If you want to sell more, faster – stop trying to sell your value

Here’s something you won’t read anywhere else – if you want your sales team to sell more and sell faster tell them to STOP selling value.

When I speak to CEOs and sales leaders I consistently hear the same thing “our sales people have got to get better at selling value. They just don’t sell the value of our solutions.” 

But the value of your solutions has to match the expected outcomes your customers want or need. And the only way you can discover this is to find out what it is THEY define as value. What THEY believe constitutes value. It’s all about their beliefs.

It’s a question of sequence. You can only sell your own value when you understand what your customer values and believes. And your customer’s definition of value is shaped by what they perceive as their:

  • Challenges
  • Objectives
  • Strengths
  • Risks

Your sales people simply can’t sell the value of your solution until they understand these factors. In fact, if you as a leader are telling them to sell value without emphasizing good discovery first, you are inadvertently sabotaging your own sales results.

Only once you’ve discovered their beliefs can you match your solutions to your customers’ needs. 

Think of this as the golden rule of sales conversations and how to boost sales and get more wins.

If you want to improve how your sales teams perform, then maybe it’s time for a chat. Send me a quick email and let’s have the conversation matt@matthewconway.com or call me on +1 647 402 2096.

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CEOs of fast growth and Sales Leaders of large enterprises! 7 ways to make your sales presentations more persuasive.

If your salespeople use presentations to sell your product/solution/service, then please read this, because you’ll hit your number faster.

Rule of thumb 1: Your salesperson should only be using a presentation AFTER they’ve had a discovery conversation(s) that has led to the customer sharing their challenges/objectives and outcomes they want to achieve. And your salesperson should have asked what the $ difference will be between current and future state. Ideally, they should also determine the Personal Win of each stakeholder is.

The title of the presentation should be the summation of the discovery conversation(s). Examples;

  • $25M by 2020
  • 30% Growth: More @bats with Net New Clients
  • Competitively Distinct Business Conversations: Drive 1% to 2% Additional Revenue Growth

Rule of thumb 2: Begin with your presentation with your End in Mind. What action do you want your customer to commit to that is appropriate for where theyyou are in the sales cycle? Precondition the presentation for success by openly sharing your End in Mind at the beginning of the presentation. That way the customer will know what is being asked of them. Example:

  • End in Mind: For you to decide which region you’d like to rollout first.

Rule of thumb 3: STOP opening your slides with ‘About Us.’ Your customer is still deciding if they should do different (why change) and why they should do so now. Telling them about you up front is premature and should be left to the end of your presentation – or just talked to. Starting your presentation with “we have been in business X years,” “we have X locations,” “we have revenues of X,” “we have X customers” is “weewee.” Customers don’t like being “weewee’d” on. Trust me on that.

Rule of thumb 4: When was your presentation template updated? Many of the large enterprises I’ve worked with look like their presentations were made back in the 80’s. Update them to current look and feel. Otherwise your presentation will appear ‘tired’ and your clients will want to work with a company that has fresh, new ideas.

Rule of thumb 5: Your presentations are summaries – not a detailed script of your conversation. Learn to “chunk up and “chunk down” ideas into logical sequences – Main Idea + 3 to 5 supporting ideas on separate slides. Human beings can only take in up to 7 pieces of information at one time. Too many presentations have too much detail. Those are reports, not presentations.

Rule of thumb 6: Structure the presentation within a logical framework. The “why change,” “why now,” “why choose us” framework has been proven to be highly effective at building a brilliant sales/case for change story around.

Rule of thumb 7: Close out your presentation by re-visiting your end in mind: Ask for the decision to that you preframed earlier to be taken. Your customers, especially real decision makers, will love you for it as they hate sitting through presentations with no ending or decision. Take that to the bank.

Rule of thumb 8: There isn’t one. Human beings can only ingest up to 7 pieces of info at one time. See Rule of thumb 5.

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The three things keeping CEOs and Sales Leaders up at Night

I’m constantly speaking to CEOs and sales leaders from across the world about their growth challenges and objectives – sharing ideas and insights that dramatically accelerate their and their team’s success. I love it. Totally rewarding.

And, what’s really interesting is how often these conversations are repeated…whether they happen with potential clients in London, Toronto or San Francisco.

These CEOs and sales leaders are frustrated by three things.

