Trusted Advisor Janice B Gordon image robert-gourley-bCA_0q625Qw-unsplash
Trusted Advisors

Scale Your Sales Attraction with 5 Steps to Becoming a Trusted Advisor

As trusted sales professionals, you must weigh up your short term need to hit quota and the long term customer relationship, knowing that if your customer grows, your sales grow, this should be an easy decision. If you sell the wrong solution, that customer is lost to you. You will not secure their future sales, and they will not refer you other potential clients, worst, you have broken trust, your reputation is damaged.

 

Gallup research shows that a sales strategy based on price and product will always lose, what wins is a relationship-building strategy that helps your customer succeed in their goals.

Become a Trusted Advisor Janice B Gordo

However, you have a critical bridge to build; first, the Edelman Trust Index states that trust is at an all-time low. Customers who have a transactional relationship with the sales representatives give the company 14% of their available business on average. Still, the percentage jumped to 47% if they perceived the salespeople to be trusted advisors.

 

Before achieving trusted status, the modern salesperson is an active listener and then a coach to their customer. Through your carefully selected questions, you guide the customer, not to the solution, but to make the best decision for their business that achieves their objective.

 

As a trusted solutions advisor your role is to ask searching questions, guide and co-create a solution that is in the customers’ best interest.

Scale Your Sales model logo with arrows January 2020

Scale Your Sales framework helps work smarter for your most valued customers. The Scale Your Sales framework allow you to retain and grow your existing customers. To future-proof your key customers and attract more key customers through referrals. If you want to develop the relationship, deliver on your promises, secure a long-term trusted partner, and increase your sales revenues. You must understand your key customers’ environment and their concerns and provide the tangible value and the experience that the customer wants.

 

A Trusted Solution Advisor is sought out as a source of valued advice and guidance. When the Huthwaite Group studied the client’s perceptions of professional service salespeople, they found that the critical elements of trust were candour, competence, and concern. It was the area of showing empathy for their clients, that made the difference.

Trusted Advisor Janice B Gordon imaTrusted Advisor Janice B Gordonlinkedin-sales-navigator-PIM07Y2OHzE-unsplash

 

Scale Your Sales 5 Steps to Becoming a Trusted Solutions Advisor and the Test Levels of Trusted Status:

 

  1. Build a deep understanding of your clients’/buyers’ world and business, better than the customer, who might have a siloed view of the problem they wish to solve. What are their priorities and their most pressing concerns, and why? Using your active listening skills, for example, not to gather ammunition for your next verbal gem – but to build a genuine and deep understanding of a client’s situation. Stephen R Covey book, Habits of Highly Effective People, habit No five is – Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood. Here you must demonstrate your emotional intelligence and concern through empathy (concern) and build rapport.

Test 1: Can you pick up the conversation where you left it in a previous discussion, or do you need to build rapport again before moving forward?

 

  1. Develop your environmental and business acumen. What is coming next, that will help or hinder the customers business? Being able to help and offer relevant advice across a broad range of issues – not just in your specialism demonstrates a board competence. Only then you become an indispensable partner – not just a supplier. Her you must build credible (competence) and demonstrate knowledge and experience in your subject area.

Test 2: Are you comfortable to explain the complexities of the industry and market drivers to a seven-year-old?

 

  1. Earn the right by giving value always (Gary Vaynerchuck in his book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook) Trust does not grow overnight but can be lost in seconds. Never rush to answer a question, to pitch or to close. Every interaction with your key buyer and customers is a chance to either advance the clients perception of you as a valuable source of insight or not. I say, give, give, give value long before asking permission.

Test 3: Has your client or buyer said, what can I do for you, have you developed the feel of reciprocity?

 

  1. Establish a trust-based relationship by delivering on your promises, which transfers your knowledge through your rapport into relevant value. Demonstrate you have their best interest at your heart and prove you are trustworthy by always being honest (candour) and transparent in your candid interactions. Establish their buying processes and criteria for selection. Be the active listener, ask deep search questions, to coach and navigate the internal and external complexities so the customer decision-making unit can make the best decision.

Test 4: Can you make valued, timely and relevant connections that the client/buyer could not make for themselves?

 

  1. Elevate the conversations and the relationship into a partnership by quantifying value aligned to primary business drivers and customer outcomes. Leveraging both internal and external trusted relationships, you need a network of other specialists you trust as your resource. Here your network is your net wealth. You are comfortable to advise outside your core specialism because of your net wealth, your ability to connect the dots and deep grounding in the industry and market. As a trusted solutions advisor, you can shape the clients’ thinking and influence as a thought leader.  Can you evaluate the tools necessary to implement a course correction plan or trusted to have the conversations that recommend a solution that will deliver the optimate results? You have more enduring relationships and secure higher sales revenue.

Test 5: Do people buy you, the impact you create, and not just the solution you advise upon? Are your customers your biggest advocates? Do they consistently recommend others to you? Do you have trusted relationships that would willingly support your cause and refer you to other like-minded buyers and customers?

 

Trusted Advisor Janice B Gordon image dimitri-houtteman-l-8rhhUpuyM-unsplash

To see the relevance of trust to build consensus, we do not need to look too far. Many governments struggle to engage their populations to trust the COVID vaccination and get the injection. If they do not get buy-in to this campaign, then the pandemic will circulate for many years.

 

My good friend David JP Fisher said, “You can’t outsource trust.”

 

In the LinkedIn State of Sales Report 2020, 88% of buyers agree that the salespeople they ultimately do business with are “trusted advisors.” Just 40% of decision-makers describe sales professionals as “trustworthy.” Although buyers may distrust the sales profession, they do trust, whom they consider trusted sales professionals.

Janice B Gordon Trusted Advisor image absolutvision-uCMKx2H1Y38-unsplash

 

Remember that people buy people first, then the service you 

(the professional advisor) promised them and the company’s reputation.

 

Engaging, Educating and Elevating your key relationships into partnerships is a core principle of the Scale Your Sales Attraction Framework. These strategies help you engage and strengthen relationships towards a partnership mindset, which means you become the guide and the connector; you are the trusted advisor.

 

The 5 Steps to Becoming a Trusted Solutions Advisor and the Test Levels of Trusted Status is one of the six elements of Scale Your Sales Attraction within the Scale Your Sales Framework. If you would like your sales team to develop their trusted status as part of their sales and relationship building methodology, book a consultation.

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Scale Your Sales podcast guest article
Scale Your Sales

Scale You Sales Podcast Survey Responses From Expert Guests

Every quarter I compile an article from Scale Your Sales Podcast guest survey answers. These are some of the answers that we did not cover in the live show.  As host of Scale Your Sales Podcast, I would love to know if you found value in their insights.  For some, the pandemic has meant adaption, while the sales industry is in a state of modernisation and renewal.

Feeling connection from your colleagues and creating momentum for your team, where people can share best practices and celebrate wins seems to be one thing, we took for granted before the pandemic, says Julie Mann. We share best practices and stay informed with weekly spotlights where individual team members present and share wins. We also have weekly training where we brush up on product knowledge with a fun game, winners get prizes, and it makes learning fun and interactive.

Liz J Simpson said the pandemic presents the worst of circumstances, and yet I have seen brilliant examples of innovation during this time. Many clients have shifted to digital strategies and platforms like LinkedIn to focus on providing value and a deeper human connection. They have seen those efforts pay in dividends and open up opportunities for profitable revenue streams, despite the pandemic.

