Increase Sales Profitably: Put A Collar On Non-Selling Behaviors

Increase Sales Profitably: Put a Collar on Non-Selling Behaviors

 

 

What % of your salesperson’s time is actually spent selling today? (are you sitting down?) The average salesperson is spending less than 20% of what I call “sellable time” actually doing sales behaviors today. That’s a problem, a big sales problem we need to fix to keep our sales leaders, owners and shareholders happy. In this post we will discuss how to put a collar on non-sales behaviors.

 

Meet Duke, pictured above. He is our current Lab rescue. Our family fosters Labs, and Lab mixes for the Lake Erie Lab Rescue. (an awesome non-profit organization of people who love animals) When the rescue found Duke he was a hot mess: two ear infections, could not put weight on a hind leg, underweight by about 20 lbs., lime disease, and also anemic.

 

For the last few months we developed a plan to bring him back to health so we could find him a forever home. Our plan had very specific behaviors we executed, tracked and even logged on medical forms. We gave him various medicines and a special food. We slowly started walking him and exercising him including water therapy. We put drops in his ears and basically loved on him. He was not thrilled about all these new behaviors but is a gentle old soul and went along with it.

 

The last thing we always do before adoption is spay or neuter. The surgery went great and Duke came home. To insure the incision healed we had to make sure Duke did not bother it. We corrected him many times but his nature was to lick the incision and it started to get infected. So we collared this behavior with a cone he wears for a few weeks.

 

So what does a lab rescue with a cone collar have to do with growing your sales profitably?

 

I thought you would never ask!

 

If you want to increase your sales profitably and create sales velocity for years to come you need to reinforce the sales behaviors you have seen that drive profitable sales and collar non-selling behaviors.

 

Like what?

 

If you read my content you know I have served many companies in a variety of markets both domestic and international over the last 35 years. At the fear of sounding like an attorney, the answer to what behaviors drive profitable sales for you depends. It depends on your company, markets and what your buyer’s journey looks like. That is why we do voice of the customer work and data analysis before we develop strategies and plans.

 

If you have done your voice of the customer work you understand what your buyers want and need in their buying journey. You know their buyer personas, and the value drivers for their businesses.

 

I have worked with 1,000’s of salespeople that have been on my teams and on distributor sales teams and some of the common behaviors I have seen salespeople doing include:

 

Lead Generation

Building and leveraging relationships

Qualifying opportunities

Qualifying prospects

Qualifying leads

Follow up

Making presentations

Servicing customer needs for information on deliveries

Account management

Networking

Trade shows/ Industry conferences

Territory management

Creating monthly email newsletter blasts

Training and education

Training accounts and distributors

Handling Quality issues

Helping AR collect past due funds

Searching for content

Driving and transportation

Creating new customer target lists

Lead nurturing campaigns

Writing content for industry articles and trade publications

Weekly reports

Call reports

CRM updates

Phone calls

Emails

Social Selling

Customer visits to your plant or corporate office

Applications advice

Helping customers sort parts that may have quality issues

Visiting end users with distributors

Tracking order status

Expediting ship dates

Finding out why orders did not ship on time

Dealing with product damages that occurred in shipping

Reviewing plant inventory

Personal Social Media

Personal emails

Webinar training updates

Team sales meetings

Product demonstrations

Creating content

Working with field service to resolve customer problems

Entertaining customers

Booking hotel rooms

Booking airfare

Booking rental cars

Expense reports

Family time

Workout time

Plant tours with customers

Driving late orders to customers

Picking up material and driving to your plant to help make late order re-promises

Meeting with customer engineers and influencers

Meeting with other buyers at key accounts

Meeting with C-suite executives at key accounts

Product installation and repair

Monitoring and helping with product tests

Distributor training

Distributor management

Customer audits and assessments

Computer and IT issues

Booking advertisements

Managing point of purchase

Ordering content for customers and distributors

Company vehicle cleaning and maintenance

Ordering and stocking sales tools

Creating new sales tools

Customer events and outings

 

And you thought you had a lot to do…

 

Is it any wonder when we ask salespeople why they are not prospecting for new business at current and new accounts say it is because they are too busy?

