B2B Sales is more challenging than ever. Are you following the old herd or leading the new pack?
Customers’ buying habits are changing. The fast pace of technology only accelerates this change with an overwhelming amount of messages and shifting priorities clamoring for people’s undivided attention.
There’s also an intergenerational shift in the workforce as boomers retire and millennials take over which creates a multitude of buyers with different needs. Every one of those individual buyers demands specific valuable insights; something they don’t know, for improved performance from sales teams.
Research from Gartner/CEB states in the shifting B2B executive landscape, alignment of critical stakeholders before any major purchase is highly important. So more people hop on the buying cycle and key people-not as far along in their Buyer’s Journey because of shifting priorities-come in late. Multiple buyers like this in the process result in delays due to repeated activities, frustrating sales teams. Drawn out sales cycles negatively affect everyone involved in your sales campaigns, sales, presales, services and your executives, sapping productivity.
Our research shows the sales teams who struggle the most with the Buyer 2.0 exhibit these “old behaviors”:
They don’t understand and connect with customers personally: People want human connection as well as business results. 90% of all purchasing decisions are made subconsciously(crowdspring) so having the ability to emotionally connect with people in their harried world is more important than ever
They don’t understand the customer’s business problems deep enough to provide insight: Because “customers are coming into the sale armed with better product knowledge than ever before. The average customer is more than halfway through the decision-making process by the time they talk with a sales rep, according to some estimates,” (Agile CRM) oftentimes they don’t have the time or energy to provide the finer points of their business problems. But without understanding the business problem it’s hard to offer insights and differentiation, so talk turns to a well-known subject: the product.
They rush to demo features and functions: It’s not unusual. According to Gartner, 73% Sales reps focus too much on product. We observe that many sales teams rush to demo the features of the product because this is their wheelhouse, but jumping right to knowledge of the product will not cause them to win the deal. If anything, rushing to demo without digging in deep to the problems elongate the sales cycle, confuses the customer, halts progress, and many times causes you to miss the opportunity for understanding. But we all train on, know, and love our product.
Which behaviors are you most guilty of? Are you or sales and marketing guilty of using the same old process and methodology or are you adapting to the new buyer? Quickly adapting to align with shifting customer wants and needs is imperative. How will you leave the herd mentality, set yourself apart, and lead the pack?
Family can bring out the best and the worst in us!
Why is it that what is touted as the “most wonderful time of the year” can bring on such angst and anxiety? According to psychologist Leonard Felder, author of When Difficult Relatives Happen to Good People, “most Americans experience significant tension at one or more family events each year.” Felder found, in a random sample of more than 1,350 people, 75% had at least 1 family member who gets on their nerves (Trespicio, CNN). At least 1? Try 5 or 6!
The holiday season means different celebrations for people, but it always means togetherness, family, and a haul of interactions leading people to fall into two groups as they anticipate the holidays: those who struggle or those elated. With expectations set to have a wonderful time, different personalities, and overall heightened emotions, the holidays emphasize that struggle. How we react to those situations (naughty or nice?) stems from the core layers and building blocks of our personalities.
During the holidays with large groups of people around, understanding ourselves and others comes in handy. While it isn’t practical to start teaching emotional intelligence to each member of your family, slowing down a little to learn how to better understand the people in your life can make for a much happier holiday.
When we start to better understand what aspects of personality drives our loved-ones’ behavior, we can adapt our own behavior to allow more effective interaction, and put it in the right perspective. For example, maybe your mom’s thorough detail-orientation for decorating the house drives you nuts. Why can’t she be like your sister who just takes the decorations and gets it done? But they do things 2 different ways, and approaching both your sister and your mom the same way will be ineffective. It is helpful to know who we’re dealing with, what drives their behavior, and therefore how to improve communication skills.
Having an insightful handle on different personalities, not just family dynamics, is invaluable. That insight will help you adapt to improve interactions, not just around the holiday dinner table but in every aspect of your professional/personal life. In the corporate world, having a positive, fruitful interaction with coworkers or clients begins with knowing who they are as people and their motivators. How effective could the sales and marketing be if they harnessed the knowledge of personality to improve communication skills for sales people and business sales techniques?
