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Oct 17 14

Why, How, Who, When, And What

by Dave Brock

There’s a huge difference between what our customers go through to buy and what most sales people do in trying to sell those customers.  It’s this difference that causes much of the disconnect between customers and sales people.  It’s recognizing this difference and engaging customers in their entire buying process that separates great sales people from everyone else.

Loosely, I characterize the buying process as Why, How, Who, When,  and What.  I’ll pause for a moment,  you’ll have to give me a little literary license as I describe this.  I know I’ll get comments saying is should be another variant of these words, but I’m asking you to focus on the concepts in this discussion.

The Why is what starts a buying process.  The Why really focuses on the “Why do we need to change?”  The why is about the disruption of what the customer is doing now.  It addresses opportunities the customer may be missing, opportunities to improve operations, to reduce costs, to improve efficiency, to improve effectiveness, to improve revenues.  The why forces the customer to focus on the consequences of not changing.  In this stage, the customer also focuses on defining the desired outcomes or results they would like to achieve.

Until the customer recognizes and addresses the Why, they never enter into a buying cycle.

The How addresses the process of How they will organize themselves to buy.  Who is an integral part of this. Who needs to be involved in this process?  How do we get the right people involved in the change process, How do we align different agendas and priorities, how will they get the approvals necessary, how will we define and scope the problem and the solution, how will we evaluate alternatives, and so forth.

The When focuses on When the customer needs achieve the desired outcomes or the results they seek to achieve.  “We need to see a 25% improvement in profitability by XX date.”  “We need to have the new factory in operation by YY Date.”  “We need to have the new product on the market by ZZ date.”  The when also focuses on the sequence of things that must be done by certain dates to

The What focuses on What the customer is going to do to achieve the desired outcomes.  What encompasses a whole bunch of stuff.  It includes, what changes they have to make to achieve their desired outcomes and goals.  These include business process, organizational, people, possibly cultural, and other things.

It also involves the what solutions they need to put in place to help them drive the results.  This is usually where sales people focus their attention.  They focus on presenting their solutions and convincing the customer to select theirs.

But it’s even worse.  The customers are engaging sales later in this part of the process (the what solution) phase than ever before.  They are doing their own research, they are narrowing choices.  So the amount of time sales is involved and the opportunity we have to influence their buying is increasingly becoming marginalized–as it should be if all we do is focus on the “what solution” part of the buying process.

So buying involves a whole lot more than what most sales people think.  Typically, we are involved near the end of the customer process–after they have done the most difficult work.  There is very little we can influence at this point–and very little value that we can create at this point.

This is also where a lot of our prospecting goes way off base.  We typically call customers blindly addressing the “What,”  (What ERP systems are you currently using?  What copiers are you using?  What payroll system are you using?  But the customer hasn’t even addressed the Why, How, Who issues yet.  So they aren’t ready or interested in buying.

Great sales people recognize there is a whole lot more to buying than selecting a solution.  They get involved in helping the customer with the whole buying process.  They recognize the most difficult part of buying is not the product selection.

Great sales people recognize the customer may not be addressing the Why issues when they should.  They engage the customer before a buying process has even started.  They constantly engage the customer in thinking about the Why or even creating the why through powerful ideas and Insights.

Buying involves so much more than addressing the issue “What do I buy, which product do I select?”  If you want to maximize your ability to engage the customer and create differentiated value, realize the greatest opportunity is in helping the customer with their entire buying process.

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Oct 12 14

Dreamforce By The Numbers

by Dave Brock

Dreamforce is an incredible event.  In addition to being probably the largest conference focused on sales and marketing, it has a tremendous impact on San Francisco and on Charities!  Take a look at Dreamforce 2014 by the numbers.  (Click on the image to enlarge it.)

Dreamforce Infographic

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Oct 12 14

The Complete Sales Professional

by Dave Brock
Dreamforce 2014

Dreamforce is coming up  next week.  As a result, I’ve been inundated with emails from people and companies inviting me to one of their presentations or to their display or for any other type of meeting.

They leverage data to help entice me.  For example, I see LinkedIn data that says, “Sales professionals who use social selling are 51% more likely to exceed their quotas.”  Or CEB data saying “Sales reps who challenge customers’ assumptions make up 54% of high performers in a complex sales environment.”

