How to Find Your Customers and Own Your Market

By Jim Cathcart

Today, you plan to make sales – but to whom? Who are your targeted prospects? Where are your most likely buyers? Which among them will be your best customers? And, by the way, where will you start?

For almost every product or service there are buyers who hope to find them. Your buyers are out there – and many of them are hoping you, or someone like you, will show up with the solution to their needs or wants.

How to Define Your Market

A market is a group of people with enough in common that you can establish a reputation among them.

When seeking your ideal buyers, there are three ways to look: from the outside, from the inside, and from your own point of view.

The outside view is looking for markets that share enough common characteristics that you can easily communicate with them. There are

  • Industry markets: automotive, financial services, real estate, construction, publishing, etc.

  • Professions: medicine, dentistry, chiropractic, accounting, law, architecture, education, and so forth.

  • Social markets and hobbies: country club members, golfers, bicyclists, motorcyclists, runners, bird watchers, do-it-yourselfers, yoga enthusiasts, and more.

  • Language or cultural markets: Speakers of English (especially in non-English countries), Mandarin, Vietnamese, German, French, etc.

  • Fans: sports, celebrities, and music genres. There are also Star Trek fans (Trekkies), comic book collectors, Notre Dame fans, Lakers fans, Tom Cruise fans, James Bond fans, Dead Heads, heavy metal fans, Beatles fans, fans of reggae, blues, folk music, and more.

  • There are collectors of almost everything you can imagine: wooden dolls, Superman memorabilia, Coca-Cola signs, toy soldiers, marionettes, frog figurines, ivory carvings, books, watches, and…need I go on?

  • Geographic markets: New Yorkers, Chicagoans, people from the South, Californians, Central Americans, Australians, and Europeans. This is also true of neighborhoods: townies, country folks, people within four miles of your dealerships, or who live in “the Heights” or “the Meadows,” homeowners in an HOA or gated community.

From the inside view (seeing through the buyer’s eyes) there are people who want luxury, economy, quantities, quality, durability, flexibility, and more. If you sell inexpensive watches, you can probably skip the luxury watch collectors as prospects; then again, an interest in watches might lead to some new sales with a creative approach. Look for what the buyers are seeking and group them by their interests and desires. Then find ways to reach out to them.

From your own point of view, you could look at what you are trying to achieve. Are you seeking to sell out of old inventory, build a reputation for a new product, permeate a market and reach all the buyers in one category, generate revenue for a new venture, improve your margins with new sales methods, build your book of clients for the future, or what?

The steps in getting new business involve

  1. Finding a market you want to serve
  2. Surrounding the market with messages from you
  3. Penetrating that market so you get at least one customer within it
  4. Permeating the market with as many sales as you can so you “own” it for the next phase of your marketing

Let’s say you’ve chosen automotive rebuilders and collectors as your market. Those are people who love finding old and rare vehicles, restoring or customizing them, and driving them. They go to car shows and tune into TV and radio shows and channels that cater to car enthusiasts. They go to races, parades, museums, and parts and accessories stores. They attend rallies and join Facebook groups that cater to their craft. To “surround” this market, you would probably do some of the following (note: this applies to other markets as well):

  • Attend their events
  • Exhibit at their expos
  • Advertise in their magazines and podcasts
  • Sponsor people in their field
  • Learn their insider language
  • Show how you are “one of them”
  • Offer them something that relates to their field and leads them back to you
  • Participate in their events (volunteer, host, or serve as the emcee; interview their leaders; appear as a guest on their podcasts; or become one of them in whatever ways make sense)

By doing these things you will surely find your first customers there and will have a foothold in that market. Treat the first customers as honored clients and serve them the best you can. Then get referrals and use them as examples of what you can do for others. Before long you’ll “own” that market due to the large number of customers there and your growing good reputation among them.

Now apply this same thinking to whatever market you have chosen. Happy selling!

Jim Cathcart, CSP, CPAE, is one of the most award-winning professional speakers in the world and the original author and champion of Relationship Selling™. He helps organizations and individuals find their best customers and grow their business in ways that are a natural fit for their talents and value offers. Contact Jim at info@cathcart.com

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How to Increase Your Chances of Sales Success

By Jamie Crosbie

It’s always there, isn’t it?

