The KIP Business Report
Blueprint: Mastering the Complex Sale
If you’re an entrepreneur, then you’re in sales, whether you know it or not. So, if you want to become a better pitchman for your company, then consider picking up a copy of Mastering the Complex Sale, the latest book from author Jeff Thull.
As the title of his book suggests, Thull believes that the environment we work in-characterized by long sales cycles, multiple layers of decision and influence, and numerous perspectives that often cross national and cultural borders-has become so complex that the very nature of selling has changed. He advocates a system called Diagnostic Business Development®. Through the Diagnostic Business Development process, Prime builds highly customized and proprietary programs that optimize and execute your go-to-market strategies. We integrate your unique value into a singular message throughout Product Development, Marketing, Sales and Support. You will capture that value for both you and your customers. Your customers will be able to realize and measure the value promise. Diagnostic Business Development, or "the Prime Process," that provides a navigable path from the first step of identifying potential customers, through the sale itself and onto expanding and retaining profitable customer relationships.
Thull offers these tips for achieving sales success in an increasingly complex environment.
Every sale is not a good sale. About 35% of all sales are bad sales. In one way or another, they leave the customer disappointed or the seller with excess costs and diminished returns. Often salespeople are so concerned with "getting the order" that they write business that is not good for themselves, their company or the customer. Walking away from a situation that is not profitable for anyone is the right thing to do.
Do not allow the customer to self-diagnose. This is not to say that the customer isn't intelligent, it's just that he or she doesn't make a decision regarding your products and services very often. A customer may only make such decisions once a year or even far less often. Sales representatives, on the other hand, continually diagnose customers with similar situations. The successful sales professional takes on the role of valued advisor or business consultant.
Never ask for the order. If you have to "ask for the order" it should be clear that your customer has missed something, and it's your fault. If the diagnostic protocols have been followed, and the customer has recognized problems that can be eliminated by the solution you offer, the decision to buy will come as the next step in a well-executed quality decision process.
You will gain more credibility through the questions you ask than through the stories you tell. Every prospect expects salespeople to say good things about themselves and the products they sell. Thus the stories you tell are rarely taken seriously and are frequently discounted. What is taken seriously is the concern and knowledge you display in learning about the customer's situation. Ask thought-provoking questions which will help you to understand the customer's unique situation and will help you and the customer to manage quality decisions. When the customer hears your question, he should say to himself: "She wouldn't be asking that if she didn't understand our business."
Always be leaving. Customers have learned through annoying experience that a traditional salesperson won't take "no" for an answer. They hang on to their customers like a bulldog on a postman's leg. Consider that the customer's view could be valid.
People never say what they really mean - at first. People learn from a very early age that saying what is really on their minds can have negative consequences. As a result, they are cautious to express their real feelings until they feel "safe enough" with another person. The professional salesperson "peels the onion" to allow the customer a feeling of safety, which allows for the free expression of thoughts, opinions and feelings.
You can't sell a group. A guaranteed prescription for failure is to present to a group without having first identified and appealed to the critical perspectives of its members on an individual basis. By the time you present the solution, there should be no surprises to anyone. Everyone should be aware of how the proposed solution will impact them, and enough support should exist to guarantee that the group decision will be a mere formality prior to implementation of the solution.