Category Archives: sales process

July 14th, 2016

The Neuroscience of Sales: Unseating an Incumbent

neuroscience of sales: incumbency bias

Competing against an incumbent provider is one of the more challenging sales situations that we encounter.  The existing account holder likely has a stronger relationship with the client, first-hand knowledge of the client’s business, and enjoys the benefit of being a known entity.  Remarkably, even with mediocre performance, an incumbent can be difficult to unseat, and a lot of the reason why is attributed to psychology.  There are a few neuroscience concepts that give us some insights as to why customers hold on so tightly and how a challenger might loosen the grip.

Loss Aversion

Loss aversion is the simple idea that the fear of losing something is much stronger than the joy of gaining something — in fact, it is about twice as strong, according to research.  In a competitive sales environment, that means that the value proposition of a challenger needs to be significantly stronger than that of the incumbent if the challenger hopes to win the business.  Loss aversion is how even relatively weak providers maintain accounts.  So why is our fear of loss so strong?

It is human nature to overvalue what we already own; this is called the endowment effect.  It is evident when people are reluctant to part with something they own for its cash equivalent, or if the amount that people are willing to pay for something is lower than what people are willing to accept when selling it (Kahneman, Knetsch, & Thaler, » Continue Reading.

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May 20th, 2016

Using the Sales Process as a Blueprint for Rapid Behavior Change

Using the Sales Process as a Blueprint for Rapid Behavior Change

#1: Establish a Common Language

There are two things that unite virtually every sales organization: 1) the desire to improve sales performance and 2) to achieve results as quickly as possible. In this series of posts, I will discuss three ways in which the sales process can be used as a blueprint for rapid behavior change that drives better results. The first in the series focuses on the importance of establishing a common language to be used within the sales process.

Common Language is Essential

Change happens when a majority of people begin doing new things repeatedly. For sales organizations attempting to achieve a step change in performance, it all starts with the sales process. An effective and intuitive sales process will introduce a common language that sales professionals and their managers can use to discuss opportunities and their stage-by-stage progression through the pipeline.

Language is important. It’s not only what people say, or how they say it, but what they mean when they use certain words. When people share a common language, they become more unified. They “get” what the other is saying. They’re on the same page.

This doesn’t mean everyone has to speak English or Spanish or German. It means whatever their native tongue, sellers should speak the language of selling. At Richardson, we focus on terms like verifiable outcomes to mean leading indicators » Continue Reading.

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March 28th, 2016

Why Building Rapport Matters

Building Rapport Creates Long Lasting Connections

I have been working with a prospect over the past few weeks, and it has been a good journey. She is not even a confirmed client yet, but I am extremely excited about the possibilities. What makes me so optimistic, either for the short-term opportunity or a future relationship, is how we connected instantly.

There are different ways to build rapport. On a personal level, building rapport can be accomplished by developing commonalities in life: living in the same town, having the same vacation experience, what someone reads like articles or a newsletter, knowing the same people, etc. On a professional level, rapport can be built by simply giving free advice and making a genuine connection and being able to converse about similar interests. This can be as basic as a personal talk or just being sincere in your efforts about what is communicated to your prospects and demonstrating that you care about their needs and hope to become a true partner.

In the case of the prospect that I mentioned earlier, we did not have a personal connection at first. She had a clear need. She knew what she wanted to do, and she was doing everything the right way. Her next step was to choose a partner from the outside to come in and train her people.

Our connection came through an open and engaging dialogue. I listened closely to what she was saying, » Continue Reading.

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December 10th, 2015

Why Sales Leaders Need to Craft and Control the Sales Management Process

sales leaders need to control the sales management process

I am such a hard-core believer in the value of having a sales management process because I know without it, long-term success will not happen. My loyalty stems from watching a mentor from earlier in my career construct and implement a process that became a motivating force for achieving results. When I transitioned from sales into management, I followed his lead and began incorporating this critical element into my work. I now credit it for my success.

How to Control your Team with a Simple Sales Management Process

Simply put, a sales management process is a disciplined approach to driving multiple facets of performance, with regularly scheduled touch points along the way. By defining such a process, specific to the goals and culture of your own organization, you can drive both execution and accountability over the long term.

I recommend this type of a process for any sales leader, whether you are responsible for a team of direct-reporting individuals or a larger global team. Even senior sales leaders should institute their own consistent, repeatable management process so that everyone can under them — every individual, every line of business, and every division — becomes aligned and committed to the same strategic path.

Sales Management Process Implementation Priorities

When you introduce a defined process into your organization, know that it’s not a short-term exercise running over a 30- or 90-day cycle. It takes discipline » Continue Reading.

