Selling is harder every day. This topics series is presented to help you better meet the challenges of resisting discounting and over time increasing your prices)
Selling processes/methods/tactics that were successful become less so over time. Marketplace noise increases daily. The standard practise of push marketing plus outbound sales adds to the noise with targets increasing their use of a Delete key. In order to get to talk to a prospect about how a product
or service brings value, sales needs high quality help from marketing and different sales skills.
This change is necessitated by a market power shift. Power in the process has shifted to the buyer, because the seller is no longer the sole source of information for the purchase. Buyers have ready access to a sea of information about products through the Web. Buyers determine when and how the
seller will interact with them.
In my own case, I receive numerous mail and phone requests every day for “just a few minutes of your time to discuss a new product or service that will bring benefit to your business“. Delete. I need to be engaged by the sellers content and knowledge of my situation before I will respond.
Many sales and marketing teams still misunderstand this point, wasting millions of dollars yearly of internal funds. If a selling company was effective in fixing this they would experience:
- Marketing having ongoing conversations with their target market
- The bulk of the sales conversations would be initiated by the buyer.
- The momentum of the sales cycles would be increasing (shorter cycles)
- Reduction of the cost of sales and
- Rising profits.
In our consulting practise we see the opposite happening for many companies.
Any modern selling process (what the seller does) now takes a distant back seat to fully the knowing the buyer, the buyer’s (hidden) process (what the buyers do) and the value the seller brings during the buying process. This is a sea change in how many previously successful sales people have been trained.
(In part 2 I describe one of the changes needed – in marketing )
Your comments and examples are welcomed.
- Marketing Automation is Not the Magic Bullet for Your Sales Issues (regnordman.com)
- E-Selling and buying (cash-bandit.com)
- The Future of Buyer Personas is Social – Part 2 (customerthink.com)
- Adopting a Buyer-Focused Marketing Model (reportcontentwriter.wordpress.com)
Go for No! Yes is the destination No is how you get there. Richard Fenton & Andrea Waltz. 2010. ISBN 9780966398137. Quite a surprising book. In less than 80 pages its the “story” of how one sales guy was able to dramatically turn things around. It is built around what we know how self limiting goals cause us to ‘quit early’. Rather than counting the number of closed deals you count the number of “nos” each day. Failure to talk to enough people is one of the big self limits to sales. I liked the book and would recommend it as a good addition to your sales library. It’s good for a boost and a reminder of the basics.
- Go For No by Richard Fenton and Andrea Waltz (bayintegratedmarketing.wordpress.com)
Sharon Drew Morgen recently authored a good article on the marketing automation guide on marketing automation. It spurred some good comments, many of which I agree with. As we develop more expertise in Content Marketing I see a very strong correlation between great content marketing and increased momentum through the sales cycle. As I read this weekend, “nurture your leads towards value, not the sale”. What bothers me is that technology companies seem to want to reach first for a technology solution, before they identify their major impediments to sales. Witness CRM systems that sales people still do not use. If they do use it, CRM does not improve the sales activities. Marketing Automation is now under that same cloud.
A long time ago I found that as a CEO you need to be in front of the customer to find out what they think of what you make and what you need to do to better serve their needs. Of course marketing automation will handle lots of leads and provide support to a strong nurturing program. But to do this properly you need compelling content, written for the buyer to support their buying process, when they need it. This is now the time for the writer, not an automated tool. The power is now in the hands of the buyer, not the seller. Buyers chose the field making the old push model, which never worked well, way past its best before date. Sales must be beefed up with a strong inbound marketing program. If you do not have the marketing chops already, buying a tool will not give them to you.
- Demand Generation Necessary For Lead Generation! (customerthink.com)
- B2B Marketing Automation Industry Size and Segments (customerthink.com)
- Outbound vs. Inbound: The Risk Management Issue in the Complex Sale (customerthink.com)
The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices. How the digital magicians of MIT Media Lab are creating the innovative technologies that will transform our lives. Frank Moss.
