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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Janice B Gordon helps enterprising companies adapt their sales approach and grow key customers. This has led her to create the popular Scale Your Sales framework. Janice is the Customer Growth Expert an Author, Educator and Consultant ranked 25 of the Top100 Global Business Influencer 2017. Contact Janice to talk about Scaling Your Sales.
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