Tags: Sales Management Best Practices, sales management, sales coach, sales planning, sales producitivity, business tools, business planning, business plans, The Competitive Edge, writing a business plan
Too often we business types roll our eyes to the ceiling when we think about academia. Our images of university life immediately flash back to our own college days, but that image has little to do with the reality of university life today.
Today, college students are wicked bright, very hard working and highly focused on jobs, careers and the social impact of making a difference in the lives of others. As a group, current students and alums for the past eight or ten year are a massive category with huge numbers, but they also have far less spending power due to the very high cost of housing in general and the massive student debt that they carry.
There's no Black Friday in B2B Selling!
The fact that the holiday season kicks of with Black Friday, followed by Cyber Monday, and then just plain old "Discount Day" all day, every day between now and the 24th, doesn't mean that the same should hold true for those of us in B2B sales. Sure, everyone on both sides of the table knows that we have quotas to meet, and, in most cases, the pressure's on to hit plan in the next 17 days. BTW, "17" is really expanding the days to the max, and not taking into consideration the reality of kids' vacations and that large numbers of decision makers are going to be skiing during many of those precious days between Christmas and New Year's.
Pressure, Pressure, Pressure!
My partners and I live in the real world, and we're also under the gun to hit our sales targets, but, as execs running lots of companies and a wide variety of sales groups, we know that most discounts are not necessary! In fact, the data shows that typically good salespeople do abnormal things at this time of year and give out discounts just because they think incorrectly that everyone is price buying, and that they need to do the same.
The reality is that it's just not true, and, in fact, it only becomes true, when we don't focus on selling value, and instead we start our sales processes at the bottom rung of the ladder with non-decision makers who push us to talk about price rather than focusing on the larger business case of explaining financial value.
Price Selling" is at the very bottom rung of The Selling Ladder- "The Approved Vendor" Rung.
- Even in the heat of the next 16 days, our total focus and actual rally cry needs to be totally driven to the top two rungs of The Selling Ladder-"The Strategic Adviser" and the Trusted Partner" rungs.
That's where the money is, so we must have absolute focus on the financial value to our prospects and customers and not on the price.
A bit of help on pricing to value comes from our friends at Hubspot in one of their posts this week
1) Don’t Talk About Price Right Away
HubSpot Research found nearly six in 10 prospects want to discuss pricing on the very first call. But introducing cost into the conversation before establishing value can commoditize your product. This mindset hurts you and the buyer. He’s thinking about sticker price instead of ROI.
2) Highlight What Sets Your Product Apart
Once you’ve found your differentiators, figure out which resonate with each of your buyer personas. A startup employee who wears several hats will appreciate your product’s simplicity, while a corporate employee with a single function will like how customizable it is.
3) Position Your Product Strategically
Although badmouthing other companies will make you look insecure and unprofessional, you can -- and should -- ask your prospect which other vendors she’s considering. Her answer tells you how to position your product.
Oh, yea, did I mention "17"? Thought I did!
The issue of a finite time now also needs to be driven by the fact that days are not 8 hour days. I mean, they could be, but in fact, we know from our buddies at Salesforce from tens of thousands of professional salespeople that sales reps aren't spending most of their time selling. In fact, reps spend an average of 64 percent of their time on non-selling tasks, including administrative and service related tasks, traveling and training.
Okay, now do your math on just 17 days!
This morning BRINGS ME TO THE TOPIC OF RACE IN AMERICA.
As a professor of marketing, and a still struggling student of being a better sales professional, one thing I know is never to talk about race, religion or sex, but unfortunately, I need to to break that rule.
Enough is enough!
It doesn't matter whether you're a Democrat or a Republican; we are now faced with an interesting management problem.
My first real job out of BC, after returning from three years in the Peace Corps, was as a Purchasing Expediter working for Honeywell's new minicomputer group. In a work-hard, work-harder, baptism-by-fire-environment in which you either performed or were fired, I quickly learned the realities of purchasing, inventory control and production. A great education and a great company...even though they missed the whole mini-computer thing..which prepared me well for a long career at Becton Dickinson Medical Systems-another great company with solid management development programs allowing me to eventually rise through the ranks.
But, all through that development process with more and more training, and more and more education programs, the complexities of P&L's and balance sheets always eluded me, but since I had by then become president of various companies, I had the luxury of hiring the best CFOs at Datamedix (Bob Badavas, currently CEO of Plum Tree, is a superb example) who were much better in Finance than I would ever be.
Those experiences led me to adopt a simple axiom that I use today with all of the managers in all of our customers:
"Your job is to hire people who are much better than you in their own skills"
Today, although I believe I'm now pretty fluent in everything Finance, my three simple Finance rules that always guide me to success are...
So, what does it mean to be a leader?
Countless books and blogs consume oceans of silicon in attempting to define sales leadership, giving point-by-point tactics and hundreds of how-to's, and yet the issue of leadership often comes down to, "I know it when I see it".