Customers increasingly regret their buying decisions – that’s your opportunity!

Lost the contract with your best client? No worries.

According to new research from CEB, customers that regret their buying decisions are increasing. CEB’s research says that in over 40% of all B2B buying decisions post-purchase anxiety occurs.

That’s your opportunity!

winback

The reason for decision makers asking themselves questions like: “did we buy the right thing”, is that too many alternatives are presented to them and they’re flooded by information from too responsive sales reps, which makes customers’ buying process “awful”, customers say.

Besides that, we should look into the opportunity of customers’ post purchase anxiety and how that may turn up to be your opportunity.

Many years ago I had a sales process evaluation meeting with one of my valuable clients. We sketched their new process on the white board; Qualify to Quote to Negotiate to Close. A simple, traditional sales process which is working very well in most businesses.

oldprocess

“NO, NO !”, my client almost shouted; “You forget the most important phase”.

“Ehhh, what phase ?”, I said, slightly surprised.

“The WIN-BACK phase of course, that comes after you lost the deal.

“But if the deal is lost and contracts are signed, that shouldn’t be a sales process phase. It wouldn’t be possible to tear their contract?”, I opposed.

“Well, not really”, my client said, “but we are selling a lot more just after we lost a contract with a large existing client. That revenue are really important to our profitability, so we cannot ignore sales activities after we lost any deal”, my client explained.

So we just added the “Win-back” phase to the end of their sales process.

newprocess

But why was my client selling a lot more after they lost their big contract?

The meeting with my client was many years ago, but adding a win-back phased to their sales process was valuable even then. My client explained their newly lost client was struggling to implement the new contract with your competitor, new contact channels were to be set up, new processes were to be implemented.

Those things are not easy to fix and takes time. During this period you can become the “good guy” and with just a little more attention you may get a star status of service. All your processes are in place, all contact channels are tuned, you are in a favorable position to make them happy.

Like in a guerrilla war, you may with a very little effort make a lot revenue, until your competitor has learned how to make service excellence at your client – but that takes a while and cost them big money. If you’re great and lucky they will not succeed until next purchase round is to take place.

According to the new research I believe the reason to add the extra win-back phase now has just become more important since customers are increasingly anxious making the right decisions in a world of information overload. There are too many options, too many alternatives, too many suggestions, too much information available, too many…of everything. And it’s expected that customers’ are doing more than 57% of the entire buying process before they even get in touch with a sales rep. So they stumble, trying to get the right information, not getting any help from intrusive sales reps.

And worse, great sales reps that earlier was promoting and pitching about their specific product and features, are – nowadays – banned to make sales pitches in social media since they are just transformed to become experts, not sales reps, anymore!

Ambivalent, yes. Confused, yes. I leave that to another blog post. But if you lose, be aware of the revenue after you lose. That revenue seems to be increasing nowadays…

Good luck losing 😉

 

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The hidden time slot when buying decisions are made

We all make decisions. Everyday we decide things that have an impact on our lives. Some of those decisions are buying decisions, where you interact with companies that possibly may fulfill a need you have.

Many of you recognize that a major share of the sales process has disappeared. In my post The Death of the Cold Call I visualized the three earliest phases of the sales process being invisible from the sales rep’s perspective, leaving us sales people only with two more phases to work with.

buying-process-vs-sales-process-is-changed

That’s terrifying enough. Of course you can manage the first three phases, but in a totally different way and requiring entirely new set of skills and methods. There are some really experienced advisors out there to help – one of my favorites is Barbara Giamanco – visit her blog for great tips!

But even more scaring is that I noticed a glitch also between the two remaining phases – causing you losing control in that very moment you definitely don’t want to.

hidden-time-slotI call it “The Hidden Time Slot”, because it’s hidden to you and leaving customer to do his choice without your presence. The Glitch happens when you have had your sales meeting – you felt is was successful – and you did all things right. You asked all the questions; about their needs, the price level, the timings and you even got the customer giving you the list of your competitors. You are sure it was the decision maker you talked to and he also gave you a date for his buying decision and committed to get in touch by then.