American automobile executive Lee Iacocca said it best: “You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.”
Everyone has a core personality formed by the basic principles or nature, nurture, and a combination of the two. While we cannot change our personality, we can grow an acute awareness of who we are, and our nuances. To understand others, the first step is understanding ourselves. Do you accurately know your personality profile? Think about where yourself and others fall on the DiSC personality map below. Start looking at stressful holiday situations differently and they will change. Aim to understand, not escape.
“…we need to know our own personality, as well as others’ personality. That is, the characteristics of each and how to flex our styles for more effective interaction and communication.” (The Art of The Nudge, pg. 73)
Nudge: Whether you are naughty or nice, gather and communicate mindfully to make the most of your holidays.
“2/3 of salespeople believe marketers are wasting time on fancy events and branding activities when they would be better served focusing on tactics that directly impact the sales pipeline. Similarly, the majority of marketing pros consider salespeople boastful and showmen.” (Dan Sincavage B2B Community)
Marketing and sales share the same end goal: gain and retain customers. But different time horizons for results, branding strategies, focus, and methods get in the way of a synchronized team leveraging content. The fast pace of communication in our Digital World exacerbates the conflict between sales and marketing.
Recently, a VP of Marketing relayed to us their marketing department’s discordance with sales. Though they thoroughly researched business sales techniques, Buyer Personae and competitive differentiators, worked with excellent editing and publishing, Marketing still felt like they were throwing clear, accessible content over the wall to Sales. And the VP of Sales agreed with that. His team did not use the provided content as it was too high level, not focused on the current prospect, and difficult to research and find.
Criticism of the current system helped the VP of Marketing understand why his team looked at the successful sales reps as “rogue Agents” blazing their own trail. Furthermore, the VP of Sales was astonished at the amount of time and effort to create usable tools for the sales teams. Both VPs started imagining the productivity gains they could deliver if this all worked differently and cohesively.
CI Squared inquired how this conflict was affecting revenue, costs and profit margins, customer satisfaction or employee engagement. The VPs both laughed and said, “besides the dirty looks in the hallway and exasperation on both sides?” But they began to analyze the effects on the aforementioned areas of business which aligned with major research on sales and marketing operations:
–Energy and resources wasted. Though marketing invests in research, writing, editing, printing, and publishing content, according to Sirius Decisions, 65% remains unused by sales.
–Opportunity wasted If marketing wasn’t spending time on unusable content, what could they be doing? Could these other activities increase productivity and lead to higher revenues?
–Time wasted– According to Aberdeen Group, sales reps spend 43 hours per month searching for the right content instead of selling in front of the customer, wasting valuable selling and customer facing time. What if those 43 hours were used to accelerate a deal, or find a new one?
–Revenue lost-Misaligned content can result in delivering the wrong message that negatively affects the customer. It creates friction, misunderstanding of your solution, the customer not feeling heard leading to longer sales cycle, drawn out buy-in or even loss of a big deal.
Calculating these specific numbers caused these two executives to take action and develop an integrated sales team development plan and collaborative framework for Marketing to deliver content that Sales could use. In addition, they established improved communication skills in the form of a feedback loop for Sales to circle back to Marketing with constructive dialogue and questions. In effect, a common culture and language to increase productivity and revenue was created. CI2 was lucky enough to partner with them on this journey with astounding results.
Despite the enormity of this problem, most executives only see the tip of this massive iceberg. Do you know the magnitude of this problem in your Company? If you think it’s smooth sailing, validate your intuitions with two groups Copyrighters and Sales people. Ask one of your copyrighters how and when sales uses their content. Ask 2 salespeople how they use marketing content and how much time they spend monthly building their own?
If these answers disturb you, we would love to help.
