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Beyond the Sales Process: 12 Proven Strategies for a Customer-Driven World Hardcover – Special Edition, April 4, 2016
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“[will] expand your view of what it takes to raise your game.” --Jack Malcolm blog
"Steve Andersen and Dave Stein explore this process brilliantly in Beyond the Sales Process...[they] have a time tested approach that’s rock solid. Make sure you take the time to read, study, execute!” --Partners in Excellence blog
"..a fresh, effective approach to engaging, winning, and growing with customers." --Retail Observer
“… one of the most captivating sales books of 2016 and one we recommend all emerging sales leaders read.” --Peak Sales Recruiting
“…practical, proven methods for effectively positioning and differentiating yourself in an unprecedentedly competitive sales environment enabling you to take your sales performance to a whole new level.” --Sales Pro Insider
One of Top Sales World's Top 50 Sales Books of 2016
One of Peak Sales Recruiting's 25 Sales Books Every New Sales VP Needs to Read
One of Sales Pro Insider's 2016 Sales Must-Read Books
"...its timeless wisdom is wrapped within a modernized approach [to] achieving sales success by intelligently creating value for customers." --Tony J. Hughes
"The book is a splendid analysis of strategies proven effective in dealing with customers before, during, and after the sale...valuable resource.” --Choice
One of 2017's “15 Great Business Books You Should Definitely Read This Year” --Jeff Haden, Inc.
The average executive spends less than 5 percent of their time engaged in the buying of products and services. This means that in this post-recession business environment, sales professionals who focus solely on the moment of the sale have made a fatal miscalculation.
Featuring instructional case studies from companies including Hilton Worldwide, Merck, and Siemens, this evidence-based book provides readers with a proven methodology for driving success before, during, and after every sale. Embracing the entire customer life cycle, Beyond the Sales Process reveals 12 essential strategies, including:
Research your customer • Build a vision with them for their own success • Understand your customers’ drivers, objectives, and challenges • Effectively position and differentiate • Create and realize value together • Leverage your results to forge lasting—and mutually beneficial—relationships
Reinforced by research from Aberdeen Group, SAMA, ITSMA, and other experts, this book will help you to grow with your customers—and take your sales performance to a whole new level.
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- Strive for mutual value creation by becoming a trusted advisor
- Develop relationships between your executives and theirs
- Share best-practices and industry knowledge with your prospect
- Personalize every conversation (including emails and voicemails)
- “Discovery is perpetual” since business conditions and objective are ever-changing
- Take notes during all meetings
- Know that no single value proposition applies to every customer
- Work with intensity and urgency on the things that matter most to the customer
- “value, alignment, relationships, and growth—represent the four most important words in contemporary strategic account management”
- “it can take 5 to 8 years to develop a mature SAM (strategic account management) program”
II. Before the sale
- Become a student of your customer by asking good questions and avoiding positioning your solutions too early. Give before you get.
- Research key information, including:
o specific objectives / goals / key initiatives and what success looks like; this includes overcoming major internal & external challenges and realizing opportunities
o industry dynamics (Porter’s forces: competitors, suppliers/partners, government, …)
o their history with your organization
o business structure and organizational structure (BUs and key people including influencers and blockers)
o their value proposition to their customers (including who their most valuable customers are)
o significant internal and external news & events
o decision making process including their team and evaluation criteria
o your competition for the account
- “The best source for information about your customer is your customer”
III. During the sale
- Approach business strategically and consultatively rather than ‘transactionally’
- Conduct discovery at all levels to build a deep and wide network of sponsors and supporters throughout your customer’s organization”; senior execs focus on the company, middle managers on their BU, and individual contributors on their project
- Trust then verify during discovery
- Identify “the obstacles and risks associated with proceeding (or not proceeding)” with your solution
- Ensure there is an executive sponsor on their decision making team
- Position on the following elements: product/service; resources; expertise; customer experience; brand reputation
- Provide references to reduce their perceived risk
- Help “your customer understand your company’s training and knowledge transfer capabilities"”
IV. After the sale
- You have not won the business until agreements are signed
- Ask “why” once you are selected (or not selected)
- Engage customers immediately following the sale since that is when they are most nervous
- “Help (them) assess your performance with mutually acceptable (success) metrics”
- Provide a single point of contact to serve as an internal advocate to focus on the client’s needs and save them the frustration of navigating your organization
- Periodically review “Past proven value… by tallying up and summarizing the external drivers, business objectives, and internal challenges that you and your organization helped your customer address in the past, as well as the solutions you have provided and the unique value that you’ve created and co-created together” and identify “any new and different drivers and pressures impacting their business”
- Promptly resolve problems and conflicts as they arise
- Run best practice sharing forums for customers
1: Research the organization; become a student of your customer
2: Explore the possibilities; give your customer a reason to engage
3: Vision the success: Visualize future potential value with your customer
4: Elevate the conversation; define and pursue customer value targets
5: Discover the drivers; understand what’s at stake for your customers
6: Align the teams; develop customer sponsors and supporters
7: Position the fit; compete for customer mindshare
8: Differentiate the value; create a customer preference
9: Realize the value; meet and exceed customer expectations
10: Validate the impact; measure success with your customer
11: Adapt the approach; apply the lessons learned with your customer
12: Expand the relationship; leverage your past proven value
• Engage: Driving success before the sale
• Win: Driving success during the sale
• Grow: Driving success after the sale
What is new here is the emphasis placed on sales activities before and after the sale. The authors advocate extensive research on your customer before the sale, then offer to share your insights, ideas and best practices with your customer, without any immediate expectation of selling them anything. Discover your customer’s personal drivers, personal objectives and plans and the personal challenges that can prevent them from meeting their goals. And ask the right questions of the right people.
I like their approach to that much-discussed but elusive “value creation”. We create value for our customers when we show how our resources, capabilities, expertise, products and services facilitate our customer achieving their personal goals. Not just responding to their requirements stated in their Request for Proposal (RFP).
I also like Strategy six, which is to align your team with your customer’s, developing customer sponsors and supporters. Learn how each contact defines success. Alignment is building relationships based on trust, credibility and value creation. The authors offer advice on how to achieve this and pitfalls to avoid.
In the final chapters of the book they offer questions and tips to help evaluate the impact of your solution on the customer and the relationship. In fact throughout the book they provide questions to evaluate your success with each of the 12 strategies. Finally there are rich case studies that illustrate the application of the strategies.
There are many nuggets to mine in this book. However there are also some omissions. The book downplays the Go/NoGo decision, an important step in selling. Sales teams must decide consciously whether or not to pursue an opportunity. Too often the decision is made by default, resulting in proposals that do not win.
The authors also neglect to address the important effect of behavioral style on the customer relationship. If the customer is not comfortable with you personally, building trust is difficult. The best strategies in the world will not succeed if the customer does not trust you. The best reps adapt their style to match their customer’s.
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