 

Scale Your Sales pexels-andrea-piacquadio-3791136

 

I asked the Scale Your Sales guests if B2B sales have shifted enough to be buyer and customer-centric?

Barnaby Wynter said there is no such thing as B2B sales. The buyer is in full control; it is the role of marketing has fundamentally changed.

Too many companies say they are customer-centric, but they don’t act it Jill Konrath advises starting with onboarding.

However, B2B sales have not shifted enough to be BUYER centric to help and enable decision-makers truly. Michael Haynes said, customer advisory panels and briefings can be valuable, and more of the B2B Sales process needs to focus on post-sale implementation and support.

It has not shifted enough says David Priemer, salespeople still use old, outdated tactics rooted in nothing more than historical practice and tradition. Many of these tactics would not work on themselves.

B2B sales still have a long way to go. The data and automation that could fuel a much more customer-centric sales approach, the technology is only just growing, and the people are beginners at using it, says Jeroen Corthout.

Martin MacArthur notes that AI and machine learning will remove the manual aspects of sales, and eventually, we will transition to voice assistance, helping us fill the pipeline.

Julie Mann says customers are way more knowledgeable about what they want and smarter about getting measured improvements and ROI from their perusing vendors. Mapping our prospecting efforts by buyer intent and stage in the journey is working, way more than sending out cold messaging to buyers who have no idea what your company does.

The businesses struggling to be buyer-centric face the challenge of inconsistent revenue growth states Liz J Simpson, verse the companies who embrace digital strategies.

Jennifer Warawa offers that changing your mind and perspective to change your approach and impact is now a requirement.

 

Close-up portrait of his he nice attractive bearded guy boyfriend creating interesting novelty plan guessing clue decision isolated over bright vivid shine red background

 

Asking what practical strategy enable buyers to buy or build a long term trusted customer relationship?

Barnaby Wynter said, make sense of insights.

Martin MacArthur said to use outcomes to prioritize which prospects to contact.

David Priemer offers emotional alignment is the key.

Christine Schlonski says selling with heart, always.

Julie Mann state says creating nurture programs creates success.

Offer your customers open and honest communication, mean it, use it, says Joyce Johnson.

Stay close to your customers, interview them, follow up to help them consistently, automating part of this will make all the difference.

Jill Konrath said to focus on helping customers achieve their objectives.

Customer Advisory Panels help gain insights on WHAT and HOW you must deliver to buyers says, Michael Haynes.

67% of the buyer’s journey is digital, Liz J Simpson said you must meet buyers’ where they are and provide what they need.

Jennifer Warawa makes a number on non-sales related partner calls weekly, to check-in and listen. To ask about their families and friends and connect on a human level.

If you mess up, dress up and fess up, is a philosophy Jennifer Warawa promotes.

Jennifer Warawa says, do not sell to people, instead fix a problem.

 

Scale Your Sales pexels-christina-morillo-1181724

 

I usually ask the guest of Scale Your Sales podcast their experience of diversity in the sales industry.

Barnaby Wynter recalls, in 2000, he partnered in the launch of a gay bank, saying the prejudice was at best unsettling and at worst disgusting. Until we no longer need to ask this question, there is much work to be done. That path to making the issue irrelevant is a long and difficult one.

“Given the nature of B2B buying and what is involved….more women should have a more significant role to play in complex B2B selling as they often have the critical skills needed,” Michael Haynes quoting, Harvard Business Review research.

Jill Konrath states Xerox hired her to meet a government quota because they needed to meet diversity requirements. (Look at the success of the decision)

Martin MacArthur said, “I live it each day, as a blind sales professional who is executing outbound campaigns daily using various technologies that work with my screen reader.” In this podcast episode, Martin shares some of his less favourable experiences.

Julie Mann has been the only female in the room too many times. Gender equality and ethnic diversity are still not where they need to be in B2B sales, as I can see that there are not an equal number of voices from different ethnic backgrounds.

Joyce Johnson says she has not worked in a diverse environment because she is often the first and only.

Liz J Simpson sees a shift with more millennial women as the decision-maker in specific B2B industries.

Jennifer Warawa said there are more women than men in the DIRTT sales team. However, diversity is about more than just gender; they are continually looking at all types of diversity (ensuring they have some extremely experienced people and some people with no experience, race, etc.).

 

Close-up portrait of his he nice attractive bearded guy boyfriend creating interesting novelty plan guessing clue decision isolated over bright vivid shine red background

 

The guest interviewees offered one tried and tested strategy to Scale Your Sales.

Barnaby: Niche your value Proposition and engage only with those who would buy from you.

Martin: Establishing a powerful personal brand on LinkedIn demonstrating vulnerability, authenticity & transparency.

Christine: connect your brain with your heart and stop thinking about commissions in the sales conversation.

Julie: Create an in-depth nurture program to stay close to those folks you had a great conversation (even if it is a long term relationship and not an immediate win).

Joyce: Understand the revenue impact by asking them what it is. Do not assume.

Jeroen: Build a reliable sales process and follow-up approach, such that no deals or valuable information can slip through the cracks.

Jill: Have a well-thought-out onboarding program.

Michael: Productized offers that are constructed with an in-depth and holistic view of the buyers’ needs.

Liz: If LinkedIn is not a key ingredient in your client acquisition strategy, you are missing opportunities.

Jennifer: Prepare the business to scale for their next phase of growth. Outstanding Leadership underpins every great sale along with Systems, Structure and make everyone a brand Ambassador.

 

Please do connect with the experts and influencers.  If you have not already listened to Scale Your Sales Podcast, you will find it on all podcast channels along with the video show on YouTube. If you like it, it’d mean the world to me if you would give the show a rating and review on iTunes!

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Scale Your Sales Book Reviews
Scale Your Sales, Trusted Advisors

Scale Your Sales Lockdown Book Recommendations

I have read many more books in what has been an unusual 2020 here is part two of book recommendations for my Scale Your Sales family of followers. The reason why these made it to my list is that SNAP selling is my all-time go-to sales book and I wanted to share my views the others, to help you develop your skills and mindset.

 

Jill Konrath

Jill Konrath

Snap Selling: Speed Up Sales and Win More Business with Today’s Frazzled Customers

 

I first read SNAP selling in 2014. Jill Konrath wrote a timeless book that was ground-breaking when it was first published and relevant even today. I love the phases crazy busy and frazzled customers, if anything our buyers are more frazzled, and sellers must make it easy for buyer that have less time to consider the options when status quo is the most compelling. It is masterful how the author helps the reader get in the head of the buyer decision-making journey to move from oblivious to the problem to curious, from complacent to committed to change, from open to view options, to certain of their choices.

SNAP stand for Simple iNvaluable Aligned and Prioritised. The author is an authority on the value proposition. It is no different here, what value means to your prospect and how you must help them differentiate your offer from others that do not add more complexity and aligns to their business goals. SNAP Selling will give your sales team the professional best practice that their customer will appreciate. Highly recommended as essential reading.