 

Is it any surprise we find the below statistics for sales teams today?

 

The Average Salesperson spends less than 20% of their time selling today

 

30% + of time searching for sales tools (or building them and that’s really scary)

 

40%-50% administrative

 

10%+ non-selling activities

 

Multitasking decreases productivity by 20-40%

 

Workers waste an average of 40% of their workday because they have never been taught organizational skills and how to focus on behaviors that matter.

 

I have yet to meet a salesperson that is not busy. We are all hard working competitive people and the top performers are seen as strategic advisors by their customers.

 

The question becomes: is your sales team busy doing the behaviors you know drive profitable sales based on the VOC work and sales analysis data, or are they just busy?

 

Here’s the deal…some salespeople believe if they are busy they are safe. So they get real busy. How do they determine what to do? There is a high probability they are doing what their sales manager did when they were in sales. They are prisoners to an out-dated sales process…Let that sink in a minute or two.

 

“You mean to tell me my salespeople are doing the behaviors my sales team did say 20 years ago? 20 years ago before we had a customer service department, the Internet, a CRM system, a formal sales process? Before we spent all that money with the consulting firm? Before invested in new IT systems? Before we invested in a marketing department?

 

Yep!

 

Salespeople, like all of us, will gravitate to their comfort zone of behaviors they like to do. If someone has been in sales for any length of time they likely spend a great deal of time in service and relationship activities.

 

One last consideration is fear. Sales people have been managed (not led, true leaders inspire and motivate they do not use fear) by fear for years. If you are fear filled the creative and strategic part of your brain shuts off. So they do not see what behaviors drive the best results so they do what they are told and stay “busy” to feel safe. They are in fight or flight mode.

 

The shame is busy salespeople lack focus and they often experience problems and not hitting their sale numbers like 70% of the sales people and then what do you do? We put them on a PIP…performance improvement plan and share what happens if they don’t improve. Then we see behaviors that really hurt the bottom lines like unnecessary discounting, extended payment terms, promises our products and services could never meet. This results in more fear, even more busy behaviors, more stress, altercations with other departments and so it goes.

 

How do we put a collar on non-sales behaviors?

 

Do your voice of the customer work

Create buyer personas

Map buying journey and what buyers need today to make a buying decision

Mirror your sales process to the buying process 

Determine the behavior your data shows drives sales velocity today

Determine the top 5 behaviors that drive the sales you want

Train your sales leaders 

Train your sales people 

Train support departments on new sales process and how they help

Establish / reinforce service expectations for support departments

Track support indicators weekly

Create leading indicator behaviors sales must execute

Measure those behaviors

Have sales report on those behaviors weekly and in each coaching discussion

Coach those behaviors on four legged sales calls with your team

Coach sales to eliminate, put a collar on non-selling behaviors 

Inspect what you expect

Reinforce behaviors you want

 

When we implemented the above in a number of companies we experienced:

  • Sales growth exceeding 20%-40% year over year
  • Gross profit increases of 6%-10% in 18 months
  • Customer satisfaction increase
  • New business increases at current accounts
  • New customers (one company realized over 200 new large accounts in 12 months)
  • Sales close rate increases of 30%-50%
  • Improved moral inside sales team
  • Improved sales efficiency
  • Reduced cost of customer acquisition
  • Improved relationships with other departments
  • Reduced marketing expense
  • Improved engagement form entire team
  • Reduced turnover
  • Reduced recruiting expenses

 

If you want profitable sales increases you must focus your sales teams behaviors on those activities that drive the maximum return. When your sales team is aligned with what buyers have shared they need and you deliver it when they need it in their buying process your team too will experience the healthy sales results above too.

 

As for Duke, he is meeting with his new forever family today. He is happy, healthy and not only walking on his hind leg but running! He did not want to do everything we had to do get him strong and healthy but we coached and trained the behaviors that would lead to this day where he will be placed with a loving family, and put a collar on those behaviors that did not support our long term goals.