That little monologue in your head plays all day, every day.

Like an eternal recording, it plays and plays as you run through your day – commenting on this, musing on that. For many, though, an awful lot of those thoughts tend to be slanted toward self-criticism, worry, or fear.

Like a hungry grub munching down at the root of your mind, those negative thoughts tend to erode your happiness, increase your stress, and maybe even cost you the sale.

In a way, that is good news. After all, if your self-talk and mood can sink a sale, a happier mindset can improve your sales digits. Or, as motivational coach Billy Cox once said, “You can’t win physically if you’re losing mentally.”

Inspirational quotes aside, science seems to bear out the fact that happiness and a positive mental attitude and self-talk really do increase your chances of sales success. Studies have shown that self-talk can literally improve or hamper your performance. In one study, tennis players using motivational self-talk dramatically improved their performance, while the control group who did not use self-talk did not. This same type of study has been done with cyclists, competitive swimmers, and other professional athletes.

If You Think You Can, You Can

A recent Stanford study went even deeper, using an fMRI (functional magnetic resonance) machine to track how attitude and outlook affect elementary age students’ abilities to solve problems. They discovered, among other things, that, when a student was feeling good and had a positive outlook, they performed better.

Moreover, children who felt more positive showed significantly more activity in the area of the brain linked to learning and memory than those who were less positive. This might not seem surprising, but it does give credence to the fact that your mindset and outlook may be just as important as IQ.

Your Body and Brain Respond to Self-Talk

What happens in your head happens in your body. If your thoughts run to the negative, your body will become more stressed. Any inner dialogue you have with yourself inevitably affects not only how you feel, but how you act. From body language to facial expressions, how you feel impacts how you perform.

Happiness Sells

This goes hand in hand with a study published in Statistics in Medicine, which demonstrated that happiness (for want of a better word) is contagious. Happy salespeople create more pleasant encounters (which increases sales success) than those who are not happy. Harvard professor and author of the study, Nicholas Christakis, explained: “Everyday interactions we have with other people are definitely contagious, in terms of happiness.”

How to Use Self-Talk to Improve Your Sales Numbers

Like rabbits running on familiar ground, your thoughts like to haunt familiar, well-trodden mental paths. Habitual thinking can easily slip into negative patterns if you let it. Negative self-talk can range from anger and frustration to telling yourself that you are not good enough. When, for example, you tell yourself over and over that you are a failure, you become more likely to create that reality.  

Your inner critic can leave you feeling depressed and stressed – and even make you physically sick (negative self-talk has been linked to a lowered immune system).

To stop its rampage, call it on the carpet. When you hear your inner Negative Nelly sounding off, start talking back. Simply confronting it can immediately improve your mindset and help you achieve sales success. Try shifting your perspective and even speak out loud to yourself, if necessary. Maybe you can’t stop your thought train, but you can shift it to another track. In doing so, you not only become happier, but you might find yourself selling more than ever.

Jamie Crosbie is an accomplished senior executive with a proven record of sales leadership success. Contact Jamie today and find out how to take your business to the next level. Call 214/720-9922 or jcrosbie@proactivate.net

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Why Are There So Many Articles about Selling?

By Jim Cathcart

Like you, I subscribe to a number of magazines and resources that specialize in sales, marketing, and business success strategies. What astounds me about them is how there is an endless flow of articles on selling. You’d think the first 100 or so would pretty much cover the ground and the rest would be redundant.

Selling Is Not Always the Same

But that assumes that all selling is fundamentally the same. Not true. Yes, all selling involves connecting with people in a way that causes them to buy from you but, after that, there are endless variables. Online sales to consumers is vastly different from boardroom sales to executive teams. Selling through proposals and tenders is not even similar to direct multilevel sales. Retail store sales and in-home contractor sales are very different. Selling at expos requires a mindset different from selling people on having cosmetic surgery. Need I go on?

This diversity of selling situations, products and services, rules, laws, customs, and restrictions means you can never fully understand all aspects of this wonderful craft. But that doesn’t mean you should stop trying.

What’s Consistent in the Profession of Selling?

