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Category Archives for Sales and Marketing Management

Yes, sales pitches can be soooo boring!

Peter, I have been thinking.

Waw, boss, you want me to set up a press conference?

What?

Well, this is big news, you thinking. I am sure you want the world to know.

Very funny, Peter.

You sort of asked for it, Boss. Now, what is it you were thinking?

What is the hardest part of being a sales person?

Well, you know, the constant pressure to make the numbers, boss.

I understand that, Peter, but I was more thinking of what is the most difficult thing for a sales person to do?

Well, if you put it like that, I would say be optimistic all the time, you know, act the can do show all the time. Sometimes, I really hate my job.

Interesting comment, Peter. And probably honest.

Life can be tough sometimes, boss. Now, what do you think is the most difficult thing about selling, boss?

Thanks for asking, Peter. I think listening is the hardest part.

Listening?

Yep. You can’t sell without really listening to your customer.

That’s what you always tell me.

I have come to the conclusion that listening is extremely difficult.

Waw, you really have been thinking, boss.

I quite often catch myself not listening at all. I act as if I am listening, nodding, rephrasing, taking notes, that is what I do, but really listening? Taking in the words, reading the behaviour, understanding what a customer is really saying? Looking for the need behind the need? Scratching the surface, peeling the onion?

Well, we usually know what they are going to say, don’t we.

We think we know what they need, so we don’t take the trouble to really look into their requirements. We listen with a filter of prejudice. We hear what we want to hear, and when we hear things that more or less resemble our products, we start talking. Boy how we love to talk.

Yep, you love to talk, boss. I once followed a sales training, the Challenger Sales, and that guy said we need to tell the customer what he needs. The customer is ignorant, he doesn’t know what he needs, and we need to tell him that.

That is a sure road to failure, that is.

Sounded quite convincing though.

Sure, all sales people would like that. Do their pitch, and get away with the order. But that is not how it works. Those challenger guys forget an important thing.

And what is that, boss?

That their pitch is usually very boring.

Yeah, that is true. Some sales people can go on forever.

By talking we are not listening any more, we might completely disregard the customers’  problem, and be on the wrong track. And not sell, in the end! Customers only react postively to arguments that are relevant and valuable to them. Not to us.

Are you saying that our inability to really, patiently, thoroughly listening prevents us from winning deals?

That’s a good summary of what I am trying to say, Peter. You are a good listener.

I am flattered, boss. Thanks for the complement. Now, what can we do about that? If listening more and better helps me to close deals, I am definitely willing to do that.

I think we need to approach our customers with an open mind, not with a ready set of ideas. I think we need to prevent ourselves from judging, from inducing our own ideas and assuming we know it all. Really listening goes against human nature.

So, basically, we need to completely rewire our brains.

That would be a good start, Peter. The reward will be huge!

 

 

For more sales stories: Jan Flamend. Keep calm and sell your socks off, 2014. Check it out on www.letusboostyourbusiness.com

Download our Implementation Toolkit

This document contains a number of tools, templates and checklists that will help the manager to implement the learnings, endorse action points and do focused coaching in the field. For every tool, there is a manual and guidelines on how to use it proficiently.

Tell me, what is that you sell to your customers?

Boss: Peter, today I am going to ask you a very difficult question.

Peter: I am quite curious, Boss.

Boss: Peter: what is it that we sell?

Peter: What have you been smoking, boss? You don’t remember our products any more, our services. You want me to give you some product brochures to freshen up your memory? You can also have a look at our pricelist, of at our website, you know.

Boss: I am not retarded, Peter. I will repeat the question again: what is it that we sell?

Peter: Well, you know, what our customers buy, I guess.

Boss: So what do they buy?

Peter: Our computer equipment, our software, our services.

Boss: Sure they do, but why?

Peter: Because they need it, because they need to keep their business running, because they have to service their customers. That’s why they buy our stuff.

Boss: So, we help them to improve their business. They now work faster, more efficient, make less mistakes, have less rework to do.

Peter: Yes, they save costs and make more more money, all thanks to us.

Boss: Peter, we sell value to our customers! That value lies in the quality of our products, in the expertise of our service people, in the benefits we give to our customers.

Peter: I always thought we were in the computer business. You say we are in the value delivery business. Interesting idea, Boss. But why do you still measure me on units sold, on the amount of service contracts. You should measure me on the value I create for my customers. My salary would look much more interesting.

Boss: We will discuss that another time, Peter. Have you ever heard of the Total Value Experience?

Peter: No, but I guess you are going to tell me all about it.

