Thursday, 21 April 2016

Different Intentions, Different Outcomes

Trying not to lose is not the same thing as trying to win. Trying not to lose is reactionary. It’s prevention. Most of the time it prevents you from winning. Worst of all, it starts with the belief that you should focus on “not losing,” which gives the idea of losing too much power.

"Playing to win” begins with the belief that you can and will win. It’s empowering. The belief that you can win and the desire to do so allows you to take initiative, to be resourceful, and to take the necessary actions that will better your chances of winning—even if taking those actions comes with a particular risk.

Are you “playing to win?” Or are you playing to “not lose?” What would you differently if you changed your intentions?

Playing to Win or Playing Not to Lose

Playing to win is different than playing not to lose.” The actions you would take to win are different than the actions you would take to “not lose.”

Playing to Win

If you are playing to win, you do whatever is necessary to move things forward. You aggressively try to put points on the board. You’re not reckless, but you’re certainly not passive.

When you play to win, you make the call that you fear. You have the difficult conversation. You deal with the tricky issues that may put your outcomes at risk if things go south on you.

Playing Not to Lose

If you are playing to “not lose,” you’re cautious. Probably overly-cautious. You want to avoid mistakes, so you hold back. Instead of doing what you know you need to do, you wait to react. Instead of using all of your power to tilt things in your direction, you wait.

You don’t make the call to your dream client because they said they needed time to think things over. You avoid talking about your price because you worry that your prospect will say it’s too high. You don’t act because you are fearful that anything you do will put your deal at risk.

Velocity and Your Speed to Results

In sales, fast is slow and slow is fast. This means the more time you take to to be present, create value, and help your dream client, the faster things move forward. The faster you try to go and the more you try to “cram” relationships, trust-building, and moving through your process before serving your buyer’s needs, the slower things go.

There is a serious exception to this general principle: prospecting. When it comes to opening new relationships and creating opportunities, velocity matters a great deal, especially when many salespeople and sales organizations are opportunity starved.

The List

Imagine that someone provides you with a list. This list includes the name and phone number of 1,000 prospects. The person providing you that list tells you that there is no less than $5,000,000 in new sales in this list, all that revenue coming from prospects that are right in your sweet spot. All you have to do is accept the list, and start prospecting to collect the $5,000,000 in revenue.

How long does it take you to make the calls and find the $5,000,000 in revenue?

Slow Dialing

If you made 10 calls a day, or 50 calls a week, it would take you 20 weeks to make your first contact with every person on the list. Minus holidays and vacation, that’s about half a year.

Making 20 calls a day cuts your time in half. By making 100 calls a week, you make your calls in 10 weeks, less than a quarter of the year.

But we are looking at “dials” here, “attempted” calls, not actually conversations. The reality is that most of your calls are going to go to voicemail. Even if you leave an excellent message, you aren’t likely to get a lot of calls back.

If you were to dial 40 numbers a day, you’d be through your first attempt in 5 weeks. You’d have reached some percentage of the people you dialed and, depending on how effective you are on the phone, you’d have found opportunities, more if you’ve got chops, less if you don’t.

Your Real Math

Let’s assume you have a targeted list of 200 dream clients that are qualified, not some random list of 1,000 leads full of hidden opportunities. How long does it take you make it through that list?

The speed at which you prospect is the speed you open new relationships and create new opportunities. The slower you go, the less likely you are to have a killer pipeline, and the longer it takes you to build your book of business.

Fast is slow and slow is fast in human relationships. But faster is better when it comes to prospecting. In prospecting, you want velocity.

How long it takes you to succeed is a personal decision.

Evaluation of Risks and Addressing of Fears

If there is a cardinal sin in selling it is believing that your role as a salesperson ends after you present your solution. Your prospective client still needs your help.

It’s normal and natural to have concerns before making a purchase. But the bigger the problem is, the more strategic the solution, the more compelling the vision, the more concerns your prospect will have about their risk. Your prospective client fears that the changes can be more difficult than they imagined, that they may fail, that they may not get the outcomes they need, that they may be embarrassed, and that things will be worse having tried and failed. Some or all of these may be true.

Good salespeople provide proof as a way to help their prospective clients evaluate the risk and address their fears. Great salespeople provide the counsel of a trusted advisor.

Instead of leaving their prospective client alone to think through the risks and fears, great salespeople schedule meetings and spend time helping them to make good decisions, to plan for unforeseen circumstances, and to mitigate any risks.

Is how you sell in line with serving your prospective clients at each stage of their decision-making process?
Do you know where your prospective client is in this process before you begin to sell?

Exploration of Alternatives and Options

You can sell much better when you understand what your prospective client is accomplishing during this stage. A limited view of an exploration of alternatives and options can cause you to sell poorly and lose opportunities.

And, in our sometimes limited view, we think that we are competing only with our direct competitors. But our first competitor is the alternative of doing nothing. The status quo tends to have a lot of supporters, and when change is difficult, this option often looks very good.

There are other alternatives that include doing something completely different than what you or your competitors may recommend. Some companies may outsource a whole segment of their business rather than bring in a supplier to help them do it themselves, for example.

One mistake we sometimes make in this stage is to show our prospective client a single solution rather than giving them choices and collaborating with them on the right ideas.