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December 8th, 2015

How Valid Is Your Sales Process?

sales-process-validation

In my previous posts — Sales Process? You Should Probably Call It a Pursuit Process  and Dynamic Sales Process Leads to Dynamite Results  — I talked about the value of a dynamic sales process that helps sales professionals pursue opportunities in an optimal way.

In this post, I take the discussion a step further by talking about validation of the sales process. After all, if your sale process isn’t valid, if it doesn’t reflect the way your sales team should be pursuing opportunities, or if it doesn’t engender confidence about opportunities in the pipeline, then it really doesn’t matter if the salesforce uses it or not.

There are several ways to validate a sales process, and the one I can speak to most effectively is the methodology we use here at Richardson when creating a customized and dynamic process for clients. Over four to six weeks, we collaboratively work through a multiphase methodology:

Phase 1: Data Collection – We begin by meeting with the company’s top performers, sales leaders, and other stakeholders who can provide insights into the sales or account management cycle. Phase 2: Development of the Branded Sales Process – We develop a customized sales process that aligns with the company’s sales cycle and buying patterns, and we map it out in a matrix that identifies specific accountabilities. Phase 3: Validation and KPI Phase – We validate the sales process itself with line stakeholders in a workshop » Continue Reading.

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December 3rd, 2015

Dynamic Sales Process Leads to Dynamite Results

dynamic-sales-process

In my previous post — Sales Process? You Should Probably Call It a Pursuit Process  — I talked about the different types of sales processes that companies have, if they have one at all.

In this post, I’ll add some proof points that speak to the value of using a dynamic sales process within your organization.

In my current role, I sit in countless interviews with top-performing sales professionals while in the process of working with companies to develop their own customized and dynamic sales processes. I get to hear what those who excel do and do well to get results, and these approaches become part of that company’s dynamic sales process. What they do might also be considered best practices that can be adapted and more broadly applied.

For example, in a recent interview, one top performer talked about considering not just his external clients but his internal ones as well. Imagine that! These were the company’s experts who he would be touching base with for their input and feedback as he assessed the prospect’s needs and his potential solution. He said that most sales professionals tended to look at their sales organization and the prospect’s organization, but there was great benefit in developing relationships with internal sources who might support the sale or provide key insights. His recommendation as a best practice: identify internal experts who should be a part of the process.

Whether or not this » Continue Reading.

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October 22nd, 2015

Specific Benefits Come from Linking the Sales Process and Sales Training

linking-sales-process-and-sales-training

When we work with clients to create a common language and sales process, that’s just the start. A process by itself is just a process. It needs to be absorbed and put into practice. It needs to become part of day-to-day behaviors. It needs to be second nature.

Depending on the organization, this can be straightforward or complex, depending on how well sales professionals understand what they’re doing as they go from one step to the next.

That’s where Richardson sales training, reinforcement, and coaching come in. By linking the sales process and sales training, participants can see what they are currently doing, how it fits within the desired behaviors, and where adjustments are needed. A process that may have seemed overwhelming to start becomes a welcome roadmap that breaks down each step, and they can see how the things that they currently do fit within the overall scope.

At the end of training sessions, I’ve had participants tell me the structure of the sales process is “awesome” because now they have something to guide what they’re doing. They know that they can always refer back to the steps of the sales process and make adjustments, as necessary, for their specific situation.

It certainly is possible to train sales people without linking content to a sales process. The training would incorporate information from interviews with sales professionals and managers of the activities in the process of » Continue Reading.

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October 15th, 2015

The Best Sales Process Comes from Successful Sellers

sales prcess effectiveness

The Best Sales Process Comes from Successful Sellers

One thing we know about successful sales organizations is that they take guesswork out of the equation for sales professionals. They establish a consistent sales process and language, and this means that sales professionals don’t have to recreate the wheel or figure things out as they go along. Instead, they are able to follow a process that has been tested, prove its value, and provide a roadmap to next steps.

A critical challenge for sales organizations in onboarding new hires is the length of time before they become productive. They have to learn the product that they’re selling, the company’s culture, the clients, and the prospects. Any steps to shorten that coming-up-to-speed period contribute to the productivity of sales professional and the organization.

At Richardson, we believe a common language and sales process helps bring sales professionals up-to-speed faster and serves them better throughout their career. By telling them, “This is how we do it, step by step,” sales professionals get better and quicker at turning a sales lead into a successful deal.

The way that Richardson works with clients to create and validate an effective sales process — one that clearly identifies leading indicators of success — begins with what we call an affirmative inquiry. We interview senior leaders and then ask them to nominate sales professionals who consistently perform at top levels. The goal is to determine what » Continue Reading.

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