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 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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Scale Your Sales Expert view from the top
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.

Scale Your Sales Janice B Gordon Landing-Podcast-banner-1024x576 

 

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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Janice B Gordon Customer Advocacy Pixabay web-cam-796227_1280
Customer Retention, Trusted Advisors

Why Now in COVID19, is it a Great Time to Nurture Customer Advocacy

COVID19 lockdown is the perfect time to identify your customer advocates and nurture the hell out of them.

The growth in social, mobile, and subscription-based business models now make visible customer influence more critical. Peer recommendations and endorsements are the most robust B2B marketing and relationship building mechanism.

Advocate sales and marketing are about leveraging those customers that love what you do.

Who Are the Customers and Buyers That You Have a Great Relationship With? 

Laura Ramos, principal analyst, Forrester, is a promoter of empowering customers as advocates and noted that 74% of buyers go online for business purchasing, and more than half (53%) would rather research online than speak with a salesperson.

This means, you must stand out to your buyers, and not only show up online as a trusted and credible resource; but other customers must show up online as advocates of your personality, products, and service.

And here is why:

  • 92% of consumers trust a peer recommendation more than traditional advertising, and
  • In addition to this, referred customers are less likely to leave.

Getting customers to promote your brand will have a significant impact on your reputation and your revenue post COVID19.

76% of customers say they view customer service as the real test of how much a company values them. In 2017, Moz credited 13% of traffic value to online reviews, making customer feedback the 5th most important ranking factor.

What is interesting is in most circumstances, quantity is regarded higher than quality according to BrightLocal study that revealed when judging a business on customer feedback, 44% of people looked for the number of reviews.

Janice B Gordon Customer Advocacy Pixabay photo-of-boy-wearing-face-mask-4145244

Here is What You Need to do NOW:

  1. When was the last time you looked at your database of customers and reviewed the recent contacts and customer feedback and then asked the key contacts for peer recommendations, testimonials or to be a call reference?
  2. Do you have trusted relationships that would willingly support your cause and refer you to other like-minded buyers and customers? The time to ask is now.
  3. Do you collect and survey customer feedback through online reviews to gain insights into what customers want and their expectations? Now is the time to do it (read my articles on customer feedback)
  4. Have you gone back to a successful collaboration and collated results for a case study? Advocates are prime candidates to offer references for your product or service.

You are missing a trick by not considering and promoting what your customers think about you and your company. Now is the time to go the extra mile and keep your key customer in business, and in-play by being their most valuable resource and support.

On the Scale Your Sales Podcast, I have lots of discussion with experts on the impact of COVID19 on sales and what the best strategies are to come out of lockdown stronger than ever.

Engage and Nurture Identified Customer Advocates

If you are not quite there yet in the relationship with your key contacts, then create a plan of giving. Do whatever you can to nurture your key customers, offer to help them, share their content, refer relevant people to them and give three times as much before you ask for anything.

Engaging and nurturing your key customers in this way will also help you build trusted relationships, and it will, in the long run, improve customer loyalty and retention.

Focus on creating an excellent online reputation, positive reviews, and extraordinary customer success stories. If you do not do this now, then I am telling your competitors to do so.

It is vital to promote your business via key customers; ultimately, you want more of these most valued customers. Your best customers may not refer you on, however, their testimonials will attract other similar customers. If these customers do refer you on, you are far ahead of the competition. It is win-win.

Do You Have a Customer Advocacy Strategy? 

If not, let us talk about how you can get your team focus on it now.

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Janice B Gordon Change source Pixabay earth-desert-dry-hot-60013
Trusted Advisors

#COVID19 Why This Change is Different

Our world today looks very different than it did a few weeks ago. Many individuals and businesses are still in a state of shock, which is entirely understandable. What we are facing is unprecedented; soon enough, the business world will begin to regain a sense of normalcy -the new normal.

Let’s talk about how your choices and actions today can shape a different future.