Lenka-Lutonska

Lenka Lutonska

Energetic Selling and Marketing: A New Way to Create Extraordinary Growth in your Business

 

If you are not into energetic power, you may struggle with this book. However, 2020 has shifted the consciousness to consider beliefs like the law of attraction, purpose, spirituality, and energetic power has led many to consider a concerted practice. This book will guide you through an energetic approach that will improve not only your sales but your life. This book is for small and micro business owners, entrepreneurs, and leaders. I love the author’s character, and if you like a sassy spirit, you will follow Lenka Lutonska.

Nikki Rausch

The Selling Staircase

 

The selling staircase is a simple, easy to follow guide to selling with confidence and empathy.

This is a no sleaze approach to giving people, customers, or buyers what they want. The author has the gift of helping you see sales from the buyer point of view. The author has the skill to present the use of language, from her NLP mastery, so that you can help your buyers make the right decision. The Selling Staircase is Introduction, Curiosity, Discovery, Proposal and Closing all presented with examples and stories that help bring the framework to an aha of that makes perfect sense. Throughout the book, the author asks you to complete the practical exercises to apply the staircase using the framework.

Whether you are a seasoned sales practitioner, you will gain from the choice of language; or a novice, this will demystify the selling process; you will all benefit from Nikki Rausch guidance.

Donald Miller

Building a Story Brand 

 

Since reading this book, I have heard many other marketing specialists quote the material as their own. The book helps you to apply the story brand method or to create a story that your customers can easily engage with through your website. If your viewers are confused by your message, then they cannot and will not buy. Easy to read with three-section why marketing is a money pit, the story brand structure explained and then implementing the Story Brand, brand script. The story structure is nothing new, but it is the practical way you can apply it to attract customers that are looking to buy. Essential strategies to ensure your customer are clear about what you will do for them.

Carlos-Gil-500x500

Carlos Gil

The End of Marketing 

 

This book is one of the most enlightening and refreshing read. The author makes well-placed observations and gives excellent examples to illustrate his point. I love the chapters analysing the success of DJ Khaled and Kim Kardashian and transforming advocate into the faces of your brand. Along with the power of personality and persuasion. There are many books on marketing promoting nothing different from what has been said before.

This is different; it is real and relevant. If you want to upgrade your thinking on how marketing has changed, then this is it.

Tony Robinson OBE

By Tony Robinson OBE & Taryn Lee Johnston

The Happipreneur – Why MicroBizMatters

 

This book tells the story of the life and challenges of Tony Robinson OBE. A man that always swims against the current and dares to travel the road less travelled. Throughout the book is of an avid campaigner, generously given back and representing the underdog and championing of real businesswomen and men. I was shocked to be mentioned in this book as a role model; this is not why I am writing the review; it is another demonstration of the authors’ generosity. There are not many gentlemen that put others. First, that openly admit to their failings, that is as passionate about what is truly important, and that is the love of people over the love of money. There is so much insight in the pages quoting John Lennon “When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote “happy”. They told me I did not understand the assignment and I told them they did not understand life.

Starting a business micro business:

  1. Bootstrap do not borrow.
  2. Test trade first (get customers)
  3. Get a business owner mentor who understands your customer.
  4. Build multiple income streams.
  5. Enjoy!

Happipreneur is all about doing what you love and are good at for your customers, being resilient, having fun, cherishing family and friends, and the love of being happy. You will not go wrong reading how Tony Robinson OBE has negotiated his life, and the by-product is creating a legacy of happipreneurship. Highly recommended

Tayo Rockson

Tayo Rockson

Use Your Difference to Make a Difference 

 

There has been an imbalance for so long that people do not recognise in the moment. If at all that, their assumptions are wrong, and their communication is culturally incorrect or demeaning. The author gives many personal examples which anyone who is culturally different will recognise or has experienced. However, the author offers practical solutions with cross-cultural training and education in the workplace. I love that the author champions and celebrates difference and encourages those that are not in a diverse environment to take a small for definite step out of their binary world to experience and not fear differences. It is natural to fear what is outside of our comfort zone. This book is a gentle and positive message rather than to live with fear and mistrust. To step out and experiment, to try something new. I highly recommend reading this book it is a fabulous addition to the diversity and inclusion and human arena.

Perry Marshall

Perry Marshall

80/20 Sales and Marketing 

 

This is two books in one—first, the 80/20 rule and analysis and secondly, how you could apply 80/20 strategies in Facebook marketing. The second half did not interest me at all. I wish there were more on the theory and evidence of 80/20 sales and marketing. Facebook marketing is part of the Perry Marshall marketing machine and kicked into an assault of email, contrary to the focus strategy of 80/20. I enjoyed the level of research to demonstrate the application of the theories.

 

On to my stack of half-finished and not yet started pile of bedside table books 🙂

Let me know your views if you have read any of these books and if not share your most insightful book of 2020 and why?

 

 

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2020 Scale Your Sales Book Reviews
Scale Your Sales

Janice B Gordon 2020 Scale Your Sales Book Reviews

My 2020 book reviews and recommendations for my Scale Your Sales family of followers.  Some but not all have been guest of Scale Your Sales podcast.  Although my favourite book of 2020 is Becoming by Michelle Obama, the reason why these made it to my list is that I have learnt something new and I wanted to share these lessons with you.  I have read many books in lockdown, here is part one of two, I hope they help you develop your skills and mindset as they have me.

Amy Franko image

Amy Franko

The Modern Seller: Sell More and Increase Your Impact in the New Sales Economy

So much has changed in the world, and those closest to the end-user have had to adapt quickly. B2B sellers have further to travel than buyers who directly link to their customers. The author has provided a framework and five dimensions required to successfully adapt to the modern environment: Agile, Entrepreneurial, Holistic, Social, and Ambassador. I love that Amy Franko shares her own experiences and how she has had to adapt not only to becoming an entrepreneur but also as a modern seller. There are many case studies examples and actionable steps you can take to develop as a modern seller. It is not easy navigating how a traditions industry can and must change to ensure continued relevance, some will, and others will hang on to the past. The Modern Seller will help you to sell more and increase your impact in the new sales economy.

Fred Copestake image

Fred Copestake

Selling Through Partnering Skills

I enjoyed the references to other sales methodologies throughout the book. It was a good reminder of the landscape of research and theories. These models were excellent support to the new skill of Partnering Intelligence PQ. I wanted to read this book because in the Scale Your Sales Framework creating relationships and moving into partnerships is a key outcome of the programme. The author uses an adapted VALUE framework to explain the modern selling approach practically: Validate, Align, Leverage, Underpin and Evolve. Then practically demonstrates how VALUE works with each of the methodologies. Selling Through Partnering Skills is undoubtedly a well-researched book. If you are looking to modernise your sales practice as you should, then you will not regret reading this book.

 

Colleen Stanley_MAR2020

Colleen Stanley

Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success

It was a pleasure interviewing Colleen Stanley for the Scale Your Sales podcast series. Colleen Stanley is an expert on emotional intelligence and sales leadership and author of Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success. Colleen published Emotional Intelligence for Sales Leadership in July 2020.

I love reading Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success, published in 2018. The author gives many real-life and practical examples of how you can apply Emotional Intelligence and how it works to benefit both parties. A lot is said about empathy is a critical skill in the global pandemic world. However, I am not sure you can be empathetic without first practising the skill of Emotional Intelligence is sustainable. Colleen Stanley explains how EI is about self-awareness and self-management. The author gives many scenarios and the action steps to create better questioning and listening, to become relatable and trusted the base-line for all good sellers. In a time when empathy is critical, this book shows you how to practice and apply it.

