«Premeditated Selling Tools for Developing the Right Strategy for Every Opportunity Steve gielda and Kevin Jones © 2012 the American Society for ...»
Tools for Developing the Right Strategy
for Every Opportunity
Steve gielda and Kevin Jones
© 2012 the American Society for Training & Development
All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America.
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Library of Congress Control Number (print edition only): 2012940628 Print Edition ISBN: 978-1-56286-844-4 PDF eBook Edition ISBN: 978-1-60728-741-4
ASTD Press Editorial Staff:
Director: Glenn Saltzman Community of Practice Manager, Sales Enablement: Mike Galvin Associate Editor: Stephanie Castellano Design and Production: Lon Levy Cover Design: Ana Foreman Contents Preface
Chapter 1: Thinking and Acting Strategically
Chapter 2: Understanding Buying Factors
Chapter 3: Managing Key Players
Chapter 4: Knowing Your Environment
Chapter 5: Influencing the Competitive Landscape
Chapter 6: Quantifying Value
Chapter 7: Pipeline Management
Chapter 8: Developing a Sales Coaching Strategy
About the Authors
About Ignite Selling, Inc.
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Preface We have been working with sales leaders in Fortune 1000 companies for more than 15 years. During that time alone there have been many books written on strategic account management and many training programs developed with the intent of helping salespeople become more effective when working with their top accounts. A few years ago, we were working with the vice president of sales at a large Fortune 1000 company. This person told us that he needed a way to help make the company’s strategic account management process more actionable. He wanted a way to help his team think and act strategically. He wanted his team to be more proactive in analyzing the multiple opportunities within a single account and be smarter in the way they put together a strategy to win the business. This VP needed his team to be able to use the strategic account management process in a way that would help them determine where they should invest time, who they should invest time with, and which strategy would best demonstrate the company’s ability to help their customers achieve their business outcomes.
We assumed that since this company had already implemented a reputable strategic account management process, they had every tool they needed to be successful. Unfortunately, we were wrong. Instead the
“process” being implemented inside this company was seen by the sales force as nothing more than forms, unnecessary paperwork. And while these forms were excellent repositories of information, they did little to change the way the salespeople approached their business.
The sad reality is that this company, and its VP of sales, aren’t alone.
In fact, there are many companies, of all shapes and sizes, implementing strategic account management processes without achieving the intended results. Our experiences with many other Fortune 1000 companies have revealed that many salespeople are not using their strategic account management process to think and act more strategically when working with their top accounts. Instead, they are merely filling out forms believing they are being strategic in their approach, and unfortunately, their sales managers are encouraging that behavior.
Our experiences with top-performing salespeople show that they know how to think and act strategically. Top performers are more intentional in their strategic account planning and meditate on their approach before acting. Top performers don’t just collect data and fill out forms, they know what data to collect and what actions need to be taken to successfully leverage that data. This book has been written to help you become more actionable, intentional—more “premeditated”—in the way you approach every sales opportunity.
vi Premeditated Selling This book provides you with a set of tools to help you organize critical opportunity data and ideas for how to use that data in developing an opportunity strategy. We broke this book into five segments that are fundamental to any sales strategy. Within these segments we identify the types of information any seller needs, provide tools to organize the information, and ideas to analyze the information and develop a path forward. Each of the segments, although independent of each other, work together to provide a complete plan for a sales opportunity. These tools work. We’ve used them and our customers have used them. Approaching any sales opportunity without them is like taking a long drive without a map.
While this book is intended for salespeople and sales leaders, those individuals aren’t the only ones who can benefit from the application of the concepts. Knowing how to develop the right strategy for every opportunity isn’t going to just help a salesperson win more deals, it is going to help the business manage critical functions that rely so heavily on accurate sales forecasting. Operations will have a better sense for planning, finance will have a better handle on future cash flow. Deals that inexplicably move from “won” to “lost” don’t just impact the salesperson’s commission—they impact the way businesses run.
“there are plenty of books on sales strategy but very few that are as useful as this one. i greatly respect Steve and Kevin’s contribution.”
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Acknowledgments We had a lot of fun writing this book and we are grateful for our many customers that provided us with valuable cases studies: Boston Scientific, Time Warner, Kimberly Clark, Booz Allen Hamilton, CR Bard, MasterCard, Weight Watchers, Lumenis, and others. These customers shared awesome examples of both the right ways and the not-so-right ways to approach strategy. We want to thank them for sharing their trials and tribulations with us and for letting us tell their stories.
Although this book was a lot of fun, it was also a lot of hard work. Stories had to be written and rewritten, models had be created and then re-created. We are fortunate to have colleagues that helped analyze and critique our ideas. We’d like to offer special thanks to Scott Pierce, Neil Rackham, Dick Ruff, Janet Spirer, Pam Weber, Bill Schnitzer, Dave Roberts, Robin Dogas, Paul Menichelli, and Bob DiSilvio.