Online news publication VISTA Today sees the impact of their company story
So what do we do? VISTA Today is an online news publication founded by Ken Knickerbocker that celebrates Chester County, Pennsylvania’s quality of place and economic health. They publish positive, concise summaries of the county’s assets: its commerce, cultural, and community news and events. VISTA Today covers events shaping the county, driving economic development, and redefining what it means to live and work in Chester County.
Allison Snavely, VP of Sales, began her conversations with that informative, yet garden-variety spiel when meeting with local companies about being affiliate partners with the publication. She says, “I realized I had gotten stuck in the rut of “who we are and what we do”. It felt inauthentic. It felt like selling.” But that’s how most sales conversations go. We’re all familiar with the “what we do and why you should buy us” format. We’ve grown accustomed to this method of selling the product or service and gaining buy in.
Ken Knickerbocker knew there had to be a different, more compelling way to help people understand who VISTA Today is and what they can do for their affiliate partners. He engaged CI Squared’s story team and through the targeted story gathering and building process, the story of why-not just how-VISTA Today was created, was mapped for the staff to use as a tool to market, sell, and communicate the vision.
Allison changed the conversation by integrating the replicable story into her sales meetings. “I changed my approach. I began each conversation with VISTA Today’s company story: “Ken Knickerbocker fell in love with the news when at the age of 10 he started delivering, collecting and selling newspapers at the dump to earn some pocket money…etc” and saw the difference in my interactions and connections immediately. People connected to the “why” on a deeper level. This story and unique format for telling was the missing piece.”
By utilizing their story over the past year, VISTA Today has seen tremendous growth in their number of subscribers, affiliate partners and relationships. Not only did the amount Allison was able to ask for in each partnership double, but the number of new and renewing affiliate partnerships grew by a similar amount, effectively tripling sales over the same eight month period the previous year.
But differentiating VISTA Today with this story is not magic. Allison realized, “It takes practice. There’s an art to effective storytelling and the information you have to give. I modify what I emphasize in the story depending on who I talk to, making sure to engage them and form the right connection.” While everyone tells a story in a different way, an official company story aligns each teller with the correct information in a structured format that they can modify depending on the situation.
Allison even recalls a few meetings where potential partners connected to specific themes or parts of the story and talked about their own stories and why they do what they do. “They sit up in their seat and tell me about their first job delivering newspapers and how it established an entrepreneurial spirit in them too, just like Ken. There, an authentic connection is made, a value is shared and they’re more likely to partner with us.”
The building and utilization of a company’s story is an invaluable tool that establishes authentic relationships, controls and emphasizes your brand and differentiates your company in a compelling and memorable way.
VISTA Today’s company story connects the seller and the prospect and sets the stage for a foundational relationship, authentic trust and potential partnership that benefits both VISTA Today and the affiliate partner. Allison muses, “We’re all too close to our own story to tell it effectively. Everyone needs help telling it, even storytellers. What better way to talk about VISTA Today, a positive storytelling platform, than through story?”
This month we are proud to have the President of CI Squared, John Geraci, present his point of view on the state of the corporate training world, drawing on his experience in the United States Army.
Do you feel like you’re flushing training dollars down the toilet? Frustrated and a bit angry, yet knowing training your people is key?
Like most of you, I have been a student, buyer of training and trainer for the better part of 40 years. I believe that we all have great intentions with training, but 80% of our training results in very little behavioral change or real business results—WHY?
While pondering this, my subconscious reminded me of a Story… I was a captain in the United States Army, Airborne/Ranger Infantry. After graduating from the Infantry Officer Advanced course at Fort Benning, I was chosen to participate in a major Army Training Initiative which prepared newly inducted soldiers to be more competent when arriving at their unit. It was an honor to be selected and I would no doubt learn from this experience, but it took almost 40 years to truly appreciate training and how to use it to scale operational performance and gain leverage to train soldiers (people) to execute effectively.