It’s true that in competitive situations we focus on how we compete and win against good companies with good people and good solutions, some better than ours. Good salespeople present solutions. Great salespeople present ideas, options, and a chance to collaborate on the solution and the outcomes.

What are my choices?

What are the trade-offs?

What fits me the best?

Why You Have a Small Business

There is an old joke about how to have a small business. It goes like this, “You know how to have a nice small business?” The punchline is,Buy a large business and wait.

There is a reason that small businesses stay small, and why some would-be larger businesses shrink.

They think that their business isn’t a sales organization. The cardinal sin of most small businesses is that they believe that their business is not a sales organization. They believe their business is a design firm. They believe their business is an accounting firm. They believe their business is whatever they do to create value for customers. But because they do not put sales first, they never have enough customers.

They don’t understand the principles of selling. When a small business owner finally understands that they are a sales organization first and foremost, they struggle because they do not understand the principles of selling. Most of the time, they treat every sale like a transaction. They don’t understand the sales process, or funnels, or pipelines. They believe they need to present what they do and provide a quote, almost always by email. Because they do not understand sales, they struggle.
Eventually, they hire a salesperson.

They don’t know how to hire and manage salespeople. The real problem with a small business hiring a salesperson is they have no idea how to hire or manage them. First, they believe that someone who has sales listed on their resume is qualified to sell. After all, they know more about sales than a business owner, right? Then, they get bamboozled by “salespeople” who collect the salary and produce no results. After going through this a couple times they believe there are no good salespeople available. So . . .

They stop hiring salespeople altogether. Because the small business owner doesn’t know how to hire or manage salespeople, they give up. Well, first they hate salespeople. And then they give up. They try to do the selling themselves, or they let a good and loyal employee do the selling for them.
They don’t spend the money to build their capacity for growth. When a small business owner is fortunate enough to figure out how to grow, they resist spending the money to scale and keep pace with what should be their real growth rate. Because they cut corners and fail to make investments, they never grow into what they might have been had they been a sales organization first.
The key to growth is, was, and always will be sales. Your company, regardless of what you do, is a sales organization. Embracing that is the first step on the path to growth.

Win More by Serving Your Buyers Where They Are

This is a long and critically important piece of content. You may want to spend some time with it this week.

Selling well begins with understanding where your prospective client is in their decision-making. By knowing where they are in their process, you can better serve them, and you can also create a preference for you and your solution.

A Problem Worth Solving

You will find your prospective clients in one of three states.

The first state in which you might find them is the easiest and least likely. That is where they have a problem worth solving and they are compelled to solve it.

The second state you might find your prospective client in is one where they don’t know that they have a problem, and so they aren’t compelled to change. This is more likely where most of your clients are when you find them. You can see that they should be producing better results, but they don’t understand how those results are possible.

You might also find a prospective client who knows that they have a problem but are not compelled to solve it.

The more your approach serves the prospect where they are, the better your results. If they know they have a problem and are compelled to change, you help them do so. If they don’t know that they could be producing better results and that they should be compelled to change, you teach them what their problems are and how you can help solve them.

What about the third group, the group that knows they have a problem and won’t change. Some people actually have to experience the heart attack before they change their diet and start exercising.

Is this change worth pursuing?

Sometimes your prospective clients need help understanding the root cause of their problems or challenges. They need help identifying a compelling vision of what their future should look like.

Good salespeople help their prospective clients solve the presenting problem or challenge they uncovered during their discovery. Great salespeople help their prospective clients find the root cause of those problems or challenges.

Good salespeople do an excellent job selling their solution. Great salespeople build a compelling vision of the future state, recognizing that the solution is valuable only as it relates to bringing that vision to life.

We think of discovery as coming to understand our prospective clients’ needs. But it’s more than that. They are also discovering the root cause of their challenge and a vision of a better future. This is what we do when we are at our best.

What needs to change?

Why should I change now?

How will it be better?

Profit On Every Deal

We are losing money on every transaction, but we’re going to make it up in volume.”

There are a lot of ways to rationalize taking business that isn’t profitable.

Maybe you take unprofitable business in a new vertical where you believe you need a client to develop your offering as well as a reference.

Perhaps you believe that taking one really bad order where you can’t make money will unlock the better, more profitable business.

Maybe you believe that all business is good business; that it’s revenue, and any revenue is better than nothing.

These are all rationalizations. No matter how good it feels to capture revenue, there isn’t a single reason to take business at break even, or worse, at a loss.

Empty Calories

Revenue without profit is “junk food” business. You’re consuming calories, but there is no nutritional value. Profit is what allows you to invest in your business.

You need profit to grow and expand. You need profit to hire more people. Profit is what allows you to innovate, to create, to develop new offerings that allow you to create even greater value.

And it is profit that allows you to differentiate. It is that money that you invest into doing things differently be it better products, better service, or greater caring. It’s profit that fuels these things.

Selling Isn’t Supposed to Be Easy

The reason some sales organizations take business at a loss is because selling isn’t easy. They try to make selling easier by removing price from the equation–even when they create value worth paying for.

Unprofitable business makes everything more difficult. Without profit, business is a cold, transactional, desperate endeavor, a grind in the older, negative sense of the word. Profit allows you to do purposeful, meaningful work that makes a difference. It also allows you to hire people to help you do the same.