Lately, I’ve noticed somewhat of an unfortunate pattern taking hold in sales. Scratch that, the use of “lately” is misleading; the trend has been more or less obvious for years. Here’s the thing: salespeople don’t listen to learn. Say what?!
Here, I’ll repeat myself – all while looking at YOU, sales pro: you’re not listening to your prospect to learn. Instead, you’re listening to sell. You’re listening to hear your prospects utter what you think are key phrases like, “I don’t use video,” or “I use go-to-meeting…” And too often, you’re not getting any deeper, scratching only the surface of what could be a meaningful and potentially lucrative conversation. Big mistake – HUGE!
If we all believe in the virtues of being “customer first,” then why, during that first pitch, do so many of us spend so much time focusing on our product, our service and what we’re selling – thereby missing what matters most? Bottom line, if you want to land that deal, you need to know (way) more about your prospect.
Start by asking a lot of questions and listen (really listen!) to their answers. Learn as much as humanly possible about your prospect’s approaches, methodologies, objectives, pains, and issues – and this includes the context, not just the data.
Look, you’re not paid to simply take orders; you’re paid to influence the customer to buy. And to become a genuine influencer, you gotta LISTEN TO LEARN!
Did this little bit of advice motive you? I sure hope so! But in the meantime, if you’re looking to hear more from me on what it takes to become a serious, problem-centric sales person (i.e. an influencer in the game), check out my session: It’s the Problem, Stupid!, at the 2018 Growth Acceleration Summit— a sales and marketing event held by ZoomInfo, a leading B2B data provider. The event will be held in Boston this June 18-20. It’ll change the way you look at selling and how you manage deals forever. Trust me.
Learn more here: https://events.zoominfo.com/
Use my promo code, KEENAN100, to save $100 on conference passes!
Ok, they’re not exactly sales training videos, but they offer a shit load of value in helping you selling and grow your career.
I’ve been posting sales videos to Linkedin over the past 3 months and they are pure fire, if I do say so myself. I cover topics ranging from motivation to question asking. I cover all types of challenges and issues sales people struggle with.
I created a #hashtag so you can easily find them.
Go to LinkedIn and search #keenanvids and you’ll find them all in one place.
It’s a sales manager’s job to know whether or not a salesperson is going to make quota or not and part of the process is understanding what deals are real and will close, and which won’t.
Deal reviews are the critical tool for sales managers to determine the probability of a salesperson is going to be successful or not in making quota. Unfortunately, deal reviews can be all over the place. We’ve all sat through our share of deal reviews, have run our share of deal reviews or heard the horror stories of shitty deal reviews and know; deal reviews rarely follow any formal structure or continuity.
Deal reviews are a fail in most sales circles.
Deal reviews are one of those things that seem to get little attention when it comes to sales management and sales organization productivity. Yet, understanding where a deal is, and being able to provide valuable guidance of a deal are critical elements of a successful and productive sales team.
Why are deal reviews such a mess and rarely deliver on their value?
Because sales managers don’t know how to run them and salespeople are generally full of shit and overly optimistic. Let’s just keep it real, you all know I’m right here.
Salespeople have happy ears. They interpret everything and anything they hear as a positive sign the deals gonna close. The client loves us. The prospect said they are going with us. They were excited about our product, etc. These useless, overly optimistic boasts provide ZERO value to a sales manager or to the assessment of the deal and its probability of closing.
To make matters worse, most sales managers don’t know how to run a deal review. They ask high-level questions like; Is the deal going to close? What’s going on with this deal? When is the deal going to close? How do you know? Are you talking to the decision maker? Is budget approved, etc.?
After about 4 or 5 of these lame questions, combined with the lame salesperson’s answer from above, everybody walks away happy, feeling good the deal is going to close. Rarely, does the manager or the salesperson question the probability of a win.
And this is how most deal reviews play out. Every deal is going to close. No deal is in jeopardy, and everyone is happy.
But then the end of the quarter comes, and the wheels fall off. The deals don’t close. Deals “slip” into the next year or quarter and nothing happened the way things were supposed to happen. Making it worse, everyone acts surprised.