Kristin Armstrong quote

I believe now is an excellent time for each of us to learn from this experience. Not in a finger-wagging way but with a sense of enlightenment. We have the time to re-evaluate how we work, the existing systems, processes and policies, we can ensure that the future customer and employee experience is one that we expect as consumers.

OK now we are getting used to the new normal, it may cause you to think about what your future normal, might be? What are you going to do? How are you going to act, and what do you want to practice or change within the next 2-3 months?

This Time is Significant and not just for the Pandemic!

You may never have this time in your life again – how are you going to mark this as a memorable time in your life?

I have seen so many articles, such as “How to sell through COVID crisis” talking about continuing as before but just doing it online and this assumes that the only thing that has changed is location.

Change source Pixabay earth-desert-dry-hot-60013

Same but Different Channel

You and I know this event is more significant than, same but different channel. Unprecedented circumstances are not normal for any of us.

I am not saying you should stop and do nothing or give in to fear; you must adapt. However, I think these unique and challenging circumstances demand change and change is an opportunity.

You must do as much as you can, for as long as you can. However, the reality of the situation is approaching.

As much as we are all trying to work from home, home-school and gear up the technology, get on Zoom and Teams; get used to group-chat on WhatsApp and conference call decision-making. The reality is that productivity will not be as before, with disrupted supply chains, many more distractions and anxieties with constant updates on #COVID19 and family concerns.

If you do not already, you will know someone directly or know a friend of a friend, who has died (this happen to me two days ago), in all probability you will know someone within the next month.

You cannot change what is happening. However, you can take control of how you think, act and react.

Whatever you are feeling and experiencing your friends and family, your clients and customers are feeling it too. Knowing this, why would you act as you have before? We are in this together, but this is different!

If you are always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be. Maya Angelou

5 Ways to be Different from the Rest:

  1. We are all a little more vulnerable; many people are worried about family and jobs. Be sensitive to your customer’s issues and concerns. I do not believe this is the time for the hard sell. I do think it is a perfect time to be altruistic, to give value and offer to help.
  2. Fear is always bigger in your head than in reality. The best way to deal with anxiety and uncertainty is not to run away but to run towards it. Why not volunteer or offer yourself as a mentor and giving back distracts you from inaction.
  3. Tough times can help to create a strong sense of urgency which can be an opportunity, however, do not assume – ASK and LISTEN – you may be surprised by what you hear, so be brave.
  4. Knowledge is useful, but it is insights that are powerful. How can you gain relevant insight and then share this value with your audience? Can you become the trusted advisor of insights or reassuring critical friend rather than the regurgitator of information?
  5. 78% say getting access to customers and decision-makers is a problem, could social distancing be the change that creates opportunities normally closed to you? What’s your strategy to gain access with relevant and time-sensitive value.

“Maybe it’s time to find a new normal.” Trish Doller

Turn these unprecedented times into a more significant opportunity to change thinking and acting better than you did before. You may never get this opportunity again. Think about new ways to connect with your current clients, to help them solve their problems and add value to your wider community. Offer to do more, ask and listen and get your community the help they need to do more forward with you.

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Scale Your Sales Podcast Guest
sales training, Scale Your Sales, Trusted Advisors

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?

Scale Your Sales Podcast Libsyn

 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.

Scale Your Sales Podcast Guest 3

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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Scale Your Sales Book Reviews
sales training, Trusted Advisors

2019/20 Winter Reading Sales Book Reviews from Scale Your Sales

If you are looking for customer growth strategies read my book reviews:

Growth IQ: Master the 10 Paths to Grow Your Business by Tiffani Bova

When I started reading Growth IQ, I recognised element of the Ansoff Growth Matrix with the 10 Growth Paths, Tiffani Bova brings this model up to date and extends the growth option with great examples of companies that have reaped the benefits of these strategies. This is a mini MBA for students of business growth.

What is unique is Bova applies context, combination and sequence of strategies as a key factor of growth success.