I’m just asking; are there more of you out there in the sales arena, except me, with experience losing such deals? I believe so, when I’m talking to my friends in sales. The sky was clear, no clouds in sight, and you still lost that damn deal!

Let’s go into the psychology in this by giving you an example from the buyer’s side. Me and my wife was looking for a new car. We thought about a slightly smaller car (children are leaving home), we needed hitch for trailer, GPS and we thought price was important, but not most. We visited several car dealers, as well as where we bought our existing car.

Our existing car dealer sales rep had a great advantage since we really liked our car and we thought it would be easy for us to just change to a smaller one at the same dealer. The existing car dealer was pretty sure about the same.

I can assure you. He did all things right, but he lost the deal anyhow. Why? What exactly was the reason for us to dismiss our easiest way forward?

It wasn’t a single reason we selected another car. It was a process.

Naturally, the existing car dealer asked about our alternatives – his competitors – and he was aware of their price levels. But it stopped there. What he didn’t do was trying to control beyond the buying process – where several other sales processes were running at decent pace, other than his. In my post Beyond The Buying Process I mentioned the key mindset to win large deals is to be your customer. Understanding your customer is simply not enough to be a winner in the modern sales arena.

When starting to evaluate what car we would buy, we also started new sales processes at several different car dealers. They were aware of they had to step up to win this deal, since they weren’t our existing dealer. They were prepared for a battle and they were curious about us. We were impressed how fast they got to learn us; and being friends.

Maybe you think our existing car dealer wasn’t polite or missed things, wasn’t curious or…whatever. He was. He did all things right. But he didn’t make the investigation about how we think about the other dealers. He didn’t rise to the 3rd Level of Sales:

To make the customer buy, the sales rep not only has to understand the customer, he has to BE and ACT as a customer in all contexts.

That’s Beyond The Buying Process. And The Glitch – The Hidden Slot – is only the last checkpoint when all buying thoughts from the entire buying process comes together in a decision.

 

BTW: Sorry for using the worn-out sales example: “Buying a new car”, but it was simply the most recent example where a bit more detailed evaluation was needed for make a good buying decision. //Stefan

 

What is Lean sales? – Create a plan of execution!

Finaly I have managed to continue from my last post

As a recap, take a look at the Pictochart.

As you are creating your sales plan you need to look at how your organization can support your ambitions. Let’s say you want 100% delivery performance to be your lead argument in sales and you believe you can boost sales by 20%. Even if your company has a track record of 100%  on time delivery, a 20% increase could disrupt your current supply setup and you could potentially lose customers long term due to lack of living up to your promise.

To ensure that you have captured the capability of your company in the future and initializing necessary change you can use some of the following tools:

  • Value Chain Analysis
  • SIPOC
  • Competence Analysis
  • WorkshopsDefine how to work with Systems/Tools
  • Define Documents/Workmethods

Value Chain Analysis

Value Chain Analysis is a three-step process:

  • First, you identify the activities you undertake to deliver your product or service;
  • Second, for each activity, you think through what you would do to add the greatest value for your customer; and
  • Thirdly, you evaluate whether it is worth making changes, and then plan for action.

Step 1 – Activity Analysis

The first step to take is to brainstorm the activities that you, your team or your company undertakes that in some way contribute towards your customer’s experience.

At an organizational level, this will include the step-by-step business processes that you use to serve the customer. These will include marketing of your products or services; sales and order-taking; operational processes; delivery; support; and so on (this may also involve many other steps or processes specific to your industry).

At a personal or team level, it will involve the step-by-step flow of work that you carry out.

But this will also involve other things as well. For example:

  • How you recruit people with the skills to give the best service.
  • How you motivate yourself or your team to perform well.
  • How you keep up-to-date with the most efficient and effective techniques.
  • How you select and develop the technologies that give you the edge.
  • How you get feedback from your customer on how you’re doing, and how you can improve further.

Step 2 – Value Analysis

Now, for each activity you’ve identified, list the “Value Factors” – the things that your customers’ value in the way that each activity is conducted.

