I believe that a certain amount of skepticism is valuable when dealing with potential buyers. This is because sellers are predisposed to have "happy ears" when trying to understand if their customers want to do business with their company. Another challenge for sellers is that potential buyers do not like to give bad news to sellers and thus may wait until the last possible moment to deliver that news. My belief in the value of healthy skepticism in sales is supported by the work of some of my favorite authors on the topic of sales, such as Tom Freese, Brent Adamson, Marcus Sheridan and Ian Altman.
Has your sales team said to you that they need more referrals and better references? If you have heard this from your team, this is the article for you. The reference selling model was something I developed at NetApp and was a key part of my onboarding process and well as our team's regular selling motion. In 2008 our team represented 1/58 of the sales force and about 20% of the case studies. In fact, one customer enjoyed this process so much they gave us an award. The benefits of this model include:
The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business. - Zig Ziglar
In my career, I have found that this statement is absolutely true. I have spent most of my career selling technology to large enterprises or government organizations. To drive big outcomes with those customers, it is important to have executive level relationships. If your does not have those relationships, how can your team develop them?
This article is for project managers, people managers, free-lancers, software developers, consultants or anybody else that sells but does not have sales listed on their business cards. The selling or people management part of your job is least likely to be automated or outsourced to lower cost labor. With this in mind, below are my 6 tips for non-sales professionals.
Asking questions builds more credibility than presenting facts or making statements. How would you feel if your doctor started the conversation with your nose is red you look like you have a headache. I am going to give you this shot A good doctor will start the conversation with diagnostic questions such as what brought you into the office or on a scale of 1-10 can you rate your pain? In the same way a great consultant or sales person builds credibility and later a relationship by asking great questions
Recently, I commented on a LinkedIn pulse article by my friend Shane Zide. My comment was as follows "Shane, I am a huge fan of the channel and partnerships that allow companies to deliver a complete solution to the customer problem. For the majority of my career, I have heavily leveraged the channel. Early in a company’s history I recommend a heavy focus on direct sales as the focus will be on selling to technology enthusiasts and early adopters."
I recently mentored a young sales person regarding the nuances of the sales cycle. He relayed how much activity his firm generated by end of quarter. He exuded pride for the energy created from his sales managers’ added pressure and end of quarter discounts that bolstered sales. My friend was surprised to hear me say that, as a sales leader in my own company and my previous companies, I de-emphasize end of quarter sales pushes, and we rarely offer end of quarter discounts.