I like what Bova says it is never one product or one strategy it is a combination of strategies.  I agree that past success cannot be repeated or one company’s success cannot be repeated with another that has a different unique set of circumstances and time period. I feel I need to read it again as there are so many great examples.

  1. Customer Experience
  2. Customer Base Penetration
  3. Market Acceleration
  4. Product Expansion
  5. Customer and Product Diversification
  6. Optimise Sales
  7. Churn
  8. Partnership
  9. Co-opetition
  10. Unconventional Strategies

The book takes you through each of the 10 Growth Path and then give case study examples with takeaways. This book is for Sales Leaders, C-Suites, CEOs and Business Leaders you will not regret reading Growth IQ.

 

Building a BrandStory by Miller Donald

The key is clarity unless your customer understands your message it is overlooked. Building a Story Brand teach the universal story structure used since stories began the difference is that it eliminates the mistake most make in marketing and gets to the root of why buyers buy. We all love a good story and the easy to follow practical 7 step Story Brand process is it.

  1. A Character
  2. Has a Problem
  3. And Meets a Guide
  4. Who Gives Them a Plan
  5. And Calls Them to Action
  6. That Helps Them Avoid Failure
  7. And Ends in a Success.

The Story Brand process helps you to answer – How can you help your customer envision success after doing business with you?

Once you get it you can apply the clarity of message to all your writing from content creation to website copy, value propositions and proposals. A highly useful skill and enjoyable easy read.

Scale Your Sales Book Review 1

 

The Customer of the Future: 10 Guiding Principles for Winning Tomorrow’s Business by Blake Morgan

Blake Morgan provides 10 guiding principles to guide your customer experience strategies to keep pace with the customer of the future. Customer experience does not sit in the Marketing function, I love that Morgan explains why every business must embed customer experience into every operational function of the business. The fact is most companies are still internal product-focused, these guiding principles move the business toward external customer focus. There are many case studies and examples that brought the insights into the life of how forward-thinking companies have adopted a customer-focused approach, leadership, culture and operation.  I would highly recommend this book.

 

The Perfect Close: The Secret To Closing Sales – The Best Selling Practices & Techniques For Closing The Deal by James Muir

The closing process is the most important part, all the hard work of securing the connection and nurturing them through the buying process comes to little or nothing if the close is not executed efficiently. I remember getting to the closing and hesitating my fear surfaced and I was already anticipating objections.  What these questions give you is a natural and comfortable way to move your conversation forward to a natural conclusion.

Question one: “Does it make sense for us to X so that Y?“ where Yes or No there are add-ons, alternatives for secondary advances and then the follow-up question. You will need to read the book for more and it is well worth reading. The method is based on psychology and I love the Muir says that your intent matter more than the technique.

 

The Joshua Principle, Leadership Secrets of RSVPselling by Tony J Hughes

The Joshua Principle is a compelling story and one of the most engaging sells book I have read. I was wondering if the mentor was his estranged Father.

Selling is not complex, and Hughes bring is down to a human emotional level, which it is.  Every challenge we have is with ourselves first between our ears. Managing the ego and emotion wins the deal.  Many books on how to master the sales process miss this essential ingredient. Many people can relate to a deal that you think is in the bag and then goes quiet – tumbleweed.

You learn the RSVP selling framework with the mentee through the challenges Joshua faces on his journey to sells success and personal enlightenment.

Scale Your Sales Book Review 3

 

LinkedIn Unlocked: Unlock the Mystery of LinkedIn To Drive More Sales Through Social Selling

by Melonie Dodora

Melonie Dodaro provides a step by step method of turning connections into clients.  She spends a lot of time helping you identify your specific client character and needs. Before taking you through The LINK Method

  1. Find Prospects
  2. Make the First Contact
  3. Engage in Dialogue
  4. Build Relationships
  5. Move Conversation Offline

I wish everyone on joining LinkedIn got training on LinkedIn best practice and etiquette.

Many other books are on social selling are theoretical, I love the downloadable workbook, which brings the theory into practice, this is a real asset of the book.