For example, if you’re thinking about a telephone order-taking process, your customer will value a quick answer to his or her call; a polite manner; efficient taking of order details; fast and knowledgeable answering of questions; and an efficient and quick resolution to any problems that arise.

If you’re thinking about delivery of a professional service, your customer will most likely value an accurate and correct solution; a solution based on completely up-to-date information; a solution that is clearly expressed and easily actionable; and so on.

Next to each activity you’ve identified, write down these Value Factors.

And next to these, write down what needs to be done or changed to provide great value for each Value Factor.

Step 3 – Evaluate Changes and Plan for Action

By the time you’ve completed your Value Analysis, you’ll probably be fired up for action: you’ll have generated plenty of ideas for increasing the value you deliver to customers. And if you could deliver all of these, your service could be fabulous!

Now be a bit careful at this stage: you could easily fritter your energy away on a hundred different jobs, and never really complete any of them.

So firstly, pick out the quick, easy, cheap wins – go for some of these, as this will improve your team’s spirits no end.

Then screen the more difficult changes. Some may be impractical. Others will deliver only marginal improvements, but at great cost. Drop these.

And then prioritize the remaining tasks and plan to tackle them in an achievable, step-by-step way that delivers steady improvement at the same time that it keeps your team’s enthusiasm going.

SIPOC

SIPOC is a way to map your processes, use it to break down your value chain.

S (supplier): Entity that provides input(s) to a process

I (input): All that is used (mostly as variables) to produce one or more outputs from a process. It is worthwhile to note that infrastructure may not be considered as inputs to a steady-state process since any variability induced by such elements remains fixed over longer periods of time. (Exceptions include new infrastructure being introduced or a greenfield project.)

P (process): Steps or activities carried out to convert inputs to one or more outputs. In a SIPOC, the process steps are shown at a high level.

O (output): One or more outcomes or physical products emerging from a process.

C (customer): Entity that uses the output(s) of a process.

To explain SIPOC in good way will add too many pages to my blog. I found this site helpful in explaining how to use the model. It may seem complicated, but you do not have to follow it too 100%. Find a levelel that gives you an overviewof the process you want to define.

Competence Analysis

To be able to execute your sales plan what competence do you need. Not only in your sales force, but in the entire value chain. From a value chain perspective, you may demand change in competence from product development to new transportation methods.

Understand and identify opportunities (and limitations) in competence and companay capabilities end-to-end, that will impact your business’ development. Define what is needed to deliver to the wished position, growth and change drivers.

If you have structured your Value Chains (Customer processes), created SIPOC charts for each process, you now need to connect the competence you need and compare it to the competence you have.

  • What are our strengths to build on?
  • What necessary competence do we lack that have significant impact on our business forward? Competence gaps linked to business risks?
  • How do we create learning in the Business?
  • How to organize and lead for success?
  • Example of areas: competence needs end to end and competence needs both for generalist and specialist competence.

Workshops

These first tools work really well as workshop material.  Don’t do this on your own! Lean is about empowering the people performing the work, and involving them is crucial for your success! This can also be used when creating your sales plan…

Remember to have a clear goal with your workshops!

Workshops without clear goals is a coffee break. Nice to sit there chit chatting, but it is not productive.

Have you got the right scope of the workshop?

It is also important not to take on too big a topic. The group needs to be able to get a handle on the subject.

Be clear in the invitation!

If the people attending need to prepare, you need to tell them and you need to give them time to do so. This will also set how people prioritize your workshop. If the invitation is fuzzy, the turnout will probably not be that good.

Invite the right people!

If you have done your homework you will secure that the right competences, organizational levels and types of personalities are present.

Meet at place that suits your workshop/group!

Staying at the office is a great way to kill creativity and focus. Find a place where you have the amount of rooms you need, if you for instance plan to split the group in small groups

Create an Agenda!

Now that you know your primary objective and who will attend, you can start to develop an outline of how you’ll achieve the workshop’s goal.

