Everybody Needs to Think Like a Salesperson

Posted by Bob Apollo on Sat 14-Mar-2009

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There's an excellent article in ModernSelling on the latest Miller Heiman findings about the things that set top performing organisations apart.

The results speak for themselves.  These organisations have proven themselves to be consistently successful in 5 key areas:

  • Average account billing
  • Sales force quota attainment
  • Number of qualified opportunities
  • Customer retention
  • Forecast accuracy

But how have they achieved this?  They create the foundation for success by aligning the entire organisation (sales, marketing and the rest) around a profound understanding of who their best customers are, what matters to them, and how and why they buy.

Miller Heiman's conclusions align closely with what we are observing in the marketplace.

Creating Opportunities

At the top of the funnel, best in class organisations are able to maximise opportunity value by understanding who their best prospects are, by carefully qualifying opportunities, by understanding where their value to the customer lies, and by walking away from poorly qualified deals.

This is not a static process - and is even less so now.  As the report points out, ideal customer profiles are likely to change in line with changing market conditions. New criteria are likely to evolve, and organisations have to ensure that marketing isn't focusing its messages on last years' (or even last quarter's) audiences or issues.

Advancing Opportunities

Miller Heiman recommend that vendors carefully assess whether the prospect seems likely to enter in to a  relationship that will provide long term value for both the buyer and seller.  If not, even the current deal will prove harder to win, and less likely to be profitable.

Having a strong value perspective is important at a tactical level, as well.  Our own observations suggest that at every step along the way, vendors need to be able to answer the question "how does this sales action create value for the buyer, and advance their buying process"?  If you can't answer the question or measure the outcome, you need to seriously question the tactic.

A significant part of creating value for the prospect is their feeling that they are learning something to their advantage - but few like to be lectured. We all know that the best sales people do this through anecdotes - and we are strong believers in coaching the entire sales team on the power of selling through storytelling.

Closing the Sale

It's clear that decision making has become even more risk averse, and that ever more people are involved in the decision making process.  It's always been important to identify and reach as many of the decision-makers as possible - but even then some may be unknown or unreachable.

We've found that two things can make a difference: first, elevating the consequences of inaction to the organisation - and using that to reach the other parties who may be affected, and second, recognising that you need to equip your champion to help secure approval for your proposal with their decision-making colleagues.

How does your current sales process compare to the best-in-class?  Take our free sales process healthcheck.

Topics: Scalable Systems, Complex Sales