Writing the winning responses to RFPs is always your goal. As part of the selling process, we know you have spent hours researching a business, contacting various key players to understand the business needs, and discussing options so you can write a response to the RFP that delivers the most impact. Of course, the response should demonstrate why your solution is the best available option. Nonetheless, bids or responses to proposals should be treated as a selling tool. Here’s why.
Is it better to have a scripted sales presentation or a tailored one? The guiding principle in any sales process should be listening to your buyer and tailoring your sales presentations to meet your buyer’s unique business needs.
Then again, having a template for your presentation is helpful because you don’t have time to reinvent the wheel every time you need to present to a new prospect. Just plug and play, copy and paste. Makes sense, right?
I’m a big proponent of discovering the potential value to your prospect of acquiring and utilizing your products and services. One of our core concepts is: People make emotional decisions for logical reasons.
The potential value to a company of changing how they operate can often be the logic they need in order to help them make a purchase or subscription decision.However, I have some concerns about existing “ROI tools” and how they are used by salespeople in the sales process.
Here are a few things to consider about ROI tools and calculators:
At our recent Outcomes 2016 Conference, I attended the roundtable discussion on the topic “Obtaining Sales Team Buy-In.” A Win Loss program is far more successful when the sales team is fully supportive of the program’s goals and processes. But how do we get them there? I suggested to the group that we talk about a win loss program as another sales enablement tool. Our CEO Ken Allred had just explained in the General Session that he started Primary Intelligence to “help salespeople sell more.”
In our workshops we don’t spend a great deal of time on objection handling. A high percentage of objections result from “spray and pray” approaches when sellers bombard prospects with features without first asking questions to uncover which are likely to be relevant.Sellers dominate calls when doing product pitches. Buyers sometimes raise objections to slow down speeding trains.
While claiming to be “customer-centric,” most vendors have an inward-looking focus on products and services they offer. This focus is passed onto B and C salespeople when they attend training on offerings in hopes of improving their ability to sell them. The end result can make these sellers virtual wind-up toys when they get in front of buyers. One of the phrases uttered in these organizations is that part of a seller’s job is educating buyers. It’s hard to express how strongly I disagree with that statement.
When trying to get to the end of sales cycles, sellers always seem to be in a hurry. In stark contrast, buyers frequently drag their feet before making decisions to spend money. Consider how often close dates slip for opportunities in the forecast. This discrepancy in decision time frames can cause sellers to close prematurely, offer discounts to accelerate decisions and pressure buyers. In extreme situations, deals can be lost. It often comes down to the seller’s or vendor’s agenda of needing to book orders at month, quarter or year-end.
Sales losses are hard. And they’re especially hard when the engagement has been long, difficult, and complex. Sales teams often feel as though they’ve given their best proposal, their best price, their best value proposition. But sometimes, that just isn’t enough to seal the deal.
After a loss, it’s tempting to walk away and not look back. After all, looking back can be painful. Better to start over with a fresh opportunity, right? Not necessarily.
The short answer? Yes.
Sure, we can all hold our noses and do things we don’t like, but few of us are also good at masking the discomfort. It’s obvious. You can’t appear engaged in that conversation while also thinking through tonight’s dinner plans in your head.
Of course, the long answer is it takes more than love. A sales rep also has to be confident in what they are doing in order to have the good intent, sincerity, and knowledge needed to close a deal with today’s B2B buyer (who has already Googled you for three weeks before calling).
Sometimes there’s a common element between selling software and feeding the birds in the park. When birds gather around for your food, you have to make very calm, deliberate movements, so they know they can trust you.
Often times after a painful loss (large transaction/long sales cycle), sellers will be asked to find out why they lost in hopes of getting smarter about things to do or avoid. While that all seems to be logical, it is difficult for the sellers to find out why they are losing.