You may have the best solution for the customer; however, there are so many more hurdles to balance and mastering the conversation is one of them. If you do not know how to conduct the sales conversation in a humanistic Emotional Intelligence way, more now than ever, this can cost you are the sale. Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success is your resource and guide.

Sales Differentiation

Lee Salz

Sales Differentiation: 19 Powerful Strategies to Win More Deals at the Prices You Want

Buyers are overwhelmed with the amount of information coming at them. If you want a chance of getting noticed, you must differentiate through your selling approach says, Lee Salz. The author shows you how to disrupt the buying process through sales differentiation. The book helps you identify your set of compelling differentiators and why it is essential to align this with the decision-makers you want to influence and how to communicate your difference which distinguishes you from the rest. I loved it when the author said, ‘sales is not about being unique but rather being different relative to other buyer options’. Another great one is ‘How you sell, not what you sell, differentiate you’. You will not regret reading this book.

Larry Levine Headshot

Larry Levine

Selling from The Heart: How Your Authentic Self Sells You!

The author talks about the difference between a sales rep, and a sales professional is knowing yourself, having done self-reflection and becoming self-aware. Larry Levine shares his lessons learned how he consistently hit sales target and that showing his true self and doing the best for his customers was the winning factor. I love the author honesty, demonstrating the sales skill of how an authentic sales professional operates. The world has changed that servant-led sales leadership is the only way to navigate this new world successfully. This book is packed full of practical steps to do away with the ’empty suit’ ‘commission-breath’ that the industry is known for and replace it with selling from the heart.

Chimp Paradox book

Prof Steve Peters

The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Programme to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence and Happiness

A fantastic book that helped me understand the way my mind works and why I sometimes find myself struggling to control my brain. The book also allows you to understand and empathise with how others might react and therefore, not to take it personally – it is their monkey brain at work. This book is easy to read and most enjoyable in understanding why you or those around you do not always make the best decisions. I can thoroughly recommend reading this!

Rebel Ideas book

Matthew Syed

Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking 

The diversity that the author refers to in this book is not as simple as gender or ethnicity, but age or just having a different experience can add a new and relevant thought perspective. It is what the author calls cognitive diversity, i.e., diversity of the way you view a problem. A pre-existing knowledge of the problem may in fact be limiting factor to see outside of the problem such that someone with no experience is likely to view the problem differently and apply different thought processes to solve the problem. In the book, Matthew Syed gives examples where a woman and a Muslim man provided missing insights that aided the solutions of complicated or challenging tasks. Because they were able to see things that the white middle-class men traditionally in this role could not see.  I loved the CIA example, and there are many others which helped to give the book grounding in an uncommon sense. As a Black British woman that campaigns on diversity and inclusion, Rebel Ideas has challenged by views of diversity for the better.

 

Let me know if you have read any on my list and make sure you connect with the authors. 

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2020 Reflections image by Janice B Gordon
Scale Your Sales

Many Challenges in 2020 Brings Opportunities to Highlight

We have all experienced many challenges and changes in 2020. On the professional front, as I reflect on 2020, there have been many highlights. When you look back on the past 12 months, how was it been for you? What were your highs, and what were your lessons?

As you begin to wind down for the end of the year, I encourage you to take some time and reflect on the lessons that 2020 has taught you because there are always opportunities to learn, but unless you reflect, you can miss the lessons.

Year end review of highlights

2020 Highlights

The first thing that I am grateful for is that I have so far avoided contracting COVID19, mind you, I live like a nun. At the beginning of lockdown, I had all these grand ambitions and started getting up at 5 am and meditating for an hour with my yoga coach. It reminded me that regular meditation is so powerful.

My hair came out of plaits (no hairdressers to DIY) I had a social distance photoshoot and revised my websites. I achieved a long-held dream and built my studio garden office over the summer, and I love it all. 😊

I have loved working through Cranfield School of Management with Swissport, although this started in January, supporting their progress as leaders despite what a challenge it has been for airports and travel industries. It is a pleasure to work with great companies like Swissport, AON and BBC which started in October.

Now exciting that the Scale Your Sales Podcast listed 8th of 42 Best Podcasts for Sales Every Sales Professional Must Listen to Right Now! It goes to show, hard work pays off. The best thing is getting to know and interviewing excellent guest thought leaders and influencers on the podcast. If you have not listened yet, please do, and if you like, please leave a rating and review.

It is an absolute honour to be listed as one of the Top 150 women B2B Thought Leaders You Should Follow in 2021, and even more special is to be amongst a fabulous list of Influential Women. 

Added to this, I am listed as Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on Customer Experience

Janice B Gordon post speaking at PSASummit

In March, like many professional speakers, a large chunk of my revenue stream postponed or cancelled, but once the dust had settled several new opportunities came my way. I am honoured to be the international keynote speaker presenting eCommerce is the New Retail at Virtualized https://buff.ly/2zMG8wg

Co-presenting with Marlen von Roth at AA-ISP Women in Sales Summit on bridging the gap of women and ethnicity in Sales Leadership. It was an honour to co-present with Bev Hancock at the Professional Speaking Association Summit an interactive session using video, surveys, polls and presenting stories. The feedback was terrific.  

This year my biggest audience was 1800 people attending my Accountex: How to Scale Your Sales in a COVID World. Check out the accompanying article How to Deepen Your Client Relationships in a Virtual Environment 

This year I became a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts FRSA.

New Horizons image by Janice B Gordon

Recommended Must Do for You 2021

I have the Scale Your Sales CustomerX Quiz for you. The resulting downloadable report will help you Get Consistent Growth of Your Most Valued Customers, Boost Key Customer Experiences, Satisfy Your Buyer Needs and so, Increase Your Sales Revenue. 

Please take time out to list your highlights and accomplishments. I promise you; you will feel there have been opportunities through all the challenges of 2020.

And finally, spend some time to create the life and work you want; not by wishing and resolutions, but by dreaming bigger than you imagine (who would have imaged the year we have just had – so go for it). Then planning the strategy, and work the plan 😊

I wish you the most peaceful and joyous Christmas. 

Stay safe and look forward to a new year. 

Janice

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Customer Retention, key accounts

How to Deepen Your Client Relationships in a Virtual Environment

In challenging times working virtual and endless information, briefings, and change; people are forced to go for the easier, the less complex, and for what they know and trust. Your clients want a safe pair of hands, and unless you are conveying this message that your current clients will engage with, then many opportunities will pass you by, now and in the future.

Looking at how can you deepen your client relationships in a virtual environment. You must evolve your message, looking at your data, your client relationship, your client insights and seeing [what needs] to be refreshed, to be relevant for the wants and needs of your clients.

Despite the challenge of our times working in a virtual environment, you must seize the moment of opportunity, with short-term messaging that is relevant now, that will help now and support your long-term goal and purpose.

Scale Your Sales nathan-ansell-JvbNsRCXXic-unsplash (1)

Below are six strategies from the Scale Your Sales Framework that will help you to deepen your relationship with key customers and ultimately scale your sales:

  1. Retention over Acquisition.
  2. Focus on Who Are Your Key & Most Valued Clients.
  3. Get Feedback and Get Closure to Your Key Customers.
  4. Build Your Online Reputation – Do Not Be Invisible.
  5. Secure Relationship Referrals, reviews, and testimonials.
  6. Get Comfortable on video – Virtual Is Here to Stay.