And of course we couldn’t and wouldn’t have done this with the blessing of our families. We want to offer up our sincere thanks to Sherry and Kayla Gielda, and Donna, Aidan, and Poppy Jones. We know this book took time away from you that can’t be replaced. We’d also like to extend a special thanks to Richard Gielda, Stacy Gielda, and Bob Jones for their support and encouragement and for acting as a sounding board for our ideas.
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Chapter 1Thinking and Acting Strategically A darkened plane at 35,000 feet—a late-night flight home from a tough client meeting—is a great place to reflect. And on this flight, there is a lot to reflect on. A deal had been lost. This opportunity had seemed a sure thing, a sure thing that was now dead. Why? A mental post-mortem of any sales opportunity is—or ought to be—inevitable, especially for an opportunity that slid inexplicably from the “won” to the “lost” column. Questions of what could have been will haunt your thoughts.
What was missed? Was the pricing model off? Did a key influencer get overlooked? Was my competitor’s solution really better than mine?
Ultimately, salespeople on the losing side are desperate to know why their opportunity went south.
Chapter 1 And You Think You Lost Because of Price?
Although much has changed in the field of sales during the two decades we’ve been in this business, one element that hasn’t changed is a salesperson’s readiness to blame a lost opportunity on price. In our years as sales performance consultants, we have asked salespeople the following question countless times: “Why do you think the customer selected your competitor?” By far, the number one response to this question is “price.” It may be phrased in a number of ways, but the crux of the message is, “I couldn’t create enough value for my customer to select my solution over other less costly alternatives.” Ironically, although price is the reason sellers most commonly give for losing a deal, it is seldom the reason customers give for choosing the competition.
Just recently, we were working with the sales team of a large software company. Part of our project was to evaluate lost opportunities in hopes of finding out what was going wrong. Salespeople inside this organization clearly felt that the majority of deals lost were due to noncompetitive pricing. In fact, in the evaluation of these lost opportunities, salespeople blamed price for the loss in more than 75 percent of the cases. In post-mortem interviews with clients, however, we heard a different story. Not only was price not the number one reason customers chose an alternative solution; price didn’t even make their top three. Instead, customers provided other reasons for selecting alternative solutions, such as not being comfortable with the company’s level
Thinking and Acting Strategically
of post-sales support, the lack of efficacy data for the product, the ease of use or training curve of implementing the new product, and so forth.
The fact that price was rarely mentioned as a deciding factor came as a surprise to the salespeople who had worked with these customers.
How could they have overlooked the real reasons their customers went with the competition?
The sad truth for our client—and for many sellers on the losing side— is that there was little understanding of the buying process the client was going to use, who was going to be involved in the process, and which factors were going to be important when evaluating alternatives.
What do you do in the absence of good information? You make assumptions about what’s important and why. Sellers will approach clients by emphasizing product strengths and attributes that they believe are important. They will anticipate issues and challenges that have presented themselves before. Sometimes a salesperson will get lucky in this method and hit his mark, but more often, he will not. Acting on assumptions, letting history solely influence your approach—in short, depending on luck, makes for a pretty poor sales strategy.
Getting Ahead of the Curve With enough analysis, and the right customer resource, any salesperson can uncover the real reason an opportunity went south. Unfortunately, having this knowledge doesn’t change anything—the deal is Chapter 1 done, and you came out on the losing end. But wouldn’t it be nice to have known the reasons you lost before the deal was actually over? If you had known you were in a losing position, what would you have done differently? The process we provide in this book, when used appropriately, can minimize the need for lost opportunity post-mortems by helping you win more and lose less. It will help you understand where you stand in the eyes of the customer, by highlighting your strengths and revealing your vulnerabilities. Gaining this insight allows you to act before it’s too late. And while the information you procure may prompt you to take a variety of actions, from modifying call points, to bringing in additional resources, or simply walking away, it is this ability to act on good information that will alter your outcomes.
During the 2000 United States presidential election, Will Ferrell performed exceptional impersonations of George W. Bush on Saturday Night Live. During one such performance, Ferrell’s character was asked to sum up his presidential campaign in one word. Ferrell’s response was as memorable as it was brief—“strategery.” As laughable as the word is, it may just be the best summation of the process many salespeople employ when approaching major sales opportunities. Many salespeople spend time gathering account information; they then put that information into a company-mandated account strategy “form,” and then they sit through an agonizing meeting that management
often calls an “account planning session.” Unfortunately, these meetings are more like an interrogation of the sales rep so that the manager can be brought up to speed on the account. There is very little value created by this process—this is strategery.
What Does “Premeditated Selling” Mean?
We struggled in coming up with a title for this book that would reflect the value of the solution we present inside its covers. We asked ourselves countless times, “What is it that we hope people will do differently after reading this book?” The answer is simple. We want people to give more forethought to how they manage a sales opportunity. We want them to develop more proactive strategies that will help create opportunities for success. There were a lot of terms we could have used in our title, but we settled on premeditated because of its direct meaning—“to meditate, consider, or plan beforehand.” Putting aside the term’s association with well-planned crime, the definition was an exact description of what top salespeople do when working on an important sales opportunity—they meditate, consider, and plan beforehand.