The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices. How the digital magicians of MIT Media Lab are creating the innovative technologies that will transform our lives. Frank Moss. 2011. ISBN 9780307589101. If you ever needed a reason to go to Boston, this book will give you one. The author was the Director of the MIT Media Lab and compiled this book while there. It is a walk through the halls to see and hear about the upcoming technologies that Negroponte‘s vision has brought forth. I also enjoyed the stories about the many brilliant researchers and the sponsors who stand behind them. I had not realized that some of the researchers are successful company founders who after cashing out, are now doing what they love – creating new things. The facility seems to be a hot bed of serendipity, bringing so many interests to bear on each project. You never know where the technology will be applied. Good read and it gives you a boost.
- The Sorcerers & Their Apprentices: The Untold Story of MIT Media Lab (brainpickings.org)
- Gotta read this book! (lawafterthebar.wordpress.com)
- Business Beach Reads? (800ceoread.com)
- MIT Media Lab develops “eye” phone to diagnose cataracts (whcchealthinnovations.org)
- The Wizardly Ways of a Tech Lab (online.wsj.com)
- Smartphone Accessory Detects Cataracts (mt-soft.com.ar)
- Talk by Ramesh Raskar, MIT Media Lab – 6th July (punetech.com)
- MIT Project Uses Smart Phones to Detect Cataracts (wired.com)
I’m Feeling Lucky. The confessions of Google employee number 59. Douglas Edwards. 2011. ISBN 9780547416991. The book is exactly as titled. An unvarnished description of 5 years with Google. It is a testimony that in order to break through today a technology company needs to do something exceptional. Edwards was a fifty plus year old journalist who caught a ride on a rocket. He is a good writer making this read like a novel. The characters, the culture and the chaos all ring true to anyone who has spent the time in a technology company. Worthy book for your summer reading.
- I’m Feeling Lucky, By Douglas Edwards In the Plex, By Steven Levy (independent.co.uk)
- Google to Launch Condoms? (ramanan50.wordpress.com)
- Doug Edwards – Former Google Executive Speaks About Google+ [Video] (realestateradiousa.com)
- Google’s Larry Page once said “if we have to use marketing then we’ve failed” (thenextweb.com)
- An eye-opening peek at Google, behind the scenes (boston.com)
- “I’m Feeling Lucky”: Google Employee No. 59 Tells All (fastcompany.com)
- Google’s Biggest Problem: It’s Too Rational (pcworld.com)
Building Business Value. How to command a premium price for your midsized company. Martin O”Neill.2009. ISBN 978098205056905. As part of my ongoing pricing research I was lead to this book. It does exactly what it says it does. In a well thought out style the author leads you through the internal and external drivers that determine the value of your company. Very telling advice was , ” If you drive to increasing company value, you can exit at any time”. Any business owner will benefit from going through this book and answering the questions the author asks. We see too many companies who would be rockets if they just asked themselves a few simple questions. Well written, good notes and through bibliography make this a long term reference book for the business owner. I especially liked his way for describing what good was , then pointing out how to measure how good your company was, the major ways that people fail and how to prevent that.
- Pricing for Profit. How to command higher prices for your products and services. Dale Furtwengler. (regnordman.com)
Social Media Sales Revolution. The new rules for finding customers, building relationships, ansd closing more sales through online networking. Landy Chase & Kevin Knebl.
Social Media Sales Revolution. The new rules for finding customers, building relationships, and closing more sales through online networking. Landy Chase & Kevin Knebl. 2011. ISBN 9780071768504. Brand spanking new from McGraw Hill and very current. I am researching resources for a Social Media for Sales course we are presenting this fall. This one is a good fit.