 

  1. Retention over Acquisition

 

It always surprises me that I find retention, client experience, client success is not a formalized methodology and therefore, not the primary focus.

In today’s B2B environment, a commercial strategy focused on acquisition rather than on retention of existing clients is a flawed strategy.

 

The probability of selling services to an existing client “OR EVEN A FORMER CLIENT” is 60-70%, while the chance of selling to a new prospect is only 5-20%. That is a lot of energy for little return.

Not being focused on the greatest gains and the most significant profit centres are wasteful and filtering away valuable resources.

Is acquisition easier than retaining clients? No!

You have probably listened to many presentations on prospecting, sales funnels, content marketing, blar, blar.

Harvard Business Review research state that if you increase retention rates by 5%, then this increases profitability by between 25% and 95%.

 

  1. Focus on Who Are Your Key & Most Valued Clients

 

Not all client is equal.

Gartner research that 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from 20% of your existing clients.

Do not value a client based on the amount of revenue but their profitability. Do not judge a client on their value last year but on their potential growth. If you have 10% of the available wallet for this type of service, it is more effective and efficient to work on growing this client, than securing a new client.

Most valuable clients: is about the clients who are the most profitable for your company. These clients buy more or higher-value services than the average client; they are usually only the top 20% of your total clients that collectively deliver 80% of your annual revenue.

You must identify and get on intimate terms with your most valued clients because they are significant contributors to your future revenue stream.

 

Go to ScaleYourSales CustomerX Quiz take the Scale Your Sales CustomerX Quiz and download your Report to see how you can – Get Consistent Growth from Your Most Valued Clients.

  • To Boost Key Client Experiences.
  • To Satisfy Your Buyer Needs and so,
  • Increase Your Sales Revenue.

 

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  1. Get Feedback

 

Do you know what they would say about your practice, your service and how they feel about the client experience?

There are opportunities to see where you can help how you can make it easier, and maybe be more empathetic than you have in the past. For this, you need to understand where their specific challenge is now, or what is their biggest concern.

The key is to keep it short and targeted but to survey your clients to refine what you do and how you do it for them. This is a more significant opportunity to reach your clients as humans during this very human moment in history.

Customer research and social listening allow you to, sharpen your focus and spend valuable and focused time with your clients that are more and more online.

Do not blast every client with the same lengthy ill-conceived questionnaire that feels impersonal, and signal that you do not care about them. Remember this is your key client and one you want to get closer to, to serve their needs better. Instead, plan your questions and perhaps toward the end of a client call ask a pre-prepared question. Or send an online survey with a personal thank you note online card.

You can provide your clients with advice and guidance that keeps them loyal and coming back for more. Only, if you can better retune your message and service to their specific needs, so use this time wisely to gather feedback.

 

  1. Build Your Online Reputation

 

According to Rain Group research, 82% of buyers look up sellers on LinkedIn before replying to outreach efforts.

This is your first stop in developing relationships with potential AND EXISTING clients. You cannot get a seat at your client table if you are invisible. That is you, not your brand, not your company, not the business. People buy you first, then the service you promised, and before the reputation of the company. However, your social profile can reflect poorly on you or your company.

There are many obstacles when it comes to developing relationships virtually, and invisibility is one. Developing rapport is one of the top three virtual selling challenges uncovered in LinkedIn research. If I see you online as a relatable credible human, I am more likely to engage with you and trust you.

 

Share your perspective and knowledge through articles posts, video participation in panel discussions; you have got to be visible online to be credible.

Consistently create and post snackable content instead of the 1-hour session go to 20 minutes, instead of 4-minute videos make it 1 minute. Make everything shorter including newsletters, emails, even calls, your clients have many more worries and distractions working from home or through COVID. Always be respectful of your client’s time and only ever add value that is relevant to their specific needs.

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  1. Secure Relationship Referral

 

There is no marketing better than word of mouth. A client who brings you more clients is more valuable than anybody else, even if they are not your most significant clients.

Digital Intelligence Today tells us that while consumers are 92% more likely to trust recommendations by people they know.

Referrals coming from a satisfied client they know and trust, are 4X more likely to buy, has 37% higher retention and 16% higher lifetime value.

Given this, a referral strategy should be treated less as immediate sales opportunities and more as investments in long-term growth. It is an investment in customer experience and client satisfaction strategies.

 

Make a habit of being personable, and genuine and ask, how are you? Be genuinely interested in the people in the business. You must make a habit of being helpful, sharing quality content, and engaging in meaningful interactions and consistently gain positive reviews with clients and with the focused effort, you will see valued introduction to acquaintances with similar needs. In today’s digital era, clients who leave you positive reviews, create a buzz online. Referral, Testimonials, and Reviews, all social proof has a positive financial value.

 

  1. Get Comfortable – Virtual is Here to Stay

 

The skills you develop now will carry you forward.

A recent Gartner survey showed that 48% of employees would likely work at least part of the time after COVID-19 remotely.

Video is the next best thing after face to face, so turn on your video. People like to talk to real people rather than faceless voices.

However, give your buyers the courtesy of knowing that you are using video in your calendar invitation and invite them to join you. Seeing the other person gives important cues to body language, possible distractions, and you can better tell if your client is confused by their facial expression and tone. People do not like to say, ‘I don’t understand’.

The more comfortable you are on camera, the more comfortable everyone else will be. Practice with your phone on a small tripod calling your family and friends. A recent Zoom survey found that 82% of respondents said there was a greater sense of trust with video. A camera off – conference call, signals disinterest, distraction disengaged, or multitasking – if you were doing this face to face, you would be considered rude. It is better to be present and engaged and make it short and succinct than disengaged.

 

Above all be a force for good and add specific value to each and every client relationship.  Sales is to serve, the more focused you are on delivering the kind of service that will help your customer more forward the more your customer will pay it forward. There are many benefits to working in a virtual environment and one thing is true that we are all in this together.

 

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Scale Your Sales

Experts of the Scale Your Sales Podcast Talking Top Tips and Diversity

This is part two of Scale Your Sales podcast expert interviews compendium of experience and insights that answer how diversity in sales has progressed and the interviewees offer of tried and tested strategies to scale sales.

Scale Your Sales Podcast experts

On the question of whether the B2B sales industry has progressed around diversity?

Tom Williams stated that there just is not enough diversity in sales leadership positions.

Rakhi Voria quoted a recent study by Gartner that revealed that women are underrepresented at all levels in sales. And according to a recent LinkedIn report, women represent 39% of the workforce in sales overall. This percentage increased by only 3% over the past decade. Not surprisingly, the percentage decreases as seniority increases, with the lowest rate of women represented in VP and CXO positions.  Rakhi said only 21% of Vice Presidents in Sales are female. Shockingly, the CEB Global reports that the sales function has the second largest gender equity gap of all corporate functions after supply chain. The lack of diversity goes beyond women, stating that it is essential to recruit from non-traditional sources, we need a sales force that reflects our overall customer base and world population to connect with prospects.

It is the reason for her new book, She Sells, says Lori Richardson. Lori believes right now we have an opportunity to improve sales leadership with more diversity and inclusion – and hopes that the time is not squandered. This is a difficult time for women sellers, said Lori, women have many demands while working from home, with home-schooling, worried about elderly relatives and increased the potential for illness to happen.