Boss: The value experience a customer has with its supplier is like an onion.

Peter: What ever you say. You’re sure it is not a tomato?!

Boss: Don’t be ridiculous, Peter. By onion I mean it has many layers.

Peter: Oh, in that sense, of course.

Boss: In the middle you have the product. Around the product, you have a layer of services. Then you have a layer of research and development creating new products. Around all that you have our branding, the name and reputation of our company, the trust we inspire, the financial stability we have. And then, finally we have an outer layer, Peter. What do you think that is? It starts with a P.

Peter: Profit, price……

Boss: No Peter, You. It is you. The sales people who help, advice our customers. You are part of our value creation process. You, see, there’s various reasons why people buy from us: our products, our services, our research and development, our innovations, our brand, and our sales people. Remember: Value = Benefit – Cost

Peter: So, we sell solutions to the problems of our customers?

Boss: Voila. That is what we do: solution selling, or value selling. It is impossible to do this of course without a good questioning that has revealed the needs and problems of the customer.

Peter: I see.

Boss: Every customer has four basic buying motifs or needs.

Peter: Oh does he?

Boss: Look at your self as a customer, Peter. What is important to you when you buy a car?

Peter: It needs to be safe. That’s for sure. It needs to be fast. It musn’t cost too much, and it must be comfortable.

Boss: Perfect, Peter. You have just defined the four basic buying motifs:

Certainty

Performance

Finance

Convenience

When we look at the way customers buy, you will see that those four criteria need to be met.

Peter: What does this mean for our computer systems, Boss?

Boss: Customers want them to be reliable, robust, available all the time. They want high quality products, good service people they can trust. On time delivery is important, no bugs in the software. They want CERTAINTY on all those levels.

Peter: What about performance?

Boss: Our solutions need to be PERFORMANT, fast and efficient, thus reducing the processing time of the documents. They help people to do their work quicker, more efficient.

Peter: FINANCE, so it must be cheap.

Boss: No, that is not what I am saying. FINANCE means value for money. Our solutions must contribute to the reduction of costs, and be instrumental in generating more revenue, or creating more margin.

Peter: How can we do that? I mean, our solutions cost fortunes. They cost the customer a lot of money.

Boss: Money they invest in more performance, in cost saving, and improvement of productivity. Thanks to our CRM system, they now sell more, don’t they. A clear ROI, Peter. Up to to quantify and proof it.

Peter: Guess so.

Boss: And then there is CONVENIENCE. Our solution must be easy to work with, we must be easy to work with, we must take away the worries of our customers.

If we can prove to our customers that we can deliver Certainty, Performance, Finance and Convenience, then they feel comfortable buying from us.

Peter: Customers buy value.

Boss: This is what customers are looking for:

Increased manufacturing yields/throughput & capacity.

Reduced labor/raw material/transportation costs.

Lower warehousing/inventory/working capital costs.

Lower utility/insurance/environmental costs.

Lower investments/infrastructure costs.

Less downtime/less scrap/lower replacement parts.

Time savings/speed advantages.

Access to new markets/revenue growth.

Voilà.

Peter: Never knew we sold all this stuff.

For more sales stories, see Jan Flamend, Keep calm and sell your socks off, De Cavalerie, 2014. You can buy this book at www.valuesellingbooks.com

Download our Implementation Toolkit

This document contains a number of tools, templates and checklists that will help the manager to implement the learnings, endorse action points and do focused coaching in the field. For every tool, there is a manual and guidelines on how to use it proficiently.

What do you say when a customer says you’re too expensive?

Bert is a high flying executive searcher – call him headhunter –, and Marc is his customer. Listen in to their conversation.

“You’re too expensive, Bert.”

“What do you mean, Marc?”

“Your fee is too high.”

“I can’t believe my ears, Marc.”

“Come on, Bert. Don’t play dumb.”

“You’re the first person who ever told me that I’m too expensive.”

“Others might not dare.”

“What do you mean by too expensive. Marc? Too expensive compared to who or what.”

“It’s too much money.”

“Too much in comparison with the budget that you have for hiring?”


“No, that’s not it.”

“Compared to the competition?”

“You’re a lot more expensive than the other headhunters.”

“What’s the difference, Marc?”

“At least ten percent.”

“Ten percent. Mmm, interesting. Suppose that I would use the same fee as the competition, who would you work with, Marc?”

“Ah, you, of course!”

“And why would you work with us?”

“You know the industry, you find good candidates, you are professional. We have never had any problems with you.”

“Maybe it’s for all these reasons that I’m 10% percent more expensive, Marc.”