You may be selling cars through online ordering systems but you can still learn techniques or ideas from hoteliers in Las Vegas who are selling room upgrades and vacation packages. The guy who sold you the white-water rafting trip could probably teach you something that would help you sell parts to airplane manufacturers. It’s all human interaction, problem finding, needs analysis, solution finding, collaboration, decision making, negotiation, and confirming commitments.

A mind that is always learning is more capable than one that is simply well informed. I once marveled at how many firms were offering sales training and how different some of their processes were from mine. Then it occurred to me that “Selling” is the “family name” of all of them. Among Cathcarts, I’m Jim. My cousins are Bruce and Judy. My father is Earl. But we are all Cathcarts. Among sales techniques, mine is “Relationship Selling™,” Tony Alessandra’s is “Platinum Rule® Selling,” Don Hutson’s is “Selling Value™,” but they are all Selling – first and foremost. What separates them is the style or areas of emphasis.

I’ve been teaching sales for 40 years now and have authored 18 books, but I still read every page of Selling Power magazine each month and I scour the other publications, Websites, podcasts, and blogs for insights and inspiration. I go to conventions and collaborate with my competitors (who are also my colleagues). We share our books with each other and often recommend each other to our own clients. I hope you do the same.

The more you help others succeed, the greater the pool of buyers there will be for all of you. Keep the flow of different points of view flowing freely into your mind. Each idea will find the appropriate “file” of understanding that fits it – and your sales capacity will increase endlessly.

Jim Cathcart is a long-time contributor to Selling Power and one of the world’s leading professional speakers. He is the original author of Relationship Selling plus 17 other books. Cathcart.com helps organizations increase sales engagement and self-motivation. Contact Jim at info@cathcart.com.

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How to Identify and Remove Hidden Mental Roadblocks with Peak Performance Mindset Training

By Jamie Crosbie

They’re sneaky, aren’t they?

I’m talking about the hidden mental roadblocks that sabotage your best intentions.

The thing is, we may think we are really committed to reaching our goals – unaware that we face self-limiting thoughts that keep us from moving forward.

Potholes, Thought Landmines, and Other Mental Roadblocks

Self-sabotage is sometimes hard to spot. Wearing the camouflage of reasonable doubts, self-limiting beliefs are like convoluted mental gymnastics – turning themselves inside out with a strange logic all their own. There is a big difference between seeing clear obstacles (and taking reasonable precautions against them) and discovering hidden limiting beliefs that may keep you grounded because you are secretly afraid of flying.

Your Brain Holds a Lot of Clutter

Experts estimate that most people have between 12,000 and 60,000 thoughts every day. That means you have a powerful conversation going on inside your head every day. Unfortunately, for most people, 80 percent or more of those thoughts can be categorized as negative in nature.

That’s So Rude!

If you listen to your inner dialogue, you are likely to hear conversations you would never tell someone you love. The litany goes something like this:

“This won’t work.”

“I’m fat.”

“I can’t do it.”

“I am not as good as…”  

“I am a failure.”

It’s like running through a mental living room full of toys and clutter, trying to reach a ringing phone three rooms away. You can easily trip and miss an opportunity. And the thoughts we think every day become the beliefs we live out.

Take Back Your (Mental) Power

To boot out negative self-talk, limiting beliefs, and other mental roadblocks, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Know what those roadblocks are. One way to do this is to think back to a previous situation in which you felt overwhelmed, felt you were less than you should be, or believed you would fail. The object is to identify the hidden belief/thought that made you feel the not-so-hot emotions. For example, your boss may have asked you to handle a challenging project or client. While you may have seemed outwardly confident, you secretly may have felt completely out of your depth.

  2. Think back to how those feelings not only made you feel, but how they made you react. Were you able to overcome them by pushing forward? If so, what did you do or tell yourself to move past them? Did you grit your teeth and tell yourself you just had to push through it? Or did your thoughts leave you paralyzed and unable to move forward?

  3. Look at the results. If you managed to pull up from your mental nosedive and save the day, that should tell you something. If you failed, that should tell you something too. Next, figure out if the thoughts you were thinking and the emotions they triggered were based on real-world evidence. (And, even if you did fall on your face, what did you learn from it?) Were the initial thoughts really a genuine reflection of your abilities? By questioning your thoughts, you can create new beliefs more in line with reality. By identifying real shortcomings and removing what is false, you will start to improve your performance.

