Category Archives: Selling

You Have To Chose The Right Clients and Opportunities

About a dozen years ago my wife and I were seriously exploring IVF or In Vitro Fertilisation. We were finding it difficult to find a clinic that was prepared to accept our case at first.

My wife and I between us had some personal connections that enabled us to be put in touch with one of the foremost fertility consultants in the land.

That person had a phenomenal success rate, something very important to us, less from a cost perspective, and more from a risk to the mother perspective.

The disappointment we ran in to was simple. This consultant wouldn’t accept us because to do so would significantly impact their success statistics. They had such an exceptional success record because they were very careful about who they took on. What we needed was a consultant and clinic that had more experience and knowledge about our particular circumstances. In the end it was not to be, and in time we turned our love & resources to other needy causes.

And so it is with you and your business. You have to be choosy about who you do business with and/or what kinds of opportunities you invest your time, energy, resources and emotions in to. Getting it wrong can spell doom for your business.

For example, one company I have worked with deliberately stays clear of some very big business opportunities, because it has realized that those accounts are very difficult and demanding to work with, especially given the low levels of returns they generate. It would rather work a greater number of other accounts and opportunities, do a great job, as it always does, but get a reasonable reward for the effort.

So take time out to identify the best kind of accounts and opportunities to work on for you, that also align with where you want to take your business. A great place to start quickly, is to look at the best accounts and opportunities you’ve had over the last 2 years, write down what it is about them that you like and value, and use that as a starting point to help you target new accounts and opportunities going forward.

Do you or your sales people truly know how to sell? Honestly?

Do you really have the ability to sell? Does the top candidate for your new sales position have the ability to sell? Or is this ‘ability’ really the result of other factors, such as luck, wider economic factors, market demand greater than supply, etc?

Whether it is you that has to do the selling for your business, or somebody else, you have to be sure you, or they, really have the ability to sell. But how can you be sure?

Selling on a successful and sustained basis is truly about ability – not to persuade and manipulate, but the ability to connect with your client and find out what they really need & want, even if that means you can’t help them out this time, and then connect them with a solution.

Being able to do this on a sustained basis implies the need for some kind of system, or method, that is repeatable, and increases the chance of success with a client, to beyond simple luck and the impact of other factors.

Many sales people will tell you that a true sales person has no time, and no need for studying, adopting and using any kind of structured sales approach. They are wrong. That’s not just my opinion, but an assertion backed up by plenty of evidence.

This chart is pretty compelling! Note that ‘Level 1’ is where there is no discernible sales system in place, ‘Level 2’ is where there are informal sales systems in place and used, at least a little. ‘Level 3’ is where a formal system is in place and used most or all of the time by most or all sales people. CSO Insights, the author of this study, are at https://www.csoinsights.com/ (opens in new tab/window).

So if it is you to do the selling for your business, what is the sales system or approach you are going to use?

If you are going to hand this very critical task off to another, what is the sales system or approach he or she is going to use?

How can you tell it will be effective?

Whatever the system you or your sales people will use, consider the following:

  • Is it structured?
    • Can it be followed as an ordered process?
    • Can it be used again and again in different situations?
    • Can it be taught to other sales people?
  • Does it focus on the client and their buying decision process?
    • Does it really, or is this a cover for really focusing on sales activities?
    • Does it help clients navigate options?
    • Does it help clients avoid pitfalls?
    • Does it help clients get through their decision making process more quickly, and still be satisfied at the end?
  • Does it focus on business issues for the client, what I refer to as “The Big 3”?
    • Does it help the client grow profitable revenue? Does it help the client reduce their ‘time to money’ (the time it takes to make a positive return on any investment in improved products and/or processes)?
    • Does it help the client cuts costs?
    • Does it help the client manage or mitigate their business risks?
  • Is it easy to learn & use by the sales people?
  • Does it help them do their job better?

Lastly, be wary of people selling you sales systems! Look at how they engage with you, and work to help you solve your sales issues. In my role as Global Sales Training Manager for a major global tech company I received around 12,000 emails each year from people and companies trying to sell me sales systems and techniques. Yes, I actually measured it, but that’s another story! In a single 18 month period only 3 potential providers were able to show me they had something worth spending time on to explore further, and that resulted in us doing business together! Remember, this is from people and organisations who claim they know how to sell!