Is Your Team Using An Out Dated Sales Process?…answer A Few Short Questions To Find Out

Is Your Team Using an Out Dated Sales Process?…answer a few short questions to find out

 

 

Many sales teams will have a sales problem this year. They will fail to achieve their sales and profit goals. Is it a sales team motivation issue? Compensation issue? Sales is not working hard enough?…Maybe… but from what I have experienced in most cases sales teams are failing to hit their goals because they are using an out  dated sales process. They are working hard (probably harder and longer than ever before) to execute an out dated sales process that no longer works with how your buyers buy today.In this post I help business leaders quickly determine if they have a dated sales process so you have time to adjust.

 

Everyday salespeople are hitting the streets working hard to achieve their sales goals with the tools and training they were given. Some will hit their goals and have a great year but unfortunately most will not. For those who fail to achieve their sales targets they are often resorting to what I refer to as “Bare Knuckle Selling” . They don’t understand what their buyers want , what criteria buyers are using today, and they do not know the buyer’s buying process. They resort to old out dated sales processes and they will have sales problems this year too if things don’t change quickly. For your sales team members it feels like they are pushing mud uphill and not making any progress.They are doing what they were told to do, using the tools and training they were given but nothing seems to work.

 

In this post I offer 15 questions for business leaders to help you determine if your team is using a dated sales process and what to do if you need to update it.

 

Let’s agree the buying process our buyers’ use has changed significantly in the past 5-10 years and continues to adjust and evolve. If you believe your buyers have not changed how they buy, they are not needing new criteria and there are not more people involved in the buying decision, and your buyers are not doing research online before they buy…you are wrong.( sorry)  It is like your salespeople are playing darts blindfolded. Once in a while a dart may hit the target, but most of their attempts fail to achieve sales velocity. They resort to selling on price and we all know the impact that has on your margins.

 

Sales and marketing teams who recognize strategic shifts in the buying journey and adjust increase sales profitably.

 

Unfortunately most sales teams either lack a sales process or  they are executing an out  dated sales process and they will experience sales problems this year. The severity of the sales problem you will experience is directly related to how far your sales process is disconnected to how buyers are buying today. Luckily most companies just need to make a few minor tweaks to their sales process and build a few new sales tools. However some teams struggle needlessly each year and are selling like their company did 20 years ago.

 

A friend who owns a manufacturing business asked me out to dinner and shared the following :

 

“What keeps me up at night is wondering…will we have a good sales year this year? How can I be sure? As you know I am not a sales guy, my experience is in  in operations and finance. My team assures me this will be our “best year ever” but how can I know for sure? (They told me the same thing last year and we missed our financial metrics significantly). What bothers me most is ….are there any better ways, strategies our team should be using to insure we meet our plan this year? I wish sales was more logical like operations, more of a scienceOur top competitor grew last year and we did not. My gut says there has to be better and smarter ways are out there. Sales should not be so variable, so hit or miss. I can’t have another year with our investors where we find out third quarter our plan did not work.”

 

I asked a question:

 

When was the lat time you and your sales team reviewed your repeatable sales process?

 

If you are like most teams you either lack a formal repeatable sales process or the one you are using is out dated.

 

It sounds like the selling process your team is using feels more like an art than a science?

 

“How can I know if we have an out dated sales process?”

 

Answer a few questions for me…

 

  1. What events trigger your buyers to shop today? Please list at least two.

 

  1. Where do your buyers go when they are looking for a new supplier, new product to solve a problem?

 

  1. When buyers in your industry shop what criteria do they use to make their buying decisions? List and rank the top three.

 

  1. How many people at your ideal customers are involved in the buying decision today? List at least 4 and what each needs.

 

  1. What sales tools, process and or content did sales use to open your last three new accounts? List three.

 

  1. List at least 3 urgent buyer problems your product or service solves for buyers in your industry.

 

  1. What % of the buying journey is done online prior to your fist meeting with a new customer?

 

  1. Why do your current buyers buy from you?

 

  1. In the last 10 quotes that did not buy from you? What were the top three reasons?

 

  1. What is your product’s value proposition that resonates most with your buyers today? Explain the specific financial impact to their business.

