Why You Need A Sales Strategy

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Imagine you are given a product to sell. Where do you start? Maybe marketing has put together a competitive landscape. Your job is not to only to sell but sell the shit out of it. You are left as the salesperson to figure out how to sell the product. Good luck. Anyone see a problem with this?

The problem is as a company you are hoping the sales people know what to do. That’s why you hired them anyway, right? By not taking a deeper look at the nuances of selling, you are leaving money on the table. You are not maximizing the potential. You are leaving yourself vulnerable to being “out sold.” Vulnerable to competitors. That is why a sales strategy is so critical to reaching higher without wasting money.

Frontline Sales Strategy?

I hesitate to call this a sales strategy. A sales strategy means something different to different people. It could mean deciding whether to go with direct sales people or a distribution channel. Or possibly how a specific territory may be split up. Who gets the big anchor accounts? Who goes after a geography? It’s too general.

That is the not the sales strategy I am talking about. The most critical component of any company strategy should be incorporating a well thought out and adaptable frontline sales strategy. Frontline are the sales people in the field. The grinders. The callers. The ballers. The road warriors. The hustlers who get up everyday and hit the pavement looking for the next sale. They are the frontline. What we go through on a day to day basis is rough. Exhausting at times. Yet at the same time hectic. A good hectic. By adding frontline my intention is to emphasize the importance of focusing on the sales people in the field. Not a corporate sales strategy.

All too often the battle being fought in the trenches goes unnoticed. There are too many companies relying on hope. As you know hope is not a strategy.

The Difference

A frontline sales strategy is important and very critical to excelling sales without much added cost. I always ask “What is the difference between your product and the competition?” I strongly believe, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! People will spew off better specs, faster, easier to use, etc. Those things are important, however the main different is…..YOU. The sales person is the most important factor in the sale.

Another one of my strong beliefs is there is no such thing as B2B. I really don’t like that term. There is no such thing as business to business selling. Intel doesn’t sell to Apple. Slack doesn’t sell to a startup. The deals are negotiated by people. Person to person or P2P is much more appropriate. A sales strategy is far more effective with a micro view rather than a high level macro view. I caution though micro doesn’t mean micro-management. That is the last thing you want to do to your top sales people is kill their freedom.

Example

A simple example is looking that differences between an iPhone and Android. Not really much difference but asking the question of how a person uses the phone leads to a different conversation. On an iPhone you can’t attach an excel file to an email for example. For work, you might find that important.

Frontline Sales Strategy Suggestions

  • Tactics — A method is working better than others. An example could be to bundle products together. Gives customer a complete solution.
  • Tips — Feedback from sales on a particular improvement.
  • Gotchas — How to handle objections? Or how to handle product flaws. Delivery issues.
  • How to convey a confidential roadmap

If you agree P2P is important, then the next question is why isn’t there more emphasis on developing better frontline sales strategies? Most likely people don’t know this problem exists. Maybe. Or because it’s hard to do. It requires continuous attention and refinement. Good collaboration is necessary for it be effective. Management to marketing to engineering to sales need to be on the same page.

This isn’t about tricking customers or manipulating the conversation. This is about understanding the customer requirements and constantly aligning your products and strategy around those requirements. Ultimately improving the sales process and securing more business. Make it rain!

Cheers,

Fahad

Just for fun…enjoy.

No Such Thing As B2B

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I keep hearing business to business selling or B2B. I have seen this in job postings, articles, everywhere. It is common work jargon. The idea that a business is selling to another business seemed always ridiculous. For example does Slack really sell to NASA? Of course not. However, the B2B phrase permeates a bad mindset. I find people lose sight that there is no such thing as B2B. Only P2P or person to person selling. People forget the human aspect of selling, marketing, and engineering a product or service. Everything is personal. There is no such thing as B2B.

Why is this important? It has everything to do with being successful. More importantly, how do you differentiate yourself from the competition? Here are some tips or strong suggestions you need to incorporate. I reference a customer in this post, but this can be a prospect, user, etc.

LISTEN

There is an art to being a good listener. A big misconception in sales is you have to be a good talker. Garbage. The most important skill you need for a meeting is to spend more time listening. Funny thing happens when you listen more. You get actually get good information. Useful information. That is your time to collect information to build a good proposal and have a better understanding of the opportunity.

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People actually appreciate you are listening to them. Mainly because most people do not. This subtle interaction in a meeting can make a huge difference in the outcome. Here is a simple exercise you can try. Ask a question, then stop, then listen.

 

I guarantee you will find a more productive outcome. A high five at least.

LISTEN

No, not a typo. It is a dramatic emphasis on how important it is to listen.

JUST CARE

This one may be the hardest one to conquer. A key part of listening is you really have to care about what is coming back. You have to have a genuine interest in the customer. Their industry and application. What the customer is trying to accomplish. The company culture. Being genuine and actually caring goes a long way. Again, mainly because many people do not care. They are too self interested.