Being surprised a deal isn’t won is a massive failure in most cases. Salespeople and sales managers can and should know, early, if a deal is going to be won and what the probability is of winning.
To make sure sales managers and salespeople get ahead of the sale and can more accurately predict the strength of a deal and it’s probability of closing, every one of these seven questions should be asked in every deal review.
What problem(s) is the prospect or buyer trying to solve? (Why do they want to buy?) – The purpose of the this question is to make sure the salesperson understands what the intrinsic motivation is for changing or buying something new is. Companies/people don’t buy products or services, they buy things to solve problems, to improve their current state. If your salesperson doesn’t understand what problem the prospect is having, then they can’t effectively sell them anything.
What’s the impact of those problems on the business? – It’s not enough to know what the problem is, you also have to know the impact of the problem on the business and it MUST be QUANTIFIED. The impact to the business provides insight to urgency, and return, opportunity, etc. If the impact of the problem on the business is small, and the rep is unaware, they could be pushing something that will never be sold, as the value to the buyer doesn’t exist. (I see this a lot).
What happens if they don’t buy or solve the problem? – This question is, in many ways, the inverse of the second question. It ensures the salesperson is zeroed in on the right selling criteria. By understanding what happens to the company/buyer if they choose not to solve the problem, the salesperson understands the cost of sticking with the status quo and can assess if that is a palatable alternative.
What are they trying to accomplish? I call this the future state. The future state is the desired vision buyers have to change. It’s why they want to solve the problem. It’s the carrot. The problem is the pain or stick; the future vision is the carrot. If a salesperson can’t cleanly and clearly articulate what the prospect wants to achieve by changing and how they will measure success, they have little information to move the deal forward. If absent, it also doesn’t allow you or the salesperson to measure the value of your solution. When you don’t know the value of a solution, you can’t judge the probability of it closing.
How are they doing “it” today? Too many salespeople are content with what is going on in a customers organization. They don’t spend enough time understanding “how” they are doing it. How is a critical differentiator. Everyone drives a car, but not everyone drives a car the same way. Same in business, your prospects may be using a similar offering, or may have processes that do what you do, but rarely do they do it the same and that’s how you’re able to demonstrate value. By forcing a rep to understand how their prospect is doing what they’re currently doing, you can determine how much value there is in the deal to do it differently. Less value, less opportunity/desire to change.
What are the decision criteria? It’s critical that the salesperson and the sales manager know what criteria the buyer is going to evaluate and make their decision. By understanding what criteria are being judged and comparing that to your solution, salespeople can understand how well they fit and also have the ability to influence the decision. Again, this is the type of information that allows sales leaders to accurately understand the probability of a deal closing.
What’s the decision process? You have to know how the buyer is going to buy if you expect to know if you’re going to win the deal AND when. Who is involved, what are their expectations on demos and trials, and evaluating the competition, and, and, and . . . It’s too easy to forget that the buyer has their process for buying and we need to know it, to assess when and if a deal is going to close.
What’s the next yes? [video on next YES!] This last piece is critical. This is the part of the deal review that uncovers your salesperson’s deal strategy. The next yes is the sale within the sale, what the salesperson is trying to get from the buyer. It’s the thing that get’s the deal closer to close. A rep should ALWAYS be working towards getting the buyer closer to closing the sale and if they aren’t, they are not selling. The next yes is the sale within the sale. It’s what the rep needs to get the buyer to commit to that moves the sale along. It could be agreeing to a meeting. It could be getting the client to share their customer records. It could be getting the buyer to introduce you to the CEO. It could be getting the buyer to agree to a proof of concept. Whatever it is, the salesperson NEEDS to be working on getting the client to commit to something that illustrates their interest and desire to move closer to buying. Without it, your salesperson is simply burning time.
Deals close for a few reasons and only a few reasons;
The prospect has a big problem they want to fix
They want to fix it because it hurts, the pain is too unbearable
They want to get to a better place, they know there is a better world out there if they fix it, a better world they can live/work in.