“That’s true, but I have to economize.”

“Suppose you are working with the cheap headhunter, and the result is not good, what would that cost you?”

“Well, uh.”

“What if it takes three months longer, or suppose that you do not get the right candidate. Or that you hire the wrong candidate, and that is bad for your business. What would that cost you, Marc?”

“I know where you are going with this, Bert, and you do it so cleverly, but I have to economize.”

“Why do you need to economize?”

“What sort of question is that? Business is not so good. Head Office says that we have to squeeze our suppliers. I am just doing what the bosses tell me to do, Bert.”

“Actually, you are doing this against your will, Marc.”

“Sure, do you think I enjoy putting suppliers under pressure?”

“What is the most important thing in your business, Marc?”

“Our people, of course!”

“You might run the risk of bringing the wrong people on board?”

“Again, you’re trying to scare the hell out of me, you sly fox, but that will not work, Bert.”

“Probably you would be better off economizing on your non-critical suppliers: electricity, leasing, photocopying …”

“We’ve looked at all options, Bert.”

“We’ve known each other a long time, Marc, and we’re not going to cause problems for each other.”

“Go on, Bert.”

“Suppose I were to consider the possibility of a minor discount, what would you do in return?”

“Then you can continue to work with us, Bert.”

“That is not a consideration, Marc, and that is not motivating for us.”

“You also need to consider our interest, remember the importance of your client, Bert.”

“I am willing to negotiate a new financial agreement, if we can do all the search work for you.”

“You want a monopoly.”

“You just said it yourself: We know the industry, we nd good candidates, we are professional. You have never had any problems with us. Direct quote. I am looking at your interest, Marc. What do you think?”

“We might want to look into this…”

“Are you still a fan of Anderlecht? We can discuss it this weekend in the corporate box at Anderlecht…”

“You’re incorrigible, Bert.”

“That’s what my wife always says, Marc.”

Download our Implementation Toolkit

This document contains a number of tools, templates and checklists that will help the manager to implement the learnings, endorse action points and do focused coaching in the field. For every tool, there is a manual and guidelines on how to use it proficiently.

What do you say when a customer says you’re too expensive?

Bert is a high flying executive searcher – call him headhunter –, and Marc is his customer. Listen in to their conversation.
“You’re too expensive, Bert.”
“What do you mean, Marc?”
“Your fee is too high.”
“I can’t believe my ears, Marc.”
“Come on, Bert. Don’t play dumb.”
“You’re the first person who ever told me that I’m too expensive.”
“Others might not dare.”
“What do you mean by too expensive. Marc? Too expensive compared to who or what.”
“It’s too much money.”
“Too much in comparison with the budget that you have for hiring?”
“No, that’s not it.”
“Compared to the competition?”
“You’re a lot more expensive than the other headhunters.”
“What’s the difference, Marc?”
“At least ten percent.”
“Ten percent. Mmm, interesting. Suppose that I would use the same fee as the competition, who would you work with, Marc?”
“Ah, you, of course!”
“And why would you work with us?”
“You know the industry, you find good candidates, you are professional. We have never had any problems with you.”
“Maybe it’s for all these reasons that I’m 10% percent more expensive, Marc.”
“That’s true, but I have to economize.”
“Suppose you are working with the cheap headhunter, and the result is not good, what would that cost you?”
“Well, uh.”
“What if it takes three months longer, or suppose that you do not get the right candidate. Or that you hire the wrong candidate, and that is bad for your business. What would that cost you, Marc?”
“I know where you are going with this, Bert, and you do it so cleverly, but I have to economize.”
“Why do you need to economize?”
“What sort of question is that? Business is not so good. Head Office says that we have to squeeze our suppliers. I am just doing what the bosses tell me to do, Bert.”
“Actually, you are doing this against your will, Marc.”
“Sure, do you think I enjoy putting suppliers under pressure?”
“What is the most important thing in your business, Marc?”
“Our people, of course!”
“You might run the risk of bringing the wrong people on board?”
“Again, you’re trying to scare the hell out of me, you sly fox, but that will not work, Bert.”
“Probably you would be better off economizing on your non-critical suppliers: electricity, leasing, photocopying …”
“We’ve looked at all options, Bert.”
“We’ve known each other a long time, Marc, and we’re not going to cause problems for each other.”
“Go on, Bert.”
“Suppose I were to consider the possibility of a minor discount, what would you do in return?”
“Then you can continue to work with us, Bert.”
“That is not a consideration, Marc, and that is not motivating for us.”
“You also need to consider our interest, remember the importance of your client, Bert.”
“I am willing to negotiate a new financial agreement, if we can do all the search work for you.”
“You want a monopoly.”
“You just said it yourself: We know the industry, we nd good candidates, we are professional. You have never had any problems with us. Direct quote. I am looking at your interest, Marc. What do you think?”
“We might want to look into this…”
“Are you still a fan of Anderlecht? We can discuss it this weekend in the corporate box at Anderlecht…”
“You’re incorrigible, Bert.”
“That’s what my wife always says, Marc.”

