective number. This means that these people are carrying those who fall short, more than carrying, making up for.

The Answer

The answer is not jumping on every selling band wagon that comes through town, but to refocus on the fundamentals. As Michael Jordan said: “You have to monitor your fundamentals constantly, because the only thing that changes will be your attention to them”. There is no arguing that Jordan can razzle dazzle with the best of them, deliver consistently, all by building on the fundamentals, not by avoiding them. There is no doubt that the coach had a lot to do with it, as did the process or system executed. But it was the discipline and focus on execution on the part of Jordan, and the others on the team that made the difference. There did not seem to be anyone carrying a team mate.

While some might argue, it starts with process. A clear road map of the buy/sale journey, including objectives for each stage, tools, measurements, contingency plans, and more. Think of it as your sales TripTik®.  But in the end, there is no escaping the fact that it does come down to execution. The willingness to put the system into practice. The ability to try, fail, try again and improve.

As we go into a new sales year, the question to answer is the following: Which pain are you willing to suffer, the short term pain of effort practice and refinement, leading to ongoing success. Or the pain of missing quota “one more again”, letting the side down and burdening your team mates?

Tibor Shanto

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3 Must Have Attributes of a Real “NEXT STEP”1

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Definitions are an important factor in sales success, talk to the best sales people, best here being measured in results, not likability, and you will find that they thrive on clear definitions, it is their competitive edge.  To identify weak sales people, look for those with plenty of opinion, but little or no clarity in approach or definitions for core elements of their success.  One common example is “Value”, it is part of almost every sales conversation, yet there are numerous, at times conflicting definitions.  I ask a group of five also rans to define value, and you’ll end up with seven different definitions, because the first two will change their mind based on what the next three say.

Another common element of successful selling that is all too often undefined (and usually unenforced), is the discipline of next steps.  Sure, everyone pays lip service to “next steps” (or advances, or other synonyms), but what they say is not what they mean, and not at all defined, agreed on, or universally supported.

I was brought up in the sales school that held that without a “next step” you are likely working with someone who is fully not engaged, if at all, and therefore not a prospect, but a lead.  This makes a “next step” a crucial delineator between real opportunities, or those pretend opportunities, taking up space in your pipeline or CRM, but lack any empirical evidence to suggest that you are working with a real prospect or an opportunity that will convert in a predictable time frame.

There is not an opportunity review that goes by where a reps is asked:

“Do you have a ‘next step’ with this prospect?”

Rep: “Sure do!”

“What is it?”

“I’m calling him Monday to set a meeting”, or “I told him I would call Monday to see what he thought of the proposal”

“What time is the call scheduled for?”

“I don’t have it formally scheduled, I told him I’d call Monday, and he said fine, I’ll do it after I am back from the Northern demo.”

Sorry, but that’s not a next step.  It’s a plan, may even be a good plan, but at this point it is little more than hope in the form of a thought, and you know what they say about hope, and people addicted to hopium.

For a “next step” to be real and productive it needs to have three attributes, that when combined and successfully executed form a platform for sales success that can use to plan, strategize and execute their sale, usually in a shorter time frame than they had anticipated.

1.   Must Be Agreed On By Both The Buyer And The Seller – by agreed I mean that it is booked and confirmed, not just a “ya OK”, whispered as you are walking out. These days you can have an invite fired from your phone while you are still there.  The physical act of pulling out your phone to put in the time and date will lead them to go to their calendar, if they don’t you may have a problem that you need to address right then and there.  It is not unusual for my prospects to have accepted the next meeting before I leave or by the time I am checking e-mail in the parking lot.

Many will settle for this as a “next step”, but I don’t want you to be one of those.  There are people, even with the demands on time, who will meet with a sales person without a specific reason.  This is why the next attribute is so important, in fact of the three the most important.

2.  Moves The Journey Forward – going back without a clear purpose is a waste of time, you can sit at your desk twiddle your thumbs without adding to you carbon footprint. You want to go back to continue to move the process forward in a way that helps the buyer make the decision that you can help them achieve their objectives.  This can be asking them to do something that will validate their engagement, involvement and commitment to the buy/sale moving forward.

I suggest that you think in advance what that may be, leveraging your personal and organizational experience, map out the journey, understand the critical milestones, and how you have successfully arrived there in the past.  If you know that achieving something opens the door to the next phase of the process, then think of what has to transpire in the meeting to get the buyer to see that as a logical path forward.   This could be any number of things based on what you sell.  One example is to ask for the opportunity to interview other people impacted by the decision, and set a time to comeback, debrief and plan the “next step”.  You’ll often hear me say:

“So we’ve agreed that it would help if I had a chance to get the front line view, if you can give the names of three sales people to interview, I can set that up for next week, and be in a position to come back to review with you by next Wednesday, does 2:00 work for you?”

Now if they do not agree to the action requested, i.e. the team interviews, but do agree to meet next week to hear my recommendations, you have some choices to make.  Does it make sense to have that meeting without the input, can you viably make progress without that.  If not, then you need to understand where you and the buyer parted ways during the meeting, what you may have missed, whether it is an indication that they are not a real buyer, or do you need to retrace and build the value up again.

