An Introduction to Outcome-Centric Selling


Today’s 3 Frontline Sales Management Priorities

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 24-Sep-2020

Frontline sales managers - the people from whom individual members of the sales organisation take their day-to-day direction - have always played an absolutely pivotal role in the success of every sales organisation.

The actions they take and the guidance they offer have a profound impact on both individual and team performance. Yet relatively few of these critical players have benefited from formal training or coaching in the essentials of their role.

Many were promoted to their current position because they were top performing sales contributors. But the demands on frontline sales leaders (and the skills they are expected to demonstrate) are often very different from those on individual sales contributors.

The issues have been amplified by the impact of the current Covid-related challenges, and Gartner recently identified three key actions that Chief Sales Officers could and should take to ensure that their frontline managers are creating maximum impact...

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Mutual Success Plans: A Collaborative Approach

Posted by Bob Apollo on Wed 16-Sep-2020

I’ve written before about the persuasive power of a Mutual Success Plan in technology-based B2B sales, and I believe the concept is so important that it is worth returning to it, particularly in the light of recent developments in collaboration technology.

You may have come across the spiritual precursors to the Mutual Success Plan in the form of “Close Plans” or “Mutual Action Plans” - you may already be using one or the other of these concepts - but in a world where enabling our customers to achieve provably better outcomes has never been more important, those more traditional approaches have been found to be lacking...

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The status quo isn’t what it used to be…

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 6-Aug-2020

Whenever a purchase is inevitable (the customer must act) your competition tends to be predictable - and it will often be another vendor like you. But - as is so often the case in complex B2B sales - the purchase is discretionary (the customer may or may not decide to act) - your fiercest competitor is often the status quo.

This was true even before Covid affected our economy. It is even more true now. It will continue to be important in the future. But the status quo isn’t what it used to be.

Preserving the status quo involves doing nothing and sticking with what is familiar rather than venturing into the unknown. It has often been seen by customers as their least-risk option, particularly if there was any significant uncertainty about whether any proposed changes were likely to have a positive impact.

But your customer’s world has changed and for many the old certainties and uncertainties will no longer apply. Battening down the hatches until they can revert to the “old normal” - far from being the safe approach - may now be a risky strategy. For many, change is inevitable...

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Never let a good crisis go to waste

Posted by Bob Apollo on Fri 24-Jul-2020

As Winston Churchill was working to establish the United Nations after World War Two, he observed that leaders should “never let a good crisis go to waste”.

Faced with the current pandemic-induced crisis, we all face choices, and we are all at risk of failing to grasp the opportunity to drive much-needed and often long-overdue change.

We can either hope to return to something that looks similar to the old normal, or we can use the “crisis” as a catalyst to rethink the way we go to market…

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The importance of speed-to-outcome

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 23-Jul-2020

I recently recorded another conversation with Andy Paul, award winning author, speaker and the host of the Sales Enablement podcast. Inevitably, our discussion turned to the impact of the current pandemic on B2B buying behaviour and on how salespeople are having to adapt.

We concluded that any salesperson that hasn’t re-evaluated where their best current opportunities lie is likely to be struggling. This requires that salespeople have a clear idea of the issues they are best positioned to solve, the organisations that are likely to want to deal with them, the people responsible for driving the change agenda, and the triggers that cause them to recognise the need for urgent action.

Without a clear and compelling need for urgent action, customers are likely to defer purchase decisions. But what are the common characteristics of the projects that are being approved?

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Answering your customer’s three critical questions

Posted by Bob Apollo on Wed 1-Jul-2020

In today's challenging and uncertain business climate, your customers have good reason to be cautious. They are unlikely to initiate new projects unless they see them as being strategically relevant, tactically urgent, and capable of delivering rapid time-to-value. The rest can wait.

If your sales organisation are to break through the deadlock, they must develop compelling answers to their customer's three critical questions:

  • Why should they change?
  • Why should they choose you?
  • Why should they act now?

If your answers to any of these questions are less than completely compelling, the chances are your customer will stick with the status quo. Generic value propositions are not going to be much help - your salespeople need to learn how to craft customer-specific outcome-centric value stories...

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A New Normal - or a Better Normal?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 9-Jun-2020

It’s become common for commentators to refer to the fast-evolving reality of B2B selling as the “new normal”, and I’ve often used this phrase myself. But in some interpretations, that seems to imply an acceptance that we’re going to have to learn to live with a situation that is somehow worse than what we had before whilst we strive to get back to the “old normal”.

I don’t believe this is either inevitable or appropriate. I believe we must instead use the events of the past few months as a stimulus to accelerate long-overdue changes in how we treat each other and how we behave as B2B sales professionals, and to eliminate the accumulated tolerance of wastage and inefficiency that has become characteristic of the sales profession.

We have an opportunity to emerge smarter and better for our recent experiences, and we need to grasp it.

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What's Your Customer-Specific Differentiating Value?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Wed 27-May-2020

I thoroughly enjoyed talking with Tom Pisello of the Evolved Selling Institute as his guest on the EVOLVERS Podcast on the subject of "Articulating Your Differentiating Value, a Requirement in a Tight Economy".

We covered a wide range of topics, including the need to focus on issues that are both strategically relevant and tactically urgent, for which our approach is capable of delivering rapid-time-to-value and the importance of elevating the cost of inaction...

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Is your 'coach' a mobiliser or an immobiliser?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 26-May-2020

Most conventional sales methodologies encourage salespeople to find at least one coach inside the potential customer’s organisation who is willing and able to give them honest feedback and guide them through the decision-making and approval processes.

It’s supposed to be even better if the coach turns out be an enthusiastic champion of your approach. But finding a champion won’t necessarily significantly improve your chances of winning the deal, unless they are capable of mobilising their colleagues...

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Should we be selling 'solutions' or outcomes?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 19-May-2020

Many sales methodologies - in the interest, no doubt, of selling more books and training courses - claim to have a uniquely effective approach. Yet, and perhaps inevitably, each methodology has its strengths, weaknesses and blind spots. None of them can credibly claim that they offer a universal “one best way”.

Of course, it’s almost always the case that adopting a relevant methodology is better than not having a process at all. But choosing to only ever drink one brand of kool-aid is rarely a healthy long-term strategy. Some of the most effective sales leaders I have worked with have taken elements of the different methodologies and combined them together to create a pragmatic framework that works for their environment.

They might, for example, choose to combine an awareness of the SPIN question types with some of the Sandler conversational techniques and - where appropriate - applying Challenger tactics to introduce new perspectives to the customer. They could also incorporate Miller-Heiman’s approach to stakeholder assessment and use one of a number of opportunity qualification frameworks.

If chosen and implemented thoughtfully, pragmatically combining appropriate elements from different methodologies delivers better results than any one methodology could achieve on its own. One of the reasons why such combinations can work in practice is that almost all of the methodologies are based on a common foundational principle: using a consultative approach to identify and sell solutions to customer problems...

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