Rinse and repeat as needed.

Jamie Crosbie is a successful senior executive with over 20 years of talent acquisition and sales leadership experience. If you would like to learn more about strategic, high-impact recruiting, please follow the ProActivate blog or contact us at 214/720-9922. ProActivate is a global partner helping forward-thinking companies fill sales vacancies with top-tier sales performers.

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That’s What Friends Do: Thoughts on Customer Loyalty

By Jim Cathcart

There seems to be a prevailing mindset regarding customer loyalty: supposedly, it is something to seek. Sounds logical, but I disagree with that point of view. 

We can never control whether customers are loyal to us – or for how long they will be loyal. But we can control how loyal we are to them! 

If the entire business community were to reverse its polarity on this issue, I think we’d see a revolution in customer relations. 

How Do You Really Treat Customer?

Imagine, for a moment, how you’d feel if every business you dealt with suddenly became committed to finding ways to be loyal to you. As your provider, if they were to constantly seek new and better ways to show you how much they valued your business, don’t you think you’d be more likely to do business with them again? 

Many years ago, in Tulsa, OK, my local McDonald’s manager, Marilyn – whose nickname was “Grandma” – took the time to remember my name and my most frequent order, an Egg McMuffin® and coffee. When I came into the restaurant on about my fourth visit, she said, “Good morning, Mr. Cathcart! Will you be having your usual order?” I was stunned on both counts: the use of my name and the recollection of my orders. This went on for weeks and I abandoned other breakfast places in favor of the pleasant experience of seeing “Grandma” yet again. She made me feel welcomed and valued. 

One day, there were two empty buses in the parking lot. I almost opted for a different restaurant, but, upon recalling how “Grandma” made me feel, I fought the crowd anyway. When I entered the restaurant and found the shortest queue, I heard her call out my name! She said, “Mr. Cathcart, your breakfast is ready.” I went to the front of the line, where she did, indeed, have my egg sandwich and coffee. She winked at me and said, “It’s on the house!” 

How to Really Make an Impression on Customers

A free breakfast for me while 100 others waited in line? Wow! But she didn’t short-change any of them. They got their orders efficiently. But the 15 seconds she spent setting aside an order for me sure made an impression. Years later, when I reflected on my time there, it occurred to me that I had become a loyal customer to her for the entire six years I was in Tulsa. Six years of customer business from spending one free breakfast and less than a minute of time and effort! I’d say that is a great ROI, wouldn’t you? 

What are some ways you could offer more to customers without incurring any notable expense or time loss? There are probably dozens of ways you and your team could enhance your customers’ experience when dealing with you or using your products. Take some time really soon to identify how you might “Up-Serve” your customers on a more regular basis. It may be by adding a personal note or comment, making just one extra direct phone call, including a tip or tool in the next package you send out, or just being a better, more caring listener. There are people in your current customer base who would eagerly give you all their business and their continuing loyalty…if they were sure you were already committed to being loyal to them. 

Give customer loyalty today! Your customers are (and should be) your business friends. 

Jim Cathcart is a long-time contributor to Selling Power and one of the world’s leading professional speakers. He is the original author of Relationship Selling plus 17 other books. Cathcart.com helps organizations increase sales engagement and self-motivation. Contact him at info@cathcart.com.

Posted in Customer Relationships | Leave a comment

Transform Your Digital Era Sales with an Intelligent Lead-to-Cash Solution

By Swati Sinha

Does your company suffer from siloed teams? Disconnected applications? Information scattered across business processes? All these problems can obstruct your ability to respond to ever-changing customer and market needs.

Today’s buyers are sophisticated and in control, and they want a combination of products and services customized to meet their individual needs, available on their preferred channel, and on perceived price point.

Lead-to-cash: Transform Your Buyers’ Journey

To deliver an exceptional customer experience in this new landscape, all customer-focused business units – from marketing to sales to fulfillment to billing – must join forces. To achieve this, you need a solution that fully integrates internal and external data and processes, and that becomes the one source of truth across the organization.

Lead-to-cash is arguably the most important customer-centric process in an organization – starting with the customer’s intention to buy and ending with revenue recognition. Utilizing artificial intelligence and in-depth integration of data, you can make your processes inherently intelligent, thus guiding sales to be proactive, rather than reactive, to changing customer needs.     