Informing sellers that they’ve lost in an odd way is analogous to trying to make a clean break from someone you were dating in school. The person who wants to end the relationship tries to leave little room for discussion. One of the more effective techniques in achieving this goal Read more
A recent study funded by Microsoft reached what I view as a disturbing conclusion. It found that the average attention span of people has fallen significantly in the last few years. Since 2000 it has decreased by one-third and now stands at 8 seconds. To put that into context, we now have attention spans that are 1 second less than that of a goldfish!
If sellers are unfamiliar with a vendor that they are competing with some companies have competitive analysis groups to help with positioning. They often arm sellers with “knock-offs” (specific features they feel are advantages). The danger of this approach is two-fold:
Being in sales, I am constantly bombarded with objections from company leaders on a variety of topics. After all, I am the first person they deal with in the organization. They think Win Loss Analysis is something they can do on their own, believe a third party can’t get information their sales reps can, or question why they need a Win Loss program at all. “We know why we lose, it’s the price!” is the typical mantra I always hear.
Over the weekend I gave thought to changes in buying behavior. It prompted me to wonder if companies have modified their sales process milestones developed in the 90’s and imbedded them into their CRM software? I’d guess few companies have gone through that exercise. I was surprised to realize it’s probably okay but vendors should consider incorporating steps from customer buying processes into their sales processes.
A client who has a 75% plus market share in one of the healthcare device markets had been reviewing their loss engagements over the course of a few months with their program team and me. Through a series of Discovery sessions, we identified a trend unbeknownst to the sales reps that was causing them to lose sales. At first glance, you would think price is the reason, but as we dove into the responses from the buyers, the real issue became very clear.
Initially the client thought the competition was out-pricing them. Their product was priced 15% to 30% higher than the competition, according to buyers. However, their product wasn’t really priced too high. The sales teams were too complacent with the product they sold.
The sales reps, accustomed to winning, approached their buyers with the “best and newest offering” that had features and functions the buyer didn’t need at the time.
So what was the competition offering?
The Imitation Game, about the development of the first analytical machine, precursor to the computer, spawned an inspiring statement: “Sometimes it’s the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.”
In the quest to break the Enigma Code, the leaders at Bletchley Park incorrectly framed the need to decipher within the context of a team of Britain’s most brilliant mathematicians and code-breakers. Commander Denniston was ready to dismiss Alan Turing outright for declaring what was really needed was a machine that could process possible solutions millions of times faster than humans.
During a Discovery session (post-sales opportunity debrief) on a strong win, a client learned an exceptional but unheralded practice of one of their middle-of-the-pack sales reps.
What perceptions do B2B buyers consider when choosing between you and your closest competitor? This is critical. Because understanding how buyers perceive your company and knowing which attributes are most important to them, will be the difference between winning or losing a tight race where features, functionality and price are similar. A buyer’s overall perception of you is tied to several main attributes like reputation, industry experience, company size, who your customers are and more. These all play a critical role in that buyer’s decision. Understanding which of these company attributes are most important to buyers can position you to increase your win rate and most importantly, help you beat that closest competitor. You know the one.
Our latest Industry Insights Report “B2B Vendor Success,” focuses on buyer perceptions and was developed directly from buyer feedback. The report outlines which attributes B2B buyers feel are the most important in making purchase decisions. This free eBook “Understand 3 Buyer Perceptions to Increase Win Rates in Close Competitions” summarizes the report and discusses the three most important buyer perceptions uncovered by the research and includes recommendations on how to leverage this knowledge to beat your competition.
When selling to discerning B2B buyers, most sales reps focus on product or service attributes, an appropriate strategy since most selection decisions typically hinge on solution fit.
However sales teams can also distinguish themselves in buyers’ minds by knowing what non-solution factors are important to their prospects, including which factors are most important from an overall company perspective.
I am frequently on discovery calls with sales teams reviewing the reasons why a deal was won or lost. I see a wide range of responses to this feedback. In particular, I occasionally encounter defensiveness which is exhibited by accusatory comments such as “they were just using us to drive the incumbent’s price down” or “they golf with the competition’s CEO.” Letting yourself off the hook from learning Read more