Hunt Big Sales Blog
Insights for Finding, Landing and Harvesting Whale-Size Accounts
Latest "General" Posts
How To Close A Deal Like Warren Buffett
Tom recently had the pleasure of doing a podcast with Will Barron from Salesman.red discussing his book How To Close A Deal Like Warren Buffett. Check out the recent podcast episode and note the rules are pretty simple and they tie in directly with success in sales –
1) Only Deal With Dealmakers
This is sales 101 but it can sometimes be tough to get in front of the decision maker. Don’t back down from getting those meetings as it speeds up the sales process considerably.
2) Go Big
Why close a bunch of small deals that require just as much energy each to close that big one?
3) When You’re Going To Eat An Elephant, Don’t Nibble
You can add massive value by simply respecting a prospects time. Don’t faff around, jump in with your offer when negotiating and take the deal off the table.
4) Victory Favours The Ready
One of the easiest medical device deals I ever closed (£230,000+) happened in the space of 2 hours over 3 phone calls.
The hospital had money they needed to spend before the end of the month and I was the quickest sales person to respond to a group email that went out to suppliers.
Have you got processes in place to enable you to move quickly?
5) The Last Step Is Always Slippery
The deal isn’t done until the money is in the companies account. “If something can go wrong, it will go wrong” so plan ahead.
Guest Faculty post by Dave Hickman
Process has lots of benefits and every executive knows it. With that knowledge, almost every executive is disappointed with the final results of that process.
The problem is not that everyone is missing a hiring process, but that the hiring process is not aligned to the organizational needs.
This misses the target of driving optimal hiring results. To make any process improvements, overcoming legacy thinking is a real challenge. Will you get candidates through headhunters, Post & Pray, employee referrals or other sourcing means? I can’t think of one client who didn’t have a hiring process in place, however all of them were not achieving the outcomes they desired and acknowledged a need to modify their strategy which would improve their process and results.
It seems so logical that if you want to make progress, then adjust your strategy, people, tools, process, or systems. But however logical it may sound, simple fear causes people to delay or forego an improvement.
We’ve found there is a basic foundation to hiring talent that when properly utilized, speed to hire and quality will improve by over 30%. Here are 5 proven steps that need to be in place and will improve your confidence to hire better, faster, and consistently.
1. Strategy and Planning: Develop a 12 month Hiring Demand Matrix and stage gate hiring strategy, process and metrics. You will need tools such as Job Descriptions/Profile, Candidate Screening Summaries, Key Competencies, Interview Guides (with ratings), and qualitative/quantitative comparisons that define what is great and what is good.
Guest Faculty post by Jennifer Palus
Case studies are at once the most over-inflated and under-supported tool in the sales toolbox.
A case study is often imagined to be this self-targeting, silver bullet that can easily convince even the most resistant prospect. Sometimes even a prospect falls into this trap. Intrigued by your sales pitch, the prospect knows he has to convince his boss (and then her boss) to approve the purchase. “That’s great! Can you get me a case study?” The prospect asks, eyes gleaming with confidence that the case study will be all the persuasion needed to get approval.
Business people seem to hold the image of an idealized case study in the minds. They imagine case study layout and graphics so beautiful that simply taking it out of one’s briefcase or displaying it on-screen stops all other conversation. They imagine the perfect amount of text – just enough copy to grab the reader’s heart and mind (and checkbook), with not one word more. They imagine a conclusion so compelling that the prospect will sign on the dotted line before he has finished reading the last statistic. Cue the music; we have a deal…thanks to the case study!
A strong case study may not be THAT magically effective – but they are powerful tools. So why then is the metaphorical case study cupboard so bare for most of us? Why, at almost every company I’ve ever worked with, do people hangs their heads and make excuses when asked about the quality and quantity of their case studies?
A number of my clients are in the process of interviewing candidates for large account selling. To help them find the best candidates, we go through an exercise at the beginning of the process to define and rank the qualities and skills that we want the ideal person to have.
Here is a list of those qualities I look for in Superstar Salespeople through the interview process:
- Get to the Top--The best start at the top rather than work their way up. In large account sales knowing how to get to the top of the executive chain, to those who make the real decisions of size and strategy when selecting vendors and partners, will be necessary.
- Speak Senior Exec–“You get sent to whom you sound like” is a truth that shows up in action for most people in sales. The best salespeople can speak all of the languages of the members of the buying group, but most importantly, they can speak to the senior executive with confidence and relevance.
- Translate–Complexity is the enemy of speed in the sales process. Superstars know this and work well in translating what appears to be complex into simple and relevant explanations.
- Facilitate–Complex sales require a variety of people from your organization and the buyer’s to communicate, document, exchange information, and stay on task. A great salesperson keeps an eye on the details as if he or she was a Project Manager, ensuring progress and that nothing gets missed.
- Create–Big sales are rarely large volume purchases of off-the-shelf products or solutions.
Most of us who were trained in sales since the 1970’s were taught the principles of “consultative selling.” However, the consultative selling skills of listening, relationship building, product knowledge, and implementation of incremental recommendations are no longer sufficient for reaching executive-level buyers.
Below is an article I wrote for Middle Market Executive on why middle market companies need to ditch consultative selling. Perhaps you will decide that your company needs to ditch consultative selling as well
“Ditch Consultative Selling If You Want to Reach Executive Decision Makers”
The conspiracy to keep sales people away from executive decision-makers by trapping them in purchasing processes conducted by non-executive gatekeepers is real. You are not imagining it. Organizations continue to seek efficiency through automating and regulating the buying process, which is code for “kicking sales people out of the picture.” This is evident in the trend of companies standardizing the buying process to the point that a spreadsheet or technology often replaces the need for a sales consultant. In fact, Gartner estimates that by 2020, customers will manage 85 percent of their purchasing transactions without talking to a human.