Nikki Finucan said diversity is the key to every aspect of an organisation and not just Sales. When we are buying something or looking to advance our careers, we all want someone we can relate to on many different levels. More must be done, said Nikki, to consciously to achieve this result. Companies need straightforward programmes, explicit quotas, as this will be the only way to turn the tide. Naturally, you can argue that the best person deserves the job, and that is true, however, with ingrained bias, to begin shifting mindsets, drastic short term actions are needed.

Enza Burgio said we have a long way to go on diversity in sales.  Enza was lucky to work for a large US Corporate who put diversity extremely high on its agenda.  Hence, she worked in sales teams where 50% were women although much reduced when it came to minority groups.  It is positive that Sales have always been predicated on capability, but there is still deep bias.

Similarly, Carole Railton said she was lucky enough to feel there is no glass ceiling. Carole managed nine sales and marketing operations in the Middle East for Xerox, another major American corporation. Carole ran an international software house and was the first female sales training manager in Xerox UK. She has been in the unusual position of being the only businesswoman in first class on a BA flight she said the cabin crew had no idea what to do with her.

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Carole Railton’s advice is to call out any and everyone at every opportunity even if it is your manager, as only by improving behaviours can we learn and become the society we deserve to be.

Bev Hancock said the sales industry is a place that all people can thrive.  As a woman in business, she has found that my ability to connect and find common ground has been one of her greatest assets.  In South Africa, Bev sees the industry opening up, especially with young millennials coming into their own, bringing a breath of fresh air into the world of business and sales.

Colleen Stanley said diversity in sales needs to first start in the home and schools, and not corporate America or the UK.  How many parents are encouraging their children to go into the sales profession? Universities are finally catching up by creating minors and majors in sales, demonstrating that this is a career path, just like accounting or medicine.

Kristie Jones said diversity is slowly, at best and racism is alive and thriving. She admits that some of it is unconscious bias in hiring, but some are not unconscious. As someone who works almost exclusively with tech start-up companies, Kristie sees more diversity in companies with Millennial Founders. However, Kristie said, women, minorities, and LGBTQ founders are still being underfunded by white-male run VCs. Until we increase minorities founders, Kristie does not think you can expect to see an increase in diversity and inclusion. Kristie said, “we can fix the diversity issue, but the concept of inclusion is in the eye of the beholder. Just because we hire women, minorities or LGBTQ, doesn’t mean we will feel included or equal”.

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Some sectors are promising when it comes to diversity and inclusivity, said Leigh Ashton, but most salespeople and sales leaders in the 21st century are men. There are initiatives to attract more women, and from my experience of being a judge at the Women in Sales Awards, there are some amazingly talented women in sales that manage their careers and family commitments with grace and grit.

In episode 42 of Scale Your Sales podcast, Lisa Earl McLeod and I discussed Black Lives Matter, with our personal experience of growing up for Lisa in the USA, and me the UK. We discuss the inequalities of our experiences, so check this out.

Answering what one tried and tested strategy experts would you offer on how to scale their sales, there was a wealth of insights:

McLeod offered three tired and tested discovery questions:

  • Identify how you make a difference? So, you are moving from pleasing customers to improving customers.
  • How your offer makes a difference? How do we do it differently than the competition?
  • On my best day, (self-reflection) what I love about my job?

These three questions help you to shifts the lens of how you bring your Noble Purpose to life in your sales process.

Rakhi Voria said they split inbound and outbound – Topo benchmark report suggests 59% of companies have already moved to this model. Helps build the competence of skill to focus on the two activities separately –the Initial results have been positive.

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Talk to your client about potential next steps early in your relationship, said Enza Burgio.  Show that you are there for the long term, not merely to get the sale and turn a transaction.   She said it is not just about giving hires the initial tools and formula for sales success but being there over time with a road map to help them achieve the next level.

Everyone has a list of prospects, existing clients and past clients. Lori Richardson says an often overlooked way to grow sales is the third list of those who could refer multiple clients on an ongoing basis. These are your strategic referrers, follow up methodically with them in the same way as prospects and clients.

Know the macro and the micro, said Tom English Get a handle on the pains and opportunities of the market you serve and then zoom in on your customers to understand more about their needs and how you can help them specifically.

Bev Hancock said to get your foot in the door and then focus on the relationship, relationship, relationship.  The old adage that people buy from people remains true even in this digital age.

My recipe has always been to strategically partner with my clients.  Make a point of getting to know their business, always give more value than they pay for.  After the first couple of deals, it is not a sales conversation but rather a continuation of the relationship.

Colleen Stanley said consistency is key!  Consistency in executing sales activity.  Consistency in setting aside time to develop into a trusted advisor.  Consistency in practising new skills. Consistency in reaching out to mentors for advice. Talent is overrated; sellers and sales leaders are consistent.

Building sales processes and strategies for clients, it is always in the back of her mind, said Kristie Jones, that it must scale. Maybe there are only three sales reps now, but it must be sustainable at ten or more. Have a solid and formal sales process that is proven to be successful said Kristie.

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Carole Railton body language expert said, understand yourself and your actions/body better. Only by knowing yourself and how others perceive you, can you adapt to the needs of your client. When you can do this, she said, then you can manage, understand and adapt to many different situations that will help you succeed faster than you thought possible.

Nikki Finucan said to be human. Especially right now. Relate to people and stop pushing! Do not call or email, vomiting how great you and your company are, instead, identify and understand the problem the client is facing. Once you know their specific pain point, you can fix it as partners or walk away. Set a task to follow up 12-months continue to interact with them on social media without expectation. You never know what may happen and be OK with recognising right now is not the right time.

Leigh Ashton said a crucial element to scaling your sales is to understand how your thoughts impact your results. Change your thoughts that get in the way of sales success, to thoughts that have a positive impact on sales growth.

Tom Williams said to manage your time diligently. Set aside a block of time each day to prospect and do not let naysayers get in your way of getting it done. If you have a full-funnel of opportunities and are good at service customer needs, you will always make or exceed your sales quota.

If you missed part one, the expert interviewees discussed how customer-centric the B2B selling environment is and offered practical strategies to enable buyers to buy and seller to build long-term trusted customer relationship. Make sure you check it out.

Scale Your Sales podcast is a weekly show interviewing experts and influencers that offer insights to scale your sales. It is a platform for B2B executives, sales leaders, key account managers and customer serving professionals engage with lively conversations on customer experience and buyer behaviours, business growth and modern sales know-how.  You can view the show on YouTube, iTunes or the popular podcast platform.

 

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Scale Your Sales

What the Scale Your Sales Experts Advice on What’s Relevant for Customers, Buyers in Sales NOW

Over the previous four months, Scale Your Sales Weekly Podcast has had fantastic guests that have generously given their knowledge, experience, and insights. I founded the Scale Your Sales framework to help growth companies scale through leverage their customer relationships and accelerate sales revenue through customer experience. I asked the guest of Scale Your Sales Podcast how customer-centric the B2B selling environment is? The guest also offered practical strategies to enable buyers to buy and built a long term trusted customer relationship. So, let get started:

summer 2020 Scale Your Sales Expert

First, on the shifting to be buyer and customer-centric, this is what the experts had to say:

Nikki Finucan does not think B2B sales has shifted nearly enough to make it more customer-centric. You can see that through the phone calls you get, through the LinkedIn messages. Everything they write or speak is wholly about them and their company, rather than a problem they can help a potential client or even existing client solve. This comes from top-down behaviours as well.