1. There’s lots of prospecting without results
2. Sales cycles that take far too long
3. Even when they get to the proposal stage they aren’t getting enough wins.

If that sounds familiar to you I’m going to tell you why.

1. Your messaging is backwards
2. Your salespeople are prospecting to the wrong level
3. They don’t know how to write a proper prospecting letter, email or LinkedIn message that gets the people who can say “yes” excited to meet them.

If you want to improve how your sales teams perform, then maybe it’s time for a chat. Send me a quick email and let’s have the conversation matt@matthewconway.com or call me on +1 647 402 2096.

Chief Sales Officers! You want your salespeople to sell value – and yet…

The people designing your sales curriculum and approach have never had and can’t execute the business conversations you need.

EVERY sales leader I speak with wants his or her sales force to sell “value.”

It’s become one of those overused words that’s  meaning has been lost in time to corporate and sales guru buzzword bingo.

Ask a group of salespeople and sales leaders to define value and you’ll get a different definition each time. Even CEOs overuse the term without truly understanding what they mean when they say it.

Recently I’ve met with sales and enablement leaders at some leading and very successful enterprises who are retooling their sales approaches and heard some worrying information in my discovery conversations.

The common thread in these conversations is the sales leader’s desire for his/her sales force to be able to:

  1. Have “broader and deeper business conversations” with senior decision-making executives that tie back to the ‘value’ of their solutions
  2. Be proactive – share insight and ideas that help to position the salesperson as an expert
  3. Build a reputation for being competitively distinct as a sales organization in order to attract and retain the best talent

These desires aren’t new. I heard the same 10 years ago. So why isn’t the conversation changing?

I’d like to suggest that it’s for the following reasons.

  1. No common definition of what ‘value’ means internally (and more importantly how it relates to the customers definition).
  2. There is no plan to help guide the customer to articulate what they define as  value and guide them to make their own case for change
  3. The people who are tasked with designing sales onboarding and skills curriculum have never done the job of having a ‘broad, deep business conversation’ with a C level executive – they simply don’t know what good looks like or how to do it. So how can they build these elements into your internal programs?
  4. Hiring profiles need to change – less sales hustle and more curiosity and critical thinking skills that enable a business or transformational conversation
  5. Lack of clarity and definition of what the purpose of sales is

And, I’m only going to unpack the first few of these in this article..

The issue of value

The biggest challenge with value is that sales leaders believe that salespeople need to be able to show customers the value of their solution; the potential ROI, cost savings, revenue increases, efficiencies, productivity gains, results and impact of their offerings.

These are important…

And, the problem with showing/demonstrating value is a matter of sequencing in a conversation and social proof.

If your salesperson tells the customer what they can expect in terms of ROI, gains, reductions, results, impact before the customer has shared what their beliefs as to the potential outcomes are, then it’s a bit like me telling you how devilishly handsome I am.

I’m a salesperson, of course I’d say that, right? And, how believable are you finding that statement right now…?

If on the other hand, your salesperson can guide your customer to articulate the value of the difference that they, the customer believe would be achieved by addressing their challenges or achieving their objectives in $, then your customer is effectively telling your salesperson how handsome or beautiful your salesperson is…sorry, I mean how valuable your solution/product/service is.

See the difference?

Whose numbers and case for change is more believable for your customer – your salesperson’s or your customers own beliefs and business case? (Of course, your salesperson can advise if the customer is being over optimistic or overly pragmatic)

The customer is selling themselves using their own social proof, not that of your salesperson. Much, much more persuasive.

The issue of Sales Enablement

Gloves off time.

How can somebody in HR, Learning and Development, Sales Enablement who has never executed a broad, deep business conversation that has guided a C level executive to build their own case for change (based on the customers beliefs about value) possibly know how to build a sales onboarding approach that helps sales people to execute business conversations?

That’s why so many salespeople dread attending their internal sales programs and often don’t respect these functions. It’s because they know the trainer hasn’t walked a mile in the salesperson’s shoes.

In addition, there’s another reason why most sales people still struggle to have business conversations. Because, most internal training tends to be product/solution/service led. Picture this.

An internal product expert leads a conversation about the new product/solution, it’s features and function and why it’s better than competitive alternatives. They then share a few customer wins so sales have some reference brands to use. Then they tell sales to go and sell it.

