Hunt Big Sales Blog
Insights for Finding, Landing and Harvesting Whale-Size Accounts
Latest "Sales Strategy" Posts
Guest Faculty Post by Jennifer Palus
Including a SME (subject matter expert) in your sales process is a very smart move. The SME has additional expertise and can often explain ideas with more depth and clarity than you can. The SME can help interpret your prospect’s business challenges and concern. You can often enable your expert to talk directly to the prospect’s expert in their own language.
Because a SME can relieve prospect fears and confirm client purchase decisions, they add to your credibility and are a valuable resource, if you prepare and use them correctly.
Tip #1. Give your SME context and a goal.
Preparing the SME is the salesperson’s responsibility. Don’t just hop in the car and assume they know what you need. A SME is an expert – but not in sales! – she needs to understand the players on the prospect’s side of the table and the role you want her to play. Explain the personalities and opinions, not just the org chart. For example, if you are hoping use your CFO to convert a resistant VP of Finance, make sure you provide context and the VP’s past objections. Most importantly, explain what “success” looks like for the SME, e.g., “If you can help Linda decide to sign off on the pilot program, that’s a win.”
Tip #2. Set guardrails for interaction with the prospect.
Sometimes a SME gets so excited to be part of a sales process that they talk a little too much or even try to negotiate the sale.
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 Eric Protzman
Athletic events are often won or lost before the teams take the field.
Major customers are often won or lost before you even talk to them.
The reason? Information. Let’s discuss knowing your customer.
In my previous article I talked about customers, dating and marriage. Transformational Accounts (TAs)(10-20 times the size of your current average customer or 5-10% of your divisional revenue) are marriages. You get to decide whom you marry, and you can know in advance the quality of the marriage. Choose wisely (and selfishly) was the message. Your choices are deeply dependent on the accuracy of your information. Your instincts are not up to the task. I promise.
So how well do you know your prospective customer?
You can promise to put more sweat into selling than your competitors, but you’ll make a lot better decisions and make a lot more profit if you out hustle your competitors on the research side. And your research guide is your PROSPECT SCREEN. Everything you consider crucial in a TA needs to be posed as a question in your PROSPECT SCREEN so you can research it.
We tend to quit researching way too easily. The good news is so, do our competitors.
Tom Searcy often said to me when we were developing my business “Do you think it or do you know it”. It toughened my resolve.
Succeeding in research starts with a belief that you CAN know it. I challenge my clients and I am often met with “I just don’t know how we’d ever find that information”.
Guest Faculty post by Doug Vause
When I was but a wee young lad… one of my first childhood heroes was the Lone Ranger. I loved that show, faithfully delivered every day in vivid black and white. Even as I’m writing, I can still hear the Lone Ranger theme song playing in my mind, when I saddled up my stick horse and rode fearlessly around the living room boldly daring any bad guy to cross my path. Rumor has it that I wore out many a stick horse, I mean “Silver”, riding through the wild, wild, west, totally decked out in my Lone Ranger outfit, cowboy hat, leather vest (okay maybe felt), with my six shooters (cap guns) strapped to my side shouting “Hi Yo Silver away!” I personally took it upon myself to keep all the town folk safe in our neighborhood and ensure that the fair maiden Chelli, the cute little neighbor girl next door, who always dressed up like Annie Oakley, safe from all the villains of the wild, wild, west. Truth be known, our wiener dog Heidi unfortunately took the brunt of my ambitious peacekeeping and was known to be roped and put in her jail cell (dog kennel) far too many times!
Sales used to be a lonely job.
Throughout my career I have had the opportunity to work with, manage, and observe a lot of salespeople whose behaviors reminded me a lot of the Lone Ranger. They preferred to work alone, or thought that they could do it all on their own, and that because they had the personal relationships they would always walk away with the sale.
Guest Faculty post by Eric Protzman
The Prospect Screen should be your most trusted advisor.
Think of it this way. You date and you date and you date, then you find the right person and you get married. Dating can be random, opportunistic, indulgent and impulsive, all characteristics you simply can’t afford in marriage.
In the past, what you call prospecting may well be impulsive or opportunistic dating. You may not be taking the time to investigate what is in your best interests.
What we are talking about in prospecting large accounts, transformational accounts, is not dating, it is marriage. Look at the long term implications of having the right customer, or having the wrong customer. I think you’ll get a feel for the strength of the metaphor.
I started Aim Direct Marketing in 1995. Tom Searcy was guiding my business development and very late one night after imagining this and designing that I said to Tom,“I don’t like mission statements and I think most business plans are just a list of things that don’t happen, but I do think we should talk about our core competency”. Bleary eyed and exhausted Tom tilted his head and said, “Where you are right now Eric, your core competency is anything anyone will give you a check for”.
That was just a phase. Do you recall this phase in your business too?
It is an exciting, thrilling and frightening time. But that time gives way to more stable and intentional times. As we become more sophisticated in our mission, our operations and our innovation we may not bring along the same sophistication in our sales efforts.
In Daniel Pink’s important book, “Drive,” he convincingly shows that pay-for-performance is inversely related to complexity. Simply put, the longer and more complex a desired outcome is to achieve, the less pay-for-performance matters. A strong example is in the world of large sales. Large account sales require more time. If you want to keep sales people motivated in these longer and larger sales, you need to provide more compensation in salary.