Does Your Website Clearly Convey Your Brand Promise?

leatherBeltsCOL667_large

 

How do you compete with huge accounts that seem to have bottomless pits when it comes to advertising and media buys?…Smart internet marketing! The average buyer decides if a web site is right for them in 3 seconds to 1 minute. As I shared some time ago: you have a minute to win it when it comes to online sales. How do market leading companies insure buyers find what they are shopping for quickly, stay on their website and buy? I found a new company that clearly understands how to sell products online: Buffalo Head Leather.

As I watch retailers scrambling for position in the minds of buyers for black Friday sales I can’t help but be somewhat amused by the poor branding and positioning. Do these retailers who now sell online not understand marketing and positioning or they have become so lazy and complacent they just hope throwing it on the wall to see if it sticks is good marketing? Are they now aware that up to 60% of the buying process is completed online before a buyer interacts with your company?

When I look at the ads and the visual imagery chosen to sell a particular product I often wonder what if any consideration occurred for the brand of the retailer and the product when designing the communication? Who are their buyer personas? How well do they know them?  The ads that now fill my newspaper, television and websites I visit are all the same. They have dumb-ed down their marketing, positioning and branding as if they assume “everyone “could be a customer.

So imagine my delight in finding a new company online: Buffalo Head Leather. This new company makes and sells leather belts, wallets, key holders and accessories made from buffalo hides. When you visit their website they clearly understand the importance of imagery to support your brand and positioning. In addition this site loads fast. More searches are now done on mobile devices than desktops. I have read studies that share you web site has 3 seconds to load or a consumer will quickly bounce to the next site listed in their Google search. This site loads quickly and it was designed to be mobile friendly. Web sites that are not mobile friendly are quickly becoming invisible as I shared in a post titled; Is your web site invisible.

When I found this new company they obviously have done their homework in terms of marketing specific to branding, positioning, their ideal customer and buyer personas. The imagery found on this site says to me;

  • We make a high quality product that is competitively priced
  • Our research shows to target men
  • Our products for successful people who value quality
  • We did research and it showed consumers have a concern that Buffalo’s are endangered
  • The shopping experience is easy and fast
  • We believe in creating images and content so our customers can easily share us
  • We are not the cheapest

This site reminded me how new companies often execute better than companies who have served markets for years. New companies understand the market today and do their research. New companies take the time to define their buyer personas and their imagery and content supports their brand and positioning. I just ordered a book titled Exponential Organizations: Why new organizations are ten times better, faster, and cheaper (and what to do about it). I look forward to reading this book and discussing this topic future posts.

I was so impressed by marketing strategy well executed and the quality of their products I reached out to the company. I spoke with one of their owners who has experience in marketing buyer personas and visual imagery. I asked if my perception of what he was communicating online was correct and I think he was surprised how much I knew about his brand after just a few minutes on his website.

Below are a few of the questions I asked:

Any challenges in his market verification stage? He shared that when they tested their messaging prior to launch a common concern buyers expressed was a perception that buffalo leather was stiffer than cow hide leather and actually the opposite was true so he directed me to a web page that shares the difference and how products made from buffalo are actually softer.

I noticed you are not the only site or the first site, how do you plan to compete? Authentically sharing who we are, what we represent and everything we do is about a total quality experience. We are committed to knowing are targeted buyers and helping them buy , helping them shop.

What else? We believe in speaking to communities, the “tribes” Seth refers to. We have a facebook page, a newsletter, pinterest and instagram presence.

Why pinterest and instagram when your buyer persona is successful men who value quality products? Our research showed men want quality products, accessories if you will. Some shop searching for imagery and clicking pictures that match what they are looking for hoping the image brings them to a site to purchase. More importantly, we found successful men are hard to buy for, and women often shop for gifts for them on line. So based on how many women use pinterest and instagram we had to establish a presence there.

 

How about your web site?

 

Does the imagery speak to your buyer personas?

 

Does your web site proactively speak to concerns your buyers have that interrupts their buying process?

 

Is your web site mobile friendly?