The data point are all interesting, absolutely valid, and compelling.  They usually  have a format like, “High performers are X% more likely to exceed quota when they [Do this, Use that] than sales people who don’t [Do this, Use that].  Or they have this format, “World class organizations out perform their peers by Y% when  they [Do this, Use that.]

The invitations come from people selling all kinds of tools — Content management systems, compensation/incentive systems, account planning, territory planning, social selling, analytics, pipeline management, research systems, prospecting tools, proposal/configuration management, pricing.  They come from people providing services, sales training/methodologies, hiring/recruiting, or any number of things.  (I’m waiting for an email from some enterprising dentist who has bought some booth space, 99% of high performers brush their teeth daily.”)

The impression one gets is, “If I only do this, then I will be a high performing sales person.  For example, based on the LinkedIn data, one might think, “All I have to do is use social selling, and I’m more likely to exceed my quota.”  Or with the CEB data, “If I challenge my customers assumptions, then I am more likely to be a high performer.”

Too often, perhaps it’s human nature, we tend to think, “If only I do this or that, things will be much better.”  It’s kind of a silver bullet mentality.

But high performers know that it can never be reduced down to just doing this or that.  High performers know they can’t just be doing “social selling,” or just be “using CRM well.” or just “doing pre-call research,” or “using this methodology,”  or “leveraging this tool,”  or “doing that methodology.”

High performers leverage everything.  They will be the best users of all the tools and systems you have.  They will be the people in the front row of every training session you have.  They will be leveraging social media/selling far more and better than anyone else.  Likewise, they are likely to use the telephone, mailings, tradeshows, industry events, and everything else very well.  They will leverage their sales process, add things they have learned from various methodologies.  They will be early adopters and power users of every tool they can leverage.  They know they have to be constantly learning, improving, reinventing themselves.

The “complete sales professional” — the highest performers know that it’s not just one technique, or one tool, or one of anything else that gives them an edge or provides an advantage.

The highest performers don’t need these, so they don’t use having them or not having them as excuses.

It isn’t these things that make you a top performer.  But top performers know how to exploit them to continue to OutSell everyone else.


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Oct 9 14

The Manager’s Real Job Isn’t Making The Number

by Dave Brock
Leadership 02

I wrote “Sales Managers Only Have One Real Goal.”  It stimulated a lot of thoughtful conversation.  Christian Maurer shared a particularly astute, and troubling observation:

“I am afraid though that many high level executives might not share this view. In the name of shareholder value they are still chasing after the number and forcing first level sales managers to do the same.”

Sadly, I think Christian’s right.  Too often, we’re focused on chasing the number.  We define everything we do as managers around the number.  But this focus shows a real misunderstanding.

Our attainment–making our numbers, achieving goals are outcomes of  what we do, how we focus, the priorities we set and many other things.  We can’t focus only on the outcome–the numbers.  Continually harassing managers and sales people on the numbers is similar to the old quote, “The beatings will continue until morale improves.”

If we are to make our numbers, we have to focus our time and efforts on what produces those outcomes–not the outcome itself.

As leaders, we have fundamentally 3 levers:  Time, Resources (generally thought of as money), and People.

We can’t do much about time–except make sure we don’t waste it:  our own time, that of our people, our customers, our organizations.  Everything we do must be focused on maximizing our impact in the time that we (collectively) have.

Resources, those are all the things we invest in or spend money on.  They can be tools, systems, programs, training, processes.  We may buy services and capabilities from others.  They are things that help us, our people, and our customers achieve the desired outcomes (e.g. making our numbers.)

People, the only way we get anything done is through people!

We can’t make the number, only our people can!

Our jobs, as managers, are providing our people the resources, eliminating the barriers/roadblocks, and helping them use their time most effectively to achieve our shared goals and produce the desired outcomes. (That pesky “making the number” keeps cropping up.)

We use our time most effectively (not to mention everyone else’s) when we focus on those things that create the desired outcomes–not on the outcome itself.

We measure our effectiveness at doing those things by the outcomes produced.  If we aren’t making the number, then somehow, we aren’t getting the time, resource, people equation right.


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