AI and Integration Can Transform Sales Leads

With an integrated solution, marketing can effectively hand off lead information to sales. Research by the Aberdeen Group suggests that companies optimizing the sales and marketing relationship see 32 percent faster growth in revenue, 90 percent higher growth in brand awareness, and a huge increase in average deal size, sales acceptance of marketing-generated leads, attainment of team quota, and percent of sales-forecasted pipeline generated by marketing.

Opportunity Knocks: Is This What Your Customer Wants? 

Deals and opportunities are the foundation of your sales cycle. To pursue an opportunity, salespeople spend extensive time searching for customer information. Unfortunately, this information is typically spread throughout a disparate system – so they instead end up going with their “gut feel” or personal network to pursue it. This can result in fragmented conversations and even loss of deal.

With the help of artificial intelligence and real-time access to holistic internal and external customer information, sales professionals can engage effectively – focusing their time on the best deals and taking recommended actions to convert prospects to customers.

This intelligent approach eliminates clutter from the pipeline and increases forecast accuracy.

Proposal: Trusted Advisor

A report by Forrester suggests that 79 percent of B2B buyers say it’s critical for them to interact with a sales rep who can be a trusted advisor – which means not only meeting expressed needs, but having the ability to foresee and support future customer goals. For this, sales reps need to listen and surface customer pain, identify needs, and proactively recommend an ideal solution.

Products are constantly changing to match customer expectation of customization and options – generating thousands of SKUs. As catalogs grow, sales reps are placed in a difficult spot: They have to be trusted advisors with in-depth knowledge about their products; however, with the complexity of products, they don’t have a grasp on the entire product line and possible customizations.

Lacking intelligent solutions, the rep sells based on limited knowledge – which may or may not be the best choice for the customer, or the most profitable for the organization. Guided selling simplifies this process by recommending products based on various attributes such as the type of sale, past customer behavior of similar customers, etc.   

Intelligent Pricing Generates Revenue

Correct pricing is critical in determining the revenue of an organization. Pricing influences the behavior of not only the customer, but the sales rep.

Sales reps want to price a solution that is lucrative to customers, and might end up applying discounts that cut into the overall margin – especially in complex, bundled sales. Intelligent pricing helps sales reps price the solution that is competitive, and optimizes their commission without impacting the profitability of the deal.

It allows them to build in rules to prevent discounts that dip below a certain level of margin, contingent on the products included in the deal. It also helps in identifying up/cross sell of add-ons, options, and special promotions to increase deal size.

Putting It together: Effective Quotes Are Crucial to Sales

Effective quoting requires both speed and accuracy, and is an integral part of the sales cycle. While an accurate quote can help close a deal fast, a delayed and error-filled quote can frustrate the customer – and may even cause the loss of the deal.

Automated and streamlined approval processes help protect margin throughout any negotiations, introducing quality control. Triggers can be set for an approval of special quotes, such as exceeding discount or gross margin thresholds, or non-standard terms.

Since sales reps have real-time visibility into margins, delays in non-standard discounts and negotiations are minimized. Quotes with no special terms are automatically approved to speed up quote delivery.

Deliver on Your Promises

After the contract is signed, the fulfillment center ensures that the right products – including add-on items, etc. – are delivered to the customer on time.

An integrated and streamlined process provides the visibility needed to stay attuned should any “change in order” arise – thus avoiding any surprises upon deal closure. Sales solutions should also be able to move order details from the quote to the contract to ERP, and, on the other hand, have the ability to add details to the CRM to enable fast and intelligent renewals.

Integrated Billing Solutions: Flexible and Insightful

Monetization strategies continue to evolve as companies look for new ways to sell their products. Billing solutions should be flexible enough to customize subscription models for various levels of services, allowing for upgrades or one-time charges.

Integrated billing solutions should be able to consolidate even complicated B2B products and service packages into a single bill, and personalize it before sending to the customer. With integrated billing solutions, sales has visibility into purchase and transaction history, and can create personalized offers for existing customer bases – thereby increasing revenue by lowering the cost of customer acquisition.

