Viewing Posts for: Andrea R. Grodnitzky

August 22nd, 2017

Facts, Assumptions and 200 Years of the Poison Apple

selling with facts

We need to make assumptions in life; we would never move forward without them.  However, we need to periodically check, or even change, them because unquestioned assumptions can appear as facts. Proof of this is found in the unlikeliest of places:  the tomato, a plant once so feared people called it the “poison apple.”

Those living in the 1700s frequently became sick after eating tomatoes. Many died. People believed that it was so dangerous that it was classified in a family of plant species carrying the name “deadly nightshade.”

Yet, the tomato they feared was identical to the one we enjoy today. So, why were people terrified of tomatoes? The answer lies in their assumptions.

Many Europeans at the time ate from plates made of pewter, an alloy high in lead. The acidity in tomatoes is strong enough to leach this lead from the surface. For 200 years, they assumed the tomato was to blame.

Even the most faulty assumptions can persist for centuries.

The story of the tomato serves as a reminder of how assumptions can mislead and cause bad decision making — two big threats for people in sales. Pursuing an opportunity or growing an account has a lot to do with making frequent strategic and tactical decisions. If those pursuit decisions are based on faulty information — due to assumptions versus facts — the path chosen can lead to » Continue Reading.

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June 29th, 2017

Value Strategy: The Foundation of Collaborative Account Development

How to Formulate a Value Strategy

Communicating the value created is the key part of collaborative account development. Many salespeople believe that if they win opportunities in the sales process and their account teams implement the solution for the customer flawlessly, the customer will automatically recognize that value has been created. This is a mistake. Value not communicated is value not perceived by the customer.

Four Factors Make Up a Value Strategy

Identify the business environment and business needs: There are trends in the customers’ industry affecting their business. In addition, the customer has company goals, objectives, and challenging issues. Out of these trends and challenging issues arise opportunities to work together to improve the customer’s performance. This includes identifying, and formulating, how the customer defines value.

Generate new ideas: One of the key behaviors of trusted advisors is that they bring new insights and ideas to their customers. These insights and ideas seek to change the status quo to help the customer keep up in a fast-paced and challenging business environment.

Communicate the value to the customer: How can your company deliver value to the customer? Be sure the customer also is told, and understands, how your salespeople can deliver value to the their stakeholder, including the customer’s customers.

Deliver: After your salespeople have worked hard to identify and generate new opportunities, your account team needs to deliver the solutions that deliver value to the customer. This part of the » Continue Reading.

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June 27th, 2017

Shift From a Response Mode of Selling to Shape and Create Mode

Opportunities to grow your business with a major account come in three different modes: Respond, Shape, and Create.

Respond

When salespeople respond to an opportunity, the customer has already identified the issue, the solution, and the expected outcomes. Now, a provider is sought. This is the most reactive style of account development. The scope and budget are usually already set. Pressures on both price and competition are often high. By no means should a salesperson ignore such opportunities. Flexibility is a key element of business. Salespeople should be able to respond as well as initiate. However, responding is not the best way to develop and grow a business relationship.

Shape

High-performing sales professionals tend to focus more on shaping opportunities. This is where salespeople help the customer in defining the issue, the most likely outcomes, and even possible unintended consequences. This is a much more proactive style of account management— one where salespeople may be able to preempt the competition. And even though some opportunities might initially appear to be “respond” situations, if you have a different opinion or broader view, you might be able to shape a respond opportunity in new ways.

Create

The third selling mode is the most ambitious and creative. Here, salespeople create an opportunity. They bring forward insights to challenging issues that are not even on the customer’s radar but will likely have an impact sometime soon. This is the most proactive style of account » Continue Reading.

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June 22nd, 2017

A Collaborative Account Growth Strategy Drives Better Outcomes

Account-Growth-Strategy

It’s common for sales leaders (and salespeople themselves) to look to their large, strategic customers year after year to sustain or drive increased revenue performance. However, the availability of options, decreasing customer loyalty, higher expectations and constant competitive threats are making forecasted business from your best customers anything but a certainty. All too often, account growth strategy and plans are isolated events and are missing one critical component – the buyer.

An enterprise-wide, customer-centric approach to working with strategic accounts is a mainstay of sales organizations that understand that markets change but that customers are always relevant. Because the business environment in which your customers operate has become more challenging, salespeople need to increase their proficiency in identifying and meeting needs to have credibility as a trusted advisor, one who helps the customer decide how to buy and doesn’t just sell.

4 FACTORS AFFECTING ACCOUNT GROWTH STRATEGY (1) Renewed Emphasis on Price

Price has always been important in business. In today’s environment, funding is scrutinized. Customers feel like they should look longer and harder to justify why they are buying a particular solution at a specific price. As pricing pressures increase, more and more firms find customers trying to “commoditize” the solutions that suppliers offer.

(2) Greater Complexity

The business environment has become increasingly complex. An IBM study of more than 1,500 CEOs cited increasing complexity as a major challenge to the managerial and leadership ranks » Continue Reading.

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May 11th, 2017

Sell Like a Team — New Book by Richardson Senior Consultant Michael Dalis

Sell Like A Team Book

The ability of sellers to form teams that add value and present a compelling case to buyers is no longer optional but is required in today’s complex sales environment.