 

  1. Who are your top three competitors? what are their value propositions?

 

  1. When buyers choose one of your competitors over your company what is the reason specific to each competitor? List two per competitor.

 

  1. When a new buyer contacts your company, how (what process) and where did they find your company?

 

  1. When a possible net new customer visits your website, where do they spend the most time and what content bought them to your site?

 

  1. Can you describe your top 4 buyer personas? What are they and what does each need to make a buying decision today?

 

We went through the questions and for many he assured me “someone” on his team knew the answers but I could tell he felt uneasy.He asked if I wouldn’t mind emailing these questions and he would ask them at his Monday senior leadership team meeting. I shared how I used to qualify and coach new clients with these questions to help me know where to help most.

 

He suggested I should share our conversation on my blog to help others who may be thinking and feeling the same way as him, which prompted this post.

 

Below are some guidelines for you to consider based on how your team answers these questions and what the probability is your will hit your sales goals this year.

 

If your sales and marketing teams could quickly and confidently answer 13-15 of the questions…congratulations! Your team is in the top 10% of sales and marketing teams. You know your markets and buyers intimately. You know your buyers’ key criteria and the buying journey they take to purchase products. The plan you have should be market focused and customer centric and you will, if your team executes the plan and uses your sales process and sales tools at the right time in the buying process, have a good sales year.

 

If your sales and marketing teams could quickly and confidently only answer 10-12 of the questions… your team is doing good and with some voice of the customer work and a few win-loss calls your team can be a top performing sales team in your industry. You need to do some research over the next 30-60 days and adjust your plan, sales process, create new sales tools and train your teams how and when to use them. You could still have a very strong sales and profit year.

 

If your sales and marketing teams could quickly and confidently only answer 7-9 of the questions… your team has been experiencing some sales and profit challenges over the past few years. You have seen your sales success be highly dependent upon the purchases from large customers your team has sold for 10+ years but you have not been successful at opening net new customers in your markets. You have seen your gross profit margins erode at your large accounts over the last 5 years and if you Google problems your company solves you may not be found in the first two pages of a search. If your customers have a good sales year your team should have an OK sales year, but your bottom line may see some continued erosion like the last few years. Your team will continue to work on operational efficiencies as in the past but they will not contribute as much this year. You have a outdated sales process and you need to update it quickly. You need to do voice of the customer research quickly and map the current buying journey your buyers go through and create a new sales process that mirrors what your buyers want and need today. If you do this quickly your team could have a good sales year.

 

 

If you and your sales and marketing teams could quickly and confidently only answer 6 or less of the questions… Your team will have a sales problem this year and will not hit sales plan and significantly miss your net income target. Sales are flat if not declining for the past few years. Your top sales and marketing leaders may have said when asked about the poor performance:“ our markets are down and we are waiting for the business to return to normal again.” I am sorry to be the one to tell you this is the new normal and you must adjust, you and your team must adapt and quick. Like a ship at sea with a strong wind but no rudder to strategically steer your sales and marketing teams, sales feels more like an art than a science. Your senior leaders meetings are not fun and your company owners and or investors are looking to make changes if the performance does not improve. You will miss plan this year and you will likely see some of your key sales team contributors “just leave” to the surprise of the rest of your team. You will see at least one maybe two of your top customers fade away in the next 12-18 months. You need to quickly do voice of the customer market work, win-loss work and develop a new strategy and new sales process with the right tools at the right times for your buyers or you will have a big sales problem.(again)

 

I was happy to hear in a voice mail message my friend’s team could answer 11 of the above questions. He went on to share what bothered him though was how long it took some of his team to answer these questions.I shared if your team needs hours/days/weeks to answer these questions, they are probably tracking dated performance indicators and not the right KPI’s that drive success today and he may want to adjust what they report on each Monday.