 

Is your company at risk of a branding and positioning savvy new competitor entering your market and being 10 times better and faster?

 

 

Does your website imagery and content clearly convey your brand promise?

 

Congratulations to the buffalo head leather team for doing your market work prior to launch and positioning your products. It is time we all take the time and clearly understand our markets, buyers and buyer personas. We must create content and imagery that quickly resonates with our targeted buyers or they will find another site that does.

How to Create “Sales Velocity”; Turn “Street Legal Salespeople” into Servant Salespeople

It's not enough to just be "street legal"

It’s not enough to just be “street legal”

 

I am often asked by business owners and leaders; “What is the best way to create sales growth that becomes repeatable and predictable?” I prefer to phrase this somewhat differently to achieve what the business leaders really want;

How can I create real Sales Velocity?” 

When I hear someone say;

I want more sales

I need more sales

How do I increase sales quickly?

What I immediately think is ; how do we create sales velocity for this team? In this post I will share one way to insure you build a foundation for achieving and often surpassing your sales goals by creating Servant Salespeople .

 

So what is “sales velocity”? In a previous post I said;

 

Sales Velocity is Sales Acceleration, with Direction and creates Momentum.

 

Sales velocity is not just “more sales”. When you ask your team to “go get more sales”, or my favorite with regards to hitting their sales growth goals; “just make it happen you are in essence saying any sale is a good sale. We all know this is not true, but what will happen is sales will take a shotgun approach to the market and often bring in business you may not want and worse yet may not be able to execute effectively and create brand damaged buyers. In addition to often permanently damaging your brand in the marketplace you also run the risk of turning your salespeople into “snake oil salesmen” and they will make all kinds of promises your product or service was never meant to do. If left unchecked you will receive crazy orders you never should have received from customers you will never extend credit to and your team will jump through costly hoops to try to fulfill them.

 

When I used to conduct sales and marketing seminars, I would share the worst kind of business to win is one order. Once you win that “one order” you now have the liability of servicing it, hearing customer complaints (often now through social media), and sales assumes the position you want more orders like this.

 

I was in church last Sunday at Grace United Methodist Church and Pastor Don was talking about how it’s not enough to be a “street legal Christian”. Don does a great job of telling stories that have analogies to help people understand the message. In this message he shared how he and a buddy when they were 16 years old had this old beater of a car. He shared how the steering wheel had about 90 degrees of play in it and how the floorboards were all rusted out and you could see the pavement while driving. They had a rear brake light broken out so they covered it with cellophane and used red paint to make it look and somewhat work like a brake light. The car had all kinds of issues but technically it was “street legal”. The car met the basic requirements to be on the road, but really should not have been driven as it was an accident waiting to happen.

 

Don later pulled this analogy full circle and shared how Jesus taught us we are not to just be street legal Christians that go to church, maybe read a bible once in a while and go through the motions. As I drove home it dawned on me I have seen this many times over the past 30 years in leading sales turnarounds with “street legal salespeople” too. They have the title of sales and they go through the motions of sales but really do not have the heart to serve their clients and solve their customer’s problems.

 

What is a Street Legal Salesperson you might ask?

 

Received some basic product training.

 

They have some understanding of how to reach buyers.

 

They want to hit their sales goals and corresponding commission checks.

 

They often have some bad sales habits.

 

They come close to hitting their sales goal each year, not terrible but not sales super stars.

 

They try hard.

 

They are often commission junkies. (not their fault by the way)

 

At or below the acceptable targeted profit margin for your product or service.

 

Have problem customers, who complain, pay late or not at all.

 

When you hear them on the phone with a customer you cringe, but if it works… ah what the heck…

 

They go through the motion of sales…

 

The role of sales has evolved over the last 30 years from my perspective. At one time the salesperson was the keeper of the information keys. They did not need to be as good at listening and understanding customer needs as they needed to be aggressive and persistent and know their product inside and out. The salesperson had all the product information and used their sales product binders to answer questions as they arose. They worked hard on relationship selling. Back in the day we taught salespeople the objections buyers would probably make and how to overcome objections.

