In business, time is money, so the last thing you want is to waste time sitting through a dull detail laden presentation. And as you wonder where it’s heading, you ask yourself why they couldn’t have just giving you the top five bullet points so that you could get on with the rest of your day.
After working on Wall Street for 14 years, I’ve always presented facts and figures to B2B buyers, because that’s how I felt serious business people made decisions. This belief was backed by 2500-years of conditioning. It started when Plato said that man is rational, and that it’s our emotions that interfere with rational decisions. But recently I had an experience that called this belief into question. And then shortly thereafter, I was presented with a compelling study from neuroscience that also refuted this belief. So when these two events collided, the myth that buying decisions were strictly rational was busted. I now understood why customers get stuck in analysis paralysis, and what I could do to help then to avoid it.
Everyone is talking about how sales & marketing must now learn how to deliver insights to their customers, because the internet has changed how people buy. So by the time a customer now engages a salesperson, they’re already 60% of the way through their buying cycle, because they’ve done most of their research online. So they don’t need more information from a salesperson. What they need is insight into what the information means.
But what is insight, why is it important, and how do you deliver it?
Well, when you get sick, do you ever go onto WebMD before you visit the Doctor? So when you show up at the doctor’s office, all you want him to do is to write you a prescription for what you feel you need? And if the market for buying prescription medicine was truly competitive, wouldn’t you also be looking for a better price?
If I told you that a fact, wrapped in an emotional story, is 20-times more memorable[i], would you believe it?
I didn’t at first, and neither do most people. That’s why we continue to throw facts against the customer’s wall, and watch them stick like they are coated with Teflon.
In fact, I continued to load customers up with facts until I personally experienced the power of an emotional story to make a dull fact unforgettable a few years ago at my son’s soccer game (see video of story live below).
And when the decision was made by SAP’s CEO, Bill McDermott, it becomes a great story.
- Why, for instance, did Bill feel that the role of Chief Storyteller was so important that he personally recruited Julie Roehm 18-months ago for the role?
- Why did he hire a B2C candidate for a B2B role?
- And with all of Bill’s experience (Sales Xerox, President Gartner, Exec VP of WW Sales & Operations Siebel, and CEO SAP), what insights can we gain from his decision?
Joel needed new customers. But he found that he wasn’t 100% committed when he picked-up the phone, because his fear of rejection made him apprehensive. It felt like he had one foot on gas, and the other on the brake. And because customers sensed that Joel wasn’t completely sold, they weren’t interested in what he was selling, because no one wants to be rescued by a drowning man.
So Joel’s turned to his VP of Sales for advice, but he didn’t find being told to ‘just suck it up and make the calls’ particularly helpful.
Fortunately Joel loved to read, and he was shocked to discover that his fear of calling new clients was due to an overactive instinct of survival.
Two years ago Gord Smith, a Partner at Ideaca (one of Microsoft’s largest partner in Canada), hired a bunch of new salespeople to hunt for new business, because he knew the partners were too busy servicing clients (click for video).
When I asked for more details on how a customer could use our product, Tim, our Managing Director, joked: “Michael, you’re in sales, you’re too stupid to understand.” But the sad thing was that this was what he, and his delivery team really believed. And when I wanted customer stories, I only got the watered down versions from marketing. Because marketing didn’t trust sales to properly share these stories with customers, they had the executive team sand off the rough corners that made the stories interesting- to the point that they were useless. So there I was standing outside the walls of customer knowledge, trying to prepare for a potential customer meeting with the few scraps of information management decided to throw down to sales.
Salespeople are selling blind, because they are not being coached on customer knowledge. Without an accurate customer map, they can’t link their capabilities to their customer’s pain points. This results in lost sales, because customers are left to try to figure out why it makes sense for them to buy, or even worse, why they should care.
We’ll show you how simple it is to find, and then fill customer knowledge gaps. And your sales team will do it in as little as 10-minutes a week.
Simply have one of your salespeople share a relevant customer 2-min. story each week, and then have their peers provide feed-back.
By recognizing the difference between a customer story that “Sells” vs. a story that “Doesn’t Sell,” you can see for yourself how your own customer stories can be changed so that they inspire prospective customers to buy, instead of providing them with no reason to change.
The mistakes made in the story that “Doesn’t Sell” are common. Because the effects of not having the Seller’s capabilities are abstract, the story doesn’t make the Buyer want to change, because the risks don’t feel real.
Without making the risks of not having the Sellers capabilities feel more real than the risk of change, the Buyer will stick with the status quo.
The results are in, and it’s time to fire 15% of your sales team. But do the numbers tell the whole story?
