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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.

Scale Your Sales Podcast experts Image by pixabay.library-1147815_1280

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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Scale Your Sales, Social Relationships

Scale Your Sales 9 Steps to Initiating your People Social Engagement

Since 2008 the economic crisis, brand loyalty and trust are at an all-time low, and traditional sales techniques are less effective. Almost all your customers are online researching, engaging, and connecting on social.

COVID has meant a boom in technology adoption with remote working; we are yearning for real human connection. At a time when our thoughts are with our families and friends, we can empathise better with our colleagues and customers experiencing similar.

Get Social to Reach Your Customers – Here’s How? 

You may have seen in March 2020, while we were all coming to terms with enforced lockdown, EE, the mobile network offered free data to National Health Service key workers. Now I am not a key worker, but this does not only win over keyworkers, but I would also look favourably on this brand because of what they are doing for key workers. What about you?

Customers are watching what you do; customers will remember how you treat them and how you treat your people, employees and colleagues and other stakeholders. This is how they measure your brand values; it is a demonstration of your company walking their talk.

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During March, I started sewing scrubs for the NHS keyworkers at the weekends, Scrubs Hub this community based voluntary movement. I posted in LinkedIn, and the engagement I got was off the roof. LINKEDIN the business network! 

What has changed is professional, and business communication has become personal. Trust is a human value; engagement happens between people, not companies, but the individuals in within businesses. Customers trust what they know; they need to know what you stand for and your values. According to Edelman research, more people trust a regular employee (53%) than a CEO (47%). Even more people (65%) trust a company technical expert.

Why Leverage Your People to Become Your Greatest Asset and Resource?

You may have a competent marketing department; however, the collective power of people/colleagues is higher than the efforts of the marketers. 

Ten people X 1000 followers x 2 posts per week = 20,000 potential viewers of your content per week! X 50 weeks = 1,000,000

If at least one colleague commented, shared, and liked this post or one person from their personal network and so on… The result is like the R rate of COVID19, it is exponential distribution 2 million, becomes 4 million, becomes 16 million potential viewers.

Why People Empowered Social is Best

The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer has focused on what they call the Employer-Employee partnership to look at levels of trust at work. Technical experts and ‘regular employees’ consistently at the top on trust; however, the biggest rise came from “A person like yourself.”

Edelman Trust Barometer 2019 Trusted Voices Janice B Gordon Employee Advocacy

People, including your customers, perceive experts as objective and employees as trustworthy, and they trust their peers or people like themselves. Leveraging your employees and experts, to convey your brand values and message is utilising your best resource to engage in mutually beneficial social media conversations. 

  • 84% of consumers’ value recommendations from friends and family above all forms of advertising.
  • 59% of survey respondents stated that they recommended a company to a friend or colleague in the last 12 months.
  • 77% of consumers are likely to purchase after hearing about it from someone they trust. 
  • Nearly 86% of employees involved in a formal advocacy program say it had a positive effect on their careers.
  • LinkedIn found that employees of a company tend to have ten times more followers than the company itself.
  • LinkedIn discovered while only about 2% of employees reshare their company’s social posts, they are responsible for 20% of the overall engagement.

 People, including customers, trust their personal connections, and your employees and colleagues are already connected online to hundreds or thousands of people. 

Employee advocacy works because peer-to-peer marketing influences 20-50% of purchasing decisions. It taps into established relationships to win credibility and grow engagement. Content shared by employees and colleagues receives 8X more engagement than content shared by and on brand channels. 

I recommend having a higher purpose beyond selling your products; this is most important in the current environment. Think back to the EE example, having a higher purpose around what the company does for customers, based on the collective values of the people within the business, makes it sharable.

Check that the company culture and employee trust are in a healthy state and if not, fix this first. Employees who trust their employer are twice as likely to engage in employee advocacy. 

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Scale Your Sales 9 Steps to Initiating your People Social Engagement Programme

  1. Start slow and learn what works for your company culture and customers.
  2. Identify those colleagues that are already creating content on their personal social channels and those that have a notable following, influence, or expertise, are ideal for a pilot group of advocacy colleagues.
  3. Remember, this is a two-way process; it is as much about listening to the pilot participants ideas about the best way to engage colleagues and customer through the social programme.
  4. Give support to leverage what they are already doing and help them to do it better.
  5. Co-create content and test what is working, sharing the analytics within the group.
  6. Remember, this must be mutually beneficial; how can the company help to amplify the individual’s profile and reach? 
  7. Phase two is to deliver company-wide training on the success of the pilot group and help the whole company to see the benefits and support the initiative. 
  8. Offer company-wide training in social media and social selling focused on helping employees and colleagues know the value of building their online profiles and giving them the tools to create and share engaging content and the company brand values.
  9. Once you have created a robust learning social engagement practice, consider further investment in and rolling out an employee advocacy software tool. Along with training your trainers drawn from your pilot advocacy group, to help to maintain support across departments and company-wide phase two roll-out.

The mistakes that companies make, they invest in expensive software and expect all the whole company to get involved with little support or training. Colleagues think what is in it for me, and usually, only a small group maintain their involvement and the employee advocacy programme fails to deliver long-term. Before you invest – test a pilot programme using the tools you already have within your marketing armoury.  

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The aim is to create stories from employee content by sharing what they do that portrays the business values and culture and to encouraging employee and colleagues to share what the company does that is great. 

You want your colleagues to be proud not only of what they do but to share the impact their work has on the customer.  

You want your colleagues to take over your channels to create and share engaging content that is relevant to customers. 

You want your colleagues to be the face of the business using video, stories and as such, actively engaging with your customers. 

The Edelman Trust Barometer employee engagement survey substantiates the value of employee advocacy and social selling not only for sales professionals but as your most cost-effective marketing resources.

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Scale Your Sales, Trusted Advisors

View From The Top Experts on Scale Your Sales Podcast

Over the last three months, Scale Your Sales Weekly Podcast has had fantastic guests that have generously given their knowledge, experience, and insights. In the previous article we look at the responses to the COVID19 question, here are their answers as we plan not only how to survive but thrive the pandemic.