 

Next we saw sales consultants/ consultative selling emerge as product experts who would help buyers understand how their product or service might solve the buyers’ problems. In essence they were sales translators who translated what their products did in a language buyers understood once they found a problem they can solve.

 

Then the internet shifted the power from the salesperson to the buyer. The buyer now can Google almost anything and now has access to the product information keys. We have seen social selling emerge as buyers investigate products and their salespeople with tools like LinkedIn, blogs, online case studies and industry group forums where they openly share poor buying experiences. Buyers are connecting with companies who are seen as thought leaders and they make it their quest to understand buyer problems, criteria and buying processes.

 

I believe the next sales person emerging is  the Servant Salesperson.

 

What are the characteristics of Servant Salespeople?

 

They understand the various buyer personas in their market.

 

They understand why buyers buy and how buyers buy.

 

They understand the buying process and criteria buyers use to buy.

 

They are constantly sensing their market for any changes in how buyers buy.

 

They listen for problems buyers’ share that can be solved by their product or service.

 

They have a continuous improvement approach to both product and sales training.

 

They do online research prior to reaching out to a potential customer.

 

They have large social networks with many customer referrals praising their service.

 

They ask open ended questions to understand buyer problems.

 

They seek first to serve and believe if they solve customer problems income will follow.

 

The days of snake oil salesmen promising their products and services do whatever the buyer needs is over. Buyers are seeking authentic sales servants who seek to win their business by completely solving their problems,providing the best total buying experience, and salespeople who help them buy. Buyers today see a commission junkie coming from a mile away. Aggressive salespeople are blocked and filtered with email, voice mail and gate keepers. Buyers are looking for salespeople who are focused on serving them.

 

What stage of selling is your sales team in today?

 

Would a “servant salesperson” be welcome in your organization? Why or why not?

 

Why wouldn’t a buyer in your industry welcome a “servant salesperson”?

 

Just as we are not designed to be “street legal Christians” buyers today do not want “street legal salespeople” who go through the motions of trying to solve the buyers problems.

Servant Salespeople create sales velocity because they authentically seek to solve buyer problems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Do You Sell a “Post Turtle Buyer”?

if you can sell a post turtle buyer you can sell anyone

if you can sell a post turtle buyer you can sell anyone

 

If you have been in sales for any length of time you have come across many different types of buyers. One of the most difficult buyer types is what I refer to as a “Post Turtle Buyer” as they really do not know what they are doing, do not understand what problem they are trying to solve and often can consume a tremendous amount of time, energy, and often produce little if any results if you do not understand how to work with them. If you have called on, or are calling on a post turtle buyer, this post is for you.

 

So what is a Post Turtle? As the picture implies it’s a turtle on top of a fence post. It did not get up there on its own abilities; someone had to have placed it there. It was elevated beyond its own abilities, function, and talent. It does not know what to do up there and when we see one we often wonder who was the idiot who placed it up there?

 

In a previous post I shared what it is like to call on Parrot Buyers, a buyer who basically is an information gatherer for others in power to make the buying decision. Parrot buyers know their job; they have a process and are very good at researching possible solutions. In the next post I shared how to work with this buyer type to produce golden purchase orders. The post turtle buyer is different, they really do not have any clue what they are doing, and they lack process, criteria, and do not clearly understand the problem they are trying to solve.

 

It was the early 1990’s and I was leading the sales for a company that produced mechanical loss prevention devices designed to reduce theft in music stores. They were/ are  awesome product solutions and not too hard of a sale when you produced an ROI based on reduced in store theft dollars compared to the one time cost of our product. In addition, sales data supported that having your music out “live” on the showroom floor produced much greater sales than what some retailers felt was a better solution which entailed putting the product behind the counter or in glass cases that required a store associate to help you when you wanted to purchase them. A somewhat sizable record chain in the mid west had failed to commit to our products and it was driving my regional manager and independent sales rep crazy, so I flew in to meet the buyer and figure out how we could help him.

