I have talked about the importance of a Sales Process for several years now and a good Sales Process is essential. You can improve its effectiveness significantly by designing your Sales Process around customer expectations of professional salespeople. But that’s not enough. A good Sales Process alone won’t win you the sale. Really significant improvements in your chances of winning require Game Changers.
What do I mean by a Game Changer? Firstly it is something you do in a sales opportunity that radically disrupts the way the customer views you, your solution or the competition. The emphasis is on the word “radically”. Secondly it has to be something that can be easily replicated and used again and by other sales team members. Finally it has to be something that fits into a Sales Process stage.
Let me give you some examples. This first one is about changing the way the customer views you - or in this case views us - as it relates to a sale Infoteam recently made to a world-leading provider of equipment and solutions for technical education.
We had worked with the parent company previously and I was asked to make a presentation at their European Sales Meeting where I was approached by the person who was managing their Sales Transformation project. She was one of their star sales people. She showed me the internal project paper, which had many valuable elements, but revealed her lack of in depth knowledge about how to make transformation happen. We worked with her to improve the document using her company templates and with her name on it. When she was happy with it, she used it to present the project to her board.
We didn’t try and get access to senior decision makers and pitch to them. We made sure everything was expressed from her organisation’s perspective and we let her shine. The document radically changed the vendor selection process in our favour.
Engineer your strengths into the customer’s needs
Let me share another example, again from our own experience of selling Sales Transformation programs. This Game Changer radically disrupted the way the customer viewed our solution versus the competition.
We found ourselves up against a strong competitor pitching for a very large project with a global communications company. We knew the competitor’s solution well and knew that their sales methodology was often perceived as too complex and difficult to implement. The objective of our competitive strategy was to introduce our strengths into the customer’s needs. We positioned interviews with key decision makers as a way to better understand the customer’s requirements but the real objective was to implement our competitive strategy. In the interviews we covered several aspects of their needs but in addition we asked a number of questions about the importance of a pragmatic, easy to implement solution. By the time it came to the vendor solution presentations the importance of user acceptance was front of mind with the key people and we won the business.
Where do game changing ideas come from?
I have observed many groups of sales people striving to come up with game changing ideas and it is always just one or two people who come up with the best ideas. This is no surprise. Psychologists like Belbin long ago identified that in any group there will be a few people who are good at coming up with creative ideas. Game Changers are likely to come from your best sales people - the ones who are good at expressing what they do intuitively in a way that can be effectively communicated throughout the sales team and be used by all of them.
We are currently working with a large software organisation on Sales Transformation and shortly we are running a workshop with 400 sales people at their global sales conference. We will run 40 Opportunity Pit Stops, all working on live opportunities that need game changing ideas. At the end of all the sessions we will collate all the game changers and present them back to the 400 participants so they can take away a set of examples that have been developed to meet real challenges that arise when selling their own solutions in different customer segments.
You may not have a 400 strong team but you are almost certain to have some creative thinkers in your team whose best game changing ideas need to be shared among the whole team. Your objective is to have a set of Game Changers for every stage in the sales process. Using them effectively will mean every Opportunity Pit Stop is a chance to define game changers that will radically improve your chances of winning the sale.
- Is your sales process just a box ticking exercise?
- Do your Opportunity Pit Stops give people genuine game changing ideas?
- Are you effectively sharing Game Changers across your team?