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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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