• Ever thought of how “Change” effects selling?


    This blog looks at change from the context of buying – and selling.

    Buying and selling can defined be in its broadest terms – selling a product or service or an idea. So it applies to a non-sales selling situation such as being persuaded to do something, support something and persuading someone to do something, support something etc.  It can also be applied to more traditionally defined sales situation – exchanging a product or service for money.

    Looking at buying.  Any purchase of any kind – thing, service or idea – requires a change.  Looking at some examples:

    • Buying new clothes or new shoes – they will feel different (and make you feel different) and thus are a change
    • Commissioning a new website – this requires a change in the look and feel of your online brand, new processes (if it includes different functionality), new opportunities
    • Investing in sales training – this requires you to let go of some of the things you do, change what you do and take some risks
    • Agreeing to do something different at work, or adopt a new work practice – this changes your actions or your beliefs

    It follows therefore that when we are selling we are actually facilitating a change.

    Looking at our change equation, change is a function of:

    • dissatisfaction with the present
    • a vision of the future
    • some first practical steps

    And to be personally motivated to make the change the sum of these needs to be equal to or greater to the cost or pain or effort of making the change

    Therefore before we can sell something to someone they need:

    • to be dissatisfied with what they have at the moment
    • a clear vision of the future – of where they could be, what could be happening
    • an idea of how to get there and confidence that it is possible – and then in turn, the actual route map
    • for the above to be equal to or great to the cost or pain or effort of making the change.

    If any of these elements are missing you will not make a sale.

    Taking an example of investing in sales training.  If I am happy enough with my client acquisition processes, even if I know at one level that I ‘should’ be bringing on more clients, unless something more compelling drives me (and creates dissatisfaction) I am not going to make a change.  Equally if I cannot imagine a future where I have more clients and enjoy some real benefits from this, I will not make the investment (in time, money and personal upheaval).  And finally if I do not think that you are the person to take me there I will not buy from you (i.e. I need to see my ‘first practical steps’).  And even if those things are in place, if I am not convinced that the cost – in terms of my time, my money or the demands placed on me – will be met or exceeded through the investment in training I will not buy.

    To sell effectively we need to facilitate our buyer in exploring the change equation for themselves and making a decision to change or not to change.

    Lisette Howlett

    For twenty years Lisette Howlett lived and worked in Europe, Asia and the USA where she held senior positions running global programmes in some of the world’s leading companies. Since leaving corporate life Lisette has been successfully running her own consultancy for 8 years. Typically her sales training clients include entrepreneurs, CEOs, start-ups, Sales Directors, MDs, Senior Partners and business owners – often these are people who don’t consider themselves as traditional sales people but are committed to growing their businesses and thus recognise the need to sell more effectively and more authentically. Visit her Huffington Post Blog Tel: 020 7484 5556

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  • Ever made a poor hiring decision?

    Is hiring new sales staff the Sales Leaders most important role?

    Have you ever calculated the cost of a failed sales recruitment? Recent studies have calculated the direct cost at between £50k – £150k dependent on industry and level of seniority. Though total cost including management time and wasted sales support time is greater still. For most businesses this is a staggering amount of money.

    With these types of figures at risk you would expect the recruitment process to be highly structured and controlled. The reality, in most cases, is that sales recruitment is a pretty ad hoc process relying more on luck and gut feel than science.

    Gut feel should not be underestimated, every time I have over ridden my gut feel over the years I have later regretted it, but maybe a combination of a structured approach and gut feel is even better.

    We would suggest that a 5 step approach should be adopted:

    1) Preparation – keep a file of possible recruits – people who you meet or who are recommended. Get in the habit of asking for recommendations. Ask for names of competitor’s sales people who beat you on deals. Ask current staff for names of ex colleagues. Not only will your quality of prospective recruits be better you may save money on recruitment agency fees when the time comes to look for new staff.
    2) Hiring Template – Decide what mix of skills and experience you need as minimum and preferred level. Think about the importance of soft issues such as determination and resilience.  Think about whether a less experienced, more hungry salesperson who can be taught is better for you than a more experienced, more conventional hire? What type of personality would fit best within your culture – a team player or a lone wolf? Do you need a hunter or a farmer? Write down the template and use it as your guide for future steps.
    3) Assessment - For a few hundred pounds you can buy tailored assessment tools that give a highly accurate profile of sales strengths and weaknesses. Things like prospecting behavior, qualifying, negotiating, work ethic and much more can be accurately predicted. This combined with structured interviewing techniques and possible a mock sales meeting role play to measure gravitas, personality and communication skills can give a complete picture.
    4) Due Diligence - Make the reference calls yourself. Check for mutual contacts via LinkedIn and call them. Check Facebook and twitter. Find former colleagues of your potential recruit and call them. Too time consuming? HR’s job? No – think of the time you will have to waste on a poor sales person in the team!
    5) Offer – If you have found the right person find a way of making it happen. An additional £5k on a base salary or a higher grade / band on entry is not important in the wider scheme of things. The best people are the hardest to recruit but are normally worth the effort.

    Steve Buiskool

    Steve Buiskool

    Steve Buiskool is Managing Director of Sandler Training in Cheltenham. He works with companies who wish to increase their return on the investment made in their sales team and with local business owners who need to improve their own business development skills. Prior to starting Sandler Cheltenham, Steve had a 25 year sales career including Sales Director positions with CapGemini and Capita. He also specialised in leading major deals in the IT, BPO and consulting markets. Tel: 01242 420750 Mobile: 0750 750 5996

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