See more at: http://middlemarketexecutive.com/middle-market-companies-need-ditch-consultative-selling/
Want to learn more about how to grow in this new era of sales? Download a FREE chapter of the upcoming book: Life After the Death of Selling: How to Thrive in the New Era of Sales.
What salespeople need to bring to the table in this modern era of sales is significantly different from what they needed to bring in the past. In the past, success was driven by hard work, forging lots of relationships, and having numerous prospects in the pipeline, but that is no longer sufficient.
Below are three tactics sellers need to master to win in this new era of selling.
1) Secure an Executive Sponsor
Having an executive sponsor means you have secured the right level of oversight and motivation to see a successful execution of the buying process. It doesn’t guarantee that you will win, but it does increase the chances that you will be able to move the prospect further down the buying process. So what is an executive sponsor? An executive sponsor is someone within the prospect company who has the authority to make the purchase decision, has the ability to pull together the necessary people to participate in the sales process, and has a problem you can solve.
2) Get the Right People at the Table
If you’re going to be effective in the world of large account sales, then you have to become comfortable with larger numbers—not just the larger economic scale of a deal, but also the larger number of people involved. If you do not bring all of the necessary people to the table from both sides, somewhere in the selling process, a stakeholder from the prospect company not at the table will pull the handbrake.
I’ve called it–the era of selling we have been operating in is dead, but what does that mean for sales managers? If sales has changed that means that sales management must also change if you want to thrive in this new era of sales.
For instance, geography is rarely a barrier to sales in today’s environment. Sales are processed through computers, facilitated through rapid delivery, and financed through mechanisms that occur with the swipe of a credit card.
The barriers to product information have fallen as well. Global access to information and technology allows buyers to assess differences between products on their own. It is also estimated that by 2020, customers will manage 85 percent of purchase transactions without talking to a human.
So what does this mean for sales managers? The companies excelling in today’s environment understand three critical ways that sales management has changed. The question is, do you?
1) Higher-Level Sales Require More Efficiency
Higher-level sales now require a greater level of efficiency. Why? Because shifts in the businesses-to-business (B2B) buying process require more resources to hunt opportunities than in the past. You may need a larger team because it often takes more time and cycles to meet with all the people on your clients’ teams. You’ll also need more time and resources to gather additional insight and information to shape your offering to your prospect. All this means you must be more efficient and targeted than in the past. If you let your salespeople run amok, calling on whomever they choose, you will get a lower yield because there is little selectivity and no focus on efficiency.
“Extinction is what happens when the shared history of what works takes us past the point where we need to adapt.”
A University of California, Berkeley, study found that animals and plants don’t just disappear because of bad luck in a static and unchanging environment. Most cases of extinction are the result of a changing environment combined with a lack of adaptation to the new environment. This is true in the animal kingdom, as well as in the world of sales.
Many businesses are at risk of going extinct because the world of selling is no longer as it was. The era of selling we have been operating in has changed and continues to change, and the businesses that fail to adapt to this new environment will no longer be viable.
According to the McKinsey Quarterly, nearly 50 percent of all B2B purchases will be made on digital platforms by the end of 2015. In addition, B2B customers now on average regularly use six different interaction channels throughout the decision journey. This is a far cry from the days of linear sales transactions that took place between a buyer and a seller. Does your sales strategy fit into this new buying process or is your business at risk of being on its way out?
Below are three signs you are (way, way, way) past the point of where you need to adapt to survive in life after the death of selling as we once knew it.
1) You think salespeople close business.
The Death of Selling
I regret to inform you that selling has passed away. The exact time of death is not known, but was long anticipated. Selling fought a long, hard battle against the changing B2B buying process, but ultimately lost the fight. Without adaptation, selling was unable to survive in the new era of sales. Selling will be greatly missed by old-school sales leaders and traditional sales reps who rely solely on hard work, charisma, and a bloated database of personal contacts. However, what gives us hope is the prospect of life after the death of selling.
Life After the Death of Selling
The era of selling we have been operating in is dead. Shifts in the B2B buying process have transformed selling as we know it. We must change the way we sell when buyers change the way they buy, which means we also must change the way we lead.
Below are three tips to help you lead your company in life after the death of selling as we know it.
- Become a Fortuneteller
Now, more than ever, one of your weightiest responsibilities as CEO is anticipating the future. In this new fast-paced sales era, not adapting to a quickly changing market means extinction. Your new job as executive leader is to become a fortuneteller so you can lead your company to adapt. You must figure out what the customer will need not today, but tomorrow, and (most importantly) the day after that.
- Become a Builder
If you want to survive in this new era of sales, it is critical to build a framework for your entire organization to make decisions, including the sales team.
I get the privilege of speaking with thousands of CEOs about their businesses, their plans to grow and their challenges. The conversation often turns to the question,
“Do I have the right people in sales to really grow?”
From my perspective, it’s a false choice question. If the answer is yes, then the CEO has concluded that sales growth is just about people. If the answer is no, then the CEO will be stuck replacing sales people with institutional knowledge, market and customer contacts and a lot of unrecoverable investment on the company’s part.
Hiring is a risky and murky business at best and then there is the inevitable performance delay called “onboarding.”
Let me offer a different set of questions:
- Can your sales people learn?
- Will your sales people change?
- Do your sales people know that they are “at risk” in your view of the future?
The CEOs who ask about their people, know the truth, “what got you here won’t get you there”. They have just mentally replaced the “what” for “who” in that analysis.
But, experience tells me that changing the “what,” the company’s process, message and delivery, is more important than changing the “who.”