You could say “so what, who cares.” But did you know that 95% of our purchase decisions, according to Harvard Business School professor Gerald Zaltman, take place unconsciously? And yet, when we seek to persuade c-level executives, we sell almost exclusively to Mr. Rational, and wonder why deals get stuck in paralysis for analysis and end in no decision. Read more »» read more
Everyone in technology knows of Geoffrey Moore as the author of “Crossing the Chasm.” His book has sold over 1 million copies, and crossing the chasm has become a metaphor that is universally used by companies with complex products to explain why they struggle to sell to the mainstream market. But not everyone knows that he is also the godfather of Insight Selling. In March 2009, for example, the HBR published his article “In a downturn, provoke your customer.” In this article, Moore explained why salespeople must provoke their customers with insight if they expect to have their products funded in a slow economy. I sat down with Moore to talk about the inside secrets for Insight Selling: Read more »» read more
If you work in technology, you know Geoffrey Moore is the famous author of “Crossing the Chasm.” This book has sold over 1 million copies, and crossing the chasm has become a metaphor that is universally used by companies with complex products to explain why they struggle to sell to the mainstream market. But you may not know that he also has a PhD in English literature, and this may explain why he is a proponent of narrative based selling.
Q1: Our first question for our guest is does he believe storytelling could help customers cross the chasm? “I am a huge believer in narrative. And if you think about it, particularly before the chasm, it’s 90% narrative.” Read more »» read more
I just had an article published in the HBR. It’s neuroscience meets sales, and it bursts the biggest misconception is sales (click here for HBR article).
The article looks at the sales expression that customers “Buy On Emotion, And Justify With Logic” and it turns out that neuroscientists claim it’s 95% correct. Read more »» read more
These stories are easy to tell because you’re providing proof to a customer who has already recognized that he or she has a problem that your solution can solve. Success stories are effective because they gloss over the problem so that they can focus on the solution as proof.
The problem is that the vast majority of customers at any stage of the sales cycle are not yet sold on why they should change or why they should change through you. Read more »» read more
By recognizing the difference between an insight scenario (i.e. an insight based story) that “pops” versus one that “flops,” you can see for yourself how your own insight scenarios 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 flops are common. Because the effects of not having the seller’s capabilities are abstract, the story fails to make the buyer want to change, because the risks do not feel real. Read more »» read more
Your salespeople would no longer have to chase these empowered buyers down the road of commoditization and discounting, because they would know how to sell value and differentiate your product.
As your customers discovered the unique value of your product on their own terms, your company would achieve higher win rates, shorter sales cycles, and higher margins. Read more »» read more
1- Puts the customer’s ego to sleep
With an insight scenario, you can deliver insights that will only challenge the customer’s thinking, and not the customer. Because insight scenarios are about someone else, the customer does not feel under attack. A story simply presents a scenario that allows the customer to draw their own conclusions. Without feeling pressured, the customer can now relax and listen to your message, and possibly gain enough insight that they start to tell themselves a new story, where new choices make more sense. Read more »» read more
Even though insight is what buyers need, it may not be what they initially want. By the time buyers engage with a salesperson, they may already have an idea of their needs, the solution they believe they want, and what they are willing to pay. So how does the seller use insight to challenge the customer’s thinking without challenging the customer? Read more »» read more
While many companies complain that 80-90% of their salespeople can’t sell value, they are spraying their sales force with product presentations, and praying that their salespeople will be able to figure out why customers should buy their product. But instead of complaining, these companies should feel blessed that they can increase sales by capturing and sharing this valuable tribal knowledge with the rest of their sales force. Read more »» read more
Imagine running a sales team where the last person that your customers want to speak with is one of your salespeople? That’s the conclusion of a recent Gartner survey where Salespeople came in last place after technical and industrial experts, services and support, and senior executives as “the most influential personal interactions across the entire buying cycle.” (click)
So what’s the problem? Read more »» read more
“Colleague Michael Harris wrote this blog post recently, and I couldn’t stop cracking up! I laughed so hard I had to read the story to my husband Tim. He laughed just as hard.
Michael uses storytelling in his sales training, and he uses this story to demonstrate why it works. Just imagine telling this story in corporate language. We’d be bored to tears.
But here’s another way to think about this story. We all have at least one story like this. A story when we screwed up big time. A story about a time we failed. A story about a near miss. A story about good friends who stick around even after misadventures. Read more »» read more
True story. Before a meeting, a potential customer downloads, and then watches 11-videos on SAP’s CRM. So by the time the meeting rolls around, the last thing the potential customer wanted was more information, because they’re drowning in it. All they wanted from the salesperson was insight into three key areas.
So how do you sell value and differentiate your product to these empowered buyers? Read more »» read more
How can you persuade someone to buy your complex product when 90% of your presentation is forgotten within 72-hours[i]?
The short answer is you can’t. Unless you dramatically change how you engage with customers, they won’t understand why they should buy your complex product, because of the limitation of our short-term working memory. Read more »» read more
Selling value to B2B buyers today can feel like trying to stop a freight train that’s hurtling towards the sales graveyard of commoditization and discounting.
Today, an empowered buyer has done research, has a clear idea of his or her firm’s needs, and how much the firm is willing to pay. This type of buyer does not want a salesperson to talk about features and deliver a series of open-ended questions that delivers no value. What this buyer wants is insight. So, how does a salesperson deliver insight so that it challenges the customer’s thinking without challenging the customer? Read more »» read more
With the rise of the empowered buyer, it is no wonder that Microsoft, and SAP have embraced insight selling. But these companies have also learned that there is a gap between theory and the practical application, because insight selling is more than just using data, facts, and brilliance to shock and awe buyers about the error of their ways. Read more »» read more
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. Read more »» read more
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. Read more »» read more
Everyone is talking about how salespeople 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? Read more »» read more
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? Read more »» read more
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. So we continued to throw facts against the customer’s wall, and they continued to stick as if they were coated with Teflon.
I wanted to believe that our value propositions could stick like Velcro, but I couldn’t until I personally experienced the power of an emotional story to make a dull fact unforgettable. And this story took place a few years ago at my son’s soccer game (see video of story live below). Read more »» read more
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? Read more »
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. Read more »» read more
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). Read more »» read more
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. Read more »» read more