I founded the Scale Your Sales framework to help growth companies scale through leverage their customer relationships. I asked the guest of Scale Your Sales Podcast how customer-centric the B2B selling environment is? We discussed diversity in sales and they also offer practical strategies and top tips. So, let get started:

What The Expert Advice on COVID Scale Your Sales Podcast

Question: Have B2B sellers shifted enough to be customer-centric?

Adam Gray said, still it seems that most companies only pay lip service to be customer-centric. All of their narratives tend to be about their products/services or their clients’ challenges ONLY where it interacts with their own solutions’ key benefits.

Caryn Kopp agrees with Adam Gray when it comes to getting in the door; sellers are still thinking and communication too much about themselves. Caryn said salespeople say things like, “I’d love to meet with you.” They communicate why they would love to meet with the buyer. What they leave out is why the buyer would love to meet with the seller!

Mic Adam confirms, still too many salespeople are focussed on their own pitch, with the advent of ABM and Social Selling; however, this is slowly changing.

Adrian Swinscoe states that the relationship between customer experience and sales is direct and complete; the sales process and experience is part of a customer’s experience. What’s working in customer experience there is much activity, but the problem is that too many customer experience programmes are formulaic affairs that produce disappointing results. I love this quote from Adrian;

“this is just like painting by numbers, you may create nice pictures but… it won’t be art, and it definitely won’t give you a chance of creating a masterpiece”.

Karen Dunne-Squire said there is a real conflict here and that is that the salespersons key objective is to hit a target – if that objective is managed wrongly by the individual and the company then it remains in direct conflict with the client’s needs. When the salesperson’s desire to sell with value is the primary goal, then the client’s needs can be met—the culture of the business and how the practices of the organisation must reflect the customer’s requirements.

Cian Mcloughlin said the balance of power has certainly shifted, although not as far as it will eventually move from:

  • Seller led to customer Led
  • Product led to Service led
  • Complex & cumbersome to Simple and agile
  • Outbound Push to Inbound Pull
  • Hard to do business with to, Easy to do business with.

David JP Fisher, The easy access to information, has given the power back to buyers, and it is imperative that you are customer-centric organisation. Customers are on their own buying journey, and your goal is to be the guide that helps them make their decisions better, faster, and with less risk; being a Sales Sherpa.

Kendra Lee said clients want sellers to be buyer and Customer-centric and if you haven’t adapted, it will be difficult to earn their trust enough that they want to talk with you let alone buy from you.

Scale Your Sales Expert Interviews

Question: What practical strategy could you offer that has enabled buyers to buy?

Adrian Swinscoe Stop trying to sell. It’s not about you. It’s about your customers. Zig Ziglar got it spot-on when he wrote “If you help enough people get what they want then you will get what you want,” from his book See You at The Top. The key is figuring out what people need. That requires you to focus on them, to listen, to put aside your own targets and aspirations and to focus on them genuinely. That can be hard, but it is your challenge

Cian Mcloughlin A customer is only truly a customer when they buy from us for the second time. The first time they are just giving us an opportunity, how well we deliver on your promises will often dictate if you get a chance at the bigger prize. The strategy is to deliver on your commitments, under promise and over deliver and manage risk better than anyone else.

Patricia Fripp said organise your presentation around what you believe the customer wants and is of interest to them and weave what you want them to know about you into it, not the other way around.

Viveka von Rosen said you want to take a fair amount of time to find your ideal buyers and prospects on LinkedIn, and if they are active on linked in, engage with their content along before you send them the invitation to connect! This way you build the Know, Like, Trust factor before you try and sell them anything.

David JP Fisher Two strategies for building long-term relationships with customers: 1) Have regular reminders to contact them regardless of whether or not you want to pitch them. Consider it as networking and try to have 2-3 conversations a year to find out about what is going on for your contacts and their organisation 2) leverage LinkedIn to connect with them and post industry-relevant content a few times every week.

Patricia Fripp Be specific with your message, says Patricia, especially when presenting to diverse audiences where English may not be their first language. You must be sensitive to changing the images of your presentation and the language. When you tell stories, said Patricia, it is crucial that you populate the stories with real people relevant to the audience and customer.

Suchi Pathak said some companies are utilising multiple data points for KPIs and starting to look at composite, or big data sets to get a more accurate picture of what is happening. It is essential to understand what ‘good’ looks like in a sales role objectively. Too often we rely on CVs, interviews and experience to determine whether someone is going to be a good fit for the role, said Suchi. What matters is the key behaviours that drive trust, customer relationship and better performance. For example, assuming someone who has come from a seemingly similar role will be great at your company, while we have found that this is often not a predictor of performance. The data shows that company size, stage and product complexity can make a significant impact on if someone is good for the role, and unfortunately, many companies still do not have the right people in the role for this reason.

Viveka von Rosen said most people have a resume. The first thing that you must do is create an attractive personal brand. Create a brand that is buyer-centric so that the prospect or buyer knows that you care about them. You want to share helpful useful content that your buyer can see as a resource. This gives them the opportunity of engaging on your content as well as sharing it to their bank committee.

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Question: What’s your view on how diversity in the B2B selling industry has progressed?

Adam Gray said diversity is important and we try hard to have a diverse makeup of our people. As a white, middle-aged man, he said, “I cannot personally empathise with the challenges of a young ethnic woman.” Adam makes the point that although many organisations seem to be behind having a diverse workforce, they do not have one!

Karen Dunne-Squire said the gender balance in sales has always been an issue and sometimes this is connected to the recruitment practices, which are generally led by men and is an issue with the industry as a whole. Words such as aggressive, killer instinct and hard hitter, are often used to describe sales acumen and often these words are not appealing to women. Initially, said Karen, she was reluctant to join the sales industry, until she created her own definition for the work she did.

Cian Mcloughlin said, there is a significant amount of progress that needs to be made in the area of diversity. There is a stereotypical salesperson that people think of when they hear the terms salesperson and this stereotype has delivered a tremendous amount of negativity to the industry. Gender and cultural diversity are incredibly important in ensuring strong cultural fit, transparent and empathetic communications and a sales team that is reflective of the broader society.

