Hunt Big Sales Blog
Insights for Finding, Landing and Harvesting Whale-Size Accounts
Latest "Sales Skills" 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 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.
At some point, we all say dumb things. It is natural and human, but for all our communication abilities, salespeople can say the darnedest things!
I have compiled some classic ones below, but hope that you will add to the list with your own. Think of this as the list of things to never say if you are a salesperson.
“It could be huge!”
We have used this four-word exclamation in almost every seminar we have ever given. However, when a salesperson says it, they’re asking for the owner to either berate them for exaggeration, or pepper them with questions. A salesperson knows that both of these reactions are painful, and yet can’t help but say it anyway.
“It could be the next . . .!”
Like the previous statement, this statement comes jam-packed with assumptions and pixie dust. Of course, the worst of it is that the salesperson thinks that the last really big deal that was brought in looked just like this one. Now, he/she is not only subject to the wrath and ire of the boss, but also to that of all of his/her co-workers, since they’re going to have clean up the mess that “the next” creates.
“This is going to be fairly easy … We only have to do a couple things different than usual.”
Whenever the salesperson starts talking about how easy someone else’s work is going to be, she has lost the audience. It is never as easy as they think, because they don’t have to do the work.
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.
Last week I shared how sales management has changed. Today I am sharing the top three skills sales managers need to succeed in this new era of sales.
The “State of Sales Productivity 2015” study by Docurated found that only one-third of a sales rep’s day is actually spent selling, while 31% of their time is spent searching for or creating content, and 20% is spent on reporting, administrative and CRM-related tasks. Nowadays, 44% of B2B organizations do not verify if the business is valid before passing it to sales, and 50% of leads come from outside the standard process, according to a study by IKO System. This all adds up to a lot of wasted time and effort for both sellers and sales managers.
While companies may have been able to get away with wasting time in the past, companies that want to make it in this new fast-paced era of sales will have to have a laser focus on the activities that drive results. There is no room for dawdling. What’s the solution? Better sales management.
Below are three sales management skills necessary for thriving in the new era of sales.
1) Selecting targets.
There’s an adage that salespeople talk to whomever will talk to them. In the new world of selling, your responsibility is to make certain they are talking to the decision makers who can approve large opportunities that will come to fruition in the near future. Working with sales leadership, you must establish a filter that helps to define the most likely candidates for higher-opportunity sales efforts.
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.
I met with a master of the relationship pitch recently. He is an artist. I’ll hit some highlights of what he did:
- Researched me and everyone on my team in advance of the meeting
- Dug deep on our website and the internet regarding our company
- Followed up his initial phone call with a detailed and specific email summarizing the phone call and the agenda for the next steps
When we met, he was friendly, charming, confident and engaging. This should have worked. We should have connected, built trust and we should have bought from him. In fact, he made friends, we did connect and all of us trust him- we just did not buy. Why? He was not relevant to our business, only to us as people.
This sales person came from the perspective that trust is the highest importance in building a sales relationship and being liked is a part of that. The current world wants those things along with relevance and value. That’s where he missed.
Here’s what he should have done in addition to connecting to the people:
- Determine what the problem is that we need to have solved. He did not know and he never asked.
- Research the competitors to our business and the threats that we face so as to position his offering in alignment with what we are trying to overcome.
- Offer us a clear picture of why his offering would fix our unique problem.
It is going to be hard to tell this sales person no, he is a real charmer and I like him.
It is hard for anyone to feel deterioration or appreciate prevention. You can only really feel relief or crisis. If you sell qualities such as reliability, your buyer can only truly understand it if they have experienced failure.
This is why inexperienced buyers are so dangerous in the buying process and why financially motivated buyers are risky for their companies. They do not have the context for evaluating the pitfalls of poor choices. Presenting the true benefits of the right partner to an inexperienced buyer often means little to them. They do not have relevant experience to evaluate the difference between an acceptable choice and the right choice.
What to do:
- Be relevant and specific in your examples. Your case studies must not be about market risks or disasters in general. It is too easy for the decision-maker to say, “We’re not like that.” Your examples must be business and industry relevant to create a true sense of risk.
- Define “good” versus “great.” Inexperienced buyers still have a general understanding of good versus bad when considering vendors. Their purchasing rubric has been defined to aid in that. What is missing is the rubric of good versus great. That comes with experience. Scare the buyers with the risks of bad choices, but also present what great choices offer.
- Bring a positional voice. I equate taking sales people to meet with finance people like taking a knife to a gunfight. Finance oriented decision-makers value someone who speaks his or her language. Take someone from your finance or purchasing department to the presentation or have him or her on a call to help financially oriented buyers to sort into their language the buying criteria
Time is your greatest asset. Follow these five steps to better manage your time and you’ll see your performance improve in less than 30 days.
I was recently asked by an MBA class what were the top recommendations I would make to business owners, CEOs, and new entrepreneurs looking to make the most of their time. Whittling it down to just a few was tough, but here are my top five recommendations:
- Figure out your $1,000 hours–Not all of your hours, or anyone’s hours for that matter, are of equal importance to the success of the business. Some hours are priceless and some are worthless. You have to figure out the things that only you can do; those things that you aren’t able to outsource to anyone else on your team. Typically, if you are rigorous, this represents less than 20 percent of your time. Let’s say these hours are–at minimum–worth $1,000. The balance of your work is probably worth far less than that. The more time you spend in the $1,000 hour category, the more successful you’ll be.
- Avoid time killers–These are the people, activities, associations, tasks, and regularly-scheduled meetings that are eating up your hours. Track your time for one month and you will probably realize that you have some unbelievable time killers that are sucking up your time. Time is your greatest asset and you have to ruthlessly protect it to get a maximum return. . This is not a “one-and-done” activity. Time killers are stealthy and insidious.