I was inspired to write this article by the experience of one of our own consultants. Let me tell you about Peter. He is now a strong member of our team, working in Eastern Europe. His sales record is great and he delivers excellent workshops. But a few years back when he first joined Infoteam he didn’t do well. I think we can all learn a lot from Peter’s story.
Peter had a strong track record in B2B selling. He joined Infoteam back in 2013 and started selling our solutions for sales excellence to his network of contacts. Peter pitched to an ERP Company in Poland, an organisation where he had strong contacts but he didn’t win the business. When he asked the CSO, for feedback he was told, “You presented well but didn’t analyse our needs first. You didn’t do what you preach.”
Peter was disappointed but not disillusioned. In his next sales opportunity he developed an Appointment One-Pager, asked Need-Benefit Questions, wrote an Individual Value Proposition and developed a Deal One-Pager to support customer-internal selling. He asked for and received feedback from me. Using the tools and sales methodology gave him much greater credibility and it ensured that the prospect felt well understood and that the proposed solution was what they needed. After winning his first deal, the customer told him that they liked the way they were sold to.
You have probably experienced the same problem yourself; you research a company and read all about their ‘consultative approach’ and how they will understand all your needs and provide a tailored solution. Only to find when you talk to a sales person they offer you the same ‘one size fits all’ solution they offer to everyone.
Not everyone talks the talk and walks the walk – but some do
There are companies who eat their own dog food and are clearly thriving on it. For instance, Cisco the multinational technology company that develops, manufactures and sells networking hardware, telecommunications equipment and other high-technology services has a programme called Cisco on Cisco. The sales team uses their personal first-hand experience to show the benefits of using the company’s technology.
And major cloud computing Customer Relationship Management software company Salesforce demonstrates to customers exactly how they use their own Salesforce CRM system to sell to and retain customers.
How to learn from the mistakes Peter made
Quite simply, you have to have a repeatable sales process which ensures that you are professional in front of prospects and that you understand their market, their business and their needs. In a nutshell, customers need to perceive your sales approach as a USP. It’s always far more impressive to demonstrate professionalism and subject knowledge than it is to claim it.
And what should you make sure you never do? This is one for sales leaders. The role of the sales leader is to lead by example. Sales leaders must apply the company sales methodology themselves, otherwise they won’t be able to coach it.
Eating your own dog food may not sound appetizing, but as Peter will tell you – it works.