Download our Implementation Toolkit

This document contains a number of tools, templates and checklists that will help the manager to implement the learnings, endorse action points and do focused coaching in the field. For every tool, there is a manual and guidelines on how to use it proficiently.

Closing is the hardest

Peter Sellars just lost an important deal. It was a MWD, a Must Win Deal. His customer Maria said no to his proposal. Very disappointed, he went to see his coach, Hugo Boss, for some advice on how to close a deal. Listen in to their conversation.
Peter: Maria didn’t buy, Boss.
Boss: Why do think that is, Peter?
Peter: I think she just used me for free consulting, Boss. She never really wanted to buy.
Boss: Two days ago you gave this deal a 90 % probability, Peter. ‘Nothing can go wrong now. I got her.’ Your words.
Peter: ‘Well, you know, she led me on.’
Boss: ‘Closing is the hardest part of the job, Peter. Let me tell you a few things about sales psychology.’
Peter: I am all ears, Boss.
Boss: In the pre-sales phase, before you close a deal, how do you feel about the outcome?’
Peter: I am uncertain, I don’t know if I am going to win the deal.’
Boss: ‘Exactly. Now, how do you think the customer feels?’
Peter: ‘Maria is quite sure of herself. She is in control, she makes all the possible suppliers believe they have a chance. Yeah, she is quite certain.’
Boss: Exactly, Peter. Very good. How do you feel when your customer has decided in your favor.
Peter. ‘I am delighted. That gives me a tremendous kick. That’s what we do it for, isn’t it?’
Boss: ‘Sure, Peter. How do you think Maria feels when she has made her decision.’
Peter: I can imagine that she will start worrying about the implementation, about the quality. She must feel quite insecure and uncertain.
Boss: ‘This is what we call the imbalance of certainty. For the seller, the moment of closing is the culmination of all their efforts; for the buyer, the moment of closing is the beginning of lots of worries and headaches. The seller walks away delighted to cash in their commission, the buyer is on the point of no return where he loses control.You understand, Peter. A purchase is always more important for the buyer than it is for the seller!’
Peter: ‘That is all very interesting, Boss. This mumbo jumbo psychology stuff. But how is this going to help me to close a sale?’
Boss: ‘Listen very carefully, Peter.The best way to close a deal is to act as if it already has been closed.’
Peter: ‘Eh?’
Boss: ‘The best way to close a deal is to act as if it already has been closed.’
Peter: ‘Sounds interesting, but how do you do that?’
Boss: You don’t talk about the possibility of buying but you talk about the benefits when using the product, or service.
Peter: Be more specific, Boss.
Boss: Do you know the difference between If and When in English, Peter.
Peter: I did go to school, Boss. If is a conditional, and when refers to a moment in time.
Boss: Exactly, Peter. You are a good pupil. Do you understand the difference between these two sentences: “Maria, if you buy this solution from us, that would be a good win-win deal for the both of us.” or “Maria, when your people are improving their productivity, they can always count on our service people to support them.” In the when-sentence, you focus on the post sales, on the implementation, on the actual benefits your customer will have.’
Peter: Sounds neat. Let me give it a try.’
Boss: ‘Do you know how sales trainers close their deals. By getting the agreement on the delivery dates as soon as possible. Their silver bullet questions is: When do you want te training to take place?’
Peter requested new meeting with Maria.
Peter: Maria, what kind of training do you think we should give your people to make sure they make optimal use of this solution?
Maria: It is a big change. It differs a lot from what they know today. They will be needing intense classroom training and personal coaching on the job.
Peter: Maria, have you made an estimate of the real cost saving you will obtain in the first year of usage?
Maria: I am counting on 7 % in my Total Cost of Ownership.
Peter: Well, Maria, similar customers I have achieved 10 percent with this new technology. We are here to help you achieve that. Now, when do you want to have the solution up and running?’

Download our Implementation Toolkit

This document contains a number of tools, templates and checklists that will help the manager to implement the learnings, endorse action points and do focused coaching in the field. For every tool, there is a manual and guidelines on how to use it proficiently.