 

WIN: How to succeed in the new game of business by Roger Harrop

You are not in business until you have read WIN.

This is more than a book it is a bible on creating the essential winning mindset and strategies.  The six WIN strategies covered in the book are often overlooked but essential to all business success. The author has been clever this is a book of 71 pages, so you will likely read and finish it. But Harrop has created a resource you can continue to dip into for life with clear diagrams, access to an app and the QR Code of video material and white papers.

The book is well written and constructed and with pleasure, I look forward to applying the strategies in my business.

 

Staying in the Helicopter: The Key to Profitable Growth by Roger Harrop

The reality is many entrepreneurs and leaders micro-manage the business are uncomfortable with the finances and strategy of the business this book is the answer.  The leader and CEO that stays in the helicopter hold the key to profitable growth.

The author uses his experience as a CEO of an FTSE quoted high-tech industry group, he is the CEO Expert. Harrop says leaders need to master the discipline of Real Business Control and in the book, this leads to the Profitable Growth Matrix.

I love the CEO Helicopter Checklist and copious diagrams to help illustrated and apply the insight into your business. I love the author no-nonsense and punchy text making the book accessible  and easy to read

There is my selection of winter sales book reads – let me know your views and what you would add to my list?

 

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Organisational Trust in Sales
Sales Productivity, Trusted Advisors

What’s the Value of Organisational Trust in Sales?

It has been the slow erosion of trust: the lateness, the lack of communication, the lack of commitment and the forever and last-minute changing of targets. Since leaving the group last week, I have analysed what changed for me. I begin to anticipate the little disappointments, my expectations began to lower, and my attitude was falling in with the low expectations it did not matter if I arrived late as no one is ever on time’ I was not generous or relaxed but felt anxious and aggrieved towards the members.

The higher the trust, the stronger and more profound the relationship

Selling is all about confidence and trust is measured by the transfer of value. Trust is gained through building relationships-but can equally be destroyed by the behaviours demonstrated within the relationship.

Organisational Trust in Sales 1

What is Trust?

Stephen Covey author Speed of Trust said, “trust is not an intangible, elusive quality that you have, or you don’t; rather, trust is a pragmatic, tangible, actionable asset that you create over time.”

The Three Levels of Trust

  1. Organisational Trust: supported by the company mission, reputation, culture and brand.
  2. Interpersonal Trust: how company individuals emotionally relate with empathy and social intelligence and engagement to their internal and external customers.
  3. Personal Trust: supported by personal values and integrity demonstrated by their knowledge and expertise, and actions in delivering on their promises.

Trust is built one day; it is one interaction at a time; however, it is fragile and can be lost in a moment. If lost, it’s difficult but not impossible to regain says Stephen Covey.

Why Trust is Critical to Sales Relationships?

89% of executives believe that strong client relationships are the reason why they meet their targets each year. However, only 1 in 20 companies provides specific strategies for strengthening client relationships. The power of leveraging business relationships to accelerate deals, negotiate better terms and meet sales targets is one that sales leaders and executives can’t afford to overlook.

The recent Watson Wyatt study showed that high trust companies outperform low trust companies by 286%! Trust and commitment have a significant impact on the creation of value.

The cost of low trust is lost sales reduced revenue and higher costs. Stephen Covey explains what happens when trust is low in a company or relationship, “it places a hidden “tax” on every transaction: every communication, every interaction, every strategy, every decision is taxed, bringing the speed down and sending costs up. My experience is that significant distrust doubles the cost of doing business and triples the time it takes to get things done.”

Interestingly trust and confident is a key driver across many industries. Research into purchasers of professional services found that buyers expected the following qualities: technical ability 27%, responsiveness 25%, interest and attention 23% and trust and confidence 25%.

Feeling empathy and understanding your customer and buyer’s perspective and showing genuinely interested in their issues is a critical part of the sales process. You need trust to build customer relationships and confidence to develop sales conversations. Trust is the foundation of any relationship, whether, personal or professional and critical in sales negotiation.