The cost (time and money) align with the change and what they’ll get if they change. It’s worth it
They believe they the desired future state is achievable
That’s it. That’s what is behind a prospects decision to make a change. Therefore, a deal review only needs to ensure those five elements are present at any time and that the salesperson is making sure your solution answers all those questions. Any other questions or set of questions that don’t help you assess where the prospect is with these five areas, you’re headed in the wrong direction.
Start running your deal reviews with an understanding of how your buyer buy. Use the eight questions above to flush out the problem the customer is having, how that problem is affecting them, why they need to change, and how the impact of the problem is being measured. Once you have this information and can understand what the prospect is going to evaluate and how they are going to decide, the rest is a cake walk.
Deal reviews are that complicated. We just make them that way. Don’t spend more time on them, just spend smarter time on them. The map is laid out right in front of you. Simply follow it.
Supply and demand, you get it. The lesser the supply, the greater the demand. So why are you playing in the high supply side?
Why do you look like everyone else, every other salesperson, every other marketing manager, every other sales VP, every other accountant, dog walker or software developer? Why?
Why do you insist on looking like, acting like, working like and doing your job like everyone else, yet get frustrated that you’re not considered for promotion more often, that it takes you months to find a new job, etc.
Why are you playing it safe?
Differentiation and value are as important to you and your brand as they are to every company, product or service.
Being different decreases supply. It creates “scarcity.”
Being one of a kind increases demand.
Demand = opportunity
Opportunity is the path to success.
Start making yourself scarce. Don’t look, act, work and engage like everyone else. Don’t be part of the heard.
What makes you scarce? Why can’t employers, friends, partners, prospects or customers get what you offer from just anyone else?
When you’re the only place people can get the results they want, you’re creating scarcity and that creates demand — demand for you.
LinkedIn is a great tool for selling, but most salespeople are using it wrong. They’re treating it it’s a telephone or email and spamming people.
We’ve all gotten them (and many of you have sent them). I’m talking about the LinkedIn connect requests that are then instantly followed by some lame pitch or request for your time so push some irrelevant ware on us.
There is a better way and a more effective way and I talked about it on LinkedIn. You can see the video here.
Start by creating a list of all the problems your product or solution solves, both business and technical problems. Make them substantive and real. For ex: If you sell an enterprise video editing software, list all the problems editors, production companies, editing companies, movie houses etc. face with current or outmoded editing software. Be specific, and robust. Make the list as substantive as possible. Don’t list small, inconsequential, problems, list and address real, big, measurable problems.
Once you’ve created your list, outline the impact on the organization/company when those problems exist. How is a company affected by those problems?
Now, write a LinkedIn post or do a LinkedIn video on one of the problems, why it’s a problem editors need to pay attention to, the impact of the problem and ways to fix the problem.
Do this for 12 weeks, or 90 days.
That’s right, go to your list once a week and create a new LinkedIn post or video. Do it weekly for 12 weeks.
Then, everytime someone likes the post or video, go to their profile and click connect. Thank them for liking the video. Go to every comment and comment back then, go to the commenter’s profile and connect with them.
Do this every day for 90 days.
How many people do you think will like your posts?
How many people do you think will comment?
How many of those people do you think will be your target market?
Pay attention, and see who is commenting on more than just one article. Pay attention to their title. Are any of the people commenting or liking, your target market?
If they are, reach out and ask if they are struggling with any of the problems you’ve written about and if you can get them any more information on the issue. Ask them if they are having any other types of problems they’d like you to address.
The key is to engage with their interest and around their timing. Rather than interrupting your prospects and irritating them with cold, uncomfortable, Inmails and connect requests, let them find you, using valuable, usable content. Get your 15 minutes in small chunks on their timeline.
LinkedIn is too robust a platform to use it like phone or email. There is no need to cold call, or do cold outreach on LinkedIn. It’s perfectly suited to drive engagement and connection if you do it right.
Stop the LinkedIn cold outreach. Create a list of the problems your product or solution solves, start talking about and writing about those problems and let your prospects come to you.
Referral selling is the fastest path to an executive meeting! With referral selling, your competition is toast, and you convert prospects to clients well more than 50 percent of the time. In this webinar, LEARN: Why referral selling isn’t the #1 prospecting strategy. What gets in the way of adopting referral selling. How to implement a referral strategy.