 

How would your team answer the above questions?

 

Are the answers based on current market conditions or “ the way we have always done things around here”?

 

Can your sales and marketing leaders quickly answer these questions or do they need to do some homework?

 

I hope this post helped you do a gut check with your sales and marketing teams to see just how much they know about your markets, buyers, and the buying process your buyers are using today.

 

In my next post I will share how market-leading teams are constantly sensing for shifts in how their buyers buy and the criteria they use to buy, and they adapt.

 

One strategy market leading organizations are using to adapt, align and improve their sales is Sales Enablement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who Owns the Voice of Your Market and Voice of Your Customer? ..Hint (not sales!)

 

In my last few posts I have been sharing the power of capturing the voice of your customers and voice of your markets. Understanding how your buyers buy today, the journey they take and the criteria they must have is the quickest way to increasing sales. Who should own the voice of the market and customer? The answer may surprise you: Not Sales! In this post I will share who should own the voice of the customer and share a short video on the impact this information will have.

Who owns the voice of the market, voice of the customer in your company?

Before we unpack this topic we need to understand the differences between the voice of the customer (VoC) and the voice of the market (VoM).

Voice of the Customer

“Voice of the Customer (VoC) is a marketing research technique that encompasses the collective insights of your customers’ needs, wants, perceptions, preferences and expectations.”

Iperceptions

 

Voice of Market

Voice of the Market (VOM) is different in that it incorporates input from the greater market. The market contains not only your customers, but also those who chose not to buy your solution – those who bought someone else’s product and those who just didn’t make a decision.”

On Product Management 

 

 

Capturing the voice of your customer (VOC) is critical to providing your customers the best overall buying experience and growing sales profitably. I also use the voice of the customer to help me understand how customers describe the problems my clients solve in similar markets. The Voice of the market is even more powerful because it not only captures your customer, but it also captures prospects in your market you want to serve as well as customers you once sold. The voice of the Market ( VOM) helps you scale your solutions to unresolved market problems to new customers in the markets you serve.

 

Who owns the voice of the market and customer?

 

Marketing!

 

Why?

 

A few reasons I have experienced over the years:

 

First, you want sales selling. I don’t mean to sound trite but this is about focus. You want your sales resources selling and not conducting market research. You do not want them doing any behaviors that do not align with their specific objectives and hitting their sales numbers. They need to be driving to serve their customers and solve their unresolved problems.

 

“Diluted Sales focus causes diluted sales results.”

– Mark Allen Roberts

 

Second, you want unfiltered feedback from your customers and markets. What if the reason why buyers don’t buy is the most common reason: the buyer-felt sales did not adequately understand the problem to be solved so they did not trust their proposal to fix the problem. Will sales tell you that? Maybe but it would be a difficult thing to share. For example, what if “the why “your customers do not buy more is they were unaware of the new products you introduced over a year ago?

 

Third, your customers have a relationship with your salesperson. It would be very difficult and uncomfortable for them to share concerns directly with the salesperson that calls on them. However your customers will share feedback if asked correctly to give them a better overall buying experience.

 

Forth, your salespeople are trained to sell. Great right? Not when it comes to understanding your buyers and how they buy. Your sales people may hear something then start selling instead of actively listening and capturing the entire thought. The quickest way to shut down a good voice of customer, voice of market conversation is to try to sell through objections the buyers shares.

 

Marketing owns the voice of the market and voice of the customer.

 

If you are like a number of companies you may not have marketing team members experienced conducting interviews. If that is the case I highly recommend you hire a 3rd party to interview your customers and markets. This is by far the best method of gathering what your buyers need and how they buy today. The outside 3rd party will interview your customers, customers you lost, and prospects you always wanted to be customers. Another approach would be to have a senior member of the leadership team conduct these interviews. As VP of sales and marketing I would often conduct this research.

 

The only companies you  should never interview are new companies who are currently at some stage of the sales process. You do not want anything to interrupt the flow of the sale through the funnel. I have seen companies inexperienced with this process call prospects they are quoting in an effort to help close the sale faster and lose the sale entirely.

