Sammy is the Managing Director and Cofounder of Blossom Street Ventures. Email him directly at firstname.lastname@example.orgI recently re-read “Hope is not a Strategy — The 6 Keys to Winning the Complex Sale” by Rick Page. The book is great and below are some excerpts which I found valuable.
“If business pain or political power for sponsorship is missing from the evaluation, it will sit on your forecast forever. Picking the right battles is the key to resource allocation. Most salespeople in the complex sale work at most, ten to twenty opportunities in a year.”
“The key to consultative selling is to determine the client’s needs first. It is even better if you help them determine what their needs are. If you first learn of an opportunity when the requirements definition lands on your desk, you have already missed the first step in the sales cycle. You are to some degree already out of control, especially if someone else helped write the requirements.”
“The salesperson who discusses the competition too early or too aggressively will be perceived as unprofessional or defensive. But one who doesn’t differentiate or control the issues will be in constant reaction mode.”
“The first step is to find a latent business problem and create a vision of what life could be like if they solve it. They also create a vision of what bad things could happen if it’s not solved because their biggest competitor is ‘no action’. This creates a gap between where the client is and where the client could be. The next step is to quantify the gap and define the financial return on investment. Then they must find a sponsor with enough power to whom this gap is politically painful and emotional because again, pain doesn’t come from the problem, it comes from the political embarrassment or the chance for glory.”
“IBM rarely had the best product the soonest. But it didn’t matter. They put the big blue label on it and drowned the client in enough service engineers to provide a technical solution. Clients paid a premium for low political risk because no one ever got fired for selecting IBM. They may not have had the best product at that time, but they had the best solution.”
“This is a critical part of the sale when we begin listening and out-caring the competition, thus building the bonds of rapport that will eventually lead to trust. Even if we know what the pains are, it’s not enough. The client needs to confess them.”
“Nobody asked for the VCR. Nobody put out a request for Windows. But customers knew they wanted it when they saw it. These were dormant pains.”
“Pain doesn’t come from the business problem, it comes from the political embarrassment of the business problem. If the pain or lost opportunity is not visible, then it’s not embarrassing and it will not drive business buying activity to a close.”
“having established this channel of communication, never give it up. Always have a good reason to call this executive back. “Do you mind if I keep you appraised of how the project is going? And by the way, when we do the needs assessment, we’d like to spend some time with you to understand what the strategic objectives are for this project.”
“The best of plans require critical thinking and that is perceived by some people as negative. It is true there is a self-fulfilling effect of positive thinking. However too often this results in assumptions or happy ears for salespeople who are always ignoring the facts. The account looks good, right up until it’s lost.”
“Flanking strategies in sales situations actually mean one of five things:
-Changing the power means encouraging your sponsors to exert their power or bring in influencers who have not been drawn to the evaluation yet.
-Integration is one of the benefits that separates a solution from a product. If you can link your solution into a client’s existing technology, they will benefit from lower risk and the simplicity of leverage of dealing with fewer vendors.
“You must refocus off the imagined political benefit of a lower price, and on the longer term benefits of the overall project. “Mr Prospect, how are you measured and what you will be remembered for three years from now won’t be the price, it will be the success of the project. If this goes well, the cost will be a detail. If the project goes poorly, no one will say ‘well at least we got a bargain.’”
“To a salesperson, project leaders can be gatekeepers. And they are often covered in political glue. Once you touch them you’re stuck. One approach is not to touch them at all. They may be nice people and they may be instrumental to your sale, but they can limit your navigation. Try not to take no from a person who can’t say yes.”