Organisational Trust in Sales 2

Four Ways to Create Organisational Wide Trusted Relationships?

  1. The three levels of trust, organisational, interpersonal and personal must be aligned. If there is a lack of support or commitment for the customer goal, then there is a slow degeneration of value, relationship and revenue results. Organisational strategy and culture must play out in the interpersonal relationships to enable personal relationships.
  2. Are your organisational behaviours geared to building trust? No one person can instil trust throughout an organisation, but trust is essential for sustained growth that it is must be central to the organisational mission and culture and this is by creating a customer-centric organisation.
  3. The real transformation starts with building credibility at a personal level. The foundation of trust is personal credibility, and it can be a real differentiator for any sales leader, executive and all employees. A person’s reputation is a direct reflection of their credibility, and it precedes them in any interactions or negotiations. It helps customer to decide how trusted you are in keeping your word. The higher your credibility and reputation, the higher the trust this increases the speed of negotiation and reduces the cost of engagement.
  4. It is an asset to have deep, trusted relationships with all customers and stakeholders. However, it is more efficient to focus your energies on those relationships that you have the strongest business fit, potential opportunity and mutual connection. These are what I call your most valued customers. Narrow your focus on the two or three customer segments you know best and have the greatest strengths and can add the most value to the customer. Customers with the highest lifetime values (LTVs) and retention rates.

I have work with many sales organisations that aim to imbued trust in their service; however, sales professionals lack confidence in the internal processes to deliver or the interpersonal trust is gained but the pressure to hit quarter or annual target is not aligned with their integrity.

Trust affects the quality and depth of every relationship, every communication, every business opportunity and every sale. Sales leaders and executive that recognise how much trust impacts sales results will not overlook its importance.

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Hertsexpo Janice B Gordon photo by Blue Feather
Scale Your Sales, Trusted Advisors

Are You Delivering Your Buyers Expected Experience?

Understanding how buyer behaviour and expectations have changed and are driving the future of sales. In a VUCA world, buyers do not have time or patience; they devise ways to block these interruptions.  If a seller is not adding value, then they are no longer considered part of the buyer’s solution, but part of the problem.  Unless sellers genuinely understand the buyer’s world, their preferences, concerns and expectations, then they cannot add value in solving the problem.  The opportunity to add value is wrapped up in the buying experience.

TOPO’s research shows that companies that deliver excellent buying experiences grow twice as fast as companies that provide average experiences. Excellent buying experiences produce more traffic, higher conversion rates, larger average deal sizes, shorter sales cycles, lower churn, and more customer referrals; consequently, growth is accelerated.

Buyer Experience Image by Rawpixe

4 Ways to Focus on What Matters Most to the Buyer

  1. Trust Matters

The buyer’s world is more complex and uncertain; building trusted relationships is more apparent. Sellers must be actively listening and open to play a part in the value-adding experience and to see where it takes both parties. If sellers go in with a sales agenda, the buyer thinks “you do not know me enough to know what I want and need,” the client inwardly questions the seller’s motives.  Trust is gained through an emotional experience, and if there is any doubt in your sincerity, you will not win the buyer’s favour, and ultimately the deal is lost. Trust is developed with every touchpoint and breeds confidence and security in the minds of the buyer. To foster your buyers’ trust, you must be self-assured, which means knowing yourself and your product differentiators in relation to the buyer’s micro and macro environment. Sellers must be reliable and transparent; the fastest way to erode trust is by exhibiting self-interest rather than empathy and personalisation.

  1. Insights Matter

CEB research found that the best companies don’t win deals through the quality of the products they sell, but through the quality of the insight they relevant provide as part of the sale process.”

Buyers have an abundance of information, creating overwhelm and confusion what they need is quality insight. In the past few years, B2B buyers have followed B2C trends, in leveraging the internet and social media. The internet has changed the way we buy products and services, B2C influences B2B because people have the same expectations of service, whether personal or business. No longer are buyers willing to be interrupted with sales adverts, cold calling or cold emails, the buyer now has a glut of readily available information, quite literally at their fingertips and they choose if and when to engage in the conversations that they see as valuable.