 

Make sure when working with a 3rd party you are clear about the deliverables.

 

Possible market work deliverables include:

  • Present raw data
  • Map buying journey
  • Identify buyer personas
  • Prepare a summary report / Identify shifts and trends
  • Prepare a summary report and recommendations based on the raw data

 

When I conduct customer and market voice research I present a summary report and recommendations for a specific project fee based on the number of people interviewed, the time to accomplish the project, and how the customers and markets are interviewed. Some clients ask I personally meet with 2-5 of their customers so the cost is higher than a phone interview due to travel expenses.

 

I feel I need to warn you at this point: In this capturing voice process you will hear a number of great things, things that will make you proud of your team. You will probably also hear things your customers believe to be true (their perceptions) that may or many not be true. Keep in mind your customer’s perception is their reality and that is what you must use in your strategic adjustments.

 

After the market work your team will be nervous. Sales, marketing, operations and even quality will be nervous about what your customers and markets share. As the leader in the organization you must set the stage for this exercise. When I work with teams I have four meetings:

 

  • Project launch meeting with senior management team – I share what we will be doing, how we will do it, who we need to speak with and what some outcomes may be. I emphasize this is not a witch-hunt, but an opportunity to learn how to make strategic adjustments that insures we all hit our numbers. This meeting is about education and expectations

 

  • CEO/President/VP of marketing/VP of sales – In this meeting I share my summary report and some specific customer interviews with raw data and recommendations, adjustments to sales process and needed new sales tools. This meeting is about understanding opportunities not finding a throat to choke. We decide what we will share with team and in what depth.

 

  • Senior leadership team – present summary of finds and recommendations without specific customer interviews. I ask the CEO and other leaders to prioritize the action items and commit to investment if required in this meeting. This meeting is about gaining team understanding and commitment tied to outcomes and shaping a plan to meet what buyers need today.

 

  • Sales VP, Marketing VP, sales and marketing teams– present findings and design a new sales process and list new sales tools needed. Conduct 3-4 sales trainings over 6-8 months and provide coaching as needed. This first meeting is about applying the work your team has committed to do and reinforcing new behaviors. This is a great team building exercise to tear down any silos that have developed over the years. Following trainings are to reinforce new behaviors and coach team members through any difficulties they are experiencing.

 

The number and severity of the adjustments needed will depend upon the market and customer feedback as well as the senior management team’s prioritization; most teams learn a few opportunities, misperceptions of customers and make 2-5 strategic adjustments and add new sales tools. It is not unusual teams create a project roadmap with phase gates to tackle findings. You can have a senior manager lead the project internally or I have been hired to hold team members accountable to their assigned deliverables.

 

Once your team understands the voice of your market and voice of your customers you have the foundation for a strong plan to hit your sales and profit numbers.

 

Does your team understand the voice of the customer?

 

Does your team clearly understand the voice of your market (s)?

 

Who owns the voice of the customer and market in your organization?

 

When was the last time you gathered this information?

 

Are you sure your brand is in sync with your customer expectations?

 

How often do you feel you need to gather this information?

 

Market leading organizations achieve their sales and profit goals on a consistent basis.

They accomplish this by spending time understanding how buyers buy, what they need to buy, and why they don’t buy.

 

They take current market data and adjust their plans to better serve their current buyers and markets.

 

Would your team like to realize a 10X sales increase over the next 6 -8 years, and or a $38 million sales increase in 18 months like the companies I have shared recently? If so, it involves capturing the voice of your customers and voice of your markets which is a key part of the no smoke and mirrors process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stalled Sale? … Put a Price Tag on Doing Nothing

Stalled Sale? … Put a Price Tag on Doing Nothing


When I train sales teams one of the common questions is; “How do I fix the problem of the stalled sale?” Sales stall and buyers go dark for a number of reasons. I have heard numbers as high as 30%-50% of pending sales in pipelines will stall and possibly never happen. One technique that gets the sale back on track to close is assigning a price of doing nothing and reinforcing it with your buyer(s).