So, with an integrated and intelligent lead-to-cash solution, organizations can accelerate sales velocity and time to revenue, have margin-protecting guardrails and price optimization, increase cross and upsell opportunities, avoid revenue leakage at various points, and help an organization transform its customer buying journey.

Swati is a senior director of global solution marketing at SAP for Sales Cloud. A seasoned enterprise software professional with varied experience in product marketing, product management, and engineering, she has worked with organizations both large and small. She is a technologist at heart and empathetic by nature, which gives her the ability to understand customer needs and tell a story about how technology can solve their business problem. She has an MBA and a master’s degree in computer applications. In her free time she likes to connect with her community and support charities.    

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Here Is the Incredible Sales Enablement Plan Worth Billions

By Gerhard Gschwandtner

After Elay Cohen was named Senior Vice President of Sales Productivity at Salesforce, he pulled off an amazing feat: He accelerated growth and turned a $500 million enterprise into a $3+ billion enterprise.

That’s why we invited Cohen to speak at the Sales 3.0 Conference in Philadelphia on June 19. In his session, “Crack the Code to Sales Growth with a Winning Sales Enablement Strategy,” he will reveal the hyper-growth sales strategies that made Salesforce the global industry leader.

If you register now to attend the conference, you’ll learn how Elay’s sales enablement best practices and adaptive processes create an unstoppable sales force. As Elay has revealed to me in an interview, a success mantra was part of his proven blueprint to successful sales enablement.

Here’s a summary of Elay’s success mantra:

S – “Seed and grow.” They ultimately believed that, if they could win a customer, a division, or a team, they would be able to seed the success of Salesforce into that business.

U – “Users sell for you.” They believed that, if they could get their customers to share their stories, the customers would do the selling for them.

C – “Customize the demos.” They always tailored the demo to the customer’s business and used the customer’s vernacular.

C – “Connect the dots.” They figured the chances were high that they already knew someone with a connection in the prospect’s company. To use those relationships, they connected the dots.

E – “Experience events.” Think about Dreamforce. Each year, thousands of customers come to the event, get energized, and get connected to other customers. This creates value.

S – “Show them the money.” They used a classic value-based selling approach to build political maps and understand the customer’s business processes.

Elay firmly believes one of the most critical elements of success was the tight partnership between him, the enablement organization, and the frontline sales managers. (His book, SalesHood: How Winning Sales Managers Inspire Sales Teams to Succeed, takes the best of enablement and teaches managers how to bring it to their teams.) And Salesforce founder Marc Benioff agreed: He told Elay he wanted every single salesperson on message, sharing the same stories, and selling the same way. Elay’s team knew their corporate pitches and the playbooks. As Elay told me: “We always had support and expectations that we were going to deliver excellent sales enablement.”

You can hear more from Elay in the video above, and you can also register now to join us at the Sales 3.0 Conference in Philadelphia on June 19.

Posted in Sales Enablement | Leave a comment

5 Important Topics for All Sales Leaders This Summer

On June 19, hundreds of B2B sales leaders will gather at the Sales 3.0 Conference in Philadelphia to hear from top sales experts like Gerhard Gschwandtner, Elay Cohen, Lisa Peskin, and Janet Logan. Here’s a preview of the hot topics that will be discussed:

Topic #1: Artificial Intelligence (AI)

As a sales leader, are you up to speed on the AI-powered revolution? Because AI is smart and adaptive, it is far easier to implement than traditional sales-enablement systems. And did you know a salesperson using AI can produce what it takes three salespeople without AI to accomplish? Attendees can learn more about AI in the following session at the Sales 3.0 Conference:

  • “Sales ex Machina: How AI Is Changing the World of Selling” (presented by Victor Antonio, Keynote Speaker, Sales & Motivation and Sales Trainer, Sellinger Group)

Topic #2: Selling in a Digital Age

The twin forces of technology and psychology are the major change drivers that are transforming our world and how we conduct business. How will digital transformation continue to impact the future for B2B sellers? You can learn more from these two presenters on June 19 in Philadelphia:

  • “The Power of Mindset in the Age of Digital Transformation” (presented by Gerhard Gschwandtner, founder of Selling Power magazine)  
  • “An Inescapable Evolution: Sales and Marketing in the World of Digital Buying” (presented by Scott Collins, Principal Executive Advisor, Gartner)