Kendra Lee said the sales industry is predominantly male, but it has not held Kendra back who has been successful. Kendra said she has always gone for what she wanted, and when she felt someone was holding her back, she pivoted. Kendra had a complacent, old, arrogant manager that that did not believe in her abilities, although a top performer. Kendra found another job and never looked back.

Caryn Kopp agrees that diversity does not matter; she does not feel that her gender has ever held me back.

Suchi Pathak said she could see that companies are trying to increase their diversity and inclusion by putting initiatives and incentives in place. The by-product is that while companies are raising awareness, more could be done to tie diversity figures to the increase in performance for a department or company perspective. Apology’s platform helps companies to find people that are highly likely to meet or exceed their KPIs, and the predictive models reduce the bias associated with people-based decisions.

Viveka von Rosen, We are not there yet, but we are getting there! I belong to a women’s sales pros group, where we are always trying to increase the skill set and visibility of female sales professionals. I have been invited to speak on several sales panels, that while being mostly male, at least have one female on them! We have some way to go.

13 Experts have their say on Scale Your Sales Podcast

Question: What’s your top tip?

Derek Arden Recommends the law of know, like and trust.

Kendra Lee Be consistent.

Mic Adam Focus on the relationship and be prepared to give!

Adam Gray Be more visible.

Caryn Kopp Focus: Narrow the criteria and select prospect groups which have more urgency around the meeting.

Cian Mcloughlin Extract feedback from every sales cycle in which they engage.

David JP Fisher Use technology as a support to your offline conversations, not a replacement.

Kendra Lee Take personal responsibility for your success and do not let someone else’s “no” hold you back. Sales are your business.

Mic Adam Social selling is not just LinkedIn, and do not only do a LinkedIn Training and then hope for the best.

Suchi Pathak  Use objective data.

Frank Furness Use the Boolean search and recommends a great little tool called recruitin.net

Patricia Fripp Open with “Congratulations” then talk about something the customer is proud of, a marketing campaign, a core value experienced, or the stock price.

Karen Dunne-Squire recommends that customer journey mapping supports encourages businesses not only to create sales journeys that are customer-focused

 

These are only a few of the many insights from the Scale Your Sales expert guests. Some of the words were adapted to ensure that there is a flow of content. The majority of answers are selected from the questionnaire completed prior to the guest interview with some text was taken from the audio transcription.

Go to Scale Your Sales Podcast where you can select the expert interviews and listen to the full recording. Please subscribe to the Scale Your Sales Podcast on your favourite channel. You can visit the YouTube channel to watch the interviews, comment and hit subscribe to ensure you do not miss future interviews.

 

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Scale Your Sales

How Sales professionals Can Thrive in a Post COVID World

I believe we are at a digital crossroads in sales, between those that can adapt and change to the socially connected commercial world and those that sit and wait for it to pass believing that B2B sales will continue as before. Some estimates say that we have moved up digital adoption five years on three months.

The Scale Your Sales weekly podcast has hosted many insightful experts over the last quarter, April to June 2020. I asked all the guest their advice on how sales professionals can ride out the global pandemic and come out stronger; these are the answers. I thought it would be beneficial to compile all the expert answers to support you to ensure you are able to adopt the right mindset and actions to thrive through the challenges that COVID19 has presented.

The idea that you can take service as usual and turn up the volume is just not going to cut it right now, says Adrian Swinscoe. You must think about this time as service as unusual. The key to understanding and dealing with COVID19 is being mindful of what other people are going through as they transition to remote working and how you can help them do the best job. But also, how can you communicate with your customers to help manage and set expectations of business as unusual.

If there is a gift in COVID19, said Viveka von Rosen, it is that we are all experiencing some version of the same disruption. This will allow you to understand your customer as a human rather than a client. Salespeople must learn how to use LinkedIn to build relationships online. We must empathise the customer point of pain as the pandemic is making us realise that we are all human.

Janice B Gordon logan-weaver-gTyj_tABGsQ-unsplash

For the foreseeable future, we are not going to have conferences, trade shows and in-person networking, even leveraging your network is going to be done differently, Caryn Kopp. COVID19 is unlike any situation that we have experienced before, and sellers must master the art of developing business in this virtual world.

COVID19 has forced us to do the relationship building a little different, said Mic Adam, through Zoom, Skype, Teams or whatever technology you have available because it’s all done by video, we must get over our fear of recording messages on video.

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 investing more. Always remember the clients that gave you the business when they had money and to help them along when they do not have money.

Patricia advises her clients to revisit, refocus and re-script, to look at your automatic messages and ask, “is the message relevant now?” FrippVT is an excellent resource if you want to brush up on your presentation skills. This is a great time to learn today and earn tomorrow, said Patricia, all the things you do not have time for, now you have no excuse.

Janice B Gordon austin-distel-VvAcrVa56fc-unsplash

Empathy is a Consistent Theme

David JP Fisher said, “It’s irritating t to hear so many sales gurus, talk about how empathy is essential right now because I’m like – when wasn’t it? Why does takes a pandemic, to think that empathy and being a human is important? Nevertheless, David said, if you are going to prospect and engage if you are going to talk with your existing clients, do use more compassion. Do not ignore the fact that there is a lot of stuff going on right now.

Adrian Swinscoe said the exciting thing about it is that empathy does not exist at an organisational level. Empathy is a human and individual thing, and unless you are predisposed towards it, or you have had an experience of developing it; empathy is a habit and behaviour that you can all learn. However, Adrian emphasises, that it takes effort, time, discipline, and commitment. If we all try to empathise, we will all get better at it.

Cian Mcloughlin said you must change your approach in COVID19; the sales professional cannot do cold outreach or call their customer and not mention that fact that the business might be struggling or that the customer might have stopped buying. Lead with empathy and authenticity and just be real when having a conversation and try to add some short term and immediate value. Cian said to focus on what you have that can help their urgent problem, and if you do not have anything to improve your customer’s current climate, then now is the time to focus on relationship building. He offers that to ‘sew the seeds’ now will reap the rewards down the track, however, being tone-deaf to how the current climate is affecting the client will stop you getting the sale and will also ruin your relationship in the long term.