The training struggle for the Army in 1980 was two separate training programs in two locations for basic and advanced trainees. This meant programs were executed by separate cadres and instructors. With typical bureaucracy and overhead, precious time was wasted moving troops from one location to another. They also realized that much of the training was disjointed and had to be repeated. After the 16 week training programs, they were graduating high rates of students per class. But field commanders who received these “newly trained” recruits were left incredulous and frustrated at the unpreparedness of these soldiers and used their own time and resources to bring soldiers up to speed.
General Don Starry, Commanding General of Tradoc, wanted to blow up this model and develop a centralized process that delivered highly trained soldiers to their combat units at a lower cost. This went on to be dubbed “OSUT”- One Station Unit Training.
I was asked to help in the planning to innovate the old into new, so we worked with active infantry units to better understand their needs and problems when trainees arrived. Reimagining how to deliver higher quality, enforceable soldiers while linking the training goals to skills that could then reinforce the principles in the field was a huge step forward. With focus, simplicity, and consistency, less could be more. After 18 months of trial and then implementation in the field, the cost, time, and number of resources, cadres and trainers, was reduced to achieve a better outcome. The graduates left experienced and motivated, battlefield commanders were ecstatic, and the Tradoc Commander and Army Chief of Staff were happy with the cost and overall quality increases. I was proud of the small part I had played and was sure that it would lead me to my dream assignment of working at the Ranger Department. The Army had different ideas, and I became a civilian with the blessing of choosing the nascent Software Industry as my new battlefield.
At this point you may be wondering, what is the point of this Story? Who cares that you trained soldiers and left the Army? How can this Story help me? I may not know everything about your company, but I see a lot of companies making the same mistakes. There are too many disjointed training programs with no focus or reinforcement; programs being thrown over the fence with no active alignment with first line management; exorbitant amounts of time and money spent on classroom with very little practice and reinforcement; training departments working very hard but with no clear goals, alignment or collaboration with field leaders.
Here are 4 lessons to think about as you invest your training dollar to help your employees deliver high performance:
Start any idea of a training initiative with the WHY and WHAT in mind? What do you need to change or enhance and WHY? Increasing sales productivity to drive revenue from X to Y; increasing customer service conversations to drive satisfaction and more buying from Sat score X to Y and customer revenue from X to Y; aligning people to an organizational change initiative to increase revenue and decrease the cost of a project? If you do not know the business metrics you are trying to change, you will not really be committed and short change the time and effort to make a difference.
Training is NOT an event. When we trained soldiers to shoot rifles, we not only had 8 hours of classroom instruction, but also had 40 hours of on-range training, both live and dry firing. How many times do you conduct a 1 day or 2-day training and assume that your people can execute these skills post training? How do you reinforce the training? How do you continue to discuss and tell stories about results of training? How do you keep this alive as a core skill for competitive advantage?
First line managers are key to reinforcement and practice. If the squad leaders were not bought into reinforcing the training and working pieces into their Battle Rhythm, these important skills would not be mastered and would atrophy over time. Are your first line managers bought into the training? Do they know how to reinforce and practice these skills in everyday situations so it fits into the natural cadence of their work? Or are they first time participants from training scheduled by some HR or higher-level leader with no energy or passion to help make these skills habits that lead to real results?
Training is a campaign, not an event. The OSUT training program we devised all linked together in a way that reinforced the key modules and integrated into the rest of the soldiers training. There was ongoing reinforcement and field practice supervised by competent first line leaders. The skill did not become an effective and efficient behavior until well after the initial training with the necessary focus and emphasis on using this competency to get results. How often do you have this approach?
Let’s learn the value of training and take from the General Don Starry Commander book and design your next training initiative as a campaign to send your troops (employees) into the field with military precision and the right tools to battle and win business.
CI Squared is a leadership and sales training company focused on communication through Storytelling. We are bringing all of these ideas to our training programs in a desire to innovate or “change the training game”. We deliver real behavioral change to achieve your business results.
The start of the new third quarter and second half of the year is an ideal time to identify changes necessary for a monumental second half. What has gone well and what needs to be tweaked is worth time and reflection. Some people feel uneasy when facing the year-end deadlines… cue the shark music… because they subconsciously know this is the last chance for changes to influence 2017 performance. Taking a break to evaluate how you’ve met goals personally and professionally can be the difference-maker between sink and swim.