Topic #3: Culture Change

Without a strong sales culture, sales teams won’t thrive. Sales training company DoubleDigit Sales interviewed key clients across North America about large cultural transformations they experienced over the past year. The result was three culture changes that can create professional shifts, build confidence around new business paradigms, and provide new capabilities to sustain and embed sticky change. Find out all you need to know in the following presentation:

  • “Driving Change That Sticks” (presented by Janet Logan, Vice President of Client Solutions, DoubleDigit Sales)

Topic #4: Sales Methodology

Triage is a methodology, developed by Business Development University (BDU), to help individuals, sales teams, and sales forces uncover the three areas that, if improved upon, will have the biggest impact on sales performance. Once these three areas are identified, a developmental program can be put together to start closing the gaps. Want to learn more? Don’t miss this presentation:

  • “Sales Triage: Improving Three Key Areas to Take Sales Performance to the Next Level” (presented by BDU’s CEO Lisa Peskin)

Topic #5: Hiring the Right Salespeople

Do you follow a coherent strategy for building your sales team? Ideally, sales leaders take a proactive stance to getting talent on board when new salespeople are needed; and they should find the best ways to partner with both internal and external recruiters to hire the best sales talent. To find out more, don’t miss this fireside chat:

  • “Building the Right Sales Organization,” a fireside chat with Gerhard Gschwandtner, Founder and CEO of Selling Power, and Carolyn Betts, Founder and CEO of Betts Recruiting

See the full agenda for the Sales 3.0 Conference or register now.

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How to Become a High Priority to Your Prospect

By Christine Harrington

During my prospecting calls this week, I examined all the different touchpoints necessary to stay a priority in the prospect’s mind. I encourage you to do the same.

If you’re in sales, you have gaps. These gaps are the spaces and times between the initial prospecting call all the way to closing the sale. In these gaps you could be losing sales because you haven’t developed a clear strategy for becoming a high priority to the prospect.

These gaps are where trust and credibility are built – and where sales are won.

Say you’ve made the first contact with the prospect and she’s agreed to an appointment. The time between setting the appointment and going on the appointment is a gap.

When I ask my coaching clients what they’re doing during that gap, most say they do nothing! They just wait for the appointment. This is a wasted opportunity.

Think about your sales process. There are many gaps between the next steps – especially if you have a long sales cycle.

When you’re in these gaps – waiting for the next step, the next appointment, or to present, etc. – if you’re doing nothing, you are losing sales.

So what can you do to fill in the gap and remain a high priority to your prospect?

Here are a few ideas to start with.

#1: Send a handwritten note.

This morning, during a prospect phone call, he shared with me that he was in the process of sending out handwritten notes to his prospects!

Music to my ears! I told him I do the same thing. Instant rapport was built – we shared a common belief and the phone call ended by us taking the next natural step.

Handwritten notes are so rare these days that receiving one feels important, special. People remember the way you make them feel.

#2: Find a YouTube video or a podcast that will benefit the prospect. Send it to the prospect through a short email.

“I saw this and thought of you!”

Then give two short bullet points on how the podcast can benefit the prospect’s business.

#3: Make your own video on an idea you’d like to share that can help your prospect.

You have a video component on your smartphone…use it to deliver compelling information to help your prospect! It’s different and will capture your prospect’s attention.

Now, I’m not suggesting you bombard the prospect during the gaps…but don’t let it go longer than a week without a touchpoint.

Have a strategy to fill in the gaps with value-driven activity. It will position you as a valuable asset to your prospect. Instead of becoming a low priority, you’ll move up to a high priority – turning you into someone whose calls and emails the prospect will make a point to answer.

Christine Harrington is The Savvy Sales Lady. She is a facilitator for Peak Performance Mindset workshops and a personal sales coach who helps sales professionals develop and improve their sales performance.

Posted in Prospecting, Sales Leads | Leave a comment

Building Consensus with Buying Committees: How to Avoid a No-Decision Deal

By Sharon Gillenwater

According to Harvard Business Review, the number of people involved in B2B solutions purchases grew from an average of 5.4 in 2015 to 6.8 in 2017.

HBR also found that a typical solutions purchase is taking much longer than customers expect; 65 percent of buyers surveyed said they are spending as much time just getting ready to speak with a sales rep as they had expected to complete the entire purchase process.

