BLOG: SELLING IN THE BREAKTHROUGH ZONE

Why your salespeople should never do product demonstrations

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 7-Jun-2018

I imagine we’ve all sat through at least one of these at some stage of our careers: a software demonstration that is nothing more or less than a relentless and apparently never-ending stream of product features thrown out at the audience in the misguided hope that at least some of them might prove relevant or attractive.

It’s a horrible and unproductive tactic: assuming that our prospective customer hasn’t already zoned out, it places responsibility on them to imagine whether this or that widget might have any relevance to something that is important to them.

This seems to be a particular problem for technically-orientated demonstrators: they are often so proud of how clever their product is that they can’t resist introducing yet another feature of function. There’s no story, no coherence, and no respect for the audience.

Yes, demonstrations - at the right time, and in the right context - can be a vital element of a successful sales cycle. I just believe that there’s a much better way of achieving this than doing a conventional product demonstration...

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Establishing (& amplifying) our customer’s value gap

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 22-Mar-2018

If we boil it down to the basics, there is one over-riding reason why our customers accept the need for change rather than sticking with the status quo: because (with or without our help) they perceive a large and growing value gap between their current situation and their future aspirations.

When this value gap is small and stable, they will be inclined to avoid the cost and risk of change and they will inevitably have other higher-priority projects that they will be more inclined to plough their scarce time, energy and money into.

But when this value gap is large and growing, when the pain, cost and risk of staying the same is perceived to be far higher than even the inevitable costs and risks associated with any significant change project, they will be inclined to make action a priority.

That’s why establishing, influencing and wherever possible amplifying our customer’s perceived value gap is such a critical element of any successful complex B2B sales campaign…

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Are your sales people suffering from value vagueness?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 20-Mar-2018

Whether they are involved in winning new business or seeking to retain or expand existing business relationships, one of the key things that every member of your sales organisation needs to understand is how they establish unique value for each existing or prospective customer.

In the case of new business, this is about the future value that your prospective customer believes they will derive from implementing your solution. In the case of existing business, it is about the actual business value they have already derived from using your solution.

This is nothing to do with having superior features or functions: it is about the superior business outcomes that your solutions enable your customers to achieve. You’d hope that understanding this would be baked into the DNA of any competent B2B sales person.

But all-too-often, when I ask sales people how they create tangible business value for their customers, their answers turn out to be disturbingly vague…

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Targeting prospects who are “trying but struggling”

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 13-Feb-2018

An uninformed and superficial review of the principles of “challenger®️ selling” might lead some people to conclude that it depends on introducing a problem or opportunity that our potential prospect has never previously given any active consideration to.

But even assuming that these projects don’t fall at the first hurdle and that we can turn them into an active opportunity, these “previously unconsidered initiative” projects - particularly if they are dependent on new budget being found - can often result in complex, lengthy and often ultimately unsuccessful sales cycles.

I’m not suggesting that such projects are always likely to end in failure - but they are far from the only way in which we can successfully challenge our customer’s current thinking. There are many other ways in which we can bring fresh perspectives to our prospects in a way that has a good chance of being rapidly accepted and implemented...

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Drilling into the need beyond the need

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 22-Aug-2017

Theodore Levitt was the first to introduce us to the idea that “people don't want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole” - and this observation has surely now become one of today’s most relevant and widely quoted sales aphorisms.

It reminds us that our primary purpose, if we are to achieve lasting success in complex B2B sales, is not to sell our products or services but to reliably solve our customer’s problems and satisfy their needs.

But what if the need isn’t that obvious - or if the customer’s perception of their current need is that it isn’t critical enough to justify the case for change?

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Never mind your prospect’s current situation - what about their future direction?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Sat 24-Jun-2017

Most of today’s most popular B2B sales methodologies - including Value Selling, Challenger®, Solution Selling, Consultative Selling, SPIN® selling and many more - recommend that we always take the time to diagnose our prospect’s current pain points before we seek to propose our solution.

These techniques are even more effective when we manage to amplify the pain of their current situation or help the prospect to acknowledge previously unrecognised or undervalued needs that we are particularly effective at addressing.

But simply seeking to diagnose their current situation seems like an inadequate strategy compared with helping them see the future consequences of pursuing their current path as opposed to what they might be able to achieve if they were willing to change their behaviour…

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