Even the big sharks have to pivot to stay relevant and achieving in current climates. Think about this:
A declining Sears franchise has finally struck a deal to sell appliances through Amazon
These are significant improvements, innovations and changes with an expectation of adding shareholder value, increased revenue profits, customer satisfaction and employee engagement. These positive business results sustain life in a company, just as the water that must be constantly pulled over a shark’s gills provides oxygen.
Simon Berg of Ceros wrote, “If you don’t change things (experiment), how can you ever make things better (find out the outcome of your test)? You don’t have to know what the results will be to make a change. In fact, you usually won’t know what outcome to expect. That’s the compelling thing about change–you often end up with a result you would have never guessed. …It’s about making change when something feels broken, could be better, or even just because you’re curious.”
Don’t look back and don’t get comfortable with the status quo. We hesitate when faced with the unknown in front of us because of the comfort associated with our experiences and biases. Inherently, change is necessary and provides challenges and new circumstances. CI Squared’s book The Art of the Nudge tells us: “At the subconscious level, we are already programmed to do the thing we are doing, and it becomes automatic. We have a lot of connections, experiences, and repetitions that make it simple and easy to do. So we are afraid of new things. Our conscious brain puts up blockages; reasons about what could go wrong; and just plain feels uncomfortable.” (pg 43)
We know change is vital and possible, but don’t change for the sake of change. Change-your thinking, a process, a department-to make something better. “Although your automatic reaction comes first from the subconscious brain, you can bypass that wiring with a new story that empowers you to take a different action…We also believe that understanding the story we are telling ourselves to see whether it is empowering us to take the appropriate action, is important. And if it’s not, the story can be nudged. Although our brain connections (superhighways or dirt roads) are developed as we grow, they can be altered.” (The Art of the Nudge pg 47)
What kind of shark do you want and need to be? Do you know what stories you are telling yourself about the changes you need to make to impact your business results in the second half? How can you build a new story that will keep you swimming toward your goals without sinking to the bottom?
Nudge: Stop, slow down and evaluate what in your company or business could benefit from change in the second half of the year.
A picture is worth a thousand words, so they say, but the updated version of that phrase sounds more like… put together the pictures with the words and you’ll experience unprecedented engagement and communications. Undeniably we still live in a text based society, but visuals have elevated the game. Both Twitter and Instagram are storytelling techniques helping businesses succeed in content distribution, sales, and branding.
In a sea of social media apps, Instagram is trending (how ironic) and here’s why… Twitter started with 140 characters of text and evolved into allowing users to add pictures and/or follow links out to the web, white papers, videos, and more. Many times, the final landing spot is far removed from the original post, creating space and time in the “connection”. Industry analysts have called this part of the twitter-net “noisy,” with many external moving parts.
Instagram, on the other hand, has played it cool. The app aims to keep you within their community and asks you to observe one post at a time. The evolution here is that Instagram now strikes a perfect and equal balance between words and pictures with prolific captions, commenting abilities, and an array of picture editing possibilities. They cornered the market for influential storytelling including text, pictures and now interactive responses. Data shows that users agree. Instagram has 400 million users monthly as compared to Twitter’s 316 million. And when engagement is measured, Instagram wins hands-down boasting billions of “shares” within their app world.
We already know why storytelling works, and pictures elevate this tool. In the past, the more bullet points and information stuffed into your PowerPoint was thought to heighten the effectiveness and professionalism. Not true. It turns out, “Cognitive scientists say it’s impossible for us to multitask as well as we think we can. The brain cannot do two things at once and do them equally well. When it comes to presentation design, we can’t read text on the screen and listen to the speaker while retaining all of the information.” (Gallo)
So how do we combat that, and make ourselves the most impactful presenters?