If you have been in sales for any length of time you have experienced the stalled sale. You set out on a journey with your buyer.You had a great meeting with the buyer and influencers, you presented your solution to the identified problems, you had all the buying signals, and the buyer indicated you will get his business but then the sale seems to stall. Key buyer deliverables are missed, your follow up voice and emails are not returned and unfortunately you have probably shared your anticipated new sale you thought was in the bag with your manager who is now driving you nuts with “where’s the order?” This buyer journey now seems to have stopped or maybe just stalled. What should we do now?

Buyers always have choices;

  • Buy from you
  • Buy from your competitor
  • Try to make do and fix it themselves
  • Do nothing

How do you fix stalled sales and drive them to a close?

Once you have diagnosed and prioritized buyer pain you must assign a value on the buyer doing nothing.

Assuming you have listened and now clearly understand the problem the buyer is trying to solve, what is the cost of doing nothing? For example, let’s say you are selling industrial equipment that is more efficient and saves energy. Very quickly you can assign a weekly dollar value of not making a decision and not fixing the problem. Once you identify that cost in dollars, energy inefficiency, or other measurements share that information with your buyer(s) and all sale influencers. In this same example you may also identify the cost of lost production if the current equipment fails. When you first determined the requirements for the buyer and his team, you should already have identified these pain points, their assigned threshold and value. For example, if a CEO is involved they are focused on driving revenues, bottom line profits and eliminating any risk that stands in the way of executing their vision. They know what a lost order is worth. The CFO knows what their overall energy consumption is and you can identify how your product can reduce this cost and by how much. CFO’s struggle with manufacturing variances and the real dollars associated with them.

Your follow up communications will take the tone of wanting prevent the pain we identified early and reduce or eliminate that pain’s associated cost as quick as possible as opposed to a acting like a typical commission junkie needing a fix.  Your communication becomes about wanting to serve your client, and they are about your client and not about what you want. (The sale)

What are your buyer’s pains?

What is the cost of your buyer doing nothing?

Are there buyer pains that cannot have a cost of doing nothing associated with them?

Has your team used this technique? If so please share how it worked.

The stalled sale can be very frustrating and the longer the sale lags the higher your chances are of losing the sale. A phrase I share with a number of teams is “time kills sales deals” and I have personally experienced this to be true. Our job as salespeople is to clearly understand the problem, its pain, and assign a cost if the buyer does nothing.

How to Sell “Cautiously Optimistic Buyers”- Diagnose and Prioritize Buyer Pain

How to Sell “Cautiously Optimistic Buyers”- Diagnose and Prioritize Buyer Pain

One shift in buyers that has emerged as our economy begins to rebound is the “Cautiously Optimistic Buyer”. The good news is buyers are searching for solutions to problems they are having or plan to have. The bad news is this “cautiously optimistic buyer “has a different buying process and criteria than buyers of the past. Market leading salespeople diagnose and prioritize buyer(s) pain to close the cautiously optimistic buyer.

If you are trying to help salespeople close orders you probably have heard; “ my buyer is cautiously optimistic” as a response to the status of a pending sales opportunity ( and why the sale you thought you had has not closed yet). I have heard this phrase so often I wanted to share what it means and how salespeople must adapt to this buyer.

Before we can unpack this buyer and how to insure they purchase what they need from you, we need to understand what is meant by the phrase; “cautiously optimistic” I found an interesting quote at The Phrase Finder.

“I believe things will turn out well, so I want credit for having the wisdom to predict it. But I don’t have the courage to say so out loud, so if everything falls apart, I want credit for having the wisdom to be cautious.”

To paraphrase what I have been personally hearing…” I know I have a problem that needs to be solved, it has needed solved for some time but the economy was so bad I did not have budget approval, or the nerve to ask for one. However now the pain of this lingering problem is so great and it feels like the economy is turning around I must find a solution, but I must do so with the least amount of risk to my company ( me) while also being able to defend what I purchase incase I am challenged at a later date.”