  • Main points– Create a list of main points to discuss, and then break down each larger point into details that you want to communicate to your audience.
  • Visual aids– List the visual aids, if any, you’ll use for each point. If you need technical support, this helps the people providing it to determine where they need to focus their efforts.
  • Discussions and activities– Take time to list exactly which group discussions and activities you’ll have at which point in the workshop. How much time will you allow for each exercise?

Remember, the more detailed your plan, the more you’ll ensure that your workshop will run to schedule – and be successful

Make sure you have a Follow-up Plan

The only way to find out if your workshop was a success is to have an effective follow-up plan. Create a questionnaire to give to all participants at the end of the event, and give them plenty of opportunity to share their opinions on how well it went. Although this can be a bit scary, it’s the only way to learn – and improve – for the next time.

It’s also important to have a plan to communicate the decisions that were reached during the workshop. Will you send out a mass email to everyone with the details? Will you put it on your company’s intranet? People need to know that their hard work actually resulted in a decision or action, so keep them informed about what’s happening after the workshop has ended.

Define how to work with Systems/Tools

If you are making changes to your Sales Plan, or if there are effects on the organization, make sure your system users are up to date on how they enter or use system information.

Make sure you involve are your super users and system owners in the process of changing the way the organization works, the products you are selling and or the services you intend to introduce.

Remember that systems have limited flexibility and that though you may find a change insignificant, it can be close to impossible to do without changes to the system environment. Also remember that these changes can take a long time to implement and failing to bring the systems in early in the process is a sure way of failing before you even got started.

Define Documents / Work methods

If you are changing the way you work, make sure you have defined how you want the people in your organization should work in order to make the work easier, reduce errors and make the task repeatable with the same results every time. It may seem obvious when you just agreed that something should be done in a certain way, but down the line you will be glad you took the time to make the task clear.

The same goes for documents. Make sure templates are ready, certificates prepared, legal documents written and approved and agreements made with external parties.

The Plan of Execution

So I have listed all these tools, what are you supposed to do now? You need to look at what you want to do and what you can and write down what you will do. It is about finding the easy executions, the necissary and painful challenges and the ambitions you will need to put off for the future because they are just to damn difficult to pull off…this year. Remember that it does not end here, it begins here! Knowing your organizations limitations and possibilities is the only way to move forward. It is just a matter of putting a plan together and to set it in motion…

What is Lean sales? – Create a Sales Plan!

Continuing from my last blog…

In order to pursue customers you need to define how you will seek new customers, how you will win them over and how to retain them. A sales plan is the best way to create a clear communication of how you will do this in your company. This plan should build on the strengths of your products/services and the people in your company.

In my earlier blog “Sales role in Sales and Operation Planning (Demand Planning)” I talk about what is needed as output from the plan and who to collaborate with. Essentially you need to take the following steps. Set a budget -> Set a strategy -> Connect budget to Strategy and decide how to make it happen (sales plan). You need to describe how your sales team will work towards your goal and how you operationally will measure if the goal is being achieved.

I have listed some models I find useful for creating a Sales Plan:

PEST (Political, Economic, Socio-Cultural and Technological)

Using the tool is a 4 stage process:

  1. You brainstorm the relevant factors that apply to you, using the prompts below.
  2. You identify the information that applies to these factors.
  3. You draw conclusions from this information.
  4. Use your conclusions in your SWOT analysis.

The important point is to move from the second step to the third step: it is sterile just to describe factors without thinking through what they mean. However, be careful not to assume that your analysis is perfect: use it as a starting point, and test your conclusions against the reality you experience.

PEST Analysis is a useful tool for understanding the ‘big picture’ of the environment in which you are operating, and for thinking about the opportunities and threats that lie within it. By understanding your environment, you can take advantage of the opportunities and minimize the threats.

PEST is a mnemonic standing for Political, Economic, Social and Technological. These headings are used firstly to brainstorm the characteristics of a country or region and, from this, draw conclusions as to the significant forces of change operating within it.

This provides the context within which more detailed planning can take place, so that you can take full advantage of the opportunities that present themselves.

SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats)

SWOT Analysis is a simple but useful framework for analyzing your organization’s strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunities and threats that you face. It helps you focus on your strengths, minimize threats, and take the greatest possible advantage of opportunities available to you.