Sellers need to be in constant contact with their target market of prospects and customers, said Karen Dunne-Squire. You must understand what the impact of the pandemic has been, how to adapt and flex to be able to continue to present value and solve customers’ problems. Sometimes salespeople assume, not realising that the thing that adds value last week or last month might not be valid now.

Talking to Kendra Lee about COVID19, she recommends sellers to keep calling, talking and offering help with more compassion and emotional intelligence than ever before. Kendra said sellers must stay with it and not give up as she believes opportunities will present.

Janice B Gordon Image pixabay 165106

What Can You Do?

David JP Fisher said of the many blanket statements that are being made, especially on LinkedIn, that right now every situation is different. There are lots of fun debates that ‘is a great time to sell’, or ‘it’s it a horrible time to sell’. The reality is that it is different for all of us. For some industries, this is not a good time to sell, and for others, it is a fantastic time to sell. Their context matters greatly!

Suchi Pathak said, one of the biggest strengths of COVID19 is that many people have many more one on one time and fewer distractions. Suchi has seen that rather than having a solid relationship with just one person in the client organisation, this time has enabled sellers to branch out their network within the company. The previous issue of developing a fantastic relationship with a primary contact of the company that left the seller vulnerable if that contact left. With more frequent communication across several different people in the organisation and the expansion of the network, Suchi says the experience of COVID19 is going to improve sales in the long term.  

Caryn Kopp said the one thing that has changed is that the emails of decision-makers are filling up fast, everyone is bombarding buyers with emails with the word COVID19 in the communication. COVID, makes the email vanilla and prospects know it is a cold email. Few people are calling. Caryn said the significant change is to use the phone. People that were working in an office are now at home they are crazy to hear a voice and have a relevant conversation.

Mic Adam said that this time is great for companies to start on their employee advocacy. Adam said he is seeing many employees that are now willing to share messages from their company pages. Those messages are often related to the COVID19 crisis. However, they are willing to take the messages from the company page and share it on their personal networks.

Adrian Swinscoe said you must tell the customer what is going on and that you are working hard to resume service, and that right now this is services unusual. Adrian gave many examples of how companies frustrate their customers by not communicating effectively. Adrian said that COVID19 shined a light on what good customer experience can and should look like, he said, the best just know and get it, and everybody else is far behind.

Although quite a difficult and soul searching experience, Adam Gray said Now is a perfect opportunity to invest time in making sure our footprint reflects precisely how good we are. Your online profile must reflect and communicate your USP. When COVID19 lockdown finishes, he said, the improvement in your footprint is there forever. Do not waste this time, says Adam, you will never get another time like this.

Mic Adam says agrees that we need to lay down the foundation now, and not wait until this crisis is over. Mic noted this is the time you need to reach out to your customers with content; you need to reach out with conversations, and that way, you start building and develop the relationship and trust.

I have made minor amendments to ensure the information given by each expert flow and is easily actionable. Please do connect directly with each of the experts through LinkedIn. Look out for part two, which will profile some of the answers to questions on diversity and customer-centricity in sales. Please listen or watch the Scale Your Sales Podcast of your favourite expert and subscribe on your favourite channel to ensure you do not miss future episodes.

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Janice B Gordon CX Sales Photo by Dmitry Zvolskiy from Pexels
Customer Experience, Scale Your Sales

Buyers Value Emotion and Ease in Customer Experience Sales

When you think of Customer Experience, you may think of how you can provide an excellent experience to your customers and buyers.

The most significant influence on customer and buyers’ experiences are easy to use and emotional engagement. Customers rate effort and feeling higher than product or price. 

74% of people are likely to switch brands if they find the purchasing process too difficult. Salesforce confirms not only do you miss out on short-term sales with a problematic buying experience; you will miss out on long-term loyalty and higher LTVs.

Ease is not an easy thing to control. Any interaction, no matter how well planned, is dependent on several variables between internal supplier and the external customer. Ease is also subjective and personal.

Janice B Gordon CX Sales Photo by Anthony Shkraba from Pexels

My view is that the experience stands like a barrier between your customer or buyer getting what they want.  Your job in sales along with everyone in the supplier organisation is to identify and remove those barriers. And when you do, ­the benefits of improved experiences along the customer journey are increased loyalty, lower cost to serve, higher recommendation and the ability to charge premium prices. 

Even in these times of COVID19, we see patients coming out of the hospital. They are full of gratitude for Nurses for being there to hold their hand when they felt alone and fearful away from their families. The patients were grateful for the words of encouragement and the care these Nurses gave. Even our Prime minister was humbled by the Nurses that sat by his side watching over him getting him through the night. Patients rate how the experience made them feel at over 50% while the outcome of treatment was only 20%.

Like smokers who despite the warning on the box that ‘Smoking KILLS’, some experience severe illness like pneumonia through damage to the lungs, however, they then go back to smoking as soon as they can take a full breath. It is the young son or daughter pleading with the parent smoker to stop because they will die; this message has a more significant emotional impact and eventually stop the parent from smoking. The feeling of pain that the smoker causes others, is worse than the result of ill health and possible death.

Smoking Kills Flickr

Moving a customer from 7 out of 10 to 8 out of 10 in satisfaction score has a massive impact on repeat purchases and customer lifetime value. However, the cost to eliminate errors for customers to score 9 or 10 in satisfaction, will increase costs but have little effect on increasing purchases. Customers do not expect or value perfection.

Why many companies are not achieving the minimum standard of customer satisfaction?

Sellers put the needs of the supply company first, not in a malicious way, but because it is familiar; what they know, like, and trust. It is not easy to see things from the buyer or customer perspective. You must put customers first and centre of every decision if you are to

  • anticipate the customer needs,
  • make it easy for buyers to purchase
  • co-design solutions they want
  • and create emotional engagement
  • understand how they want to feel.

The closer you are to your buyer having customer improvement conversations, the easier it is for the buyer to purchase the easier relationship the quicker the sales cycle the higher the value and sales revenues.

Selling is no longer just a function of the sales function it is more about how you achieve the mission of the business in partnership with your customers.

