Fundamental Premise: Over the years, sales has evolved from rapport-based selling to product knowledge-based selling to solution-based selling. The new era is results-based selling to help customers achieve their business results. “Executives are counting on salespeople to bring the [high ROI] ideas, advice, perspective, information, and wisdom.”
I. Successful salespeople demonstrate the following qualities
- Customer Business Understanding: Understand their customers’ strategic business goals and challenges including (i) the needs of their customers’ customers, (ii) the global, marketplace, and execution trends affecting their clients’ businesses, (iii) their customers’ value chains. This requires strong financial acumen.
- Customer advocacy
- Accountability, integrity, and honesty: Through “a pattern of consistent follow-through [especially during implementation]” to ensure results are realized. Provide technical and training support.
- Customer satisfaction: Personally manage satisfaction and express appreciation. “One key is being upfront from early in the sales cycle of about problems likely to occur regardless. Of vendor. A second step is sharing stories of typical challenges and how they’ve been addressed in other implementations.”
- Partnership: “For many executives, the Holy Grail is a strategic ‘thought-partner’.” “The new job of the salesperson is to understand the business case the decision-maker has to make and then help supply the metrics or the data to build the case… This is about plugging into someone’s management system.” Build a network of relationships with the customer’s company. Create value by helping the customer through the change process.
- Problem-solving: “The best salespeople no longer come to a sales call with a whiz-bang PowerPoint presentation. Instead, they engage their customers in interactive, value-oriented discussions.” “To sell effectively, they have to help the customer define a problem, assess options, [recommend productions and applications expertly,] and implement a[n] [innovative] solution.” In addition, solve logistical and political problems.
II. Successful sales managers demonstrate the following qualities:
- Coaching & development (as opposed to command-and-control). Also, filter the demands on salespeople’s time
- Resources: Integration of key skills (territory assignment, hiring, compensation, motivation, quotas, etc.), processes, and technologies around the customers’ needs and the results they desire
- Selection and job assignment
- Engagement (aka Motivation): Optimism
- Reinforcement: Recognition, rewards, and one-on-one exchanges
III. Successful sales leaders demonstrate the following qualities:
- Make customer satisfaction and loyalty part of the regular scorecard
- “Create a customer advisory panel and host regular meetings to assess their points of view, needs, interests, and perceptions of your company’s performance”
- “Regularly schedule executives from across your organization to visit customers”
- “Perform win-loss interviews with customers and prospects, and share the results internally”
- “Recruit new salespeople who match the profiles of your top performers”
- “Require that managers have development plans for every salesperson on their team”
- Ensure key account plans exist for the 20% of customers that generate 80% of revenue
- “Keep your organization customer-focused and customer-centric.”