A Forrester Research study found that buying executives valued sales interactions that focus on solving their problems: “63% of executives surveyed agreed that a salesperson who understood their business problems and offered a clear path to solving them was valuable.”

  1. People Matter

Connections between people supported by social technologies have become more valuable as trusted sources of information. People do not trust companies; brands must work hard to develop and maintain trust; however, people do trust other similar people. Being personal in your customer service and your sales is essential because your buyers and customers engage with individuals. Business two business is people, two people!

At the same time, the number of people involved in B2B purchases has climbed from 5.4 to 6.8 in only two years. It is a consensus decision which means more personalities and preferences and longer sales cycles. ‘The resulting divergence in personal and organisational priorities makes it difficult for buying groups to agree to anything more than “move cautiously,” “avoid risk,” and “save money.”‘

Sellers are required to step up and engage in a two-way relationship with buyers and customers, fulfilling the notion of personalised professional ‘friendship’. If any member of the buying group feels undervalued, they’ll unfollow or worse disengage from the relationship and buying process. If sellers forge a relationship which feels authentic, personalised and genuine, then the buying process will flow.

  1. Experience Matters

Twenty years ago, the customer experience would end when the customer left the store; now, customers interact all day every day with their favourite influencers and brands online. As a result, customers feel more like friends than a sales opportunity for a commercial transaction.

In a recent survey of ‘business-to-business’ buyers that were spending between £2,000 to £5,000 on a purchase, 53% of them said that they made their decision based on the buying experience, and not on the price, or the product features and benefits.

In another study by the CEB, the sales experience is worth 53% of the buyer’s likelihood to purchase, to deepen the relationship with the seller, and to become an advocate to others.

A Forrester survey from 2012 showed that only 37% of brands received good or excellent customer experience index scores. The vast majority, 63%, got a rating ranging from OK to very poor.

Buyer Experience Janice B Gordon

The businesses that make their buying process easy and creates excellent buyer experiences not only keep existing customers relationships happy but turn their customers into advocates for their product and brand.

Being closer to the customer, salespeople must take responsibility for their demand generation and develop deeper personal relationships with existing customers and gain more prospective customers. If you want to improve critical revenue results, then give your buyer what they want and expect – a great experience and take your buyer-centric selling process to the next level.

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Why a Consultant Sales Adviser is Needed
Trusted Advisors

Game-Changing Role of the Sales Consultant Adviser

In this article, we discuss the impact of VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) challenges on the role of the sales professional.

The biggest problem today is that we have been raised in a context in which we believe the world is predictable.  Even the British weather that we love to talk about is not conforming to what has gone before. We live in a world where everything is uncertain; the world is interconnected, we live with legacy systems. Such that, what is expected to happen because you believe you have known unknowns – now you have unknown unknowns.  How can you govern, advise and decide in these circumstances?

What is needed is a new mindset to expect uncertainty and live with unknowns and best guesses. 

challenges on role of sales profession 1

In a VUCA world, there is a challenge for business leaders and sales professional to adapt to the increasing requirement for clarity and simplicity.

The job of the sales professional is to help buyers and business leaders to predict and anticipate on a more sustainable footing. The challenge is to live with possibility rather than reaching for absolute certainty and you can imagine how conflicting this requirement can be. The sales professional must coach their relationships in this new mindset. They are developing resilience in their customers to cope with the inherent risk that a VUCA world presents for large-scale social and technological change.

One of the critical mindset changes is leading away from what is probably and toward what is possible.

The VUCA environment means that we must focus on what is possible (because anything can happen) rather than on what is likely to occur (which is determined by what happened before).