This is where “next steps” drive success long before the meeting, and how you bring the past to help you now.  Perhaps the most important aspect of “next step”, specifically how they help you plan, strategize and execute.  Since we can only speculate based on experience, it makes sense to visualize the meeting unfolding in a number of ways.  Again, we are not shooting for perfection, but to cover the most likely set of outcomes.  Therefore you need to have multiple “next steps” going into any meeting.  In essence, Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, and more base on your reality.  Based on the above if Plan B is the follow up meeting without prior interviews, fine.  But if your experience shows that second meetings without an interview end in no sales, or lower margin or quality sales that take 50% longer than the average sale; you can comfortably walk away know you did not go into a trap.  Remember you can always revisit the opportunity down the road, rather than wasting time and energy traveling that unproductive road.

3.  Agreed On Timelines – This ties the first two elements together. And while it may seem too obvious, too many sales people have a plan going into a meeting, find areas of agreement and action, but leave the timing open ended.  Don’t believe, lock your office door, and have a true look at the opportunities in your pipeline, and see if you have any with no time lines.

Seems to me that if you are going to propose specific actions you and the prospect will take as a result of today’s meeting, and prospect agrees that it is something worth doing and they take on doing it, why not agree on a deadline or timeline.  Some sales people tell me they don’t want to seem pushy, when I hear that it sounds like “I am afraid of seeming professional”.

By suggesting a specific time you are helping the buyer (and yourself but let’s keep focused on the buyer), people have a lot coming at them, a lot of demand on the time.  Those things with times attached, deadlines, in their calendar, in their face, with purpose, leading to a desired and agreed on outcome, will be the ones that get done.  Those with any elements of looseness, like no specific time, who know, could be today, tomorrow, “hell, I lived with it this long, could be next quarter”.  Solidify you sales success using time.

Above I asked you to look at your pipeline and see how many opportunities are without a time line.  While you are in there, take a look at the 3 attributes highlighted above, and see where some opportunities in your pipeline come up short.  And then go and fix them, set a meeting, execute your plan, and secure the “next step”, as defined.

So if you are not using “next steps” as success driver, not just in the meeting, but long before, then you are probably working harder than you have to.  Further, if you are not clear on what “next steps” really are, and are working with a different definition than above, you are likely not as productive as you could be.

Your next step now, put the above into practice, it is a discipline.  Need help, your next step is call me: +1416 822-7781.

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Tibor Shanto

 

 

Un-Complicating Their Buy at #CEBSummit0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Richtung Pfeil

While there are a range of relevant topics relating to sales, selling and marketing presented at the CEB Sales and Marketing Summit, the one recurring theme is the power of simplification.

When you step back and see how selling have unfolded over the last for years, what a neutral observer would see is an exercise in layering. People would see an opportunity or a challenge and they would bolt something on to fix or “enhance” their current state as a means of improvement. This could be to their sales process, or their sales enablement technology or platform; the term “There’s an App for that”, was embraced by sales long before all sellers bought iPhones. This wasn’t lost on marketing, they joined the party and loaded on more. This often led one to wonder whether the sale was complex to begin with, or it was complicated by the participants.

Which brings us to the buyers, they further added to the complications, leading to challenges so well presented in CEB’s current book “The Challenger Customer”. As the authors spell out in detail, the dysfunctional buyers and buying process triggers a reaction in sellers, usually in the form of adding more, and just driving the problem further.

Much of discussion at the Summit, speaks to how simplifying the buying process could lead to a number of benefits for buyers and by extension sellers, and the role sales/marketing organizations can play in helping buyer simplify things and progress as a result. “Empowered Customers are Overwhelmed”, turns out “too much information, too many options, and too many people involved in the decision are grinding things to a halt, with 81% or respondents saying their sales cycles have gotten longer over last five years.

The Ease-O-Meter – So how can you make buying easier? You start by focusing on the buying process. This does not mean the traditional approach of imposing you sales process, your time lines, your market view on the buyer, but truly helping them with their purchase as a means of helping them achieve their business goals and objectives.

This is not easy for sales and marketing types, as evidenced by one exercise that had us focus on the buy side of life. Even with all the great knowledge and experience about, this proved to be a real task. Adding to the challenge are two factors detailed in the Challenger Customer”, the combination of the “5.4” and the “good enough”. 5.4 being the number of people/groups involved in a buy decision, hence the dysfunction; “good enough”, the reality of buyers recognizing your value, but not willing to pay for it when there is a “good enough” lower cost alternative.

Another way to simplify things is to minimize options and choices, as stated above, too much choice is not working, as Barry Schwartz, Ph.D author of The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less, choice is just killing buying, which is killing sales. While this may seem counter intuitive to many in sales, there were numerous example of why and how too much choice can lead to no choice, not what sellers want when they give choices. As Schwartz pointed out “the best way to avoid regretting a decision is not to make one!”

Not to be glib, but the choice is there, you can keep on the path you’re on, or pick up the book, focus on executing the the concepts and implementing elements to make your buyers’ journey easier and simplify your sales success.

Tibor Shanto    LI Bottom banner

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