Aug 092010
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[Post #2 in the “Other Voices” series, featuring Executive Conversation.]

As the title of my blog implies, I approach revenue generation through the framework of “the leads.” I believe that repeatable sales success happens when companies commit to optimizing the entire experience of potential buyers, from the initial awareness to the buying decision.  How many times have we seen companies over-invest in one part of the buying process while neglecting an important function elsewhere? We can almost hear the prospects saying:

  • “We’ve heard good things about this company and we need a product like theirs, but we can’t get anyone to return our emails and phone calls, and I can’t get my questions answered on their web site.”
  • “The web site was beautiful but the salesperson didn’t know anything about the product and tried to close me on my first call.”
  • “We were impressed with their product and customer list, but when the sales person presented to our CEO, [his/her] inexperience was evident, and we decided to [delay our decision / build our own solution / buy from their competitor].”

In the last post from the Other Voices series, I featured recommendations for optimizing web and advertising copy, an important front-end tactic for attracting the quantity and quality of leads needed to fill the pipeline. This week, I’m featuring another expert contribution, this time from the “business end” of the buying process: the executive sale.

So much of the modern buying process takes place with no sales person present. Buyers today have more power than at any time in history. And they have an endless amount of free research and peer-sourced opinions at their fingertips, which can distract and dissuade them from identifying suitable vendor candidates. So when a buyer is actually willing to engage a salesperson at close range, with executive decision makers present, the cost of a sub-optimal buying experience is extremely high.

Executive Conversation works with sales organizations to build business acumen for effectively engaging and selling to customer executives. Founded 20 years ago by experienced C-suite executives, Executive Conversation has helped clients like ADP, Polycom, and Honeywell improve sales effectiveness in the moments when it matters most.

I’ve done some consulting work for Executive Conversation in the past and we’re both members of the same neighborhood business association. Their blog contains a wealth of practical advice to prepare sales leaders for success in the executive suite. Their view of the executive sale is similar to my framework for lead management; success is a function of solid performance at key moments. With their permission, I’m re-publishing a list of “4 tips to perform in the moment.”

1. Early in the sales cycle, validate your customer’s initiatives. Show that you both understand these drivers and see how they fit into the customer’s strategic plan.

2. Mid-cycle, secure agreement on the alignment between your customer’s business and your solutions. Extend this focus beyond the deal, to the formation of a partnership between your organizations.

3. As the deal nears closing, quantify its advantages. Underscore the return on investment, and relate it to your customer’s investment criteria.

4. Throughout your meetings, emphasize process and performance goals. When you come to a meeting, know the steps it must achieve to lead to the next stage. Make that the business of the meeting.

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  One Response to “4 Tips for Selling in the Moment”

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