121 Be the Master of Ceremonies – Part 1

Be the Master of Ceremonies – Part 1


The Elite Seller performs as the Master of Ceremonies and plays a vital role in every customer interaction. While other members of the sales team are also important, you as the leader of the sales cycle must call the plays, make key decisions, and direct your sales team every step of the way. The Elite Seller, like a good quarterback in American football, is an orchestrator, responsible for implementing the team strategy put in place by coaches to optimize the chance of winning. 


The Master of Ceremonies ensures that all team members are in proper position to execute the plays as called. They are proactive, take decisive action, and adjust when the situation changes. 


Conversely, a defensive back in American football is responsible for stopping the opposing offense from advancing down the field. They anticipate the initial movement of the offense, then quickly back-pedal to move into the correct coverage area on the defensive side of the field. The defensive back must react and respond to every move taken by the opposing team. Being in a defensive position is not a desirable place for the sales professional in selling pursuits. 


Make your leadership evident in every interaction with your customer and with your sales team. Make sure your sales team understands this key:


Show up on time. Show up prepared.

Or don’t even bother to show up at all.


Showing up means coming to every activity fired up, prepared, and ready to make a difference in your customer’s business – establish your personal value right up front. 


Showing up prepared means that you take ownership of key events. Don’t leave the details to others and just assume they will it get done. 


I’m DJ Sebastian. In the next three briefings, I’ll discuss the best ways I have found to demonstrate leadership Master of Ceremonies.


120 Avoid Time Wasters - RFPs Part 2

Avoid Time Wasters – RFPs Part 2

Whenever you decide to pursue an RFP, here are best practices to follow.

1) Push Back
The customer might demand functionality or response timelines that are impossible to meet… They might propose contractual obligations that your company will never accept. In these cases, push back hard and let the customer know you can’t meet those demands.

2) If your solution has unique capabilities that are not listed in the RFP but you know should be, call those out and work to have your customer include those in the requirements. At the very least, include a section in your response describing the additional capabilities your product or service contains that are key to delivering a great solution.

3) Find out who wrote the RFP. Did the customer prepare it themselves or contract with a consultant to write it? Did they use some generic RFP “generator”? Once you know who authored the RFP document, you can learn about the customer’s motivation as well as any biases… then you can plan how best to move forward.

4) Whenever possible, reduce the importance of the RFP. Propose an alternative plan where you will commit to jointly work with your customer on a quicker evaluation process. Provide business justification for why your customer should proceed according to your plan. Like this: “The cost of delay is significant for this project. Executing this full RFP will stretch out adoption of the solution far into the future. This will substantially delay the business value you can recognize for up to six months without reason.”

This approach to responding to RFPs can help you re-engineer the sales cycle, dramatically change the scope of the evaluation, and hand you a competitive advantage.

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

119 Avoid Time Wasters -  RFPs Part 1

Avoid Time Wasters –  RFPs Part 1


Few sales professionals jump for joy when they receive a detailed Request for Proposal (RFP) or the shorter Request for Information (RFI), from a prospective customer. Sometimes RFPs and RFIs can be a necessary evil required for you to win business with the customer. These dreaded requests can also be huge time-wasters for sales teams. 


Companies often require that RFPs be submitted by multiple vendors before authorizing purchases from a selected provider. But just because a company is circulating an RFP on the street doesn’t mean they will actually initiate a project. Too often, potential companies use the RFP method to get free research,  learn what new capabilities are available in the market and get a rough cost estimate. Frankly, it’s free consulting for the customer that can cost you hundreds or thousands of hours. 


Here are Red Flags that could lead you down a time-consuming path to RFP failure:


1) An unsolicited RFP shows up from a prospective customer – and you’re unaware of any new initiatives with this customer.


2) You’re asked to respond to an RFP in a very short timeframe without having the opportunity to meet with the customer team to review RFP details and discuss your proposed approach.


3) You didn’t help contribute to the customer’s RFP content and you didn’t influence any requirements listed in the RFP; chances are your competitor helped write portions of that RFP. 


4) Your team has several questions regarding the contents of the RFP, yet the customer prohibits you from any direct contact with the customer. They declare that all questions must be submitted in writing. Then the customer will compile the answers to all questions and broadcast them to all vendors. 


Any of these Red Flags will dramatically reduce your chance of winning the deal to a very small percent. You can’t afford to lose that many deals.


I’m DJ Sebastian, and we’ll discuss RFP Best Practices in the next briefing. 


118 Proving Your Solution

Proving Your Solution


“Prove to me that your solution will work for my organization”


Customers will say this in most cases… and your sales team will need to perform some type of proof to validate that your solution will work and deliver value to your customer. The depth of the proof depends on the complexity of your solution and the culture that drives your customer’s business. 


Your customer will generally fall into three categories that will define the approach you take to advance your sales cycle: 


First Category: The Innovators

These are visionaries who strive to stay ahead of their competition. They are willing to take risks to become the first movers in an industry segment. 


A winning approach here is to demonstrate your industry-leading capabilities and articulate your unique functionality. 


Second Category: Value Seekers

These customers must be shown how a solution will generate a return on their investment before moving forward. Projects are authorized based on their ranking by net return to their business. 


A winning approach here: is to apply value-based selling methods to connect customer requirements to your unique value proposition. 


Third Category: Risk Avoiders

These customers tend to shy away from projects or initiatives that have even a remote level of risk. They may be “burn victims”—in other words, they may have been burned before from bad experiences with other salespeople or failed projects. 


A winning approach here is to focus on related customer success stories, the substantial business value they will achieve, and a demonstration of your solution in action. 


A customer could have multiple sets of buying categories within their organization. For example, the marketing department could be innovators, the finance department could be value seekers, and the operations department could be risk avoiders. Identifying these categories and aligning your approach appropriately will help you establish your best pursuit strategy so you can position your solution for success.


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


117 Trends in Sales Productivity 2

Trends in Sales Productivity 2


In the prior briefing, we revealed the disappointing stats on sales productivity… Now we’ll discuss why sales productivity is declining and what to do about it. 


1) New sales vice-presidents have little time to get established. They need to hire better sales talent, swiftly adjust sales processes, engage with customers, and identify the customers who have the greatest revenue-generating potential. If they can’t generate improved results rapidly, they often pursue other opportunities rather than stay around long enough to get fired. 


2) Sales reps who leave their jobs may do so because they don’t like their job or their management, aren’t making enough money… Or they are high performers who leave for better and greener career opportunities. 


3) The company culture might not acknowledge the contribution of salespeople, and this could create a revolving-door effect. 


4) Dissatisfied sales reps might have checked out and are not focused on their current job as they search for another one. The sales rep takes up a spot but doesn’t generate revenue. 


5) Hiring new sales reps and getting them up to speed is dead time. This produces a large revenue gap with no wins, no new opportunities, and no advancement of existing sales cycles. 


What you can do to increase your own sales productivity:


First, study the trends described in these briefings and evaluate how they will impact your current sales role. How secure will your role be in the next year or two? Understand where you need to take action to enhance your abilities or pursue a different role. 


Second, commit to improve your selling skills. Your ability to communicate effectively with customers will be even more important and will differentiate what you do from technology-based automation. 


Third, learn about the coming technology advances and determine how you can use these technologies to advance your sales career.


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