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The Inflexion-Point Blog: VALUE SELLING STRATEGIES

Stretching your customer's value gap

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 5-Dec-2019

Whenever your customer sees little meaningful difference between their current situation and their future potential, they will be inclined tostick with the status quo.

And whenever they see little meaningful contrast between the various offerings being proposed to them, they will be inclined to buy thelowest-cost solution.

If you are determined to compete on value and not on price, and if you are equally determined to avoid losing potentially winnable opportunities to a decision to "do nothing", you need to establish the strongest possiblevalue gapbetween your approach and all the other options available to them.

To achieve this, you need to recognise that your competitors are not just the other similar vendors that are proposing apparently similar solutions - your true competition includes all the othercredible optionsyour customer might be considering...

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Selling against the status quo

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 8-Oct-2019

You’re probably all too well aware of the statistic that the majority of apparently well-qualified complex B2B buying journeys end with the potential customer either deciding to do nothing or to change nothing.

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Podcast: The Foundations of Sales Effectiveness

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 20-Jun-2019

I recently recorded a second wide-ranging podcast on the foundations of sales effectiveness with Michael Webb of Sales Performance Consultants Inc.

We continued to develop the topics we had discussed in our initial podcast, and this time we turned our attention to the need to find ways of eliminating the avoidable errors that so often prevent sales people from achieving their full potential.

Inevitably, we turned to the structural and cultural foundations of successful sales organisations - and the reasons why (despite the huge sums of money invested) so many CRM implementations fail to deliver the hoped-for improvements in performance.

We also discussed some of the basic foundations of any scalable sales "process" - including the critical importance of recognising the common characteristics of our ideal customers. I hope you enjoy listening to our discussion...

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The Persuasive Power of a Mutual Action Plan

Posted by Bob Apollo on Mon 6-May-2019

As Gartner and others have frequently pointed out, B2B buying decisions are often complicated. If the problem to be solved is a new one, rather than a familiar repetitive purchase, the buyer (or, more likely, buying group) may not be completely clear about what they want to achieve, or how they need to achieve it.

Many sales methodologies define a series of steps in the form of a close plan that needs to be completed by the sales person in order to move the sale forward. But unless the prospective customer is engaged in the exercise, these often drive sales activity without guaranteeing any significant progress from the buying side.

This is why Mutual Action Plans are such a powerful concept: they establish mutual agreement between the buyer and seller about the steps they intend to take - individually and jointly - in order to progress the buying journey and make the best possible purchase decision...

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Over 40% of projects are ad-hoc: another nail in the coffin of BANT

Posted by Bob Apollo on Mon 11-Mar-2019

It surprises and shocks me how many sales organisations still regard BANT as a practical way of qualifying sales opportunities. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, it dates back to the steam-driven days prior to the emergence of the Internet, SaaS and modern buying behaviours and stands for Budget, Authority, Need and Timeframe.

Now, at some point, any significant purchase decision probably requires all four elements, but using BANT as an early stage qualifier is madness - something that is reinforced by recent research by Gartner that revealed that over 40% of software buying efforts were ad-hoc rather than formally budgeted in advance.

That means any sales person insisting that leads are “BANT” qualified before they are prepared to engage with them is missing out on nearly half of their potential opportunities - and by the time that all four BANT boxes can be ticked, other more astute salespeople are likely to have reached out to the prospect and influenced their thinking...

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Our prospects are qualifying us, too...

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 21-Jun-2018

Just as the discovery process is best thought of (and most effective) as a two-way exercise, so is the closely-related opportunity qualification process. We can think of qualification as one of the key outcomes of an effective discovery process.

Many sales people tend to behave as if qualification is something they do to rather than with a prospective customer, but we need to recognise that our prospect is also trying to qualify both the nature and seriousness of their problem and our credibility as a potential solution provider.

Just as top sales people have too much respect for their own time to waste it chasing poorly qualified “opportunities” that are either never likely to close or never likely to buy from us, our most valuable potential customers are also trying to qualify whether the problem is worth bothering about and whether we are a credible source of the necessary expertise.

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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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