It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key.
~ Winston Churchill.
By Mike Kunkle
Complex B2B selling is not easy, but it is a lot simpler than some want you to believe.
I think it makes sense to step back sometimes, and take a look at things through another lens. In this post, I want to boil things down and share what I believe are some of the clear, simple truths about selling, which are so easy to forget in our complex world.
If you take away what seems like magic, the stress, the emotion we attach to it, the win-at-all-costs mindset, and forty years of books, articles, white papers, blog posts, and training programs, at its core, selling is about…
- Not just understanding your products, services and capabilities… but how those things solve problems or enable opportunities for others. Who does your solution help and how?
- Researching and finding those people who have (or may have) the problems you can solve or opportunities you can enable.
- Approaching those people to confirm if they have those problems/opportunities and are interested in resolving/achieving them.
- If you have data, research, experience or a point of view that something is a bigger problem or opportunity than most realize, being able to share that information in a helpful way.
- Doing enough of the above activity to have a pipeline of opportunities that you manage through to decisions.
- Working with those who want to tackle the issues you can address and nurturing others and following up until they are ready.
- Figuring out who needs to be involved in the decision and what roles they play.
- Learning how these people may have attempted to address these issues previously, how that turned out, and why.
- Determining the real impacts of not resolving the problem or not capitalizing on the opportunity, for the business and each decision maker.
- Determining the mirror image of those impacts, or the outcomes that may be achieved by addressing the issues. (Avoiding a Bad Thing is not the same as gaining a Good Thing.)
- Determining the pain, cost, and risk that might be associated with your solution.
- Comparing those to the risk or Bad Thing avoidance or achievement of the Good Thing. What does that comparison look like?
- Determining where the money will come from to pay for your solution. How much of that will be returned to the business over time in savings, risk reduction or incremental achievement?
- Learning how each decision maker feels about you, your company, and your solution, and whether they are a detractor, neutral, or a supporter.
- Determining how you might reduce the negative feelings and increase the positive (remove restraining forces and strengthen driving forces).
- Unless you approached the people and created the opportunity on your own without competitor involvement, asking who if anyone you are competing against. What are your differentiators or the pros/cons for the decision makers for choosing each solution?
- Gathering any support or proof can you offer that your solution will work better and that you can deliver the value you’re promising.
- Confirming your understanding of their situation, problems, opportunities, and impacts.
- Proposing your solution and how it will address their situation and deliver the needed results as described above.
- Uncovering and addressing the concerns that the decision makers have about your solution, or your solution in comparison to other the solutions.
- Asking for a commitment to move forward and work with you to address the issues and deliver your solution and the resulting outcomes/value.
I’m sure I could edit this further or someone who is less verbose could boil it down even smaller, but that’s my initial list. It contains just over 460 words in 21 bullet points. That’s approximately one-quarter of the words in my average blog post. Or according to this source, since the average book contains 64,500 words, it’s about 0.7% of the words used in a book.
Most else that we write about, it seems, is how these things get done, the complexities of dealing with people, and getting better at doing these things.
Questions to Ask Yourself
I’ll close this simple post with a few equally-simple questions…
- What do you think I missed? What should be changed in my list or removed? On a grander scale, if you don’t like my list, what should the list be for you?
- Once you’re settled on the list… are these the things you’re focused on if you’re a seller — or focused on enabling, as a sales or sales support leader? Why or why not?
- If you’re focused on other things, are they in support of these things?
- What do you need to Continuedoing, Start doing, or Stop doing, to maximize my simple bullet points of selling (or your own)?
Answer those questions, my friend, and I bet your 2015 becomes a lot more clear.
I realize that this has been an atypical post from me, but I hoped to provide a different point of view today and offer something to make you ponder.
So as usual, this is what I think. More importantly, what do YOU think? I look forward to your thoughts, opinions, and experiences, and anything you might share to help others.
Thanks for reading, be safe out there, and by all means, let’s continue to elevate the sales profession.
:: transforming sales results ::
SALES TRANSFORMATION LEADER
Mike help company leaders
• Analyze sales performance levers & top producer practices
• Build hiring, sales training, & coaching systems based on those levers & practices
• Implement systems, processes, & policies to support the buying/selling processes
• Align other performance drivers across the Sales Performance Ecosystem
• Build the training, tools & resources needed by sales managers to reinforce, sustain, & grow performance
• Implement effective learning systems
• Lead and manage change to guide the sales transformation and improve sales results