Janice B Gordon CX Sales Photo by Emre Can from Pexels

The starting point is to map your customer’s journey in 6 easy steps:

  1. Map the customer journey, all their interactions from awareness to consideration purchase and post-purchase.  
  2. Do this across platforms to capture all the entry and exit touchpoints.
  3. Investigate each touchpoint for all the interlinking resources and responsibilities of the interaction.
  4. Access the level of ease and satisfaction such as the number of complaints, conversion and failures and cost of interaction at this point and then score the touchpoint.
  5. Interview the stakeholders, users, buyers, and customers to assess the value they place on the touchpoint.
  6. Prioritise the areas that you can gain the most significant return for investment. i.e. is it moving the customer from 6 to 8 rather than to 9 or 10?

Listen to your communication with customers through your marketing material, frontline customer service and sales pitches:

  • Are you relaying a process that suits you or your customer?
  • Does it make sense to you but is illogical to your customer?
  • How much flexibility is there to service each unique customers and buyers need?

It is not easy to create organisational cross-functional alignment and to put customer needs above internal priorities. You may or may not have a customer experience team in place. Realistically, it is not one person or a team that can change the perspective of an organisation. It is the whole company culture, the organisational vision, and values ‘of how we do things around here,’ this is what creates consistent customer-focused interactions.

Janice B Gordon CX Sales Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

I learnt when working with a customer experience consultancy that your customers are the best sellers of your service to others and they are your most innovative product creators or service improvement agents. All you need to do is emotionally engage your key customer, treat them well and satisfy their needs and they will return the investment. According to McKinsey, brands that improve the experience of the customer’s journey see revenues increase by 10% to 15% and cost to serve, reduce by 15% to 20%.

At every meeting, you must pull out a chair labelled CUSTOMER, and have the customer sitting at the table, either physically, remotely, or imaginary. Research from the Temkin Group found companies that earn $1 billion annually can expect to gain an average additional $700 million within three years of investing in customer experience.

The sales internal message has moved forward from “buyers, buy what you sell” to ‘Buyers do not buy products and services they buy solutions’. Now it is moving from ‘customers buy experience’ towards the personalisation of relationships and the value placed on ease and emotion which moves the revenue needle ‘customers buy ideas and experience from you that create an impact that they value in feeling and ease.’

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Scale Your Sales Podcast Experts have their say
Scale Your Sales

What the Scale Your Sales Expert Interviewees Had to Say

Over the last three months, Scale Your Sales Weekly Podcast has had fantastic guests that have generously given their knowledge, experience, stories and insights. I have highlighted some of their answers to themes discussed. Many of their answers are relevant now during #COVID19 as they were before.

I founded the Scale Your Sales framework to help growth companies scale. So, I asked guest their view on how the selling and buying process has changed?

 Selling is more challenging than ever before for many reasons including Marketing Message Overload, the Internet and Diminishing Attention Spans, reports James Muir­­­­ and Seema Menon says the shift is from a ‘purely sales focussed product selling’ to ‘solution selling’ to ‘customer needs focussed insight selling,’

Sam Robinson read,

“Buyers were progressing faster than sellers are improving”

and said Sellers had rested on their laurels when it came to improving skills.

And Noreen Cesareo agrees, the buyer today is savvier with more information at their fingertips to self-educate, however, she says, with more information the buyer can feel entirely lost. And Daniel Disney agrees 100%, buyers now have information and that information gives them leverage.

Janice B Gordon Scale Your Sales Expert Guests

Lisa Magnuson said buyers are willing to partner with sellers and companies who understand their issues and challenges and align with their priorities. Which means they buyers expect salespeople to be 100% prepared, more knowledgeable and offering more value in every area.

Deb Calvert did the research and buyers want sellers to show up as leaders.

Bob Apollo supports this, with today’s buyers’ value business acumen and insights far more than company or product knowledge, stating many sales organisations have failed to adapt.

Tiffani Bova says, this isn’t about sales’ shifting’ this is about entire organisations recasting the way they think about employees, what they sell and the impact of positive customer experiences.

 

I asked the expert guest what strategies they would you offer to deepen B2B relationships?

 

Elinor Stutz advises that sellers need to do extensive study on the buyer, the industry, and the competition. Then compare how you are different and then take the buyer through the differences and speak only to the issue the client has.

Meridith Elliott Powell proposes that every quarter to brainstorm with your client (whether on or offline) on what was happening in their business and market, she said there are serious opportunities when you pay attention and anticipate change. One client switched their engagement to prospect their competitors’ customers and won many customers because they were ahead of the market.

Roger Harrop in a similar way, would schedule to visit or conference call top customers regularly – NOT to ask for an order but to discuss ideas and strategy. It was so mutually enlightening that they formed an agreement to meet twice a year.

Janice B Gordon Recording Scale Your Sales podcast Interviews

Seema Menon stressed to preserve the client’s best interest ALWAYS. You may have a valid business reason to sell, and you must continue with the spirit of giving.

Deb Calvert said sellers must be in the moment and listen well to the answers, asking great questions that open the possibilities for having a different kind of conversation that engages and bonds the buyer is a game-changing competitive advantage.

Gretchen Gordon said to only focus on the areas that will help the customer reach their goals. If you don’t do what they need well, instead refer to them elsewhere and to push back where appropriate. Being truly valuable to clients requires that you be 100% honest with them.

Tiffani Bova said trust is the foundation of any relationship. Buyers want brands to 1) give them a reason to choose one brand over another (besides price) 2) make it easy to buy (remove friction) 3) focus on the success of the usage of the product or service they have purchased.

 

We talked about the impact of diversity in B2B sales

 

Seema Menon said she there is more scope for inclusion. Media is more inclusive in terms of employing salespersons with diverse backgrounds. However, the percentage of women in sales has only increased by 3% in the last decade, from 36% to 39% and this decreases in senior roles. Women only hold 19% of leadership roles in sales. These stats are regarding gender bias, and you can estimate that the other diversity factors would rank lower.

Bob Apollo said diversity isn’t just about gender, race or other obvious demographic considerations. Diversity of thought and experience is fundamental to the continued growth of any successful sales organisation.

Gretchen Gordon said if we focus too much on people and personalities rather than talking about an approach to solve problems for clients that help them accomplish their goals. All salespeople must adapt to the other party, to communicate the way they want to be communicated with.

