“Selling has Nothing to Do with Selling!”
The underlining theme of my presentation is that sales people should stop selling, presenting, answering objections and closing and should instead play the role of a “change agent”.
I. Central to my presentation is the concept that salespeople have to adopt a “CEO mentality”. They need to view their territory/account list as a separate company that they run with P/L responsibility. In running this company they will have to protect “5 vital assets” in order to insure maximum leverage and return on assets.
A) Time – Their most valuable asset. They need to guard and protect their time with opportunities that are qualified and have a high likelihood of moving forward. This requires a strict discipline of always qualifying opportunities by asking “tough questions” so that they don’t squander their time inappropriately.
B) Information – Most salespeople misallocate this valuable asset by prematurely leading with information and expertise. Because they spend 80% of their time giving out information, they are frequently reduced to commodity status.
C) Resources – Company resources are so often squandered by doing endless quoting, proposing and follow-up on unqualified opportunities where one loses leverage and control. Company resources need to be allocated judiciously and in a timely fashion to protect one’s effort, time and money invested on building new business opportunities.
D) Relationships – Sales people need to be discriminatory as to which relationships will yield them the greatest return. The key to building relationships today is knowing that people not only buy from those they like or respect, but more importantly they buy from those that understand their unique situations. This requires understanding their business, their challenges and problems with a high emphasis on probing, questioning and listening skills.
E) Self Concept – Sales people put their self-concept at risk with clients that use them, waste their time, stall them, mislead them and squander their resources. Sales people must recognize how to minimize these negative outcomes.
II. Feature/Benefit, Value-Added Selling
The feature/benefit style of selling that has served companies so well in the past no longer works. What companies work so hard in trying to prevent (commoditization), they actually create. They invalidate and denigrate their value proposition by touting the exact value proposition their competitors tout: quality, service, reliability, expertise, value and performance. This style of selling is the quickest path to commoditization and lower margins. Instead of a differentiator, it is a “great equalizer” that reduces your message to a common denominator. This makes it difficult to penetrate into new accounts at high levels and maintain pricing integrity.
III. The reason companies get commoditized is because sales people’s sales methodology defaults to the prospects buying system. The way clients buy and select suppliers is more sophisticated than sales people’s ability to sell and differentiate products and services. In order for sales people to enhance their selling position, they must understand the methodology of how people buy and come up with a sales process that levels the playing field and neutralizes the buyer’s inherent advantages.
The clients buying system is to gather all your information (features and benefits), price, terms, conditions, creative ideas and proposal. They want it up-front and early on. They want to give sales people as little information in return. They maximize their time and waste sales people’s time. They stall them. They play their cards very close to the chest. They want to get as much information as possible so they can leverage their position and be a savvy informed buyer of what you sell so they can then beat you up on price, pit you one against another and always leave you hanging as to what they are going to do next.
Unfortunately, the way sales people sell encourages this process. Sales people have educated and conditioned clients to treat them like this.
The goal is to design a sales process/methodology that levels the field and gives your sales people more leverage. The way this is accomplished is through a disciplined sales process that encourages sales people to size up opportunities based solely on motivation to change and the underlying pain that drives it.
IV. Summary of what you will learn
- How the feature/benefit style of selling will marginalize your selling position and reduce you to a commodity.
- Why the mandate of sales people is to play the role of a neutral “change agent” and help clients independently discover on their own if they have a compelling reason to change and what the cost of change represents to them.
- Why selling is no longer just “what are your requirements/application needs and how can we meet them?” Now it is “what is your company’s vision/mission, your critical success factors and what is preventing you from achieving them?”
- Why the value of product knowledge is being diminished in today’s marketplace and being superceded by industry knowledge, the intricacies of your customer’s business and knowledge of your customer’s clients. Building a product superiority justification is being replaced by building a sound business case and a ROI analysis.
- Why traditional skill sets in persuading and convincing are far less important in today’s marketplace. What truly differentiates one company from another is their ability to be a business resource, a strategic advisor, an objective partner and a business strategist.
- Why your value propositions and your added-value are now valueless in today’s competitive marketplace.
- Why sales managers may be unwittingly sabotaging the company’s sales effort.
- Why sales people should adopt a “non-selling posture”. The goal of their sales call is to have prospects sell them as opposed to putting all their effort into selling prospects.