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Have You Heard The One About The Sales Person Who Recommended A Prospect Buy A Competitor’s Product?

by David Brock on April 8th, 2009
There’s a great article in today’s New York Times, Start-Up Course In Survival. It’s a great article, but some of the lessons for sales professional are fantastic.

The article reviews Jive Software’s overhaul of it’s business and sales efforts to face the new realities brought on by the economy. John McCracken, Jive’s new SVP of Sales reinvented their sales processes to improve focus and results.

Previously, the sales people would try to sell to anyone. McCracken put a disciplined process in place, having sales people viciously disqualify customers who didn’t fit their sweet spot. “McCracken considered it a waste of time to chase customers who really didn’t want Jive.”

Salespeople questions and challenged customers on things that didn’t make sense. In cases, where Jive’s products weren’t the right fit, they would recommend other company’s products and walk away. Instead of pitching technology, the sales people focused on how the software would save their customers’ money and help win deals.

All of this sounds counter intuitive–in this day, when sales people are starved for leads and opportunities, why turn away any opportunity? When you have an opportunity, why not try to find a way to shoehorn your product in? Why would a salesperson ever recommend another company’s products?

Clearly, Mr. McCracken recognized the things that drain productivity and profitability from the sales organization and company. Sharply focusing on customers in your sweet spot, viciously disqualifying bad opportunities, focusing on qualified customers that have high urgency and a need to buy, and demonstrating real business value are clearly the secrets to success. These are critical to driving the highest levels of sale performance in all economies.

Jive Software is a great example of high performance. Congratulations to Mr. McCracken and his team.

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One Comment
  1. David Locke permalink

    The Technology Adoption Lifecycle is organized around customer pragmatism. Those pragmatism slices are not thick and require their own reference base and rational. Without qualifying like the company in your example, the random prospecting approach used by sales reps discovers plenty of customers that your marketing leads didn’t find, because those marketing leads are built around that pragmatism slice as is the product and even your company. Random hurts the product. Random hurts the company. It’s not just a matter of not making sales, not finding revenues. Randomness makes hash of everything.

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