22: Seema Menon – Gain Competitive Advantage Through Collaborative Sales

March 1, 2020
Scale Your Sales Podcast Seema Menon

The shift is quite distinctive moving from a ‘purely sales focussed product selling’ to ‘solution selling’ to ‘customer needs focussed insight selling’ the metamorphosis has been characteristic. Today’s buyers are well-informed, has a cursory idea about differentiators in the market and is sagacity to make prudent buying decisions.

The seller’s subjection is not merely to anticipate and match the client’s needs but to invent a whole new category of products/service that will increase the buyer’s regard.  We know that acquiring a new customer is 4x the cost than upselling to a current customer. It is estimated that 33% of organizations are unsuccessful at tracking customer journeys. Research by Salesforce who predicted that by the end of 2020, 57% of B2B customers will switch brands if a supplier company fails to actively anticipate the needs.

It’s not just going out and understand what it the problem and selling your solution but anticipate the changes the industry is going through so you are providing insight, even that the business may become obsolete.

Many organisations have realised the importance of synergy and collaborative work between the various teams and department including the CEO whether marketing, research, sales to ensure that everyone works towards the same goal of acquisition and retention of customers.

Personalising your pitch based to customer needs is one of the top sales objectives as cited by 37% of respondents in a Salesforce research.

It is still a long way off you have organisations that are product selling and others that are solution selling but is it processing in the right direction and moving to insight selling.

It is important to understand where the clients’ organisation is and where they want to take the organisation by research what is happening in their industry.

Doing the study and going out as a consultant demonstrating that the solution will grow their revenue by X%. To preserve the client’s best interest and helps build the relationships taking their marketing need over yours. You may have a valid business reason to sell but continue with the spirit of giving. The idea is not a monastic existence, Seema said. One must remain prudent in order to survive the marketplace but the way it is being done must invoke the client’s appreciation.

When it is demonstrated through the interactions it is the client who is benefitting from the association, trust blossoms.  The seller must have the best interests of the client in his/her heart and refrain from a product/services dump.

After any sale has been made, if the client never uses the product or just minimally uses it, he will never provide a good reference and the relationship rapidly metastases to junk. Our business in life is not to get ahead of others but to get ahead of ourselves. Business integrity is key. It might sound different from the perception of the sales that people have.

Seema has gone through the lifecycle of sales of chorusing quota. What she has found that you have a lot of pressure as you climb the ladder and manage others. This is when she got into mindfulness to manage her reactions and reduce stress. She adds it has helped her manage her reaction to things.

If someone acts irrationally, you are not affected by it, they have a whole lot of condition that leads them to act in that manner. They are still irrational, but how you react to this is completely dependent on you. Seema has learnt to move away from multitasking and to focus on the thing in front of her.

Mindfulness as a sales leader has helped Seema to manage multiple pressure points and gave her clarity, in managing internal and external stakeholders. And understanding that behaviours and the reactions of others are not personal, so it helps you to not react in the moment. What you give tasks to others you know how to pre-plan rather than frantically working on deadlines.

There is a lot of scope for inclusion. Media as an industry is more inclusive in terms of employing salespersons with diverse backgrounds. I recently came across a study that the percentage of women in sales has only increased by 3% in the last decade, from 36% to 39% and this decreases with senior roles.

Women only hold 19% of leadership roles in sales. This is just with reference to gender bias. You can estimate that the other diversity factors would even rank lower. In her initial years, Seema did face a bit of bias due to my ethnic background, however, once you have proven your mettle, then your ethnicity or diverse background becomes an added value as you bring a different perspective to the mix.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have arrived for Sales and companies that embrace it will grow in the current environment. Some of the areas where AI helps sales are in lead prioritisation, sales forecasting, predictive lead scoring and improving customer retention; these areas help free up salesperson’s time to have better face time with the customer. AI enables sales reps to effectively understand and keep tabs on customer experiences and journeys.

Single Stitch Pitch, an Headstride appreceptive programme. It is the workshop that enables the salesperson to pitch ideas which mitigate the customer’s needs.

Salesperson meets the client, or venture capitalist the representation pitches but it has not anchored well enough as a compelling pitch to move the client to the next level of buying. Single Stitch Pitch is a metaphor that aims to emphasise the significance of the very first pitch with the client that must have enough firepower to potentially seal his immediate wound and invigorate his interest in your firm. There is no point flogging to exhaustion in subsequent meetings. The theme of this workshop looks at how does one engender the single stitch pitch.

Her hero Jim Rohn. His maxim,  ‘Learn to work harder on yourself than you do on your job. If you work hard on your job you can make a living, but if you work hard on yourself, you’ll make a fortune’, so dynamically altered my perspective on things.

My shero, is Indra Nooyi, the former CEO of Pepsico. A fantastic leader and a key person of influence. Nooyi was very honest about balancing her role as a Woman, Mother and Worker and Wife. had been so admirably honest about how challenging it was trying to be the perfect mother, wife and worker at the same time. To overcome this dilemma, I loved her suggestion, ‘Understanding this conflict is the first step to finding solutions’.

Seema Menon has over 19 years of diverse experience in the Television and Radio industry predominantly in Advertising Sales. Her previous role as Region Head of Sales for Sony Pictures Network entailed leading teams with the responsibility of revenue generation from Europe and Africa for the 4 television channels. She has recently embarked upon her entrepreneurial venture and been conducting various Apperceptive programmes with Headstride Ltd.



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