Kristie Jones thinks we are making strides, but we are not where we need to be as professional salespeople. Sales reps must understand the need for discovery; they are doing a better job of asking better questions to uncover pain. However, the issue is that sales reps think that discovery is a one-time event and are not weaving discovery into every step in the sales cycle. For example, most demos Kristie Jones sit in on are me, me, me! She recently did a demo with a CRM vendor with a client of hers for an hour and not only did they not ask one question, but the Sales Engineer was the only one on the call, the sales rep did not even bother to show up!

Although we have made great strides says Bev Hancock, we could still be far more effective in this space. Customers are looking for a personal and integrated experience. A great sales experience is integrated with the employee experience through the entire organisation. Leading the customer experience journey is at the heart of sales leadership.

Tom Williams says every organisation claims to be customer-centric and many have a nice diagram that they show to their customers to prove it. However, most organisations do not understand how their customers buy, so they follow their sales process and then they are surprised when customers do not buy.

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused all messaging in sales to be scrutinised, reviewed, and pivoted, says Lori Richardson. There are still a good percentage of sellers out there who are more like order takers and price-droppers. They do not understand consultative selling or selling value. The consultative sellers will keep doing what they have done – listening to their buyers and solving problems.

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Leigh Ashton says it has had to shift because the client/customer/buyer is so much more informed. There are still many old school corporates and sales professionals out there, but they are not as successful as they could be because they focus on the numbers rather than the human relationship and the long term.

Colleen Stanley says, do not focus on what has changed as much as what has not changed in sales. Sure, buyers are more educated; however, they are also more overwhelmed with data. A professional salesperson still provides value by helping buyers cut through the clutter and focus on the sales levers that are genuinely going to make a difference in sales outcomes. The modern seller still needs to develop good old fashioned selling skills such as listening and diagnosing the real business problem, not just presenting the problem.

Today, customers want us to meet them on their terms, make it personal, and keep making it better for them says Rakhi Voria. Customers want an experience that is channel-agnostic and consistent. They want to self-serve and know that we can meet them where they are and engage at the right time. They want a more personalised, streamlined experience, designed to meet the specific needs of their business. Sellers need to bring real value to the conversation to drive successful business outcomes and build trust. Finally, Agility is key to customers’ expectations of services – they expect Sellers to anticipate their needs and be ready to produce solutions tailored to them.

B2B used to be all about the solution sale, based on fulfilling your organisational objectives. The way the world is now must focus on a deep understanding of the client’s needs, said Enza Burgio. If you do not have that synergy and joint vision, there is no place for you. Your words, actions and services must support the client and them alone. What works is understanding your client before you approach them and knowing what they want. You should already know if you are a fit for them – this will come across as genuine authenticity when you start the dialogue.

Tom English said, there has been a shift towards customer-centricity since he started working in B2B sales. With the higher engagement of end-users when their needs are met is an example of customer-centricity. A massive win-win for you and your customers is ensuring that your buyers’ buyers get maximum value from our products.

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Discussing what practical strategies would enable buyers to buy, or sellers to build long-term trusted customer relationships:

The first thing in this climate you want to do is breathe, said Lisa Earl McLeod. You need to identify how you helped customers in the past and ask. Is that still valuable? Is that still helpful, or has it changed some? When you have a super clear story in your head about how you could make a difference to your customers, only then do you have the right mindset to reach out.

Rakhi Voria said having a digital platform that is a one-stop-shop for all our customer needs is critical. We have the IBM marketplace. In one place, customers can find products and services to fit their needs – analytics, blockchain, cloud, AI, Its infrastructure, etc. they can search by technology, by business needs, by type (i.e. software vs hardware), customers offers and trials.

Sales begin with a trusted customer relationship said, Carole Railton. Body language is a way of understanding both the customer and yourself better. When you are in sync with your own and your customer’s body language, says Carole, you have a much better chance of influencing and building a lasting relationship. The first sale becomes easier your time with the client is reduced because you are speeding up communications working on the same wavelength as the client.

Enza Burgio said you must have a plan for your client and yourself, creating a joint vision that will be good for both parties. If you have something new to offer, then be direct but humble about it. Hidden agendas do not work these days.

The strategy of asking more powerful questions and listening to the answers, said Lori Richardson, solve problems and helps to up-level buyers.

Tom English said you must understand the job that buyers are ‘hiring’ your product/service to do. As Theodore Levitt put it, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.”

Bev Hancock suggests using conversational strategies that build loyalty and retention – the pot of gold for sustainable business. These strategies are designed to move customers (both internal and external) from resistance to co-creating value and innovation. Conversational techniques quite literally rewire the brain and are designed to build trusted relationships which are the heart of culture.

Colleen Stanley said the most effective strategy that is talked about a lot and used little is customising the prospecting approach. We all receive one-size-fits-all prospecting messages every day that end up deleted. Customising requires empathy and delayed gratification skills, which is why so few sellers conduct effective outreach.

Trust is earned and not given, says Kristie Jones. Trust between a customer and a company starts day one. Kristie suggests:

  • Everyone at the company walks their talk.
  • They show up for appointments: On-time.
  • Get prepared for meetings with client’s – respecting their time.
  • They do what they say – sending follow up emails/resources.

“ownyourownsh.t,” says Kristie Jones, everyone screws up now and then; it is how a company/employee handles those issues that make or breaks the relationship with the customer. Own it and ask the customer how we can make it right?

Leigh Ashton said it is always the human element. Help them achieve what the customer really wants in a way that is super easy for them. Really understand their map of the world and not just from a business perspective but a holistic perspective that takes in all pieces of the jigsaw!

One of the things we have used for years is a Collaboration Plan or Mutual Action Plan, said Tom Williams. It is a plan between the buying and selling organisations to explore the joint feasibility and benefits of a partnership. It is a sharing of ideas, concerns, capabilities, and obstacles that must be addressed and overcome in formalising an agreement. The Plan guides the buyer and seller through a complex decision process that otherwise might be delayed, stalled, or set aside. From the seller’s perspective, the Collaboration Plan keeps selling activities buyer-focused and connected to the needs of the customer. For the buyer’s position, the Plan ensures joint efforts navigate the hurdles and barriers and ensure that the buying organisation is change ready.

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Next week I will post part two of this article discussing diversity in sales and they also offering practical tried and tested strategies and top tips to help you Scale Your Sales. To not miss it this rich advice from influence and experts in sales.

 

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Brand Advocacy

Build Business Brand and Personality that Delivers Results

Companies that express a powerful brand personality can turn customers into fans and advocates.

What is the one thing that is unique beyond the product – it is the people within the brand. People emotionally attach and identify with people, a brand lives and breath through these personalities.

In 2014 I wrote Business Evolution Creating Growth in a Rapidly Changing World, and although it has been six years, the strategies within the book are still relevant today. The book talks about the ‘Essential 4Ps’ and the first P is Personality, building your personal business personality.

I define brand personality as the humanity behind the business. How this is conveyed is through its people the key influencer, the personal business personalities and the business mission and values. It will guide how the customer experiences the business and interact with the individual personalities within the brand.

