Category Archives: White Papers
Consultative selling is a method for narrowing the remove between the seller and buyer. By closing this gap, the relationship transcends a “give and take” dynamic to become more of a shared effort to resolve a complex business problem. Reaching this point means embracing these guiding principles.
Exude Conviction, Confidence & Curiosity
Developing skills and behaviors that demonstrate your commitment to the relationship and attentiveness to the details coming from the customer. Bring a strong point of view balanced with a genuine interest in them and what they are trying to achieve.
Connect to the Emotional Side of Buying
In one word, sellers must empathize. Doing so means not simply acknowledging the customer’s challenges but seeking to feel what they feel and understand what they think. Friend/Foe Bias is another form of cognitive bias that tells us we are naturally wired to assess each other’s intentions and to quickly decide if someone is a friend or foe (threat). Seller behaviors must not be manipulative or appear self-serving to avoid triggering a threat response and eroding trust.
Get the customer talking. You cannot move the sale forward without both sides contributing to the conversation. Some buyers are reluctant to offer information which is why effective sellers first give so they can eventually get. Customers will resist opening up if they: are bored, feel interrogated, are asked uneducated questions, » Continue Reading.
It’s time to put the customer back into the conversation. The greatest resource a seller has in winning new business is an honest dialogue. Engage the process as a team. Call upon these core tenets of consultative selling in every buyer interaction.
Sellers need to come prepared. Effective selling begins before the conversation starts. Seek out resources to learn more about the key drivers behind the customer’s business as well as the decision makers and their process. Interactions with the customer are valuable, so be sure to tackle the easy questions on your own before meeting the customer.
Foster openness through dialogue that allows the buyer to feel less guarded about their insights on what they need in a solution. This exchange primes the seller to effectively position value later. All things being equal, the ability of a seller to tightly demonstrate relevance to a specific customer issue or opportunity (rather than simply an industry-wide one) will always be more compelling.
Successful sellers rely on periodic feedback from the customer. This “checking in” ensures that the customer is involved in the conversation. Feedback will reveal if the seller has offered any ideas that are incongruous to the customer’s perspective. Knowing these objections is critical before making recommendations that involve the product at hand.
By creating a dialogue, asking questions, and eliciting feedback, sellers will be well prepared to ask for the » Continue Reading.
Competing in the world of selling today means understanding the changing world of your buyers and adjusting your sales approach accordingly. The biggest change for sellers is that the game has gotten harder, and sellers need to execute at a higher level than ever before to compete. Committing to this level of change is the difference between college sports and pro. The players are bigger. The game is faster. The conditions are more challenging.
Recent Changes in the Buying Process Unprecedented access to information: Today’s buyers are more informed and more prepared. They perform extensive research and many are deciding on solutions before engaging a salesperson or having a conversation. As a result, buyers show up with an arsenal of knowledge as well as preconceived idea of what they believe they need. They are also able to complete more phases of the buying cycle on their own. Research from Forrester forecasts that “1 million B2B salespeople will lose their jobs to self-service eCommerce by the year 2020.” This isn’t the end of the sales profession but rather a wake-up call to all sellers that the customer is looking for more. Availability of options: Related to the overabundance of information, buyers today are bombarded with opinions and options. There can be a multitude of ways to solve a particular issue and navigating the best path can be a challenge. Further complicating the challenge is » Continue Reading.
Team selling today is no longer required just for blockbuster business-to-business sales pitches. Whether you are in consulting, investment banking, or technology or are a financial advisor, home remodeler, or lawyer, pivotal meetings with clients and prospects now often involve more people — on both sides of the table. 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.”
Significant technology advances in recent years have enabled customers to gain information about their options faster, and without you. In addition, economic instability, geopolitical concerns, corporate scandals, and public relations blunders have created mistrust and heightened attention to risk and return on investment. Clients now arrive at meetings and calls ready to give all their stakeholders a voice and wanting to look behind the curtain to the people in your organization who will own the work after the sale.
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.
Making the transition to more effective coaching typically involves changing the conversation. It’s not about having more conversations. It’s about changing the dynamics of the conversation from telling and directing to collaborative problem solving, where you help team members self-assess and self-discover ways to leverage strengths and improve performance.
Let’s begin with the core tenets that underpin Richardson’s sales coaching methodology:
Salespeople should be involved and responsible for their own performance and development. Every person has blind spots that cannot be seen clearly or completely. To see a full, sharp picture, everyone needs an outside perspective. A successful coaching interaction opens perspective for both the salesperson and the sales manager. The sales manager’s role as coach is to be a thought partner and resource — to ask questions, listen, and learn — and to offer perspective with the goal of helping the team member gain insight and inspiration to grow and strengthen performance. Trust is essential. While the focus of the conversation is on the business issues, the essence of a coaching interaction can be deeply personal and emotional. The salesperson must trust that the sales manager’s intent is to help and support, not criticize, judge, or control. A key opportunity for performance improvement lies in turning routine management inspections into coachable moments. Coachable moments exist everywhere in our daily interactions and routines. Taking advantage of planned and unplanned coachable moments is the cornerstone of a manager’s success in » Continue Reading.
If the path to sales success runs through the team and coaching is so critical, then why is it so hard to build a sustained coaching culture? In our work with thousands of front-line sales managers, we have heard every reason — not enough time, too many competing priorities, lack of trust in the team, etc. And yet, when you peel those reasons away, the problem persists. To truly build a sustained and high-performance coaching culture, one must first understand the true barriers that prevent success.
1. Sales Managers Often Can’t See the Forrest for the Trees
Leading a sales team is about balancing the long- and short-terms priorities to set the team up for sustained success. A sales manager needs a team of sellers who are accountable, engaged, and independent; and yet, building that kind of team means taking a strategic approach to high performance.
Most sales managers are primarily focused on numbers and often fall back to tactics and behaviors that might save the month but will prevent long-term, sustained growth. Focusing on learning and accelerating change through coaching will drive success, but it requires focus and discipline, which get tested and compromised under intense pressure.
Many managers think they are effectively coaching when in fact, they are not — they are directing, telling, and often doing the work themselves. Approaches to “coaching” fall on a continuum from directive coaching, where the coach serves as an expert, telling » Continue Reading.
Sales coaching is the key to sales success and improving the performance of the sales organization. It is the most important job a sales manager has.
It takes a certain kind of individual to step into a sales manager role — and an even more unique one to be successful at it. Most sales managers know that they have to drive performance through their team if they are ever to have a shot at making their goal. A team goal simply can’t be achieved by one single sales manager. Yet, we often see sales managers making Herculean efforts and resorting to hero tactics to win deals for their team members. Many times, they are putting in the longest hours — more than their direct reports. They put themselves in front of the customer when the stakes are high. They consistently have the monkey on their back.
If you ask a sales manager if coaching is an important aspect of their role, most are sure to agree that it is. It is difficult to find someone who disagrees with the value of coaching. However, in the fast-paced, modern sales environment, where almost everyone has more priorities, more initiatives, more customer issues, and more administrative work, “… it is easy for people to justify not making time for developmental activities.” (Conger, 2013)