 

When I met Kevin he was young, very young actually to have such an important job. As I asked him questions to better understand his experience I found this was his first “real” job. His father owned the music chain. Kevin had tried to find other work since graduating college but only could secure part time jobs in bars and restaurants so his father hired him and put him in a job to “learn the business” . Why my team was so frustrated was;

 

  • We qualified that he had a problem; his theft rate was between 7%-10% based on data their loss prevention manager shared with us.
  • We know based on a history of helping many customers like this one we could cut their shrink ( product stolen) to under 2% ( you will always have some theft from in store personnel that our devices could not control)
  • Our sales manager and representative did a great job of quantifying the problem and using our ROI tool.
  • Our sales team did an excellent job of identifying power in the account; the loss prevention manager, the owner, and the merchandising manager who all had a strong influence in the final purchase
  • Our team did an excellent job of positioning why our product that had the ability to store a loss prevention sicker tag inside our device so it could be reused and not accessible to consumers was a measurable value unlike our competitor’s  product.
  • We produced a list of happy other music stores with phone numbers ( we did not have email back then) , some of which were much bigger chains than than this one, raving fans if you will

 

So what did we do wrong?… and what are we going to do to win this order?

 

What our team failed to identify early on was we were dealing with a “post turtle buyer”. They were treating Kevin like he was a very skilled purchasing agent like we typically serve and in reality Kevin did not know what he was doing, and was so afraid of making a mistake he was paralyzed. He had gathered so much information that the more he gathered the more paralyzed he became.

 

Once I identified the real “why” we had not received the purchase order we developed a plan to win the order…solve their problem….and that became our focus.

 

So how do you sell a “Post Turtle Buyer”?

 

  • teach them their job
  • share industry best practices from others doing the same job
  • find them an industry mentor, someone in the same position who knows what they are doing and can answer questions
  • put a cost on doing nothing
  • share cost of doing nothing, ideally by the week , with all power influencers
  • position buyer for a win inside their organization to build confidence
  • teach don’t tell
  • serve don’t sell
  • be open, no question is a dumb question if it stands between you and a PO
  • build a buying road map for buyer to follow with timelines and expectations in each step
  • find the buyer’s  individual, personal pain , and solve it
  • speak to that pain and how you will make it go away in each follow up call and tie it to the daily, weekly cost of doing nothing

 

Within 30 days we received a large purchase order from Kevin. We took Kevin under our wing and we basically trained him. What was Kevin’s individual pain? Like many children working for a dominant successful business leader/ business founder like their dad, what he really wanted and needed was his dad’s respect and the respect of others in the organization. Those were hard if not impossible shoes to fill. His concern of failing his dad was more paralyzing than the pile of manila folders on his desk with the product data he gathered. We positioned him, allowed him, and enabled him to win. We did not need the “credit” for solving the problem because our focus was winning the PO.

 

Do you have any Post Turtle Buyers?

 

What techniques have you used to get them off center and to buy?

 

Is a current sale you expected being held up under the shell of a Post Turtle Buyer?

 

One of the huge benefits of selling a post turtle buyer is it makes you and your organization better. If you really want to understand something try teaching it. When you must teach something you are forced to dive even deeper into the buying process, industry standard buying criteria and clearly understand why and how buyers buy. Once you can sell a post turtle buyer you can sell anyone.

 

 

Sales Tool Helps Buyer Parrots Lay Golden Purchase Orders in Your Hands

golden egg hand

 

In a recent post about are your salespeople calling on power or parrots I shared how your sales success or failure may be in the hands of the parrot buyer’s ability to present and sell your solution to decision makers and influencers within their organization. Time and time again a salesperson reports back after “good meeting’s” that they will win the purchase order. Weeks turn to months and the buyer has gone dark. What is happening with the order we expected? What can we do to shorten this sales cycle? What can we do to insure we win the order? In this post I will share one technique to help you, help parrot buyers lay golden PO’s in your hands.