The author has a great line at the end:
The first chapters explain why the old outbound sales prospecting methods are giving lower returns. The book then shows the proactive sales person exactly how to leverage the new tools for 30 minutes a day to improve his sales numbers. The chapters on really using LinkedIn and Hootsuite are priceless. I was able to immediately improve my LinkedIn profile. As a result I had as best ever one day increase in my Klout score. The coverage of Twitter and Facebook is also valuable. Could be the sales efficiency book of the year for me. Most others have got this all wrong.
This is a must buy for the salesperson who wants to win.
Crude Deception. Gordon Zuckerman. 2011. ISBN 9781608321438. The second in a series ( I have not read the first). This is a mystery novel placed in the years just at the end of WW II. Thus you know the end result, so its not much of a mystery! The journey is more important here than the destination. A group of wealthy individuals are concerned that post war control of the oil industry will be too concentrated in a few oil firms. The novel has locations in US, Europe and Asia and shows knowledge of the prevailing issues, at least from one point of view. You see the formation of OPEC and other post war institutions. I could not get into this book. It seems to refer back to the first novel too much, implying that one was more exciting. The author has some pretty good basic material to work with and decent character development. I would have liked to see the action spots/cliff hangers to be more descriptive, intense and emotive. But that is just me.
How to Sell at Margins Higher Than Your Competitors: Winning every sale at full price, rate or fee. Lawrence L. Steinmetz & William T. Brooks
How to Sell at Margins Higher Than Your Competitors: Winning every sale at full price, rate or fee. Lawrence L. Steinmetz & William T. Brooks. 2006. ISBN 978-0471744832. (also Kindle). This is a small but detailed book and one I recommend to any sales manager charged with getting margins up. A bonus with the book is a complete addenda that lists all the ways professional buyers will mistreat (beat up ) a seller in order to get him to crack on price. if you have been there as a sales man you will recognize some of these immediately! Buyers lie in order to get you to lower price. If they could get it from someone else at a better price, why are they still talking to you (unless they can’t get delivery, quality, service or they are not allowed). The authors discussion of the price buyer is excellent and thorough. What I appreciate about the book is that it is more than a list of what happens, they then give you tactics that are useful in the sale. I have been at this a long time, and never knew the breadth of tactics in this book. I have already been able to use a few in the last few days to great results. (What do they say about the old dog, new tricks?) Their one chapter analysis on setting prices gives the practitioner immediate tools to help decide where you should stand. They are dead set against letting the market determine price – you have to. An essential book for your sales library.
- You’re Working Too Hard To Make the Sale. More than 100 insider tools to sell faster and easier . William T. Brooks & Tom Tavisano. 2nd Ed (regnordman.com)
- Consultative Selling. The Hanan formula for high-margin sales at high levels. 8th Ed. Mack Hanan (regnordman.com)
- With sales vs. profits, listen to your market, not your ego. (vailchris1.wordpress.com)
Killing Giants. 10 strategies to topple the Goliath in your industry. Stephen Denny. 2011. ISBN 9781591843832. The author has put down 33 first hand stories ( Eg Vibram barefoot runners, Dunking Donuts taste test, Jetblue) organized under ten different strategies. This is a book that should be in hands of every small business owner or small division owner. The stories are compelling, recognizable and very well organized (The author has a strategy for that as well) Smaller companies should be more nimble and market responsive than the giants. Great line that I extracted, over time incumbent companies grow to resemble their markets ( like owners look like their dogs) . Large companies acquire habits that smaller firms can get around and find opportunities. Good read and well put together.
- Guerrilla marketing can be like warfare (theglobeandmail.com)
- Killing Giants is a Way of Doing (and a Book) (conversationagent.com)
- How to Take on a Giant (ducttapemarketing.com)
- Viva the underdog! (drewsmarketingminute.com)
- How to Build a Speed Culture for Your Business [Infodoodle] (mpdailyfix.com)
- Valeria Maltoni: How Barnes & Noble’s Nook Just Shifted the Playing Field: a Giant Killer In The Making? (stephendenny.com)
- Killing Giants, a video review (jeffesposito.com)