So how do we successfully close a cautiously optimistic buyer?

The keys to closing this type of buyer are to;

*Ask open ended questions until you clearly understand the pain points of your buyer and all of those in the buying decision

*Prioritize pain points and rank by decision maker power

*Provide a summary of the problem to be solved, all the buying criteria and requirements shared to insure you did not miss any

*All follow up communications will speak to solving pain

*Proactively provide buyer(s) with information to defend their buying decision if challenged

As I have discussed in previous posts the buying environment has changed and market leading companies must sense the changed and adapt their sales process to insure they achieve sales objectives. If you ask salespeople why a sale they projected to close did not close you often hear; our price was too high. However if you ask buyers as I have, the number one reason the buyer did not buy was not price. The leading reason buyers do not buy is they feel the salesperson did not understand the problem to be solved completely and therefore they do not trust the solution the salesperson is proposing will make their pain (or threat of future pain) go away.

Have you experienced the cautiously optimistic buyer?

What changes have you made to your sales process to sell this buyer?

Are your salespeople finding the sales process has become longer or shorter?

New Year’s Resolution ; Stop the “Sales Insanity”

It’s that time of year we make New Year’s resolutions. We set goals in our personal lives and for our businesses. Bloggers are discussing resolutions for your business like increasing profitability, firing bad customers, listening to customers, as well as unselfishly making your team better.

Another article I found particularly useful advice for business leaders is Harvey Mackay’s  about setting realistic benchmarks. In this article he highlights fundamentals we need to consider before setting goals like;

Know what you really want

 

Know your motivation

 

Zero in; focus on one or two where you can make the most improvements

 

Take risks…great quote: “ you will never stub your toe if you walk backward

 

Involve those around you

 

In the spirit of “Zeroing In” I recommend stopping the “sales insanity”, and define a sales process that works for your market of today. Let’s face it; the way buyers are buying today has changed from this time a year ago. We see buyers;

Taking longer to make buying decisions

 

Involving more people in the buying decision

 

Buying Needs not Wants

 

Stronger focus on ROI

 

The Role the internet is playing in the information gathering

 

The role the internet plays in the beginning of the trust building process

What most businesses choose to do is increase their sales goals and tell their sales teams to “just make it happen”….this is insane!

Stop the insanity and develop a sales process based on how your buyers are buying today and you will realize the revenue increases and increased shareholder value.

Or, go ahead and make Einstein turnover in his grave by; doing more of what you are already doing that didn’t work in 2010, and expect different results in 2011.

 

Does your team have a defined repeatable sales process? (are you sure?)

 

Do you know why buyers buy from you? …Why they don’t?

 

Have you changed your sales process in the last six months? (if not it’s broken, and you are losing sales you should be winning)

 

Is your team’s lack of market knowledge showing in your sales?

 

What new buying criteria is your team experiencing in the market today?

 

Make understanding how your buyers buy and equipping your sales team with a sales process and complementary tools in 2011 a New Year’s resolution you keep in 2011.

And remember… “it’s not about how you want to sell, but helping your buyers buy , the way they want to buy”  ( nosmoke-ism)

Do You Have a Repeatable Sales Process? …Are You sure?

Do You Have a Repeatable Sales Process? …Are You sure?

Market leaders understand the importance of having a defined, repeatable sales process. They clearly define the steps of the sales funnel and closely monitor the transitions from one step to the next. They are constantly assessing the process to make sure it is in alignment with how buyers want to buy. If you find a sticking point, a common point in the sales process that stales get stuck or goes dark, then you have defined the need for new sales tools to keep the conversation moving to a close. Have you prepared your sales team to hit that goal you just gave them?

So let me ask again; Do You Have a Repeatable Sales Process? …Are You sure?

If you were to meet with your most recent salesperson to join your team  are they able to clearly articulate the sales process? Will the process they share be the same process your top gun salesperson uses to consistently exceed their goals?

