Posts Tagged ‘salespeople’

The top 6 sales behavior misconceptions

Thursday, July 11, 2013 @ 04:07 AM
Author: John Smibert

Business Presentation

According to Carpe Diem “Only 9% of Australasian B2B ICT sales reps display best practice”.

A white paper just released by Carpe Diem Consulting raises some interesting questions about the practices of salespeople.

It also raises some key misconceptions they claim salespeople have regarding good sales behaviour.

You can download the full white paper from Carpe Diem Consulting.

I suggest that you read the survey results with some care as we suspect that  the questions were phrased in a way that will help Carpe Diem to position CEB’s ‘Challenger’ philosophy and their consulting services.  However that said ‘The Challenger Sale’ has a lot of merit and the white paper raises some interesting questions. It provides some insight into  perceptions that we salespeople have and need to reflect on. It is worth a read.

One issue is that the paper takes a very black and white view – I suggest there are shades of grey.  What do you think? Do you think these perceptions are an issue? Please comment below if you have a view.

I have briefly commented on each of the 6 sales behaviour misconceptions as postulated by Carpe Diem:

1. Is building relationships important for success? 87% believe it is.

Carpe Diem’s view: They debate this saying the focus should be on challenging the customer.

My thoughts: I believe building relationship and challenging the customer are not mutually exclusive, in fact they are related and both are key to success. Challenging the customer, if well founded with sound research and good insight, will in fact help build trust in the relationship. And a good relationship will help you challenge with credibility.

2. Is sales a numbers game?    72% believe it is.

Carpe Diem’s view: They claim that these salespeople miss the point – they say “The key is to stop ambulance chasing”, get in early, disrupt the customer’s thinking with insight and thus increase your win rate by reducing the number of lost deals.

My Thoughts: I totally agree with Carp Diem. Getting in early and influencing with insight is essential. And then if you cannot get traction getting out early is even more vital. Spending time on opportunities that are going nowhere is the biggest time waster in my experience.

3. Is responsiveness and attention to detail key to winning?    91 %  said it was.

Carpe Diem’s view: They again debate this.  They say “the real sales winners are the ones that can change the customer’s way of thinking. Engaging early and challenging the customer to change their way of thinking produces conflict but steers the prospect towards your company’s unique strengths.

My Thoughts: I agree with Carp Diem however again they are not mutually exclusive – if you are not responsive or screw up on detail you will badly impact your relationship which in turn will reduce your influence – thus impacting your ability to change the customer’s way of thinking.

4. Should the salesperson’s goal be to remove any conflict from a sales situation?   64% said it was.

Carpe Diem’s view: Avoiding conflict does not allow you to engage with the buyer early enough on the buyer journey. They imply that the important activity of challenging the customer will create conflict and is unavoidable.

My thoughts: I am not sure how Carp Diem define conflict.  Challenging the customer should not create conflict if done with tact and good intent.  Also good salespeople are good conflict managers.

5. Does future sales success depend on personally following up all pre-sale promises? 87% said yes.

Carpe Diem’s view: They argue that follow up is essential but it is not the salesperson’s job.

My thoughts: An interesting question that prompts me to say “It depends”.  The salesperson’s relationship with their customer  is dependent on a trusting relationship between companies.  That trust will be broken if the company does not meet its commitments.  That said it is not the salesperson’s role to manage delivery or get dragged into delivery activity.  However a salesperson who walks away and totally trusts their delivery people to meet all the commitments without intervention is living in a fools paradise. There is grey area there.

6. Should salespeople actively keep the customer moving through the buyer’s journey?     32% said yes.

Carpe Diem’s view: Following the purchasing process as defined by the buyer is dangerous. It can get stuck.  I think they imply that there are times when we need to challenge and influence change to the buyer process.

My thoughts: I totally agree.  Firstly we need to be totally cognisant of the buyer’s process.  And then we should be exploring where it needs challenging and where appropriate driving change in that process for the good of the customer.

 What is your view – please comment below.

Is the B to B salesperson being disenfranchised? IBM is not alone.

Monday, May 13, 2013 @ 08:05 AM
Author: John Smibert

When the IBM CEO Ginni Rometty recently blamed her sales force  for missing the company’s results it should ring alarm bells for salespeople.


(Photo of IBM CEO from Wikipedia)

It seems that the B to B salesperson is being disenfranchised. Advances in buying practices and tools have disinter-mediated the selling process.

  1. Customers perceive that they get limited value from salespeople

McKinsey research shows that enterprise buyers do not perceive value from salespeople and want to see less of them. This is reinforced by Brent Adamson and his associates writing in the in the Harvard Business Review

  1. Sales forecasts are consistently not being achieved

Company reports have too regularly blamed poor forecasts for poor financial performance.  No longer can the GFC be blamed. Can we blame the company’s sales system and process? Can CRM be the problem? Or is it the salesperson’s fault?

  1. CEO’s do not trust their sales forecasts, and lack faith in their sales people

It is becoming a common cry of the CEO’s. A classic example was the public criticism by the IBM CEO of her own sales organisation. And there are a flood of other CEOs with similar cries. In a Forrester post by George Colony he states CEO’s had “scathing feedback” about their sales force.

  1. The Marketing and Sales relationship is dysfunctional

Marketing blame sales and vice versa.  But the only the customer can give us the true status – and without delivering a valued buying experience we won’t find out that status.
How can the salesperson win back the trust of the customer and that of their own company executive?  How can they interact more effectively with marketing? And most importantly how can they regain control of their own destiny?

Whatever the answer I suggest it will need to enable the salesperson to gain the ability to positively change the customer buying experience every single time they meet – and particularly at the first contact.

Am I right? What are your thoughts?

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