My colleague Dave Light was speaking with the CEO of a software firm the other day. They were discussing the success the CEO was having with his software package, a product so good that “it almost sells itself” but of late wasn’t selling so well; the pipeline was running dry.The CEO said he was considering forcing the launch of a program upgrade in order to generate more opportunities and sales. It turns out that they invest continuously in R&D to improve the program to keep ahead of the competition. “The software is great” he said, “but we are always under attack by new products that disrupt the market – we need to keep ahead.”What might the effect be on his sales if he considered and treated the sales team and sales process as the software he delivers to the marketplace? Would the market pay for how good they are at selling the software?Sure, we are talking about sales people not widgets or computer code. And we don’t actually sell or lease our reps to the client. But salespeople do provide an essential service as part of the overall offering we take to the prospect or client – a very important and possibly the most important one.
That is the service of: Learning what’s going with the prospect personally in terms of our business – (building relationships and making the prospect qualify for us) Uncovering and discovering the impediments that could kill the deal Guiding them by the hand to the best, quickest, and most economical delivery of their “dream,” the personal reason they’re investing in accomplishing.
But just like the products or services we sell, unless we constantly improve our sales performance it becomes stale and ineffective. You wind up working longer and harder but the results don’t change; the prospects become immune to your sales approach and method. Development of the sales process
is important, and at times be even more important than product development.Listen to anyone who leads just about any business today and what you’ll hear is that everything has changed for them – big-time, major tectonic changes. Dave sat with the owner of a flagging printing business the other night and as the owner lamented the state of the economy – it all came out. The onset of production scale laser printing and digital media, etc. This problem, that problem; all the problems gushed out. The more he spoke the more sentimental he became about “the old days.” Do you think he was interested in sales training and coaching – not a chance. He was even reluctant to invest in essential technology for his operations much less in improving his true revenue generators, the sales team.For better or for worse we are in an age of rapid business evolution. Refusing or failing to recognize that the sales/business development process is subjected to those same evolutionary pressures can wreck the revenue stream. Even terrific products fail because the sales process employed doesn’t deliver qualified prospects, lead prospects to the internal commitment to buy, or both.The competitor who has evolved their sales process to a level that the prospect is begging to buy (rather than the salesperson begging them to “close”) will win the business – even if the product is inferior and the price is higher! That’s because effective sales is not necessarily about being the best – it’s about being first in the mind of the prospect and the relevance of your sales process to the prospect personally is what gets you there. This is especially important when a smaller company is up against a larger, more established competitor.When you use Guess Free Selling you’ve got the tools to beat Big, Inc. by making you more important, more relevant, and unforgettably and emotionally associated with the issue resolution or aspiration that they seek.But, unlike the software CEO, you must have the will to evolve. Do you have the will?Related: How to Gain Momentum and Win Deals Without Being Annoying