Strength and Weakness are an internal focus, whereas Opportunities and Threats are external.

SWOT Analysis can be used to “kick off” strategy formulation, or in a more sophisticated way as a serious strategy tool. You can also use it to get an understanding of your competitors, which can give you the insights you need to craft a coherent and successful competitive position.

When carrying out your SWOT Analysis, be realistic and rigorous. Apply it at the right level, and supplement it with other option-generation tools where appropriate.

KANO model

Kano Model Analysis is a useful technique for deciding which features you want to include in a product or service. It helps you break away from a profit-minimizing mindset that says you’ve got to have as many features as possible in a product, and helps you think more subtly about the features you include.

To use Kano Model Analysis, follow these steps:

  1. Brainstorm all of the possible features and attributes of your product or service, and everything you can do to please your customers.
  2. Classify these as “Threshold”, “Performance”, “Excitement” and “Not Relevant”.
  3. Make sure your product or service has all appropriate Threshold Attributes. If necessary, cut out Performance Attributes so that you can get these – you’re going nowhere fast if these aren’t present.
  4. Where possible, cut out attributes that are “Not Relevant”.
  5. Look at the Excitement Attributes, and think how you can build some of these into your product or service. Again if necessary, cut some Performance Attributes, so that you can “afford” your Excitement Attribute.
  6. Select appropriate Performance Attributes so that you can deliver a product or service at a price the customer is prepared to pay, while still maintaining a good profit margin.

Tip:

Where possible, get your customers to do the classification for you. Partly this will keep you close to your market, but partly it will keep you and even the most out-of-touch people in your company up-to-date with people’s changing expectations.

Also, make sure when you choose customers who are typical of the market you want to sell to.

RUMBA

When setting goals the goal should always be:

Relevant Helps the employee understand how the expectation fits with the company’s/department’s goals.
Understandable Makes the goal clear to the employee. May need to be restated in different language or the employee’s own words
Measurable Describes the results for which the employee will be accountable. Usually stated in terms of quantifiable criteria.
Beliveable Goal must be stated in a way that it is relevant and credible
Achievable Goal is realistic

Get started!

The year has started, the race is on! Sit down and put a plan together! If you as a manager don’t know what needs to be done, you can be sure no one else has a clue either. Bring your team on board to help if you are stuck. If they get a clear understanding of the budget, your strategic thoughts on what customers to approach and what products to promote, they should be able to give you some good advice. Using the tools I have mentioned or other tools you are familiar with you will have a good structure for keeping the information structured/understandable and also help you ask the right questions.

What is Lean sales? – Identify your internal customers!

Continuing from my earlier blogs:

What is Lean sales?
Identify your external customers!

This is where I believe we all assume too much. Most people in an organization have their own networks and routines for communicating within the organization. This has been developed during a long period of time and is handed over from person to person as people change position in the company and as the company grows. It has not been put in place, it has just happened…how do you know that this is the best way to perform the tasks in your company?

Understanding is better than believing, so find out who in your organization you as a sales group hand over information to. Is there a secondary party within your organization that receives information that comes from your group? Should this information not be passed on directly?

“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” ― Albert Einstein

Is there a white spot on the map? Is there a group within your organization that is seeking information that you could be providing, but you are not?

I heard a great example of a white spot. In a company working with industrial installations in the 80’s. In some cases the customer provided engines that were supposed to be used in the final product. Normally the purchase department was responsible for all the incoming goods and when they placed the orders, goods management was already planned and article numbers were in place. The customer unique engines would turn up out of the blue, the team handling the receiving would call the purchase department and ask about them, but since the purchasing department had nothing to do with these engines they had no information to provide. The result was that the engines would be stashed somewhere and many where lost on their way to production costing a bundle of money and irritated customers. If the sales department had seen the goods receiving department as a customer and understood their responsibility they would have set up a routine with the receiving group and communicated to the customer how engines need to be labeled and shipped in order for their company to manage them.

