Selling Styles and Customer Interactions

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Interaction Styles

An earlier post discussed the two selling styles and how salespeople needed to blend them to suit the occasion—a particular point in the sales cycle. What is meant by blending styles? To answer this question, we need to revisit customer interactions. Most selling is done in face to face interactions with the customer, and sales cycles usually involve several meetings in which the salesperson plays out a scripted strategy to win the sale.

Although a good salesperson will have mapped out the objectives of a call beforehand, things don’t always go as planned. The customer may be having a bad day which will bring the salesperson’s personal skills into play. Conversely, the customer may be ready to take off for a weekend at the cottage, and the salesperson must try to get the business taken care of as there may not be another chance for a long time. The salesperson must hop between relationship and opportunity focus as appropriate.

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The Four Selling Types and Where You Should Be

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matrix opporutnity vs relationship

Last time we finished at the point of declaring two basic selling styles, which we called relationship- and opportunity-focused. Only two? Well, we are at the 60,000 foot level here. Although these are broad generalizations, salespeople will have no trouble concluding in which camp they or their associates feel most comfortable. It boils down to selling through devising strategies or through relationship building, and at the end of the day, a bit of both. In this post we’ll use the 2 x 2 matrix tool to see how that works out.

Salespeople will have a comfort zone that lies to some degree with one of the two styles, and it’s important to know and recognize that. The affinity for one style over the other will also shift depending on circumstances, depending even how you feel physically or mentally on a particular day. It’s tough to appear to be the brightest star the room when you are sick with a bad case of the flu. Once you know which of the styles put you in your element, you can work on the other and become more proficient at blending it in.

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Sales Are UP! Why Don’t I Feel Better?

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Technical Difficulties

Ed. Technical difficulties! OMG, we’ve had technical difficulties! Fortunately we have enough interesting and compelling content here at The HUB that we can dig into our archive and still offer up something that you should find, well, interesting and compelling. I’ve gone back to the early days, our 3rd week of publication, in fact, to pull up an article that you may have missed from then. Enjoy it. Meanwhile, I’ll get back to whipping those tech types to solve our difficulties.

Sales are picking up. Wonderful! We really feel good.

But is it because our sales team is doing an excellent job, or is it because the market is booming? The same applies to the other way round. Sales are down, is it us or them? Although it is so vital to our success we often do not know the real truth, and if we find out, it is very late – too late for taking the right actions early enough for meeting our targets.

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Bad Forecasting – My Best Excuse

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Ed. We’re bringing back one of the most original excuses for a bad forecast ever, and some discussion of the difficulties sales managers have with normalizing the forecasts of their whole team so they get an accurate overall forecast.

The most original excuse I’ve ever heard for an inaccurate forecast: the hooker wrecked it. It’s absolutely true. First-person true. It was actually my excuse.

I had a deal done with a state government, ready to spike the ball. Then the Governor got caught with a prostitute and had to resign. The Lieutenant Governor, in an act of fiscal bravado, froze all state spending until he could review the state’s finances. Thus, the purchase order that had been approved and was ready for release was history, along with about 40% of that period’s sales.

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Blending Selling Styles

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Blending Colors

The conclusion from the last post on selling styles was that there are just two that underpin the natural way salespeople go about selling—these are relationship focus and opportunity focus. The best salespeople will be comfortable with both and, according to the customer interaction, will use a blend of both. Before we take a look at that blending let’s be sure we understand both selling styles.

Opportunity-Focused Selling

Opportunity-focused salespeople are the planners and the tacticians. They treat the competition as the enemy, and the sales opportunity as the war zone. They compete by figuring out what their opponents are going to do, and neutralizing those actions before they have any effect. Relationships are less important to them than making the most of their sales know-how, and using it.

They are keenly aware that the more opportunities in the sales funnel, the more they will win, so they keep the funnel topped up by making it a mission to turn more leads into opportunities.

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Free Sales Automation Done Right E-Book Part Three – Understanding the Sales Opportunity

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SADR Part 3

Part Three of Sales Automation Done Right is now available as a free e-book in The HUB Library.

This part is called “Understanding the Opportunity”, and it’s predominantly sales methodology. It represents a third of Sales Automation Done Right, and if you are in any way involved in applying technology to your selling environment, you should find it interesting, and maybe controversial.

Specifically, it talks about new ways of describing the sales process in a field that I call “computational selling.” I am deliberately steering away from the term Sales Force Automation (SFA) because what I talk about goes further than SFA–it describes a deeper involvement of the computer in the sales process itself.  Implemented correctly, computational selling removes some tedious but crucial background legwork that would otherwise divert the salesperson’s focus from direct customer interaction.

Here are a few notes on what to expect in Part Three:

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Lean Sales – Every Activity Has a Context

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Puzzle Solution

Ed. Today we welcome a new guest contributor with an article from his blog. David Brock has over 20 years of sales, marketing, and management experience with high-tech manufacturers. As president of Partners In Excellence, Dave manages a team providing sales, marketing, service, and business strategy to his clients. We are pleased to present this and future contributions to The HUB, and here is a link to the original article at Dave’s blog.

I’m at the Forrester Sales Enablement Conference.  It’s fascinating, I’ll have a lot more to write over the coming weeks.  Last night, however, I was at dinner with a sales person.  We had a fascinating conversation — at least I thought so.

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Relationship Sales vs Opportunity Sales – Who Wins?

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Process Algorithm

Recently someone on a LinkedIn group sales thread asked the question, “what’s the difference between sales process and sales method.” Mostly the replies were spot on, but I noticed a couple of comments along the lines of “who cares?”

I think that most salespeople are using some form of process or method, but many don’t realize it. If you are computerizing the way you do sales, you have to be conscious of method and process. These two factors determine how good your sales automation will be.

For instance, today I’m writing about selling styles, which I would say fall under the category of sales method. But selling styles are also indelibly linked to sales process—at least, in the way we use them in Opportunity Portfolio Management.

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“A Sure Fire Remedy for Discounting”

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Back on March 30, John Barrows posted a blog on his site that I’m going to re-post here with some comments. I like the topic John addressed, discounting, and I liked his solution – be in a position where you don’t have to. It’s an answer to the temptation to offer discounts to fatten your sales numbers at the end of a reporting period.

But there is another discounting pressure besides your end-of-period report – winning the individual sales opportunity. It’s coming to a close and you’re sure you’re not in a position to win, so you drop your price and even if you still don’t win, at least you’ve cut into the competition’s profit margin when the customer uses your price to leverage a discount out of them.

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Why Should You Care About Your Sales Forecast?

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Forecast Chart

There is no sales team or sales professional who does not have nightmares when the time for the forecast meeting arrives. Although most professionals do not treat it this way, this word is of crucial importance in the sales activity.

I could write pages about the importance of forecasts to the enterprises’ financial planning, and on their manufacturing, logistics, and HR processes. We could also talk about the forecast’s importance for the organization’s credibility and its management processes, or a myriad of other aspects that makes this practice so essential.

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