“University of Washington biologist John Medina has done extensive research into how the brain processes information. According to his book, Brain Rules, “We are incredible at remembering pictures. Hear a piece of information, and three days later you’ll remember 10 percent of it. Add a picture and you’ll remember 65 percent.”” (Gallo) Not only will the audience remember it, but the transfer of information happens much faster too. In their research on the subject, the company 3M reveals that visual aids “have been found to improve learning by up to 400 percent….and we can process visuals 60,000 times faster than text.” Powerful data like that motivates changes in what and how we consume and present information.
Like Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai and his new minimalist presentations, let’s begin to consider revamping your typical designs. Who are you more like when presenting? Twitter or Instagram? Comb through and identify which bullet points can be replaced with pictures that tell a story or create an emotional connection. Don’t assume the audience will know exactly what you mean when choosing a picture so do include a concise, relevant explanation. Engagement and understanding will soar. Visuals emerge through language too, so think of how you can set the stage or scenario of a situation in the stories you tell as well. It starts with “Imagine this…”
Nudge: Think in pictures. Look for ways to incorporate more visuals whether it’s verbally or by adding graphics and photography in your presentation.
Have you ever asked yourself why things aren’t changing for you, whether personally or professionally? You’ve done everything you can think of to change direction, but you always end up back at square one. But maybe it’s just that: changing how you think. Whether we know it or not, our subconscious is perpetually at work, feeding us biases and stories. Stories inform emotions, emotions inform actions.
Our conscious brain, what we are actively thinking about, opposes the subconscious brain, what’s going on beneath the surface. The conscious brain methodically deals in facts and figures and can process only up to 9 things at a time while our subconscious brain is a messy composite of deeply influential experiences and emotions, processing millions of ideas simultaneously. This is both fascinating and frightening as we realize that the subconscious could be a great enabler and deciding factor in our actions and thoughts. Story informs your actions 100% of the time, you’re simply not aware of it.
You’re always having a conversation with yourself which results in stories being formed. So stories surround us, but the five stories that are most likely to hold you back professionally or personally are:
The self doubt story. People will know that I’m not good enough or smart enough. These negative stories pile on top of each other until we perceive it as the truth.
The fear of failure story. A story of a past mistake repeats itself. You’re afraid to try something new because you can’t shake the notion that it will go wrong.
The unknown story. Change is hard, so we fear the unknown and our possible inability to handle it. But you are more capable than you know.
The assumptions story. We all assign meaning to people’s behaviors and interpret their actions. Our minds have a way of spiraling out on us. We can’t assume just because Bob didn’t wave to me at work today like he normally does that he is furiously angry at me.
The overconfidence story. You say “I got this. I have it all figured out”. We tell ourselves what we want to happen and hear versus what is happening in reality. Our confidence and judgments sometimes cloud our ability to make the right decisions.
80% of what you said to yourself yesterday, you say to yourself today. You have to engage your conscious brain to first realize that these stories are being told before you can identify what stories are being told. Story creates bias, that bias instructs our behaviors. Start digging deep and figure out the stories you are telling yourself that are holding you back.
Nudge: Tell yourself a new story of positive change!
According to a Gallup research poll, only 30% of the U.S. workforce is engaged in its work. Shockingly, the vast majority of U.S. workers (70%) are not reaching their full potential. Analyzing how and why your employees are motivated is worth investing in to ensure success and productivity for your business.
While many exist depending on the company, there are 2 main reasons why your team is not committed:
Employees focus on WHAT they are doing, not connecting with WHYor their passion.
Leaders don’t have a compelling vision
In our fast paced world today, everyone is moving at light speed and leaders don’t take the time to inspire. Leaders finds themselves lost on what inspiration to tap into because they have not taken the time to ask employees about their passions. So how can we understand peoples’ passion and motivation to help inspire them to bigger dreams and successes? We try to do it with simple words or phrases, but do these attempts truly harness the passions and desires of the team? Does it help them see how they make a difference and ignite their potential for action?
It all comes back to the fundamental basics of understanding people. For true understanding and empathy, you must take the time to listen. Use this information to shift your conversation or Story to one of inspiration.