There are also additional people- not just salespeople, but your whole team. To land a big deal, you’ve got to load up your team with people of all skill sets (subject matter experts who can speak the client’s language), because one person (a sales guy) out there on his own is not going to cut it. How do you keep those people engaged as well? If they’re not seeing their efforts translate into money in a meaningful way (commissions, profit-sharing, bonus, etc), they’ll too be distracted by the not-so-shiny-objects of their every day job.
How to Take Action
1. Pay more for big sales — and spread it around
The sales representative is not the only person involved in the hunt. The fact is, after the initial interest is generated, the internal subject matter expert team does a lot of the heavy lifting.
2. Put a trophy-bonus on the wall
Make it specific and personal. At one point in my career, I had a competitor for which I had a personal distaste. I wrote up on the wall that competitor’s top 10 clients and told my team, “I will pay a 20% premium on commissions for every deal we land from this list in the next 6 months.” We got 3 and it tasted sweet.
As you think about what expectations to set to help your sales force succeed in the new era of selling we find ourselves in, consider if you are valuing “motion” or “movement.”
“Motion” is a term that we use to describe all of the sales activities that occur in getting people together, having conversations, and exchanging information within a given sales stage. Whether it takes one call or five calls, one meeting or five meetings, one document or twenty documents, it doesn’t matter. All of that is motion inside a system, but is the motion helping move the sale forward?
“Movement” is a term we use to denote completion of one stage and progression to the next. In a stage-gate process, this means that all the items in one stage have been completed, so the gate opens to the next stage. Movement along a sales process indicates that you are approaching either a close or the elimination of a prospect.
How to Take Action:
When it comes to measuring performance, spend less time worrying about the number of motions being made, and more time focusing on progressing forward through “movement.” To encourage movement over motion, consider giving a value of “one” to every movement from one stage to the next in the sales process. That’s right. Whether your sales reps close a deal, move a deal off of the dashboard because they lost it, or add a deal to the dashboard, it doesn’t matter. Each one of these progressions has a value of one.
Recently, I met with Bill Caskey, a friend and colleague in sales performance development, caskeyone.com. We were talking about what makes for remarkable sales performers. The right balance of mindset and mechanics was our conclusion. One without the other creates an unsustainable performance recipe. I later added one more ingredient:
Here is What it Looks Like:
- Mindset sets the frame for what is possible for yourself and your team. It is not a false bravado or an artificial “rah-rah” speech. This is the lens through which remarkable performers view the world. It is abundance-based and confidence comes from the concrete and accurate view of people, process and the marketplace.
- Mechanics include all of the baseline skills necessary to connect, build trust, diagnose, advise and present solutions to prospects. In the modern sales world this requires successfully expanding the participants in the process on both sides of the buying process.
- Magic is the least tangible, but still necessary component of discerning between several choices what is the best and most productive choice to make in a variety of leadership, management and selling circumstances.
My upcoming program for senior sales leadership is called, “The 3 Ms” based on the ideas of mindset, mechanics and magic. I built it because often the least invested in position is the one of sales leadership, yet it has the highest leverage for performance. If you are interested in learning about it or the upcoming start of our next Academy sessions, click here to provide us your information and we will get right back with you.
The Oddsmaker – What’s Your Chance of Winning?
Vegas has its oddsmakers. These experts evaluate all sorts of data to determine the likely outcome of some event- usually a competitive sporting event. All sorts of information is considered in the calculation- health of the contestants, past win-loss records, positional match ups, even weather. Then they make their predictions.
The good ones have a secret formula that they use that, when combined with their experience and instincts, allows them a higher accuracy than their competitors. They call it their “system”.
For large account sales, I can give you my formula- the rest of the system you have to come to The Academy to learn.
- Start with zero
- Executive Sponsor: If you have a Executive Sponsor, add 30 points
- Buyer’s table: If you have established contact with three or more of the members of the prospect team’s buying group and have met with them face to face, add 10 points. If not, then subtract 15 points.
- The Eel: If you have identified the Eel and are engaged with them in the sales process, add 5 points. If you have not identified the eel, or if you cannot get their engagement, subtract 15 points.
- Hunt team connections: If you have introduced three or more people in a meeting or on-site visit for a period greater than 45 minutes to members of the prospect team’s buying group, add 10 points. If not, then subtract 15 points.
- Needs assessment: Add 15 points if you are able to perform an in-depth needs assessment as a part of the preparation of your proposal.
The reason that a customer made his or her original purchase is very different from why they continued to buy. The customer experience that you and your company provide is never fully understood until AFTER the prospect becomes a customer. When you survey customers why they buy from you, they are actually answering the question of why they stay and grow their business with you.
If you want to do a better job of reaching prospects and crafting your message to turn them into customers, ask customers different questions:
- What was the problem you were having when you decided to hire us?
- What about what we were offering moved you from “interested” to “purchasing?”
- What was your biggest concern about giving your business to us when we first got started?
- Was there anything in your past history with another company that you were watching us for when we first started?
These questions will give you a better sense of the reasons that prospects buy from you and what they are most concerned about when they make that first purchase.