TIME MANAGEMENT

Be conscious of the time. If a prospect set aside 30 minutes to meet with you then stick to the allotted time. I will even remind everyone our time is up. I want my customer to know I’m not going to sneak extra time just for the sake of it. Time is precious and if my customer says it is ok to continue then we continue. It is like a house guest who overstayed their welcome and doesn’t get the idea to get out. You don’t want to be that person. Take the customer’s perspective in mind. They have other shit to do.

DON’T BE A JERK

Don’t be offended. I mean well. Seriously though, I cannot begin to tell you how frustrating it is to see meetings get derailed because someone decided to be a jerk. Or you’ll see people approach the conversation in battle mode ready to land some punches. See the tips above. Take a step back and realize why you are there. Also remind other colleagues in the meeting why they are there. Keep your cool at all costs.

EVERYONE IS IN SALES

Hallelujah! This is one my quests in life to get people to realize they are in sales. Everyone. You in marketing. You in engineering. You in management. You in operations. Everyone means everyone. I’ll have more on this key topic later. I’ll point out sales isn’t a bad thing. Do not take it in a negative way. If you are running your business with the mindset laid out above, then everyone is “winning”. People are getting the right solution. Company gets more sales. There are no cons here.

I have laid out some important topics which I will expand upon. My hope is you will take a different view next time you visit a customer or build a product. By the way, this can apply to all aspects of your life as well. Just saying.

The takeaway is if you are in the business of building an app for example. Maybe take a look at how a user may use the app. Not from your perspective. From the user perspective. I wish someone from Concur (the expense app) would contact me. I have so many suggestions for you. Why does it take 10 steps to fill out an expense? Good app but not great yet.

Steve Jobs was well known to be obsessed with the user experience. Take a more human approach and connect on a personal level. You will see a dramatic improvement. You are leaving money on the table by not taking a more person to person approach.

The next challenge is getting everyone in the organization to be on the same page. We will save that for another day.

Cheers,

Fahad

The Drought Is Over

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Let’s see if this sounds familiar. You have just been hired to a new region. You’re job is to increase sales. Currently the territory is drier than a California drought. Let’s make it even worse. The economy is in the dumps. Your company is not the market leader. You don’t have that many products to sell. What do you do? How do you turn it on and make it rain?

Here are some ideas to get you started. Turn yourself into a rainmaker.

Main goal is to keep things simple.

Step 1. Current customers (The most important)

One quick mistake people make is they ignore their current customers. They go right after developing a territory plan focusing on acquiring new customers. This is the hardest thing to do. Focus your first month on mapping out where the business is coming from. Especially where the business has come from in the last 3 years at minimum. Get comfortable with Excel and pivot table the data to death. If you’re lucky enough to have a legit CRM, then create all kinds of reports. Sales reports. Product data.

Once you have that data proceed to step 2.

Step 2. Massage the data

Once you have all the data then you need to figure out what to focus on. Sort out the big dollar sales. This is where you will spend time on first. The customers who have purchased the most in the past should be a priority immediately. Go out and meet every one of them if you can. Update their software. Do whatever to get in front of them. In person is the best.

Step 3. Get email addresses, email addresses and more email addresses. (Legitimately)

Collect all the emails you have in the database. Scour old trade show leads, webinar leads, etc. Don’t go out and buy a bunch of emails unless you know it is a legit service. Clean them up. I usually get rid of personal emails, consultants, and any other bozos. Get skilled at identifying bozos. It’s a technical term for people who will waste your time.

Step 4. Be your own marketing team

Now that you have a clean email database and an understanding of where the bones are buried, develop a schedule to kick some butt.

Import all those email addresses into an email marketing program such as Mailchimp. Send out a newsletter every month or two with relevant material. Link academic information if you don’t have anything internally.

One thing I hate it is when people complain about leads. There are so many free services out there. Establish the mindset you’ll have to do it yourself first. Coordinate with marketing also if you can. More the merrier.

Step 5. Get hustlin’

Once you have sent out your first blast. Wait a few days and then start calling people. You now have a soft opening. You can say, “I sent you an email, I am the new manager in the area….Can we meet to discuss how you are doing with X product? What support do you need?”

Simple right. Email first then follow up with a call.

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Don’t be shy now. This is the time step up and develop a good work ethic. Research shows prospects require a minimum 5 follow ups to make decision whether they want to engage with you. Meaning email, call, email, call, meet, call, email, meet, etc, etc.

Just be relentless.

One last thing. ABC. Always Be Closing. How can you forget that? Work on your messaging over and over. Get better at tweaking it.

Some additional tips

  • Research your industry and competitors
  • Network. Go to industry events. Meet people. Don’t sit behind a computer.
  • Make calls. Yes make outbound calls.
  • Be consistent. Over time this will work. Keep at it.

There are so many more tips and paths you can take. Hopefully this provides you some direction on where to start. You’re not lost. I got you.

Cheers,

Fahad