If you attract only white men you are not doing your business any favours at all, says Elinor. She suggests recruiting people that have gone to other countries as this changes their perspective entirely, as travel helps you to relate to all people and new perspectives.

 

Scale Your Sales Podcast Libsyn

James Muir said he is a fitness buff. The latest science proves that microbiome diversity makes people metabolically flexible and healthier. Sales diversity is the same. None of us is as good as all of us.

Meridith Elliott Powell states if you are to attract your customers, you need to reflect them.

“I do not care what your leadership team looks like; you need to look like your customer base if you want to have the voice of the customer at the table.”

Lisa Magnuson offers, what’s most important is that the account team represents diverse perspectives.

Seema Menon said although she faced bias due to her ethnic background, once she proved her mettle. Her ethnicity or diverse background became an added value that brought a different perspective to the group mix.

 

The expert guest offered a tried and tested strategy on how to scale sales now or prepare for future growth

 

Meridith Elliott Powell said to have is a strategy and a plan. You must know where you are headed and how you plan to get there, with your specific goals your client avatars, your behaviours and actions to scale sales.

Focus on the type of organisations and sponsors that are likely to want and need help. Be clear about the issues that you are best at solving, said Bob Apollo, and the trigger events that are likely to cause them to recognise the need for change.

Roger Harrop said consistently and mercilessly prospect for business.

Daniel Disney offers that sharing a post on LinkedIn each day that is full of value, insights and stories. Done right five days a week, will generate inbound leads and create outbound opportunities.

Scale Your Sales Podcast (1)

Gretchen Gordon agreed that you must systematise it.

Noreen Cesareo said to align sales activities with all other key functional operations that companies can gain valuable competitive advantage at a time when strong relationships are highly prized.

Sam Robinson said to start with the managers, they create the environment that let’s performance flourish. Then relentless focus on executing the basics. World-Class execution of the basics is a mantra he has developed his career around.

Tiffani Bove said a focus on moving your middle performing salespeople by anywhere from 2-5% on quota attainment so you can increase top (and bottom) line without increasing headcount.

Elinor Stutz says if there is another preferred partner that the buyer is considering, suggest being the backup supplier and ask them to test one of your smaller services upfront. Hence, you prove you can deliver outstanding service.

It is the tortoise, not the hare that wins the race!

 

These are only a few of the many insights from the expert guests. Some of the words were adapted to ensure that there is a flow of content. Some of the guest answers are selected from the questionnaire completed prior to the guest interview. And some text was taken from the audio transcription.

Please do go to the original Scale Your Sales Podcast where you can select the expert interview to download their offer and listen to the full recording.

Please subscribe to the Scale Your Sales Podcast on your preferred channel to ensure you do not miss future interviews.

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Janice B Gordon speaking at Confex
B2B Sales, Scale Your Sales

Confex and Sales Innovation Expo: the Events to Scale Your Sales

 

As you know sales is the engine of all growing businesses whether online or in person. I am honoured to be speaking at Confex and the Sales Innovation Expo. Both happening at London’s ExCeL on the 25th & 26th February and 25th and 26th March 2020 respectively.

Join me in the Sales Academy at Confex on 25th February: 11.30 – 12.20

Supercharge your business through customer growth and the art of social selling.

Selling no longer sells and all companies need social attraction and an engagement system that develops long term loyal relationships and revenues.

International Confex is the UK’s largest event buying forum covering all elements of creating and developing an event. It is a showcase of event service suppliers, event technology, venues and destinations.

These shows will feature a vast range of leading experts, hear engaging keynotes with the latest tips and sales strategies.  Network with the best in the industry and enrich yourself with sales secrets with your free access! Simply click below to register for your free ticket here: International Confex

Scale Your Sales In partnership with Sales Innovation Expo

The Sales Innovation Expo 2020!

This is a unique opportunity to join 4,500 professionals and find the brand-new innovations, technologies, tools and strategies that are behind the ever-evolving world of sales. I highly recommend that you secure your ticket!

Don’t miss out on your ticket – register now or visit www.salesinnovationexpo.co.uk for full details because this is THE place to Scale Your Sales!

See you there!

Sales and Event Expo audience

Do you follow JaniceBGordon on social media? Do not miss the free content by subscribing on the YouTube Channel. Become a Facebook fan for daily updates and inspiration or join in the conversation on Twitter.

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Scale Your Sales Podcast
Scale Your Sales

32 Top Tips from Scale Your Sales Podcast Experts Diversity & Sales

There is evidence that a diverse team are more creative and has a significant positive impact on your company’s bottom line, sales teams have a direct impact on customer satisfaction and sales revenue growth.

Scale Your Sales expert guest, share many experiences and stories and examples of best practice through sales Tips and people development.

Scale Your Sales Podcast Guest 1

Top Sales Tips from the Experts

Jo Harding stated that specification selling has become even more challenging previously you could influence the architect, but now the seller must influence the whole team. Having to uncover the type of contract, who has the design liability, the power and influence, it is like a chess game! More emotional intelligence is required in specification and complex sales as there tends to be a lot of characters, emotions and political game-play between the various teams on large projects.

If you want to launch in a new category or need to be aware of the landscape and market changes whether it’s a unique opportunity of updating your existing customer Camilla Hasler declared, you must invest in data you can trust. Assumptions do not carry weight with investors or customers.

According to Paul Lewis, the only things that my teenage daughter does not do with their phones is make a call; the way we communicate is changing. You must get on board now to the new way of communicating.

Carolina Castillo recalls her most successful meetings with clients are when they do 80% of the talking. It is so tempting to talk about yourself, your product or your organisation. Salespeople should ask questions, even provocative ones, declared Carolina. Lead the buyer to new thinking, can share examples of what they’ve seen in other industries and then ask the customer their opinion or experience. This tactic gets the conversation going, it might sound fundamental advice, but Carolina still sees salespeople at all levels taking over the meetings and giving very little space for the customer to speak. She says it drives her mad!

Buyers are busier and expect sellers to do their homework, Niraj Kapur voiced. Sellers are not always savvy, many are still using the same sales techniques from twenty years ago, and this doesn’t work efficiently in today’s’ competitive world.