Gather the stories of your people and understand how to inspire them into action. How can their individual “WHY Story” be tied into the purpose of the company and real business outcomes?
Lead. Your team is looking to you for inspiration – be a beacon of hope and dreams. Make your employees passion the key to your company culture and you will tap into unprecedented excellence in all aspects of your business. Tell and celebrate internal Hero Stories of employees who overachieve and delight your customers.
Communicate your vision/strategy and their role in achieving this success. Explaining the “why” and the “what” to your employees makes empowering them to execute with their own “how” that ignites their 100% commitment, leading to innovation and success.
Have you asked your team “Is this really what you want to be doing with your life?” If you think, NO, then instead of fearing, be open to ask why, gather the challenges and redefine. You may not have all the answers, but be open to asking, telling and sharing. If it is “YES I am,” then find ways to harness this passion on your key activities and projects allowing you to execute with passion. Your colleagues and leaders will take notice.
A passionate workforce is a productive workforce.Everyone benefits from listening and gathering to understand. When the struggles get tough and performance/ productivity starts to lag, you will be able to re-inspire your team if you tap into their WHY and passions. We all fundamentally want to win and succeed.
As quoted in The Art of the Nudge: “Unfortunately empathetic listening and playing back emotions is a rare skill…When you truly believe that someone really knows how you feel, you identify, you feel safe, and you let your guard down. This intent focus by someone else can make you feel like you can be more than you think you can, and accomplish almost anything.” Pg 98 and 99
Nudge: Go deeper than just small talk with your employees. Start a conversation about passion, commitment and purpose.
“It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game,” according to the losers and their parents
You win deals, you lose deals, and some deals are left hanging. You can’t win every one right? Or can you? You can get closer. First, get to know the standard at which to gauge your win rates. In our 3 years of significant research we found the 40/30/30 model, a metric used at end of sales pipelines which represents the average win rate for high performing companies. Most companies who claim to have higher win rates do not measure every deal a real sales person touches. If you have 10 deals in the pipeline you’ll win 40% of them, lose 30% and 30% will be left with no decision. Look at your company’s own win rates then analyze:
1. What’s happening in the good deals? What’s happening in the bad deals?
2. Why do you lose?
3. How much time did sales reps spend on lost deals?
4. Did you understand the customer?
Conducting a lost sale analysis was just the tip of the iceberg for one of our customers realizing why and how they lost a significant deal. This customer, a large software company, brought in their sales team to sell to a customer, yet they did not understand what the customer wanted and when they wanted it. Consequently, their boss had 12 members of the team charge ahead for 12 months on a product for future integration only to bring it back to their customer and have it solidly rejected. The timeline for this product was way too long and the CFO, justifiably, chose a company who could provide correct software quicker. Our customer realized lack of understanding was the crux of the problem. They were proposing a perceived solution that they thought would fill their customer’s needs when in reality, for the customer the benefits were too far out on the timeline compared to the competition.
Time wasted. People wasted. Customer good will squandered. How much do you really lose by competing for a piece of business for this long with no apparent customer solution? They didn’t “lose fast” and move on. They didn’t know to walk away because they did not gather the customer’s story well, understanding them and their struggles. The best of the best know where to focus their time, energy and resources to increase probabilities of winning deals. Lose fast and convert the no decisions. Helping your customer uncover their real struggles is key. Then analyze the implications of those struggles to their business. Who’s affected and why? Is this tipping point enough for them to take action? What needs to shift? Can your company play a key role in solving their problem?
Communication and gathering the whole story and struggles are at the heart of a successful interaction whether you win, lose or somewhere in between. Understanding the customer and their struggles leads to you knowing exactly what they want and what you can offer to solve it. You’ll now know where you can’t win and gain courage to lose fast. Value your time and move on to win the next deal. What would happen to your performance in you changed 40/30/30 into 50/25/ 25?
Nudge: Be curious – Ask open ended questions and LISTEN to gain better insight of your customer’s real struggles. Want to become a better listener and get the whole story? Contact CI Squared to learn more email@example.com.