When is the last time you changed your sales process?

Do you believe your buyers buying process and criteria have changed in the last 6-8 months?

What are some of the big changes you have seen to how your buyers buy?

What new tools has your team developed to meet changes in how your buyers buy?

Taking the time to clearly understand how your buyers buy and the criteria they use today to make buying decisions empowers you with valuable information to close more sales.

Sensing shifts in how your buyers buy before your competition results in your product or service being the perfect solution for your buyer’s problem.

Customers Are Not Your Best Source of Information To Grow Your Sales?

When companies desire to grow their sales they often reach out to their customers to find what they could be doing to grow their business. The trouble is your customers already have a relationship with you. They heard and understood your value proposition enough to buy from you. You need to speak with them; however you must also meet with those who did not buy from you.

If you really want to grow your sales you must speak with potential customers and those your team has quoted. Since they never bought from you they are more likely to not overlook your clunky web site navigation or your salespeople who showed up and threw up without ever understanding the problems the buyer needed solved. They may tell you your brochure is a great explanation of who you are, but fails to tell the buyer the problems you solve for them.

Look at this another way…of the conversations your salespeople have each day…which is greater …the people who say yes…or the people who say no? Let’s say your salespeople close 15% of leads. Doesn’t it make sense to have a focused understanding of why the majority of the people your salespeople speak with say no? As well as what you need to do to help them say yes? Chances are your current customers have the same issues and your overall buying experience and customer satisfaction will improve by adding those who do not buy when you do your market intelligence.

Who does your team speak with when they want updated market info? Just your customers?

Who does the interviewing?

Why or why not should salespeople do the interviewing?

Have you used this process? If so please share what you learned?

Why Do Buyers Buy From Your Team? …Why Don’t Buyers Buy From You?

One of the quickest ways to get your sales back on track to building sales velocity is to understand why your current customers buy from you and why some buyers do not. It sounds like a simple question, but it is critical to gain this understanding to position your sales team for repeatable profitable growth.

Do you know why your buyers are buying from you today?

Do you know why some buyers you have quoted do not buy from you?


Chances are the buying process and criteria your buyers are using to make purchasing decisions have changed over the last six to eight months.

Once you identify why buyers today are buying or not buying from your team you can build the sales tools necessary to keep sales conversations moving to a close.

Are Your Salespeople Afraid of the Dark?…Look For the Signs

If you have been in sales, led salespeople you know what it’s like when a sale “goes dark”. You had a “great meeting” , you listened, and you felt you heard the buyer’s pain, you followed up with a proposal that shares how your product or service solves their pain….and then nothing. A day turns into a week, a week a month and your buyer goes dark not answering your voice mails, emails, faxes, and so on.

To make maters more stressful the salesperson shared how they felt they finally closed “XYZ “and all of senior management is now waiting for the order.( and asking for what seems like hourly updates as to when it will come in)

What are your buyers doing when they go dark…does your team know? If not what you will experience as signs your salespeople are afraid of the dark include;

  • end of sales period price discounts

 

  • change in agreed payment terms

 

  • change in standard shipment terms

 

  • free products and or services added to “close the sale

The most common cause of salespeople becoming afraid of the dark is a shift in the way your buyers are buying. Your current sales process lacks a clear understanding of the buying process and you require new sales tools to keep the conversation moving to a close.

Reminder, it’s not about how you want to sell, but helping your buyers buy …the way they want to buy!

 

 

How about your organization……

 

Is your sales team afraid of the dark?

Do you have one or two salespeople who seem more afraid than others?

Do you hear about a number of good meetings that never result in an order?

Market leading organizations are constantly in their markets and adjusting to shifts in the way their buyers are buying.

Get Your Sales Team in Shape For Profitable Sales Growth

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Are your salespeople prepared to win in the market they face today? Are you sure? Market leaders are taking the time to clearly understand their markets, their problems, buyers, and buying process to make purchases. Market losers plan to work harder, doing more of what they have been doing that did not produce results. Losers believe it’s just an “execution problem” a “motivation problem” so they plan to “manage” their sales team’s activities even closer. Market leaders are getting their teams in shape for the market of today.

