87 Know Your Customer's Business

Know your customer’s business

 

Jim is an Elite Seller, one of the best sales professionals I’ve had the good fortune to know. 

 

Jim has an uncanny ability to build successful strategies that generated substantial business value for the customer as well as being rewarded with significant sales revenue for his company. 

 

He managed major global accounts and his responsibility spanned every operating division. He diligently mapped out how best to pursue each division.

 

Central to his approach is to build great relationships with his  customers in every region. His customer advocates regularly reached out to him to get information about the solutions other divisions were considering or implementing. That’s right, Jim often knew more about the customer’s business than the customer’s own people did. He was the ultimate Proactive Advisor.  

 

Here are ways for you to learn as much about your customer as possible, then use that knowledge in your selling efforts. 

 

Map out your ideal customer based on your solution capabilities. Pick 4 or 5 key areas, then match that up with your accounts. 

 

Then, for each selected account, identify: 

 

  • What is their Go-To-Market strategy? Do they sell direct to customers or through channels and affiliates?

 

  • What are their major brands and how is each brand positioned to compete in their markets?

 

  • Are they managed globally or regionally? More importantly, where are major decisions made and who makes them? Do regional operations have the autonomy to make decisions and decide on solutions, or is there a corporate standard that must be followed?

 

This will serve as a start for you to know your customer’s business. Once you’ve collected enough information, you can map out how best to pursue each division. Just like my friend, Jim!

 

I’m DJ Sebastian, for more info on what it takes to become an Elite Seller, visit my website at thetechseller.com 

 

86 Have a Backup for Everything

Have a Backup for Everything

 

“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong” 

 

That’s Murphy’s Law.

 

“The more important your customer meeting, the more likely something will certainly go wrong.” 

 

That’s a Salesperson’s corollary to Murphy’s Law.

 

Your detailed preparations and your best-laid plans can fall apart before your meeting begins. So rather than hope nothing bad happens, anticipate that it will when preparing for your meetings. 

 

Here are some situations that involve roadblocks to a presentation. What would you do in each of these instances?

 

  • You are expecting to present in a large conference room, but when you show up the meeting has been moved to a small office with no slide projector, no white board, and no flip chart.

 

  • The internet connection your customer or your team plan to use fails before or during your meeting. You were counting on that connection to deliver your message, and now you have no way to access the outside world. 

 

  • Your meeting was scheduled to be on-site, but due to last minute changes, you have to change it to remote web conference. How will you engage your customer remotely?

 

  • The only way to connect with your customer is through a phone conference. How will you include the visuals you have prepared?

 

  • You asked to send files to the customer in advance that include the visuals you need to discuss over the phone… but the customer informs you that due to their stringent security functions, they will not be able to accept these files. 

 

In these situations, how will you possibly continue with your meeting? 

 

The answer is to always have a backup plan. For every logistical item, every communication method, every visual, have at least one backup method for sharing the information. Relying on your backup plan could be the only way to salvage a meeting and maintain your momentum.

 

I’m DJ Sebastian. To learn more about what it takes to Become a Great Communicator, visit my website at thetechseller.com.

 

85 The Traits of Elite Performers

The Traits of Elite Performers

 

These briefings describe proven techniques and strategies to help B2B sales professionals and entrepreneurs understand what it takes to become an Elite performer. 

 

Elite performers have developed the skillset and the mindset to be effective in their craft. They are members of an inner circle, the top tier of sales professionals, and usually represent the top 10% to 20% of their sales force; they are regular members of the “President’s Club” that rewards and recognizes their contribution. 

 

They got where they are from hard work and an unwavering commitment to success. They have the right mix of behavioral, communications, and selling skills to make sales happen. They possess the sales savvy to correctly judge an opportunity and make good decisions. 

 

Elite performers have great intuition and business acumen. On the outside, those traits appear to come naturally, but development of those traits usually depends on learning from prior experiences (both positive and negative). 

 

They are not one-hit wonders. Elite performers prove their value year after year and almost always hit their quota. They might have the occasional off year when they miss quota; nearly everyone does. But they become obsessed with examining the root causes of the issue and work to refocus and reinvent their approach to get back on track. 

 

Elite performers help drive the financial results of the sales organization and enhance company profit. As high achievers who significantly exceed quota, they make up for those in the sales organization who do not produce substantially relative to goals. 

 

Elite performers are in high demand in the sales industry. They are targeted by recruiting firms. Competing sales organizations would love to hire (or steal) them from other companies. Sales management must retain their elite performers so that revenue and possibly customers do not leave with them. 

 

I’m DJ Sebastian, for more info on what it takes to become an Elite Seller, visit my website at thetechseller.com 

 

84 Be Multi-Threaded Part 3

Be Multi-Threaded Part 3

 

The prior briefing explained how Don’s selling team lost a deal because Don was “single-threaded” in an account. 

 

This briefing describes why being “multi-threaded” in an account so important? 

 

What are the take-aways from this story?

 

First – Don’t be column fodder – If the prospective customer seems too agreeable and accommodating, they might be acting this way just to keep you in the game long enough to select and negotiate with your competitor, as Don found out the hard way. Be sure to cultivate relationships with people who will be your advocate in the company to help avoid this problem

 

Second – Triangulate to avoid situations like this. Engage with multiple people in your account. Engage at multiple levels, not just those who are friendly within the account. When you are single-threaded and have only one primary contact, you will never get the complete picture. Establish dialogue with the technical, functional, and economic buyers responsible for influencing or making the final decision on your proposal. This includes: 

  • Those involved at various levels of the buying process; 
  • Those who can authorize the project; 
  • Those who cannot make the decision to buy but can certainly bring your selling process to a screeching halt; and 
  • Those who will pay for your solution—either the finance department or the functional departments who will gain the most value.

 

One person can fool you. They might have ulterior motives and might not be upfront with you. If two people agree, your relationship gains more credibility, but is still not a certainty. In most cases, if three people say the same thing, mark it down as a winning association.

 

I’m DJ Sebastian, for more info on what it takes to become an Elite Seller, visit my website at thetechseller.com 

 

83 Be Multi-Threaded Part 2

Be Multi-Threaded Part 2

 

The prior briefing introduced a situation where Don’s selling team was in a great position to win a deal… or so they thought… we continue below. 

 

Don’s selling team later discovered that two members of the customer’s team did not attend this meeting – – two people who were apparently influential in the decision-making process and who preferred a different solution based on prior positive experiences with this competitor.

 

After the Don’s team’s high-five celebration, the customer became unresponsive. People on the customer team stopped returning calls. Invitations to schedule time for executing the agreed-upon next steps were ignored. 

 

Don’s team later learned that the customer assigned different employees to host meetings with competing vendors. Don’s team was brought in so that the customer could complete “due diligence” by claiming to evaluate multiple solution providers prior to selecting the best fit and authorizing a new purchase. Soon, the customer’s preferred vendor solution was selected. 

 

Don’s team was just “column-fodder”—that is, in the evaluation spreadsheet, three vendors were listed in three separate columns, with their rankings entered in each column. Don’s team helped the customer complete the required last column quota. The meeting had been a total waste of their time and effort. Because Don’s contact with the customer was not multi-threaded, he was unable to gain a complete understanding of what the primary customer influencers were thinking and what solution they preferred. 

 

I’m DJ Sebastian, and we’ll describe lessons learned from this story in the next briefing.