Sales professionals must adopt the new paradigm of a sales consultant adviser if they are to gain the trust of their customer. The Harvard Business Review Consulting is More Than Giving Advice, shows how closely aligned consultancy is to the sales interaction in the hierarchy of consulting purposes:

  1. Providing information to a client.
  2. Solving a client’s problems.
  3. Making a diagnosis, which may necessitate redefinition of the problem.
  4. Making recommendations based on the diagnosis.
  5. Assisting with the implementation of recommended solutions.
  6. Building a consensus and commitment around corrective action.
  7. Facilitating client learning—that is, teaching clients how to resolve similar problems in the future.
  8. Permanently improving organisational effectiveness.

Consultation is the mechanism in managing a VUCA world when there are greater need and demand for clarity and simplicity.

The Global Simplicity Index 2011 is the first-ever study to calculate the cost of complexity in the world’s largest organisations. The research was conducted jointly by management consultancy, Simplicity, and Warwick Business School.

Since 2009, an annual stock portfolio comprised of the publicly traded simplest brands in the global Top 10, which has outperformed the major indexes by 679%, and 64% of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand because it provides simpler experiences and communications.

Here are three ways you can help improve your ability to deal with higher levels of complexity and gain a clear perspective:

  1. Ask different types of questions that are strategic, open and searching.
  2. Take on multiple perspectives, do not be siloed into a corner, be customer-centric and have a whole value chain or customer journey perspective.
  3. Have an entire company vision in mind, the bigger picture has a context of the business mission rooted in possibility.

Sales professionals need to become more like business consultants when presenting complex solutions

The impact of your knowledge, your research and your advice are far-reaching in a consulting sales solution process. If this advice is siloed into functional areas, the effect is reduced, and the risk of complication is increased.

Unless you work across the whole organisation and can influence at the right level, the outcome will be minimal and possibly fail.  I  have certainly worked on a project that has not had the buy-in across the breadth of the organisation or have in the past sold into a department with little discussion across the organisation to access the impact on connected departments and so the effect of the solution is not fully understood, utilised or measured.

challenges on role of sales profession

Sales professionals must become business consultants when presenting complex solutions to customers, moving from sales centric to buyer-centric, and then to organisation centric sales consultant advisers.

The required skills are of thought leadership, trusted expertise, independent problem solving and visionary; because leaders, buyers and customers expect you to know the what, so they can ask you how and you ask them why? Leading the trusted relationship with authority and the permission to ask difficult, uncomfortable strategic searching questions. The sales consultant adviser negotiates and influences a vision of possibilities and with buy-in, then helps make a reality.

The new role of a sales consultant adviser is to:

  1. Understand the outcome and impact first and identify the gap and assess if data can fill the gap. Trusted adviser looks beyond the data, into the business context, without context across departments and of the mission all is lost. The sales consultant adviser creates simplicity and clarity, finding the gaps with strategic searching questions that you only have permission to ask if you have gained trust, then you can better measure the outcome and impact on the mission.
  2. Ask strategic searching questions: “What’s the decision you are trying to make that you are looking for the solution to fill?”
  3. Trade on trust: ‘trust is not an intangible, elusive quality that you have, or you don’t; rather, trust is a pragmatic, tangible, actionable asset that you create over time’, says Stephen Covey author Speed of Trust
  4. The job of a trusted sales consultant adviser is to gain trust and influence, and this reduces the risk of engagement. It is shifting emphasis away from short-term engagement to long-term collaboration and mutually beneficial partnership. It is saying “I understand your world, and we are in this together” it is building a trusted partnership.
  5. The business of the sales consultant adviser is to create a favourable impression with other influencers and decision-makers. To be referred to decision-makers and leaders, you must be credible and recommendable., you must invest in your personal brand and experts knowledge and experience.

Research shows that the average B2B opportunity has six decision-makers involved. That is a lot of human interactions. The way the seller influences is now an organisation-wide strategic approach. The belief is that a consultative decision reduces the company risk. Leaders, buyers and customers expect that all advisory positions are sensitive to human needs,  excellent relationships builders and skilled in improving the whole connected organisation’s ability to solve future not just present problems. This is a big ask for a sales professional but a walk in the park for a seasoned consultant.

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