Michael was thrilled recently when one of his clients asked MBCC to groom a talented new sales professional who had graduated from a local University and joined their team in an acquisition sales territory. We immediately accepted the assignment and begin the grooming process. As we worked together, Michael shared a long list of Sales Best Practices that he’s documented during his long corporate career and in the last decade that he has been coaching Sales Managers and Sales Teams. This series of articles on Sales Best Practices is the culmination of our emptying out the bin of fantastic sales behaviors we’ve identified over the years. We hope you enjoy the series and find them valuable to you and to your sales team.
Be Proactive And Methodical In Your Selling You must be proactive in your selling, and you must become very methodical in following a consistent sales process that differentiates you from your competitors and sets you up for consistent predictable success as you compete. It doesn’t matter which methodology you subscribe to, whether MEDDIC, BANTC, Spin Selling, Challenger Selling, or what have you. The key point is to find a methodology for selling that makes sense to you and fits the approach you’d like to take. If your company has a preferred methodology that they embrace, you would be most wise to accept that as your selling methodology, for obvious reasons. Having a sales methodology is incredibly valuable to sales teams. It does multiple things and prevents many errors from happening. When you follow your methodology you will avoid surprises, by selling systematically, and you’ll be much more likely to qualify more effectively and you’ll eliminate a lot of the mistakes that affect most underperforming salespeople. Understand the value that your adherence to the sales methodology provides to your company and to your sales team within your territory. When you are executing within 5 percentage points quarter after quarter against your commit number, you will see your prestige rise with your Sales Leader and the executives at your company. Don’t make excuses about keeping your CRM system updated with the most current and accurate information. When your pipeline data is clean, the people around you can be most effective at supporting your efforts and they can maximize their contributions to your success in selling.
Don’t Waste Time Or Sales Cycles Always be completely candid with yourself about your deals and your sales pipeline. When you’re short of the pipeline, you’re likely to be less critical of each opportunity in your pipeline. You cannot afford to waste your valuable selling time on deals that you aren’t going to win, or aren’t likely to win, and you must be incredibly focused on spending your precious resources and time where they can deliver results. Be skeptical of opportunities that come from people who typically waste your time, and always understand that you MUST spend your time where it has the greatest chance of leading you and your team to success. Always understand what your prospect’s budget range is before you issue any proposals or quotations. Your offering and your pricing structure should ALWAYS be designed to fit the prospect’s budget as if it were tailored for them. Prior to making a formal presentation of your products or services, make every attempt to gain a commitment from your prospect or customer that if your solution meets their needs, you will do business together. You cannot afford to waste your precious time and scarce resources providing a quoting service to prospects if they never had any intent to do business with you. Let your competition waste THEIR time doing quotes and proposals that aren’t going to lead to a purchase order. Work with prospects who really want to do business together and do it in a business-like manner.
Understand Your Prospect’s Motivations Always consider your customer’s motivations and your prospect’s motivations. What are the three key business objectives that are driving their business this year? What are the considerations that have them interested in your solution What problems does your solution solve for them? What other alternatives could they be considering as another approach? Focus on all of the reasons that your prospect might decide NOT to move ahead with a purchase from you of your company’s products and services. Anticipate what could go wrong well in advance of the potential that it could go wrong, and have a contingency plan in place, ready to execute, when necessary. When you understand your Prospect’s Motivations for their project and you understand everything that could go wrong, and everything that could go right, you’ll be able to produce a winning plan to earn their business. If you don’t go to the trouble to do all of that, you’re going to get negative surprises more often than you’d like.
It’s Never About Manipulating Your Customer Avoid any and all temptations to ever manipulate your prospects and customers, it comes back to haunt you every time. There are actually some sales trainers out there who recommend manipulative techniques, but don’t believe them, using such techniques is a surefire way to lose your customer’s trust, and confidence permanently. Show your prospects and customers that you are different from your first interaction with them. Position yourself as the one person that they work with who is willing to do the “heavy lifting” to provide extraordinary value for them. Focus on building a strong relationship with each of your prospects and with each of your customers. Build the kind of relationship with them that makes them feel like a member of your family. Be honest about your knowledge and commit to putting your prospect’s interests first every time. If you don’t have the answers, make it your mission in life to go get them quickly, and don’t squander your credibility by pretending you have the answers when you don’t. Realize that nobody can know everything so don’t waste time or your prospect’s trust in you by pretending that you know everything. Sales success always rests on a foundation of hard-earned trust. You can destroy a decade worth of trust in an instant with the wrong move. Realize that regaining trust once you’ve lost it, is about 100 times more difficult than just preserving it, by being humble and vulnerable, and honest. Treat each of your prospects and customers like they are your only customer.
Watch Out For The Gnats!!! Don’t accept the relationship-destroying tactics of gatekeepers and the gnats who will bite your ankles while you are trying to build trust and develop a lasting relationship with your potential customer. By focusing on delivering value for your prospects and customers, you earn the right to serve them. Be willing to craft an elegant strategy to go over, above, around, and through purchasing management, procurement agents, product evaluators, and vendor managers who don’t, or cannot understand, or won’t place an appropriate value on your ability to create value by crafting solutions for your prospects and customers. Refuse to waste your valuable time on accounts that force you into their paradigm and make you act as a “Vendor” who sells part numbers at a specific discount level or price. There is extraordinary value created when you learn about the prospect’s business and know more than your competitors do about their business and your recommendations fit like a glove. Sell to the one person who is high enough in the organization to place an appropriate value on the value you create.
OK, that will move the ball down the field in a positive manner. Our young apprentice continues to learn her new trade and she’s beginning to have a bit of light in her eyes as she begins to recognize common sense, and understands more about how to create value as a sales professional. She’s beginning to be careful about where she can best invest her time. She’s selling with a systematic methodology. She’s making it her business to understand her customer’s motivations and understanding how she can help them win. She is refusing to manipulate a prospect just to make a sale. She is confidently avoiding the gatekeeper and those pesky-biting gnats. Check back with us next week for another article about this talented Emerging sales star in the making. Follow her as she rockets up the leaderboard at her new company.
Michael is an award-winning Master Coach, certified by the Professional Business Coaches Alliance. Michael’s firm, Michael Beach Coaching & Consulting features five coaches in the United States, helping fast-growth technology companies and small and medium businesses with Executive Development and Leadership. MBCC’s coaches also provide health and wellness and traditional business coaching and consulting services. If you’re interested in more information, check out www.michaelbeachcoach.com or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also learn a lot about leadership by checking out Michael’s podcast for Leaders and Emerging Leaders, “What Are You Doing?” Podcast, available wherever you get your podcasts. You may also want to check out our videos about leadership and Business Best Practices on Youtube.