You know, for example, that a rep’s sales can also be negatively influenced by: a) a competitor in the rep’s territory who is a star salesperson; b) a string of bad luck that may turn around, and; c) some salespeople take a little longer to turn around.
You also know that buyers today buy differently, so instead of just letting go of the poor performers, wouldn’t it be better to go through your sales team to see who is capable of prospering in this new sales environment, and who isn’t?
But will another sales process or sales methodology really help?
Most companies have tried 2-3 of them, but have they helped salespeople sell more? A sales methodology or process may provide better reports to management, and improve the sale team’s efficiency; but right now, do you really need to better forecast poor sales, or does your sales team really need to be more efficient at doing the wrong things?
Story scenario: Imagine you are the VP of Sales for Software USA. After an overnight flight, you are walking over the Waterloo Bridge in London on a sunny April morning. You are on your way to the biggest interview of your life- to run your European operations.
After investing over $1,000 on a new wardrobe for this very important interview, you sidestep a puddle, to avoid getting your new shoes wet. Just then, out of the corner of your eye, you see a small girl fall off the bridge into the frigid water below. As she cries for help, without thinking, you jump in to rescue her.
As you emerge from the river, you notice that your suit and shoes are ruined. But that’s quickly forgotten, when you look down into the frightened girl’s eyes, and realize that she is just about the same age as your daughter.
The sales challenge: You may be surprised to hear that your biggest competitor isn’t another company, it’s the customer deciding to do nothing. Customers will not act, as long as the status quo is supported by:
I remember when the CEO invested in what I, the VP of Sales of a mid-sized company, felt was a foolish amount of money on a new Marketing Director. But what really bothered me, was what the new position represented, change.
Although my sales team was exceeding quota, the landscape changed. And I knew if I didn’t change, I’d get run over.
More important, how will you get past this irrational wall of resistance, and make the sale?
Not only will these questions be answered, but more important, you’ll receive a complimentary guide with simple and practical steps that you can start using today, so that you can inspire our customers to step out of the status quo, take action, and invest through you into a better tomorrow.
Ditch the pitch and have business conversations was the strap line on the front page of my web site.
And yet only 10% of sales people seem to be able to do this. So how does that help the other 90%? And what about the top 10% who sometimes need to present?
As I watched my son’s soccer game in the rain, the clouds grew dark, and thunder quickly followed.
“If there’s lightning, we’re in a bad place ” warned the CEO of Colgate. “But we’re right next to a tall light-post” I countered. “Yes” said Scott “ but it needs to be grounded, otherwise lightning can travel horizontally, and then… we’re toast.”
Oh please, I lamented, not another overly cautious warning. As Scott droned on about the dangers of lightning, I drifted away, and thought that Scott may know a lot about toothpaste, but meteorology… I don’t think so.
To find out how to challenge the customer’s thinking without challenging the customer, I asked Matt Dixon, co-author of the Challenger Sale and Executive Director of the Corporate Executive Board, for the answer. (Click here for video interview).
Q: How do you challenge the customer’s thinking without challenging the customer?
A: If we’d found that The Challengers were obnoxious and aggressive; we’d have called them The Jerk not The Challenger.
Q: Are stories the most effective way?
That’s a bold statement made by Neil Rackham, the researcher behind 10k salespeople and 35k sales calls in the 70’s that lead to SPIN Selling.
After interviewing 20k salespeople, Matt said that they found that salespeople fell into 5-catagories; 1) The Hard Worker; 2) The Challenger; 3) The Relationship Builder; 4) The Lone Wolf and; 5) The Reactive Problem Solver.
According to Sales Benchmark Index, only 57% of salespeople achieved quota in 2011.
Why? Did they lack motivation or a sense of urgency? Well, according to a recent study, only 1 in 7 seriously at risk heart patients were able to follow through and make the “change or die” lifestyle changes- diet, exercise, and no-smoking. That’s right, only 1 in 7.
In an interview with Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of Marketing Profs (360,000 members and the largest community of marketers in the world) and co-author of Content Rules, she talks about the need to create killer marketing content so that you can attract sales leads instead of having to chase after them.
The three takeaways from the interview are:
Remember how he went from zero to hero.
In 1999, for example, facts & figures Al Gore was considered by the American public, according to a Washington Post poll, to be “very boring” or “somewhat boring.” That’s so cruel.
However, in 2006, Al Gore changes his approach and learns how to deliver his message through story in the hit presentation/film an “Inconvenient Truth.” He’s now a hit and wins an Emmy, an Oscar and a Nobel Peace Prize.
• Make your value propositions stick like Velcro by telling relevant and memorable stories that inspire your customers to take action.
• Think on their feet since every sales situation is different.