Selling Microsoft

The Ultimate Sales Strategy

The sales techniques that worked five or 10 years ago won't work as well today. What modern prospects are looking for is a partner that can deliver Business Guidance Value.

During a recent new client strategy meeting, I came away with a breakthrough idea regarding the client's sales efforts.

First, let me say this: As I work with sales organizations on their challenges, one issue always appears -- the inability of salespeople to ask excellent discovery questions. Next, salespeople fail to fully understand how their solution will impact their prospect's business. Most salespeople today touch on a few limited benefits, but the vast majority can't "connect the dots" between what they hear and what people want. What they're missing is what I now call "Business Guidance."

Second, many salespeople have been trained to discover the "pains" that a prospect is experiencing. When I hear salespeople asking about "What keeps you up at night?" or, "What are the business pains you're trying solve?" I almost cringe with embarrassment. The question I ask to wake up salespeople is: "How many other salespeople have asked those same questions to your prospects?"

In other words, if salespeople today are using the same sales techniques they were trained on five or even 10 years ago, they're on automatic pilot. Salespeople today need a better ultimate strategy.

Because of the Internet, prospects now are more educated on our products and competitive products than ever before -- and more aware of sales techniques and sales training programs. So what is a salesperson to do?

I believe the next level of sales professionalism is delivering Business Guidance Value (BGV).

To deliver BGV, a salesperson must understand his product/solution, how it's used by a client, what benefits it brings and the nuances of traditional sales strategies, including effective sales discovery. However, the salesperson must also take all of that accumulated knowledge and relate it to the prospect at its business level and beyond. The salesperson must speak to how the benefits of the solution will impact the prospect's business, plus how the prospect will leverage those benefits to gain a competitive advantage. This becomes the ultimate strategy that will separate the Business Guidance salesperson from the pack.

The future of professional sales is relating how your product not only saves someone money, time and resources, but how those savings should be used to impact the performance of the prospect's business. This means that if you've determined your product can save the client $50,000 a year, then your recommendation must include how or where the client will invest that savings of $150,000 over the next three years.

Specifically, should they invest it in marketing, product development, newer technology or even new vehicles for their service people? You must make that Business Guidance recommendation. The key factor to remember is that the $50,000 a year savings would not necessarily be invested in additional products from your firm -- you must show the client how their business can be directly impacted by the savings from your solution.

This will require extensive sales training programs that involve case study reviews, increased levels of discovery role-playing and BGV presentations.

Begin this process by interviewing your existing client base to explore the impacts of your solutions on their businesses and how they used those benefits to grow their organizations.

Next, build a sales certification program into your normal sales training plans. Where my company has created these kinds of programs, our clients have experienced increased sales-velocity ratios, larger average-order values and longer-term client relationships.

Take action and become the Business Guidance leader in your market.

If you have an interest in revitalizing your sales approach, Keith Lubner from Channel Consulting Corp. and I are offering five organizations an opportunity to work with us to change the game on your competition and upgrade your sales approach. Send me an e-mail to learn more.

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About the Author

Ken Thoreson is managing director of the Acumen Management Group Ltd., a North American consulting organization focused on improving sales management functions within growing and transitional organizations. You can reach him at [email protected].