For many sellers, executing a successful team presentation might feel like the luck-of-the-draw, but this is simply not the case. Richardson Senior Consultant and Trainer Michael Dalis demystifies team selling in his new book Sell Like a Team: The Blueprint for Building Teams That Win Big at High-Stakes Meetings.

Team Selling Skills Unlock Revenue

Prior to the great recession and the proliferation of online information sources, team selling was often limited to blockbuster business-to-business sales pitches, but now every sales person in every industry must have the ability to form an effective team to win business. In fact, according to Harvard Business Review, “… the number of people involved in B2B solutions purchases has climbed from an average of 5.4 two years ago to 6.8 today.”

Sell Like a Team offers practical insights into the importance of developing the ability to form effective selling teams that are comprised of both sellers and non-sellers.

According to Dalis:

“… As sellers, we tend to focus on getting our salespeople ready. The sale is often made by more than one person … I’ve got to have a senior person, a subject matter expert, and a technology specialist come and join me. They haven’t had sales training, but they are » Continue Reading.

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May 4th, 2017

Understanding Selling Challenges in 2017: Buyers’ Decisions Insights

buyers' decisions insights

Richardson’s annual research survey of field reps, senior sales professionals, and sales leaders across industries aims to paint a clear picture of existing sales challenges and how they are evolving. We asked 350 sales professionals to tell us about the biggest challenges their buyers face when making purchasing decisions.

26% said combating the status quo would be the greatest challenge their buyers face making purchasing decisions in 2017 21% said comparing their options would be the greatest challenge their buyers face making purchasing decisions in 2017 16% said building internal consensus would be the greatest challenge their buyers face making purchasing decisions in 2017

Buyers can be too comfortable with the status quo, adverse to the risk of something new and hesitant to stretch outside of their current comfort zones. They may be tired of change or skeptical. Even those who welcome change may feel degrees of concern, stress, or anxiety.

Comparing options is made increasingly complex with the more information there is to consider. When sellers present something that buyers consider irrelevant or not tied to their specific issues, it only adds to the noise in decision making.

With more decisions being made by committee, building internal consensus grows more difficult. Sellers who engage all stakeholders, providing relevant insights and demonstrating value, can help move the process along.

Richardson’s Insights into Buyers’ Decisions 

Creating a compelling case to combat the status quo doesn’t just mean sharing impact data. As » Continue Reading.

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May 2nd, 2017

Understanding Selling Challenges in 2017: Closing Insights

Insights for closing sales deals

Richardson’s annual research survey of field reps, senior sales professionals, and sales leaders across industries aims to paint a clear picture of existing sales challenges and how they are evolving. One of the study questions explored challenges sellers face in closing sales. We asked 350 sales professionals to tell us what would be their most difficult challenge in closing sales deals in 2017. Responders provided the following answers:

24% of respondents said competing against a low-cost provider would be their greatest challenge to closing sales deals in 2017 19% of respondents said positioning competing value propositions would be their greatest challenge to closing sales deals in 2017 16% of respondents said creating a compelling case for change to avoid a “no-decision” would be their greatest challenge to closing sales deals in 2017

While the top three challenges remain the same year to year, the percentages add color to the story. In 2016, “competing against a low-cost provider” took 47% of the responses, showing just how keenly this challenge was perceived. One year later, the ranking among all three challenges is more even, an indication that sellers realize the importance and interplay of several elements involved in closing deals. Creating a compelling case against stalled decisions or “no-decisions” takes understanding the customer’s buying cycle and helping customers sort through what matters most in order to find value among the options.

Richardson’s Closing Sales Deals Insights

In today’s information-rich environment, buyers have the » Continue Reading.

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April 27th, 2017

Excellence in Developmental Sales Coaching: Guiding Principles

Core Principles of Developmental Sales Coaching

The goal of developmental sales coaching is to create an environment where team members feel self-motivated to grow, excel, and take greater responsibility for what they do.

Ensure that the seller talks first, last, and most: Developmental sales coaching helps sellers move toward more self-motivated behavior because it meets our inherent psychological needs for: Autonomy: Asking questions to help sellers self-assess and self-discover ways to improve performance gives team members a better sense of control versus telling them what to do. Relatedness: Creating a safe, nonjudgmental environment to learn and grow builds trust and strengthens relationships. Competence: Focusing on addressing performance needs helps seller to feel mastery over their work environment and increases their confidence. Ask more than tell: The heart of the coaching conversation lies in the manager’s ability to engage in a collaborative process to help sellers self-assess and self-discover ways to leverage strengths and improve performance through effective problem-solving. The benefits of coaching by asking are: Shows respect for the team member Opens conversations, which reveals more and better information for both the manager and seller to accurately diagnose needs Gives the manager a chance to identify gaps in their own thinking before giving feedback Shortens the coaching conversation by reducing defensiveness and getting to the underlying issue quickly Increases seller ownership of and buy-in to the solution Helps sellers become stronger problem solvers and more independent by using the process itself to self-coach Gives the » Continue Reading.

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