 

Buyers today are doing a tremendous amount or research on the internet. It is estimated that as much as 60%-80% of the sales process is over before the buyer contacts your salesperson. Now more than ever we must find ways to help our buyers buy. Often buyers are actually trained buyer parrots that accumulate and repeat information they have heard to key decision makers and influencers in their organizations who have the power to buy. Here’s the problem; do you want your sales results, your team’s ability to achieve your sales growth targets, your income at the fate of a buyer’s ability to present and sell your product and or service? Ya…I didn’t think so.

 

How can we equip and empower buyers to effectively present and sell our products and services to decision makers who have the ability and power to approve purchase orders?

 

One technique I have used in a number of industries is to provide the buyer a presentation slide deck that speaks to the specific buyer persona’s of those who do have the power to approve the purchase. So what is a buyer persona? Per one of the leading thought leaders in buyer persona’s Adel Revella;

 

“Buyer personas are examples of the real buyers who influence or make decisions about the products, services or solutions you market. They are a tool that builds confidence in  strategies to persuade buyers to choose you rather than a competitor or the status quo… insightful buyer personas readily inform strategies for persuasive messaging, content marketing, product or solution launches, campaigns and sales alignment.”

 

If you want to learn more about buyer personas I recommend you download and read; The Buyer Persona Manifesto.

 

In one company we found we were presenting buyers and those buyers had to gain the approval of the; CFO, CEO, COO, and Engineering. We spent some time interviewing these key decision makers and identified what was important to each, the criteria they used to make decisions, and what they needed from us to make those decisions. For example;

 

CFO– they made decisions based on number, return on investment, mitigating risk for the least cost, insuring the investment supports the strategic vision of the organization. They hope and plan to be CEO one day. They want to make smart business decisions that demonstrate their ability to move into this job when the time is right. They want to avoid decisions that jeopardize or could limit their plan.

 

CEO– frequently from an accounting and finance background with strong understanding of operations. Sets the vision and is constantly looking for anything that could be a roadblock in achieving that vision. Responsible to shareholders, often the owner, they are about growing the company profitably and investing in equipment and services that support that growth.

 

COO – operations focused, key words; efficiency, production, productivity. Often grew up through the manufacturing ranks as plant manager, may have had some purchasing and quality control experience. Focus is on meeting the needs sales has sold as effectively and efficiently as possible. In this example we kept hearing the desire to reduce manufacturing variance.

 

Engineering– They have a laser like focus, all data no emotion to solving the problem to be solved with this purchase. Needs to make sure you clearly understand the problem they are solving. They not only need to see and hear your solution but also see the information and decision process you used to make this recommendation. They want information and ideally open communication with your engineers to have the ability to speak with someone highly educated like themselves and not someone trying to sell them.

 

 

Based on the above we created a slide deck of 10-12 slides. The first two slides were basically a requirements summary sharing our understanding of the problem to be solved. The rest of the slides provided what each key decision maker with power needed to commit to purchase. In addition to the slides we provided an appendix that included product data sheets, engineering drawings, key content web links, engineer contact information within our team, and a deep dive in data should an engineer wish this information. For example, we provided a ROI on the product and shared expected returns. We provided testimonials from other well known companies in the same industry. We established a cost on doing nothing and a weekly cost of not purchasing. The last slides clearly mapped out the steps and expectations of how to commit, what they should expect when. Ideally we always asked to present these slides in person, via web conference, but worst case we have now equipped the buyer with a sales tool to gain funding to support the purchase.

 

What will surprise you most is we did not talk a great deal about us, if all as much as the problems we solve, who we have solved them for and provided what we have learned others have needed to make informed buying decisions.

 

How about your company….

 

Do you provide tools to help buyers sell your solution internally? Or do you count on your brochures to do that?

Do you understand who the power decision makers are in the buying journey your customers go through? If so who are they in your industry?

 

What tool(s) have you created to help educate and inform key influencers in the buying decision?

 

While the statistics show buyers and influencers feel 97% of their interactions with possible vendors are not worthwhile, isn’t it time your company becomes one of the rare 3% who proactively provides useful, relevant , insightful information in a way and language your influencers need to lay golden purchase orders in your hands?