Sell More Stuff = More Sales

Posted by Jack Derby, Head Coach on Fri, Aug 12, 2011

Blue Ocean Book resized 600I’ve recently been receiving these short articles like the one below from  Well written, to the point and solid factual data from the men and women who actually run businesses.  When I finished a hard day of field research on the beach yesterday, I found this not-surprising article in my Inbox, which fit nicely into my summer re-reading of Blue Ocean Strategy.

66 Percent of CEOs Plan to Freeze or Downsize Workforce Size
CEO confidence in business conditions remained negative in August with two-thirds of CEOs planning to freeze or downsize their staff. Though the CEO Confidence Index rose slightly (0.4 percent) it remained at a dismal 5.30 out of a possible 10. As one CEO put it, "As I approach my 44th year in business, the last 20 as a CEO, I can never remember a time when I felt so disenfranchised from our leadership in Washington."
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It was back in early June that I read a small article buried on Page 12 in The WSJ that Cisco was laying off 7,500 people, and I said to myself, “What the heck is that about?” since they actually were doing reasonably well.  And then over the next couple of weeks, I read about more layoffs at BoA (understandable) and a few other Fortune 500 companies (not so understandable), and then I noticed that my personal bellwether for small businesses, Staples, was missing projections.  All of which began me blogging more and giving speeches at a number of July sales meetings that we were facing a much tougher than planned selling environment for the second half of the year. 

Economic Uncertainty resized 600So, here we are at the end of a nerve racking week on Wall Street with this overhanging gloom of uncertainty and facing a couple of options.  Cut backs and downsizing are always Option #1.  It’s unfortunately easier, and it has a somewhat immediate impact.  I don’t know about you, but I think that most companies, and certainly our customers, went way past muscle and got down to the bone level back in 2009.  Not to say that tightening up spending shouldn’t be done, but what we really need to do is focus on Option #2, and that is to…Sell More Stuff

Easy to say.  Not so easy to do if one insists on sticking to the old (way back in pre-2008) ways of selling especially for complex B2B sales.



Relationship selling was a primary tool

Relationships are simply a foundation

Selling processes were haphazard

Formal processes=dynamic performance

Sales involved a few decision makers

More committee-driven sales than ever


Value Propositions=ROI, TCO & EBITDA

Online selling tools were “nice to have”

Online tools & mobile are a necessity

Static CRM systems

Dynamic CRM integrated into process

Sales ToolsMuch of the impact of what we do as a firm is to set in motion the use of sales process incorporating a variety of integrated tools as a discipline.  Good ideas, and I know that we make some level of impact.  What I'm suggesting here is not incremental impact, but fundamental change from whatever sales methodology and tools that you're currently using.  

I’d encourage a quick read of Blue Ocean.  The basic premise is that Red Oceans are crowded with bloody cutthroat competitors. Operating in a Blue Ocean means your “value innovation” has broken through traditional market barriers. You’re not fighting for market share. You’ve created a new market and attracting customers that didn’t previously exist.  

What I would suggest is that you don’t get hung up in all the consultant jargon and strategy-speak because you’ll get turned off.  Just take in the various counter examples of businesses swimming in red oceans and in blue oceans.  Then, take that same concept of Thinking Big of Thinking Very Differently, and overlay that thought process to your current way of selling working with your sales team in order to create a new (not incremental) approach to answer such broad questions as…

-What could we do to dramatically change the way we sell?
-Have we ever asked our customers how do they want to be sold?
-What would it take to reduce our sales cycle by 25%?
-How could we 5X the effectiveness of our sales training?
-How can we improve our hiring (and firing) effectiveness by 50%?

This economic morass is going to stick to our psyches for some time-certainly well into 2012.  Sure, layoffs and belt tightening are part of the “must do’s”, but rather than follow the disgraceful example of The Boys & Girls in Washington and merely kick the can down the road, as sales executives and business leaders we do have the power and an immediate opportunity to take charge, change the way that we approach our customers and Sell More Stuff.   This is not a quick fix.  It will take time to work through and most probably the creation of an entire new business plan as to how we market and sell. 

Speaking of business plans, we just finished rewriting our summer edition (the benfit of time spent on the beach) of our Writing the Winning Business Plan.  If you want a free copy, just click HERE.

Good Selling !

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