A guest post by Mark Trinkle, President & Chief Sales Officer
Should your days or evenings include any down time, here is a great book recommendation for you.
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading“Go-Givers Sell More” by Bob Burg and John David Mann. I just don’t think I have ever read a book that is more consistent with the approach to selling that we both take and advocate to our clients, particularly along the lines of not sounding like a salesperson.
Listen to this quote from the book on the supreme importance of creating value:
“There is something quite utilitarian about the Law of Value. Its pragmatic beauty is that it places the principal determinant of your success squarely in your own hands, rather than letting it be a factor of your circumstances. While you cannot control what others do, you can control what you do. If your goal is to make the sale, then you are dependent on the buying decisions of others. But, if your goal is to create value for others, you are dependent on nobody but yourself.”
I also love the section of the book that teaches that your compensation as a salesperson is not a reflection of your goodness, worthiness, merit or industriousness: instead, it is an echo of impact. In fact, revenue (or, for our purposes, new business) is the echo of providing value in your conversations with prospects.
So, how about you? Do you worry about selling something? Maybe it would be helpful to simply worry about whether or not your prospect conversations are providing value. As the authors point out, that is up to no one but you.
So, give the book a try. Thanks for reading…now go sell like a champion today.
Summary: When your goal is to provide value, your success as a salesperson is in your own hands. The impact you make on others determines your compensation. So, worry less about selling and focus more on providing value.
This might be the biggest stretch ever in the history of my blog. How can I possibly tie the NCAA Basketball Tournament (also known as March Madness) to selling? Honestly, I’m not sure…so I will be making this up as I go. Let me begin by setting the stage for selling and how I see it is similar to the event of March Madness.
Prospecting > games that are played by all Division I teams throughout the year.
Qualifying > Selection Sunday – based on performance of the teams, 68 teams qualify to make the tournament.
Assessing the Opportunity to win > selecting your teams from the ‘brackets’ that you think have the best chance to win OR the teams you want to win OR the teams you think will be the upset and give you a chance to win the office pool.
Presenting > The Madness begins on Monday night in the play in gams and then on Thursday the real fun begins with a full slate of 16 games where the participating teams play their hearts out and let the ball bounce where it may
Closing > In some cases, the game is over before it begins – Villanova. In other games there are more questions that need to be answered (overtime) before a victor is declared – Ohio State and Cincinnati! (Both WINNERS). In some cases an unexpected outcome – an upset – a 13 seed beating a 4 seed and the favored winners Iowa State and Baylor are going home.
Get a decision > The loser goes home, the winner savors the victory before facing the next big challenge – Cincy vs. UK and OSU vs Arizona. Xavier is still in the hunt, but they play the upset winner - 14 seed Georgia State.
And as Paul Harvey used to say, “And now… the rest of the story.”
Think about some of the outcomes of the presentations you’ve made where you were the top seed, you were the one in the game with all the right things in place to help you win the business. You have the talent, you have the bench strength, you have had great coaching, you’ve prepared, you have presented to the prospect what you said you would but then… in the final seconds… someone throws up a “buzzer beater” and there goes your sale. What happened?
The prospect let the incumbent come in and they matched my price.
I couldn’t get underwriting to change a covenant.
They took it to the decision maker and that person didn’t want to change
They said it was too expensive
They are thinking it over
Etc. etc. etc.
And just like in the ball game, it’s easy to point to the last play in the game that seals the upset – RJ Hunter’s 3 pointer with less than 2 seconds left to win the game for Georgia State – (You have to watch the video!!!).
But, when the coaches that lose review the game video with their team, they point out to their team that there were several opportunities during the game that, if the team had performed better/differently, the outcome would not have come down to the last shot.
The same is true in selling. It hardly ever comes down to the last shot when determining if you will win or lose the game:
Matching price – you should have uncovered earlier who was going to win a price tie.
Changing covenants – you should know beforehand the exact specs you need to get the deal done and, if you cannot meet those specs, you don’t present.
Decision making – you should know the decision making process before presenting.
They said it was too expensive – Why didn’t you know the budget before you presented?
Think it overs – you must eliminate this as an option when discussing the decision making process.
Etc. – uncover in advance what can go wrong and deal with those things prior to attempting to present and close.
As the sales manager/sales executive, it is your responsibility to:
Put the best possible team on the court.
Make sure you have provided your team the resources they need to win.
Prepare them with a solid strategy to win.
Practice what you expect them to perform.
Debrief after they perform so you can help them change behaviors and improve skill
Once you do your job, and you do your best to make sure they are doing their job then get them on the court and see where the ball bounces.
Sales people typically want to know how to do three things better:
See more people
Manage their time
Close more business
When we are working with sales professionals during our sales training workshops, closing is one of the last things we get to. Not because effective closing techniques aren't important to every sales process, but because it isn't as important as the sales steps leading to the close. However, I've decided that, as I was posting the 10 solutions for successful selling, I'd pop "8 Steps for More Effective Closing" in up front so that, with those deals you have in your pipeline today, you might have a slight edge in closing those deals with this information.
Years ago, I was taught that "the close" is an affirmation of the conversations you've already had with the prospect - or at least that's the theory. The theory runs aground, so to speak, if your qualifying steps weren't as strong as they needed to be and if your set up for the closing wasn't as strong as it needed to be. Let's do a quick recap of what should have happened prior to showing up for the close.
A relationship, based on confidence and trust, should have been developed. (check out a brief Seth Godin Blog)
You should have identified the motivation/compelling reason for your prospect to take action.
The prospect should have told you that they wanted to fix a problem or they realize a currently unrealized benefit.
You and the prospect should have agreed to an investment of time, money and resources.
You and the prospect should have agreed to a decision making process that included:
You would supply a solution that fits their specifications
You would supply this solution within their budget
You would be prepared to answer all of their questions
They would be prepared to make a decision- yes or no
You would have sent an "as we agreed to" letter
You would have followed up the "as we agreed to" letter with a phone call confirming the contents of the letter.
If, in fact, you have done these 6 things, then your close should be an affirmation of everything that you've already agreed to. If you haven't executed on these 6 items, then... well, you are in trouble at time of close.
There is an "agreed to" investment to solve the problem
There will be a decision today to either solve the problem or not solve the problem (Tell you yes or no)
You place your 3-page presentation in front of the prospect:
Page 1 - cover sheet
Page 2 - list of problems identified in closing process
Page 3 - bulleted list of solutions to problems
You ask the prospect which problem they want to discuss first
You provide the solution and answer all of their questions
You ask, "On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 meaning you love it and 1 you hate it, how do you feel about the solution I've just presented?" If it is 7 or better, you are in good shape, but the prospect does not have all of the information they need. You now have to ask them, "What information do you need to get to a 10?"
You proceed through each solution the same way
When you finish all of your solutions you ask the question, "What would you like to do now?"
If you have done all of your work the right way, you will get a decision. The challenge here is two-fold:
Did you do all the right stuff?
Are you okay with hearing, "No, I don't want to do business with you?"