These days Big Data is widely discussed. The requirements to enter information are constantly increasing. A lot is probably rubbish, but some will definitely bring value to you or to some other part of your organization who is a customer of this information. Look through your entire business process and organization scheme and truly define who is a receiver from your sales department. It is better to do a few things well rather than trying do a lot and making a mess of it all…so find out where your input will have the biggest impact.

The Safest Way To Implement CRM

Over 70% of all implementations of sales support systems like CRM go right to the trash. How come?

May it depend on the fact you actually can do business just by just shaking hands? Certainly. May it depend on the lack of an established sales process? Sure. May it depend on lack of management support? Of course. May it depend on weak compensation systems? On the spot. May it depend on the lack of comprehensive Sales theory and best practices? Oh, yeah.

The challenge is to master all these risks and several more in one project. And you only get one chance. No option to stumble or slip.

Caution implementing CRM

Over the last fifteen years I’ve been developing a safe way implementing CRM for a lot enterprises in various industries. I’d like to share my method, or what you would like to call it, to you. Here it is:

THE MANAGEMENT’S STATEMENT

The management has to clearly make a statement concerning older system support for the sales organization. This statement have to be in terms of that older system support no longer supports the Customer processes, organization or strategy, neither in the local sub-companies nor the holding company. This is to pronounce a visual “kick-off” to the organization that a change of new support for the sales organization is under way.

ESTABLISH VISION, GOAL AND PURPOSE OF THE NEW SYSTEM

Next step is to tell “why?” you should change or implement the new system. The answer to this question is the most important criteria for a successful implementation, because this answer would be the sword or tool to motivate the rest of the key employees and end-users in the organization why a replacement of old solutions is necessary. It will be needed to put both time and effort to be successful.

To be able to answer the “why?-question”, you have to describe the vision, goal and purpose regarding the sales process and belonging system support. But that may not be the easiest, without performing an analysis of what benefits the organization would get.

Therefore, I suggest a Business Benefits Analysis which is the foundation to state vision, goal and purpose.

BUSINESS BENEFITS ANALYSIS

The business benefits analysis is a sort of prestudy with the goal to describe the business benefits the organization sees with a new system support. These benefits are the “weapons” that makes the end-users to really use the new system and bridges the sales process and the system support.

The method for the analysis is interviews with key managers within the group. A suitable number is about ten, but may be lower or higher dependent on the your organization.
The analysis will deliver a number of described benefits in report form and will be the main key in the next step – the workshop for the management team.

THE WORKSHOP FOR THE MANAGEMENT TEAM

With the business benefits analysis as a start, the workshop’s goal is to prioritize and verify the described benefits so they will be in line with your overall business goals and strategy, but also that they are possible to implement and are reasonable.

The workshop is often led by a Project Manager, but the result is created together in the Management Team.  The delivery is a clear picture and a document describing the business benefits that will be the answer on the “why-question” and will represent the vision, goal and purpose of the implementation of the new system support.

With this clear delivery, the next step is to create an implementation plan.

CREATE AN IMPLEMENTATION PLAN

My experience tell me that to achieve success, the new system support has to be accepted and supported by both the management team and the end-users.
The acceptance from the management team you will get as early as in the earlier mentioned workshop, but the acceptance from the end-users you will get very late – not until the training of the new system. In this phase, most of the financial investment has been done. The risk is too high. Therefore the user acceptance is critical. There are no options to fail.

To secure a successful acceptance and support from the end-users you should use two “weapons”; the first is the answer on the “why-question” (the vision, goal and purpose – which in turn is connected to benefits experienced every day) and, two; the (local/regional) sales managers. Their management support is essential in this, because they will use the new system support on a daily basis to look at opportunities, sales-pipeline reports etc. If they use the system, why shouldn’t the end-users?

By that I mean the sales managers have to go in the front line ”showing the way to go”. They are your “hostage”.

Practically these sales managers don’t have to be experts in the system, they only have to use the system and answer the “why-question” over and over again. Some routines will also be much easier – such as sales pipeline reporting – and would be an excellent sales coaching tool.

