Sales Blog

Five (common!) dysfunctional sales behaviours that could be costing you business …

2011-02-25 - Brent Burgoyne

Some ways of selling are so much more effective than others. In this post , I will outline five things that an incredible number of people do in trying to sell their products and services to customers – and they shoot themselves in the foot while doing it. And I will briefly mention the other side of the coin, outlining what we call “wise ways” of engaging the customer to get the deal done more quickly and reliably, so that we can help the customer get a solution that exactly meets their needs.

One: We direct our sales focus at the wrong person, often at the person in the organisation who has contacted us (or we have contacted them - or they have been our long-time “safe” contact in the organisation …) who wants a solution to a problem. What could be wrong with that? Plenty, as it happens. On average, the person who sources a solution will not have final decision-making authority and will not personally have access to a budget. That’s just how things work. And you can’t sell to someone who hasn’t got any money - and you also can’t sell to someone who doesn’t have the authority to make a decision. Solution: You work the entire political network in the client organisation and engage with everyone who has an interest in the solution, where feasible - and certainly the final decision maker - and also the person who controls the purse strings.

Two: We write proposals and e-mail them to the person who asked us for a solution. And then we wait. Only one problem: Documents don’t sell. People do. Solution: Co-create the solution with the client (meaning whoever is an influencer or decision-maker), take into account the thinking of all of these people, lobby the solution around the organisation, get agreement from this “complex client” before the final presentation, and make the final presentation a formality!

Three: We sit in meetings with our client and we talk about ourselves and our product and our company. But there is a problem here: People don’t really care about your stuff – they care about their stuff. Solution: Seek first to understand, using a structured exploration process, and then seek to be understood, advocating on the basis of what you now know. Underlying principle: No guessing!

Four: We don’t link our solution to the strategic intent of the client’s business, and then we wonder why what we think is a really hot solution is not a high priority for our customer. Solution: First explore for strategic intent. What’s the client trying to achieve, big picture? (There are effective, sophisticated ways of doing this.) If your solution is aligned to what your decision maker wakes up in the middle of the night thinking about, closing the deal is a whole lot easier.

Five: We don’t explore enough for the client’s business pain. On average, most organisations only spend money when pain exceeds joy. Solution: Explore systematically and systemically for business pain the client is experiencing in achieving strategic intent. Understand where the pain shows up, what impact it has on key metrics, who in the business is affected by the pain, what the client thinks will heal the pain. Then link your solution to that. Magic: You have their attention!

When we at North Star Virtual show our clients the actual mechanics of how to do these few things – and other simple but sophisticated sales practices that are relevant, they often tell us that these things are common sense. Our response: But common sense is very often not common practice! Getting these practices right is effectively a matter of operating in harmony with the laws of the universe. It’s like running or cycling with the wind behind you.

Will Smith - Unexpected motivatorSometimes wisdom comes from unusual sources

2011-02-18 - Mike Burgoyne

Who would have thought that Will Smith could teach us something at the very core of sales competence? Take a look at this:

All of our sales success comes from the work we have done on ourselves:

  • What clarity do we have on …
  • Who we really are?
  • What we really want?
  • What principles we refuse to violate?
  • How much we are willing to focus?
  • What short-term sacrifices we are willing to make?
  • How much we are willing to stretch ourselves to learn new skills we’ll need in engaging with clients.
  • To what extent we are willing to leave our ego at the door and engage with our client as one human being to another …

For me the message is: We can learn something from almost everyone, if we’re just open to it. “The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder …”

Documents don’t sell, people do

We worked a couple of years ago with a client who saw sales as a kind of information-moving activity. You meet with someone in the client organisation who has a need, you listen carefully and then write a proposal based on your core competencies and core offering.  You deliver the proposal, bound in the obligatory plastic cover, and then you wait. Sometimes for a long time …

There’s only one thing wrong with this picture - Documents don’t sell, people do.

Step One: Map the political structure of the organisation you’re going to sell into.

Step Two: Talk to your guy or girl, but get access to all who have an interest in the solution, or are involved in any way in the decision-making. It’s tedious, but its’s essential.

Step Three: Co-create the proposal with your now “complex client.” It’s a painful process, with lots of going back-and-forth. But when you’re done, you can have a solution that exactly meets the client’s needs. And everyone who has a voice in the decision-making has had input. No guessing, and no surprises.

Documents don’t sell, people do.