The “FRANKENSTEIN” SALES APPROACH

You may recall author Mary Shelley’s story about scientist Victor Frankenstein, who creates a ridiculous creature in an experiment by mixing and matching different body parts….So what does that have to do with selling?

Too many sales leaders, sale people, and organizations in general we have worked with over the last 15 years will say when asked about what sales approach they use:

We took something from the training we had a few years ago, picked up some things from a new book we read, learned some things from my peers, my last sales manager taught me a few things, and we combined that with our own experiences and that is the core of our approach.” If you are a seasoned sales professional, and any of this answer remotely describes your approach to how you sell, you might be using the “Frankenstein” Sales Approach.

Let me be the first one to say there is more than on way to sell. A consistent results orientated approach is what you should be subscribing to. An approach that addresses sales in a practical way that offers duality. The duality of having a proven, time tested, approach and the freedom to allow you some room to make prudent decisions along the way. What we see today is really more of a “make it up as you go” approach, which in general terms is the same thing as the Frankenstein approach.

Frankenstein was ugly, clumsy, inconsistent, and didn’t function very well. Sure he got it right every once in a while, but over time he just didn’t work. As you read this, human nature may lead you to be defensive. You may be saying that the Frankenstein approach doesn’t apply to your team. Really? I challenge you to sort it out with just a few questions:

• What percentage of your sales pursuits, end up with no fruit for your labor?

• How many of your opportunities closed in the time frame you forecasted last year?

• Would your prospects (not clients) consider you a trusted advisor to them or a sales rep?

• Who’s in control of your sales pursuits, you or the prospect?

• Does your team apply a consistent approach to selling or is everything situational? In other words are you making it up as you go with a little of this, a little of that, and a lot of this?

If you have created a mixed bag of parts into “Frankenstein” Sales Approach and it is netting the consistent results you want and need, then great! If you are one of the very few that can answer all the above questions with pride and confidence, then by all means continue.

If you have any doubts about these questions, it’s time to consider a new approach. Selling in 2015 is not about relating your solutions to people. It’s about relating to people first, so they will be open to consider your solutions. What if your team’s consistent sales approach included:

• Controlling the sales cycle – not being put in a subservient position with prospects and clients

• Selling directly to decision makers – 93% of sales people sell at least one level below the decision maker

• Becoming a trusted advisor to your prospect – relating to decision makers on their level vs. 1990’s style “solution” or “value” selling

• Lead generation practices – fill your pipeline with qualified, high-level leads, consistently

• Opportunity qualification – not wasting time on unqualified leads and developing inaccurate sales forecasts

• Defining and following a consistent results orientated sales methodology – 98% of sales people do not follow a consistent sales approach

In today’s business world there is no time or patience for a make it up as you go sales approach. We have clients in 10 countries that are passionate about the results they have experienced from our partnership with their firm. Don’t be like Frankenstein and scare off your prospects! Contact us today to learn more about how to employ a consistent sales approach that works!

SBI: Sales Builders Inc. is a dedicated professional development firm that offers organizational assessment, training, and consulting all geared to help organizations transform, thrive, and expand. We’re architects of change and builders of constancy. We’re pioneers of innovation and masters in sales transformation.

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Changing the Tigers Stripes

For prospective buyers, the changing business landscape can become confusing as organizations refocus their marketing messages, targets, pricing models, and solution sets. For many organizations, the most difficult part of this transformation comes in the area of sales. The world we live in has changed over the past several years. Markets are changing and how business is done is also changing. If organizations continue to approach their clients and prospects the same way they did a few years ago and aren’t getting the consistent growth results they want, there may be a correlation.

It is simple human nature to stay inside of one’s comfort zone. A sales professional who has been with a company for years calling on the same departments, positioning a product/solution the same way, and has been succeeding, often has a hard time transitioning to where the organization needs to go. This issue is compounded if the company has not invested in new sales processes, new sales approaches, training, and outside help. It is difficult for a tiger to change its stripes! The most progressive and successful organizations realize this challenge and spare no expense in helping their sales organization- their “Tigers” – to transform into the beasts they need.

I have witnessed organizations around the world recognize the need for change. They change their websites, marketing collateral, the pricing models, elevator pitches, and sometimes their solution set. They hand all of this over to the sales team, and then don’t seem to understand why they don’t get immediate results. Tigers are nature hunters and killers. Even a Tiger will struggle if their hunting ground is changed and the prey they have lived off of for years is switched. Some won’t be able to make the change and will starve.

One of many examples I could site to illuminate this issue: I regularly work with companies where their sales people have been calling on procurement or IT departments for years. With the transformation, the company is attempting to offer a more integrated total communication solution. It then becomes a requirement for the sales team to call on senior executives – the “C” suite. To make this transformation, sale people must learn to become trusted advisors. They need to adopt a new sales approach to sell solutions, rather than products. They can’t continue to sell on price, depend on product features, or even lean on past relationships if they are going to succeed. Organizations have to help their Tigers change and adapt if they want to succeed.

I see one of three things that happen in the transformation process;

  1. The company takes a whip out and cracks it on the Tiger like a circus act.
  2. Organizations take a very passive and slow approach. They allow the Tigers to adapt at their own pace.
  3. The company offers the Tigers new approaches, new methods, trains them, and helps them to thrive.

Some simple questions you can ask to determine which one of these 3 best describes your approach to your Tigers:

  • If you, as President or Sales VP, took your total sales team’s sales pipeline and randomly called company prospects and asked if they viewed the sale person as a “trusted advisor” or a “quota sales rep” what would they say?
  • If you take the same sales pipeline and evaluated who the sales person was spending the most time with, would it be the decision makers or their subordinates?
  • Has the salesperson spent any meaningful time with “the” decision maker?
  • At what point in the sales cycle is the decision maker engaged?
  • Who is in control of the sales cycle?
  • Could the majority of your sales team pass the “Executive Test”?

Do they know the ten common issues the decision maker has?

Do they know why they have these issues?

Do they know the effects of these issues on others in the organization?

Do they know what keeps the decision makers awake at night?

Do they know what gets them fired or promoted?

Can your sales team easily and effectively talk the talk of the decision maker?

Does the sales team talk mainly about your company and solutions?

Can the sales team relate your solutions directly to the issues that the decision maker has?

There are many more questions that can and should be asked. If any of the above questions are answered “No” or “Maybe”, it is very difficult to be a trusted advisor or have any kind of consultative sales approach. If you aren’t really sure of the answers, consider looking at how many sales pursuits the sales team is engaged in every year that ends up with no fruit for the labor. If as an organization you are closing 50% or less of the opportunities that are being pursued, I would suggest you might have some issues that need to be addressed. The issues might be, sales people are not controlling the sales cycle, being view as trusted advisors, their having a hard time transitioning, they aren’t following an effective sales approach, and they need help. Save the Tigers!