What’s the problem here you may be asking?

Well, the whole focus of the internal training has been “why choose us” – and has failed to incorporate any or much of the customers priorities or needs which have to be captured in a “why change?” and “why now?” framework.

And because these critical elements of customer focus are missing, salespeople “show up and throw up” features and benefits, focused on “why choose us” without engaging in any sort of  value uncovering business conversation.

Sales leader and salesperson then wonder why they’re not invited back for a second meeting with the senior executive. (Research shows that 58% of executives are disappointed with their first meeting – and only 7% of first meetings result in a continuation)

The remedy for this is internal sales programs that:

  • follow the “Why change, why now, why choose us” framework
  • involve executives from customers (to share before and after stories and value created/difference)
  • show salespeople and their leaders how to guide the customer to articulate their value (business and personal win)

This is the way to build unshakeable confidence and competence in your salespeople to have business conversations.

Until that happens, expect the same feature/function conversations that don’t link back to the value of your offerings and salespeople who aren’t confident and proficient at speaking with senior decision makers…you know, the people who can say “yes.”

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Convert more opportunities into wins with this one sales tip

Here’s a counterintuitive idea for the corporate world: empathy sells.

A coaching client of mine, an excellent salesman, told me he was feeling nervous about a sale. He was in the final stages, and the client had narrowed it down to his company and a competitor. They offered essentially the same services, and my friend’s services were marginally more expensive—so how could he be sure that he would win the deal?

“Well,” I said, “have you asked about the client’s personal win?”

Behind every purchase decision, there’s always two things going on. There’s the surface-level value, the logical considerations, i.e. does this make financial sense, will this save my company money, will it be profitable. That’s what you’re usually thrashing out in the early to mid stages of a sales discovery conversation.

But underneath that is an emotional decision, which is usually invisible to both the buyer and the salesperson. People do things, essentially, because it serves them on an emotional or unconscious level. And really skilled salespeople, at the top of their game, are going to tap into this underlying decision to serve their customer’s best interest and win the deal. They’re going to use empathy—that is, they are going to think from the perspective of the customer—to figure out the customer’s personal win.

Eventually, you should get to the stage where you sort out the business and financial side of a deal. The next question you need to ask your customer is—what do you, personally, want to get out of or stand to gain from this? What’s the personal win for you if you go ahead with this? And in my experience, this question is always followed by silence.

That silence is pure gold. Too often, sales conversations end up being a sort of casual, boilerplate patter on both sides – like you’re exchanging pleasantries at the water cooler. If you can break through that, and have a meaningful connection with your client, you’ll be rewarded with dead quiet—because, for the first time in that conversation, they’re really thinking.

Value is created when you take your client to places they’ve never been before, and introduce them to concepts they’ve never thought about. Just like that, you’ve differentiated yourself from your competitors.

The personal win could be anything, depending on who you’re talking to. An executive with a high-octane lifestyle and a stressful workday might want to buy your solution because it will free up more time so he can go sailing with his wife more often.

Whether it’s success, relaxation, or obligation, everyone has their underlying drives and desires.  And it’s your job as a salesperson to figure out what that is.

Most of the time the customer won’t even be clear about what their personal win is.  But when you can help them articulate it, you immediately differentiate yourself…and gain a new friend.

My client went back to his customer and asked her about her personal win. It turned out she needed to get a large project under her belt to get the promotion she wanted. When she awarded him the contract, he asked why she chose him. She said she gave it to him because he asked her what she wanted, what was in it for her. The other sales person hadn’t. One question made all the difference.

Remember, when you’re making deals, the numbers and business case are only half the story. Sure, ostensibly, you’re trying to increase revenues, or streamline, or halve operating costs; but you’re also dealing with a human being, not a spreadsheet. Being personable, discerning, and figuring out what your client wants as an individual: that’s the key to success in sales. Lock down the personal win, and you’ve got a happy client.

(Note for sales leaders: If your team suffers low proposal to win rates, start expecting and coaching for a clearly defined business case in your sales people’s proposals (ideally to the ultimate decision maker).

Also, ask your sales people what the personal win for each buyer is. And while the personal win may not be included in a proposal, particularly if several people are involved in the evaluation process, this is good deal hygiene. A business case and personal win are LEAD indicators for successful deals.)

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