In March of 2009 I decided I needed to get in shape. Years of traveling two to three nights per week, poor food choices and lack of exercise and I found me in the worst shape I have ever been in. It was not something that happened over night, but over a long period of lack of focus. So the first thing I did was get moving. I started working out like a maniac. I took spin classes at 4:00 am and then I would lift weights and end my workouts on the elliptical machines. This went on for months, and although I did have more energy, I was not losing weight.

More Activity alone was not producing my desired results.

So I attacked this like a business problem; I started doing research. I found that I fell into the same trap many people assume when trying to get healthy; activity drives healthy results. Therefore we assume more activity should produce even more desired results right? Wrong! The more I read I learned that 65% of your health is determined by the food you consume (inputs) and 35% is activity (execution).

I was focused on activity with little attention to what I was consuming, what was going into my body. I found with the right focus on inputs, you don’t need to have 2-2 ½ hour workouts. A strong workout of 40-60 minutes produced greater results. Within twelve months I lost 80 pounds, became healthier, and I now have more energy and more time.

I find many businesses try to fix unhealthy sales results by demanding more activity without focus on key inputs.(strategy)

 

Managers quickly direct their sales teams to more activity although the current activity is not driving the desired results. (Einstein’s definition of insanity)

Just as there is a proven formula for creating a healthy body, I have found a similar model to create healthy sales teams that drives profitable sales growth.

65% of your profitable sales performance is driven by strategy (inputs)

 

35% of your profitable sales performance is the result of sales team execution (execution)

 

(Ironic most of us have this backwards…)

 

 

 

Strategy

 

To insure your salespeople are equipped to be effective and efficient in the market of today you must have a clear understanding of your market, market problems of today, and map how your buyers buy today. These inputs will strengthen the core of your sales team performance with a power that the majority of your competitors do not have.

So how do you get started?

Get out in the market

 

Ask open-ended questions

 

Meet with customers and those who you did not sell

 

Identify the problems they face today

 

Equip sales with a value proposition that resonate with buyer needs of today

 

Map the buying process buyer’s use

 

Create a sales process that mirrors how your buyers are buying today

 

Develop sales tools for areas in the buying process where the sale grows dark and stalls

 

Constantly review the buying process and adjust your sales process, add tools as needed

 

 

 

Activity

 

Once you clearly understand how your buyers are buying, how they are making buying decisions today, equip your sales team with a new sales process and tools. Manage their activity using the sales process that mirrors how buyers want to buy.

“Your focus must be on how your buyers want to buy and not on how you want to sell.”

 

How do we execute new sales process?

Share the buying processes you discovered with salespeople

 

Train your sales team with the sales process you developed to serve how your buyers are buying

 

Teach your salespeople how to, and when to, use the new sales tools you created

 

Create sales tools that share the problems you solve in the markets voice

 

Create key performance indicators that measure key steps in the sales process

 

Constantly assess your new defined sales process for areas the sale seems to go dark

 

Lead your sales team by managing sales opportunities through the defined sales process steps

 

Identify salespeople who may need additional, individualized training, or may not be embracing new process

 

The core strength of your sales team’s performance is based on clearly understanding your market…stay close to buyers

 

 

Applying a sales process that supports how your buyers want to buy will produce healthily results in sales revenues and profits.

 

“If you have not changed your sales process in the last 6 months it’s broken.”

 

“If you have not produced new sales tools in the last three months, you are losing sales you could be winning.”

 

 

 

How about your team?

Do you clearly understand the problems your buyers are facing today?

How are your buyers buying today?

How do your buyers shop today?

Who is involved in the buying decision, and what additional information do they require?

 What problem does your product or service solve for your market?

 

Market leading sales teams understand their buyers, buying criteria, and how they want to buy. They design sales processes that mirror how buyers want to buy and they equip their sales teams with sales tools to help buyers buy.