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The world, more now than ever, is demanding a human-centred approach to marketing. There is so much false information that you must lead with real personable and relatable people.

You must build and leverage a credible brand personality. Customers may not be able to visit you personally but will check you out online, the individuals and the brand. Therefore, they must engage and trust your brand personalities long before they press the flesh. It is vital to your business success to engage and influence in a way that reaches your most valued customers and a potential audience of fans in an authentically way.

Whether you are a CEO, a leader, manager, expert, influencer, an employee, or employer; you and your colleagues are the key personalities of the brand and the story-tellers of your marketing campaigns.

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What do you stand for? 

It means having a point of view that is important to the brand mission and finding a way to express it through the people that engage with the brand. The primary source is the individual personalities within the brand if the brand stand for something then the representative within it are the protector and communicators of these brand values.

Customers want to know who the individual representatives are, what they stand for, and the mission and purpose behind the business and see how your actions impact the mission, i.e. is it congruent and trustworthy? Customers, buyers, and stakeholders will look you up and decide on whether you are reliable and credible before accepting a call or connection.

30% of consumers are more likely to buy a product recommended by a non-celebrity blogger. Consumers value the opinions of influencers they can relate to more than that of celebrity. 49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations (ION). Do you show up as an expert influencer that your customer can rely on?

If you develop customer conversations from a position of expertise and authority, you are less of a commodity and will gain more sales. If you are boosting the company’s visibility in a competitive market, then building the brand personality will help to increase visibility, build trust, and generate more opportunities. Brand personality is the natural character of your cohort of employees, colleagues, these influencers create brand advocacy and become your personal business personalities.

The critical qualities of a personal business personality are character, professionalism, authority, and consistency. Visibly demonstrate how you show up online by sharing relevant content, creating your social footprint, and making connections. Without enough visibility for your personal business personality, you are invisible to your wider audience and potential customers. 

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Imagine 50 employees all with 500 LinkedIn followers generating content once a week, potentially 100,000 more people could view this content, in a year 1.2 million potential more viewers not to mention the comments and shares. Your colleagues or collective cohorts are your best sales team and a powerful force that most businesses underutilise. Your marketing department cannot compete with the collective power of your real and relatable people.

As a starting point, everyone in the business must be searchable with a credible LinkedIn profile. Employee advocates can help acquire new customers and retain existing ones when customers view them as authentic and trustworthy. Empower colleagues to deliver the company’s brand personality and customer promise across all touchpoints, such as website, sales conversations, support calls, social media, product demos. Wherever customers interact with your brand; they must feel they are dealing with real people who care about them and live the mission and values that attracted them.

Of course, you cannot have everyone interrupting the brand messaging in their own way. However, if your brand values, culture and training and support are in an environment of collaboration and collectivism the individual communication will be on brand and the message consistent.

But this is not all about you, your personalities or even you brand personality – your reason for being is for your customer.

Having a clearly communicated brand personality with influencers trusted experts, and relatable personal business brand personalities under the umbrella of the brand personality, your customer knows and trust they are in the right place. And this is the best place to be, develop and grow together.

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Customer Retention

Why Now: Buyer-Centric Selling is Future-Proofing Sales Revenue

The global pandemic has accelerated a necessity for a customer-first mindset shift in all growth enterprises. Scale Your Sales helps you calibrate customer experience into your sales operations.

Now your primary objective must be to engage buyers and customers at a distance and retain your key customers with extreme focus and tenacity. You must be digital with human connection and personality. Digital is not only an essential tool to listen, engage, and sell but to build customer experiences and the deliver brand promises.  

Janice B Gordon Experience Sales ecommerce sell online

Customer experience is not only a sales focus and some traditional sales process orientated people might argue that it is not sales function at all. Every area of the enterprise works on something that the customer will read, see, hear, or touch, in their experiences with the company. All the activities and processes within the business can be made simple or difficult for the customer. It is the sales professionals that have the job of selling what is either simple or difficult for the customer. Whatever your level or title ISR, MQR. BDR, AE, SE, CSR, CSM or AM, these sales roles have direct access and impact on the customers and buyers and therefore the experience.

Selling is no longer about delivering products and services; selling is the entire experience the buyer and customer have of your brand.

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During the pandemic, face to face appointments getting is no longer an option. All the roles above have had to adapt to the digital space and how they nurture customer relationships. B2B complex sales can be a long and winding road, throw in the pandemic, and now all companies are evaluating their response, survival, and growth direction, this is complexity on steroids.

Invest in your existing relationships, skill-up and gear-up your operation for the new and future opportunities and the pandemic will uncover. Sellers working with struggling industries such as hospitality and travel, must apply flexibility and give your expert advice and support.

In the Scale Your Sales Podcast I have spoken to many sales experts giving their advice on the way forward, a good friend of mine, Patricia Fripp said “COVID19 is not so much a time to sell but a time to keep in touch and be of service. Many clients are not spending money, and others are spending more. Always remember the clients that gave you the business when they had money, help them along when they do not have money. COVID is a great time to learn (invest) today and earn tomorrow.”

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‘As a Service’ is a growing business model that has helped hone the retention practices of many organisations. Future-proofing beyond the pandemic is to leverage the experience you create to build customer advocates. Building customer advocates is investing in your existing relationships to create significant rewards.

Buyers and customer trust their peers more than the marketing messages of the supplier or the pitch of the sales professional. You must invest in creating brand advocates and nurturing customer relationship because your valued customers become a trusted extension of your sales and marketing efforts, recommending and referring other peers to your organisation. 

Future-proofing revenue is to invest in your existing key customers and accounts to increase per account revenue. We could talk about cross-sell and upsell, you must stay close to your customer, understand their specific needs, and innovate your product and service to fulfil their (the decision-making unit) wants and needs. It is growing with the customer, creating a breath of relationships, and becoming their trusted partners in good time and helping them through the struggles and challenges.

Janice B Gordon Experience Sales adult-businessman-checkered-936128

The new normal has challenged our resources and the way we adopt the technology. However, one thing which is a certainty is that digital marketing and sales methods are the tools your customers have been engaging with for some time. It is Sellers who are only just catching up to understand what buyer-centric means:

  • Most B2B buyers are already 57% of the way through the buying process before the first meeting with a representative.
  • 78% of buyers expect sales to personalise interactions based on their online activities.
  • Sales professionals using social media are 3.6 times more times of meeting the decision-maker.
  • 86% of IT buyers use social media in their purchase decision process.

Now more than ever, buyers and customer want to buy from sales professionals that can offer real value. Customers want to work with Sellers that are making a positive difference, that has a positive culture and demonstrate their values in the way they interact with them in the experience of working together.

Selling and operating with customer experience focused lens is an opportunity to reduce cost and grow revenue. Excellent customer experiences lessen the length of the sales circle, increases customer satisfaction. It will advance co-creation and innovative improvement with the voice of the customer and trusted partnerships. The closer the customer relationships, the less time spent selling as the relationship produces a barrier to competitor entry and furthers revenue growth opportunities.

Now is the time to orientate your growth enterprise to be buyer-centric.  Companies that align towards excellent customer experience will outperform their peers with predictable revenue growth, shorth sales cycles and greater customer satisfaction and lower churn rates.  If you want to thrive through this pandemic or any other challenge that will come your way, selling can no longer be a function of sales but must be a function of the buyer and customer experience.

 

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