Paul Lewis affirmed that traditional sells methods are not finished, but new approaches are coming in to augment these methods. Sellers must get on board to Social Selling.

Carolina Castillo recalled her dad said to her, sales in the first line in the P&L. The most important thing that should exist between buyers and sellers is trust. This is true for any relationship. When there is trust, it is easier to find agreements and achieve a win-win. Without trust, it’s simply painful. It is upon the salesperson to make the first move to build trust.

Marlen Von Roth agreed, it is all about relationships. In the end, customers and buyers, buy from people they like and trust. This has not changed in her opinion.

Glen Williamson remarked that the relationship is a fallacy. The relationship is not the reason people buy from people – selling is all about creating value.

Not having a sales proposition is random and the reason why salespeople fail to connect.

Done correctly, they are only three conversations: the problem, results and the transformation – then the discussions are pure value, declared Glen Williamson.

Carolina Castillo conveyed, what is true is that buyers have more information than before at their fingertips. That is great, as it means they are better informed, and through their research, it is probably more evident to them what they would like to buy.

Alice Kemper articulated you go in with different questions; “bring me up to speed with the problem” “what you have done and what you need from me?” This is the differentiator. That’s a whole different conversation that opens the discussion and presents you as the business strategist rather than the salesperson.

Paul Durrant agreed that a salesperson now must guide buyers and offer valuable insight, to help buyers make an informed buying decision.

Buyers conduct their research, talk to the shortlisted salespeople and then go back to the supplier website to confirm. Too often, the websites do not support the salesperson, do not speak the same language and not consistent in the focus and message. Alice Heiman affirmed that all collateral must help the salesperson and align the sales process.

Scale Your Sales Podcast Guest 4

More sales are lost by not asking the right questions and then listening to the answers, asserted Judy Hoberman, always be interested in them not interesting to them.

Done right, you can get a great result combining both online digital and offline trade shows, described Alice Heiman. Use digital before the show and spend most of the time on the pre-show, making the plan and preparing one too many messaging about the show and the topics of conversation, sharing great content. Build brand awareness and develop interest, then salespeople can build 1 to 1 messaging on top of this and book many more meetings.

There is a method to the madness of selling. Have a method, follow it, master it, hone it and keep developing it. Alice Kemper professed that repeatable results in producing processes work to scale your sales.

Alice Heiman said, use trade shows and events to draw your ideal customer to you and then engage them in an insightful and memorable experience.

Diversity in Sales

Judy Hoberman asserted that women want to be treated equally, not identically. Give us the opportunity and let us fly.

Stephen Kelly points out that so many traditional sales practices, like sales meetings that end in going out to dinner, are destructive for childcare and family responsibilities. Stephen declared you must ensure that at every stage at the life journey of the salesperson that barriers removed and that they are given choices so that they are comfortable with themselves.

Only 16% of salespeople are female and especially in the IT environment that I’m in, stated Marlen Von Roth, female sales and leaders are scarce. Women must work twice as hard to proof their sales acumen and often get stereotyped. This will only be solved, remarked Marlen, if we women hold together and keep pushing against this. Having two daughters, she wanted their lives to be easier than hers.

Carolina Castillo shares that her experience was different to many others, and if there is an issue, she believes it is down to confidence. Sales are competitive and require a lot of confidence and resilience. Carolina Castillo suggests a colleague of hers was recognised by the Women in Sales Awards last year. The Awards was a massive inspiration for all in the company to follow.

Scale Your Sales Women in Sales Photo by Úrsula Madariaga from Pexels low-angle-photography-of-four-women-in-assorted-color-long-1034361

Stephen Kelly conveyed his disappointment about the gender pay gap stating that transparency is a driver of positive change; driving fairness, equality and change. He advocates publicising all pay declaring that you must have transparency to close the gap.

Niraj Kapur remarks he was lucky, he grew up with a strong Mother and Grandmother and has a strong Daughter, and so not intimidated by Women. He said it doesn’t scare him like he knows it does other men. Many men, Niraj articulated, cannot comfortably work for women as it hurts their egos. Sharing that many of his bosses have been women and they were tough and fair decision-makers.

When Alice Kemper started in sales, she was the eleventh woman to be hired and then the third women to be promoted to middle management, and even now, only 17% of sales managers are women. Alice suggests women salespeople must lean in, speak up and stand their ground. Unfortunately, women must be better than everyone else; she affirmed that it’s a mindset and a perception that we all need to challenge.

Camilla Hasler talks about the benefits of a mentoring programme and her experience of having a senior female mentors influence. Camilla Hasler also promotes having a mentor outside of her team and company, which helps to build a broader business perspective.

Judy Hoberman discussed women in leadership positions and the men that champion for change. Stated that some of her greatest mentors that were male supported her in her sales career. She asserted that we need to identify those men that are champions, allies and advocates. There are so many industries that don’t have enough women in positions to mentor or coach.

Stephen Kelly remarked that traditional sales are still a macho environment; he believes there is no explicit discrimination. However, there is a substantial ingrained bias and advocates; blind screen on CV, skill-based CV and diverse interviews teams.

Paul Lewis remarked that sales organisations that prioritise diversity realise the power and impact that a diverse sales team can have on the bottom line. Including a broader range of mindsets and backgrounds, that results in a breath of thinking and innovation. to truly connect with the global customer.

Timothy Hughes states the sales operation of the present needs to embrace diversity, as sales teams need to reflect the diversity of the world, we live in.

Glen Williamson declared in his experience; the more diverse sales teams are better they are at understanding their customers, which is critical in sales. Glen Williamson advocates that as the deal becomes more complex, the diversity becomes more important.

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Sources of Inspiration from Guest of Scale Your Sales Podcast

My personal favourite when Stephen Kelly said his wife was his soulmate. “People do not see the sacrifices you have to make; there is always a cost, I could not ask for any more support from my family, they have allowed me to pursue my career, for which I am grateful.”

This article is compiled from the first 13 episodes of Scale Your Sales Podcast. I have selected some of the many insights from the guest experts. Some of the words were adapted to ensure that there is a flow of content. Some of the guest answers are selected from the questionnaire completed prior to the guest interview. And some text was taken from the audio interview transcription.