The implementation plan will be described in detail – with project plan, consultant effort, software license need, hardware recommendations etc.

GO-DECISION AND SIGN CONTRACT

Next step is to use the business benefit analysis and the implementation plan to sign the contract for the implementation project and the investment of licenses and hardware.

That’s my experience. Good luck!

Stefan

Why Expertise Outperforms Process

Our home has a kitchen that is divided into three different sections. Not very well planned at all and now we’re gonna make something about it. Two heavy walls will be demolished making room for a large kitchen in one single space.

We’ve got in contact with two different suppliers. The first one really caught us. The salesman listened to us, asked a lot questions and, finally, when he presented his layout proposal for the new kitchen we totally gave up. It was fantastic and, even if it was over half a year to when we had to make our decision, we thought we already had made our selection of supplier in our minds. He told us about the process forward, the steps towards the order and after that, the installed kitchen. It was obvious he followed an established sales process – I can see his checkboxes and drill-down questions in front of me. As a sales executive myself, I admit I liked it.

We thought we had met a structured and professional salesman. Indeed, we were in safe hands.

The second supplier also asked some questions, but was more quiet when it came to present her solution. She just sent it by an e-mail, and asked us to just pick up the phone if we’ve got any questions. Her solution was overall much the same as the first; it met our needs and wishes very well. However, we regarded the presentation of her solution as more or less a copy of the first supplier’s one and paid not that much attention to it, because we were so overwelmed by the first charismatic, process driven and professional salesman. The second one didn’t get a real chance to stick in our minds.

Several months later it was time to get into the details. You know, all those detail decisions to make: colors, appliances, equipment, knobs, countertops….etc. If you’ve any time been done a such big project as rebuilding a kitchen in your home – or any other major renovation in a house – you certainly know what I’m talking about. For sure, you can’t do it alone. You need an expert to talk to.

  
And now the expertises of the two salesmen were revealed. The first one – the charming sales guy we fell in love with – he just didn’t manage the situation. All those hundreds of detailed questions we had to get answers to, were left to general responses, references to their website, guesswork or just not responded at all.

In the beginning of this intense decision making phase we, first just to be polite, we asked also the second supplier these detailed questions. All in all, she had put a lot work into her proposal, so why not? But her answers were rapidly back to us with advices from a real expert attached. Sometimes we couldn’t phrase our questions by ourselves, but then she did it for us. Several times one answer led to another question we couldn’t tell from start but the answers came timely, accurate and always with a smile.

In the end we found ourselves completely impressed by her and extremely sure our new kitchen will be just as in our dreams. Of course we selected her as supplier.

How come the first guy didn’t make it? Actually, he did all well by the book. He got a fantastic sales process to follow, told all prepared questions, was charming and made the social game to excellence. I think most salesmen in the world are molded in that way. The creepy part is also that management follows up in this way, so no salesman can leave the beaten track – one size fits all…

No room for a Barefoot Sales Process at all.

To be honest, what went wrong? Of course, the first salesman didn’t had the deep knowledge of what he was selling. And here’s my point: Expertise outperforms process. Everytime. The tricky part is how to find salespersons with that expertise. Think about it; it’s an engineer in a salesman’s suite. That’s really hard to find. 

In general you’ve got two options; 

  1. Train an engineer to become a salesman
  2. Train a salesman to be an expert on what he is selling

To establish (1) is nearly impossible and providing product knowledge on an expert level to a salesman as in (2) takes long time and is really costly.

Instead, I’ve got an easier (?) suggestion. In my Blog post Sales people are heroes – how can we help them I mentioned three properties that distinguish a Super Hero in sales from an ordinary one:

  • Extremely high creativity skills
  • Very interested in customer needs
  • Huge skills doing “matchmaking” between that need and the products or services that would be delivered (with several twists of course).

What I mean is, try to be CLEAR about your work descriptions and to SUPPORT your sales heroes, so they are able to provide:

Answers rapidly back to her prospects with advices from a real expert attached.

Then your prospects perception of your salesmen will be as real SALES EXPERTS.

Best Regards 

Stefan