The Language and Method of Selling

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Salespeople usually get trained by “learning on the job.” Depending on who’s teaching, that may be OK, but it often leads to nonconformity of understanding from one salesperson to another. It’s surprising how many salespeople have little in common with their fellows, as far as understanding the fundamental language of the sale.

Wide adoption of computer technology by sales departments only heightens the problem. If a few hundred salespeople are linked together through a common CRM network, they have to understand the common thread of the sales method that is hopefully embedded in it. If not, they will use it in a myriad of different ways, which usually renders the CRM system useless. CRM is a wonderful way to ingrain sales methodology, but it needs a carefully chosen sales method to start off with.

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Sell On Value, But Which Value?

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Selling on price seems like the easy way out in sales. If you have no other arguments, just drop the price until you get the order. But unless the ability to produce at lower cost than anybody else is the company’s primary strength, this behavior doesn’t lead to long-term success. Instead, it will cause unnecessary price wars and probably economical failure sooner or later. This is why more and more companies tell their sales people to sell on value and not on price.

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Gamification and Sales Automation

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Anyone interested in the direction that business applications are evolving toward these days will have encountered the term “gamification.” In addition to the fact that my spell checker insists on changing it to “ramification,” I don’t much like the word—it seems a little too contrived. But, gamification looks like it is here to stay, even though experts have widely different views about what gamification is.

The basic idea is simple. People like games, but they don’t like work. Games are fun—so put key elements of games into work, and work will become fun. Too much of a stretch?—I don’t think so. I think gamification fits extremely well with computational selling (sales automation, sales force automation, etc.) In fact, I have always been downright enthusiastic about the idea.

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Stage-based Sales Forecasting – Why Won’t this Concept die?

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A popular post I wrote after the launch of the SalesWays Hub was called “Stage-Based Sales Forecasting – It Doesn’t Work.” In it I discussed specifically why it’s a terrible idea to tie probability directly to a linear sales stage. Probability isn’t necessarily, or even generally, tied to where you are in the sales process. Milestones in the sales cycle do not govern your chances of winning. Your product and your performance at those milestones do. I’d like to expand on this, taking on a new model called “High-Velocity Selling.”

High-Velocity Selling

There is a popular (within the entrepreneurial software world) new sales process for enterprise called “High-Velocity Selling.” The concept was first described in a post by a VC, Lars Leckie, back in 2010.  In it, he outlined a new model of thinking for enterprise sales and marketing which is inside sales driven and takes advantage of consumer internet technologies (i.e. marketing automation).

Sounds great – and I love it.  I think it makes a ton of sense, and I tend to agree that the days of the world travelling software sales organization are numbered. Companies such as Salesforce.com and Zendesk have adopted this model with great success.

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The Competition Is Doing Nothing

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chess-game

The competition is rarely doing nothing. It’s best to assume in any sales situation that the competition is doing at least as good as you are, and maybe better. Selling is about winning against competitors—people like you, from companies like yours, with products or services that are, in the customer’s eyes, in the running for the deal that’s currently going down.

Competition is an essential part of sales. Selling well means doing a better job of convincing the customer that you have something better to offer than someone else. On first glance the alternatives might look indistinguishable—any of them will satisfy the customer’s requirements, but the best salespeople will have an uncanny knack at singling out something that makes what they have different, different enough that the customer sees it as representing better value–standing out from the crowd.

But there is another quite different alternative in the sales opportunity, one representing a tougher competitive challenge to the salesperson—the customer may elect not to buy anything at all. It’s important to understand what I really mean here. The opportunity has been identified, the customer has expressed a legitimate need and the sales cycle is underway, often near completion. The customer decides, “after a lot of work, research, trial, and discussion, we’ve decided that we’re not going to do that—we’ll revert to status quo.”

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Free Sales Automation Done Right E-Book Part Five – Conclusions

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Sales Automation Done Right - Part Five

This is the final installment in the five-part, e-book edition of Sales Automation Done Right. And, it’s the shortest. It’s really an essay summarizing how true sales automation can reap huge benefits for organizations understanding what needs to be done and executing that correctly.

What’s important to grasp is the true meaning of “sales effectiveness”—selling better than the competition, increasing won/lost ratios, losing less and winning more. Part 5 suggests reframing sales force automation (SFA) to specifically mean using technology to improve sales effectiveness, as it is defined like this. The problem is that the other “e” word, efficiency, gets in the way. Sales can increase because technology frees up more time to sell. That’s great, and you need that to happen. But that’s only half the benefit.

The neglected half is that ability to win more sales in the face of strong competition. That is where Sales Automation Done Right sets out to level the playing field. Learn the principles you’ll find there and your team will sell better. The sub-title of SADR is “leveraging technology for competitive advantage in sales.” If I had to do it again, I would change that last phrase to “competitive advantage in selling.”

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The Sales Process – “All the World’s a Stage …” (Part Two)

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Final Curtain

Here are some more thoughts on the metaphor of the stage play versus the sales transaction that began in this post. As in that post, the italics are taken from my original description of the SalesWays Opportunity Portfolio Management training course.

Remember, the reason that we get precise in the language of sales is to define an exact model of the sales process that the computer can understand. The advantage of having consistent understanding of the terms across the sales team is that it builds transparency which in turn leads to efficiency. Efficiency is one of those two E words (Effectiveness being the other) that you hope will ensue when you implement CRM or SFA. This post ends with the “Final Curtain” and will, indeed, mark the end of this two part thread on the stage metaphor. I promise.

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Prioritize Sales Opportunities to Maximize Results

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ASPEC - OPM Planner - Priority

Priority is an important concept in selling. It helps us to determine how we should organize our work on the opportunities in our portfolios in order to maximize their value, and maximize our income. Although the idea is intuitive in theory, it is not always obvious in the reality and pressures of dealing with real sales opportunities in real time.

There are many ways to prioritize opportunities. We may prioritize based on order potential (size), the strategic nature of the prospect, or our estimated probability of success, for example.  Although these are acceptable practices, they may not guarantee we will maximize the results of our efforts.  A large potential order with very limited likelihood of success may prove to be a time sink that prevents us from acting on opportunities that might result in a larger payoff.

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The Sales Process – “All the World’s a Stage …”

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Sales Process on Stage

“All the world’s a stage and we’re all players and salespeople.”

This quote is from an article by Liz Guthridge called, “Learn to love selling in the year of the snake.”

Actually, Liz was reviewing a recent book by Dan Pink called “To Sell Is Human.” I checked out the inside of the book on Amazon and placed an order—looks like good stuff to me.

Liz is enamored by a suggestion in the book to enhance the skills of pitching, improvisation, and serving. To focus on improvisation, she involves herself in a course of improv and finds it has a positive impact on her selling. Summing up she says, “With apologies to Shakespeare, I prefer selling to acting as influencing seems more natural to me . . .”

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Free Sales Automation Done Right E-Book Part Four – The Technology of Sales Automation

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SADR - Part 4

This E-Book, The Technology of Sales Automation, explains how it is possible to get proactive and valuable assistance from a computer that has been programmed with basic information about how sales transactions progress and evolve through the sales cycle.

The sales model, which we’ve touched on in other posts, is the key to making this happen. With some precise information about the actual experiences in the sale, entered by the salesperson, the computer can use intelligent response technology to figure out the difference between real and ideal. If reality fits the model’s concept of what should be happening, everything is fine. If not, the computer can provide some cautionary advice on what to do. If it sounds complicated, this e-book explains everything with examples. Plus, you can download a free, personal version of ASPEC to see how it works in practice.

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