I hope you enjoy the article, click here to read part 1, please do go to the original Scale Your Sales Podcast guest interviews where you can select the guest interview and listen to the full interview.

Please subscribe to the Scale Your Sales Podcast on your favourite channel to ensure you do not miss future interviews.

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What the Scale Your Sales Podcast Experts Have to Say About Buyers

I have had some fantastic guest that have generously given their knowledge to the Scale Your Sales Podcast, and I thought it would be good to highlight and compare their answers to themes discussed over the last quarter.

This part 1 of 2 articles compiled from the first 13 episodes of Scale Your Sales Podcast.

Sales are the foundation of every business; if you do not sell, you cannot invest in your customers, in innovation and business growth. According to Niraj Kapur, salespeople are becoming irrelevant as buyers have become savvier, while sellers have not! People buy people, and this involves a conversation. Niraj voiced, the problem is salespeople try to sell by email, they don’t answer questions adequately, they do not research their client and do not listen to their customer enough.

Let’s look at what the guest expert had to say about buyers?

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 What Do Buyers Want?

Sales are the lifeblood of any business and essential for remaining competitive, viable and profitable. Paul Durrant agreed that in today’s’ ultra-competitive market, buyers are far more educated and sophisticated, and sellers must rise to this challenge.

With globalisation, increased competition, complexity and technological advances this means that in many categories, buyers have a completely different perception of risk and are less able to make a bad purchase and get away with it, so rightly, they demand much more from the seller, remarked Glen Williamson.

All powered by the internet and social media and review sites; the seller must understand that the power is now with the buyers declared Stephen Kelly.

Timothy Hughes said you must understand that your clients are on social, and you need to move there to stay relevant. The trick is not to do it in a piecemeal/tactical way, but to have a methodology and one that is proven.

Jo Harding offered that the construction industry, like many others, wants to speed up the processes (reduce costs), but this means they need the right knowledge at the right time so knowledgeable and experienced salespeople cannot be replaced with broad-based information.

Scale Your Sales Podcast Guest 1

Give Buyers a reason to trust you!

According to Paul Durrant, buyers don’t want to be sold to. They want to engage with individuals they know and trust, those who are subject matter experts in their field that can guide them and provide real insight.

Marlen Von Roth declared that you sell the customer on a solution and not a product. Treat every customer as unique and different. Listen more than you talk, so you understand the customer, their needs and the journey.

Glen Williamson declared that over the last five years that buyers have taken control of the sales conversation and are 70% down the road of a sale by the time the seller gets there. This for Glen is an over-simplification. Where poor salespeople are in the game, buyers have been in control since the beginning of time. Where quality salespeople are in the game, buyers don’t want control. They want to collaborate with the seller and are happy to revert to 100% of the sales process. That’s if there is a good reason for them to do so.

Alice Kemper professed, the concept previously was that we were vendors. Buyers have done much research; they need a sales strategist they do not need another vendor. Buyers get so far and then they need a strategic salesperson. Buyers have already made so many decisions before they see you, they have done their research. It’s not about the product; it is about partnering with them in a business environment.

Glen Williamson agreed, buyers simply don’t have time for salespeople who cannot add value. Sellers who are not using a value proposition as the basis of their sales approach will find it difficult to get consistently.

People don’t buy because they like you, it helps but not helpful and is the causes of mediocre sales results affirmed Glen Williamson. We are in an information world but are we any wiser? Glen remarked that knowledge is overstated in our society.

Glen Williamson declared buyers are facing choice and information overwhelm, such that they don’t know what great value looks like, so they need sellers to step up and get involved in the conversation that the buyer is having in their heads.

Alice Heiman agreed buyers are bombarded with information. It’s crippling. I’ve seen the worst cases of “Analysis Paralysis” with buyers who are looking at content from competitors and are trying to understand it. They look at websites, articles, pricing sheets, videos, and sites that do comparisons. After talking with a salesperson, they still can’t figure out why one solution would be better than the other. Buyers already have too much information to sort through. Sellers need to change from givers of information to guides that help buyers make sense of information.

Carolina Castillo asserted, it is critically important for buyers to have reliable salespeople that can provide insights and make the right things happen for the buyers at the right time. Buyers want someone who can give unbiased advice and challenge their thinking.

The expert’s follow-up with advice for leaders to stay focused and aligned with what the buyers and customers want and need.

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Sales Leaders and Leadership

Stephen Kelly – So often he sees in small and the big companies an internal focused. Businesses follow the process and do not stop and ask themselves ‘where the customer is in this conversation or decision?’ If there is a problem – ‘how do, we drop everything and solve it now?’ As a CEO, I know it is essential to ground yourself every day on how you serve the customer and what you do for them.

Alice Heiman declared that leaders of the company must understand sales well enough to truly lead sales. Not having a real understanding of what can and cannot be achieved in sales, is putting tremendous pressure on sales without giving sales the resources to perform well. You want to double in size, great, then provide the resources for sales to do the job.

Sales are the only profession that does not have consistent on-going sales training. Alice Kemper shared in conducting “Career redirection” she would pronounce “You hate me now but what you are going to realise is it will be better for you,” and later the salespeople do thank you for it. Alice disclosed that too many sales leaders hire and have a sink or swim attitude. This is a failure for everybody in the company.

Stephen Kelly asserts leaders can serve a much bigger social purpose, which starts with having a vibrant business around customers and recruiting and motivating excellent colleagues and connecting supply partners, while driving growth with a social purpose, that the right shareholders will be delighted in.

 

This part 1 of 2 articles compiled from the first 13 episodes of Scale Your Sales Podcast.

I have selected some of the many insights from the guest experts. Some of the words were adapted to ensure that there is a flow of content. Some of the guest answers are selected from the questionnaire completed prior to the guest interview. And some text was taken from the audio interview transcription.

I hope you enjoyed the article, please do go to the original Scale Your Sales Podcast guest interviews where you can select the guest interview and listen to the full interview and connect with the guest below.

Please subscribe to the Scale Your Sales Podcast on your preferred channel here to ensure you do not miss future interviews.

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