These buying committees, HBR says, are composed of individuals from a variety of roles, functions, and geographies. As groups, they tend to be risk averse and often fail to reach consensus.

No decision. Which means no sale for you.

From what customers tell us – as well as our own first-hand experience – this is extremely frustrating. It can also ding financial results: On quarterly earnings calls, CEOs routinely cite delayed deals as excuses for lower-than-expected quarterly revenue numbers.

Can “no decision” scenarios be avoided?

Not always. Sometimes buying committees fail to buy due to factors completely beyond your control.

This means we need to turn our attention to what we CAN control – and there are two main factors.

  1. Build Consensus

The first is your ability to persistently remind the buying committee of its company’s strategy and objectives. After all, the committee members might come from different roles, departments, and functions, but they all work for the same company and should be working for the same outcome, right?

The operative word here is should.

It is not uncommon for individual players to lose sight of the greater corporate vision and strategy. At large enterprises, it is easy to become so wrapped up in departmental issues that people fail to see the forest for the trees.

As a salesperson, you can help them stay focused on the big picture in terms of what the company is trying to achieve. Through clear and persistent communication, get them to validate – and agree on – what they should all have in common, which is rallying around the company’s stated strategy and objectives.

How do you do this? First, do some research on the company’s strategy, key initiatives, and what its top executives are saying. Reading corporate earnings calls is key for public companies. Also, look for interviews with the CEO and other top executives.

Here are some questions you want to be able to answer:

  • What is the company’s strategic focus for the coming year? If your buyers all roll up to one functional leader (e.g., CMO, CIO, CFO), research their objectives and priorities, as well. 
  • What challenges are they up against? Are they being asked to cut spending? Are they facing a disruptive competitor? 
  • What technology investments are they planning on making this year? 
  • Are they in growth mode or cost-cutting mode?

Next, validate what you’ve learned with the buying committee. Whenever possible, use the words of their top leaders. You can say things like:

“Last month, your CEO told analysts that X is a big priority for the company. Is it correct to assume you are trying to drive X with this project?”

Or…

“I just finished reading an interview with your CIO and she said she was going to spend most of her budget this year on solutions that drive Y. Is it correct to assume this project falls under those priority investments?”

Of course, you want the answers to these questions to always be “yes.” Most of the time they will be, because no one wants to admit to being out of alignment with their own corporate leaders.

  1. Connect the Dots

OK, so you’ve done your homework and you’ve got the buying committee to agree on the greater goals. Now it’s time to prove that your solution will drive the business outcomes the company is seeking. This involves connecting the dots back to your offer and packaging it and positioning it in a way that shows 100 percent alignment with what you have learned about your customer – and have validated with the committee. Three prescriptions for this stage are:

  1. Stay focused on what counts. Don’t oversell them on solutions that do not directly drive their desired business outcomes. Stick with the ones you know will have an impact. 
  2. Demonstrate prior success. Share customer case studies that track closely to what you are proposing. They need to know you have done this before. 
  3. Prove value. Include data and proof points that show how your solution drove success in a similar scenario. For example, if they are in growth mode, demonstrate how your solution has driven growth with other companies. If cost cutting is the priority, demonstrate how your solution will save them money. This is all about “speaking their language” and positioning your offer in a way that will best resonate with your audience.      

Success in a Nutshell

So, let’s review:

  • Step 1: Remind the buying committee of what their company is trying to accomplish at a high level.
  • Step 2: Show the buying committee how you can help them play a part in achieving the company’s goals.

When you break it down into these two components, it seems easy, logical, and doable.

No Decision Persistence: No, You Can’t Control Everything

Now, none of this takes into account the less logical parts of the equation, such as politics, personalities, and hidden or competing agendas. If we knew how to solve these problems, we would probably be lying on a beach somewhere instead of writing this article.

That, alas, is a topic for another day.

Sharon Gillenwater is the founder and editor-in-chief of Boardroom Insiders, the only business intelligence tool designed exclusively for C-suite sales, marketing, and recruiters who need to reach, engage, and build relationships with C-level executives. Gillenwater is a long-time marketing consultant with expertise in marketing strategy, account-based marketing, and CXO engagement programs.

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