ADVANCED NEW I.T. ACCOUNT PENETRATION STRATEGIES WEBINAR
Please join Steve W. Martin has he discusses his revolutionary new account penetration strategies from his just released book, Heavy Hitter I.T. Sales Strategy: Competitive Insights from interviews with 1,000+ Key Information Technology Decision Makers and Top Technology Salespeople.
One of the toughest tasks in all of sales is to penetrate new accounts. Take a moment to put yourself in the position of the I.T. executive you are trying to contact. You are incredibly busy fulfilling your daily job duties and have a long list of to-dos to be completed. Given your frame of mind, it’s easy to understand why you wouldn’t respond to a sales pitch from some unknown salesperson.
Under these circumstances, the salesperson’s job is to connect with the busy executive and earn the right to a meeting. How do win over a complete stranger who has no interest in hearing from you? The answer to this question is that it requires a concerted account penetration campaign that is conducted within a compelling language-based framework.
In this webinar, Steve will review advanced email messaging strategies based upon “sales linguistics.” Sales linguistics is the new field of study about how customers and salespeople use and interpret language during the decision making process. These communication strategies that will enable your message to rise above your competition’s. They provide impactful psychological suggestions that compel customers' rational intellect and emotional subconscious to take action and meet with you.
Heavy Hitter I.T. Sales Strategy is a comprehensive guide for penetrating new accounts, differentiating your solution during the sales cycle, and winning highly competitive accounts. It is based on extensive research and interviews with more than 1,000 key information technology decision makers, top technology salespeople, and vice presidents of sales. The book provides state of the art technology sales strategies and advanced tactics for senior salespeople who want to learn the secrets of top performers.
Technology Sales Organization Strategy: Key Trends and Performance Metrics
Advanced Sales Cycle Strategy: Control the Complex Technology Sale
Sales Call Strategy: Differentiate Yourself in face-to-face customer meetings
New Account Penetration Strategy: Language-based Tactics to Secure Initial Meetings
Personal Communication Strategy: Say the Right Words to Convince Customers to Buy
Readers will find advice on how to win over C-level I.T. executives and senior business leaders across the organization. Discover how I.T. organizational structure impacts company decision making. Determine how to gain strategic account control based upon the people, process, and politics of selling to complex businesses. Learn to conduct persuasive sales calls using sales linguistics, the study of how the customer's mind uses and interprets language. Learn More
For many companies the only time during the entire year when the worldwide sales team gets together is the annual sales kickoff meeting. Obviously, everyone wants this meeting to be a success. As a keynote speaker who has had the privilege of presenting at hundreds of annual sales meetings, I thought I would share some of the ways companies sabotage their sales meeting.
Wrong Length. German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus discovered people forget facts at a predictable rate and that greatest learning actually occurs by studying less. His famous “Forgetting Curve” (see figure above) shows that your meeting attendees will already have forgotten 80% of what they learned just two days before. You should keep this in mind when you are deciding on holding a three, four, or five day sales meeting.
Wrong Agenda. You’re making a mistake if every session at your meeting is a “deep-dive” about product specifications, features, and functionality. Ideally, your agenda should include at least six different types of sessions:
1. State of the Union presentations about the company and sales, marketing, R&D, customer support and other pertinent areas of the company.
2. Product-related sessions from the prospective customer’s point of view. Ideally, customers share their stories about their experiences and success.
3. Competitive comparison sessions and market updates from industry analysts.
4. Personal sales skills development sessions that address your biggest sales challenges and complement your particular sales cycle methodology.
5. Sales strategy sessions based upon real-world win-loss studies and information.
6. Motivational speakers and humorous presentations, video clips, skits, games, etc.
Wrong Communication. Too many sales kickoffs are death by PowerPoint where presenter after presenter lectures the sales organization. These meetings don’t involve their salespeople in any aspect of the group presentations. Key salespeople should be asked to present summary overviews of their most important wins. Whenever I keynote a meeting, I will also moderate a panel that I call “Tales From the Field” where top salespeople are interviewed about their major wins and losses.
Wrong Location. There are three critical factors in determining location. First, how many airplane connections will it take for the majority of the salespeople to reach the meeting? Never select a location that requires three or more flights for non-international-based attendees. Second, stay away from “hazardous” weather locations during January through March (like the northeast or cities like Chicago). Finally, how much time, effort, and cost will take to get all your corporate presenters (and their demonstration equipment) to the meeting? This will help you determine if you should hold the meeting near corporate headquarters.
Wrong Meeting Facility. Consider the following when selecting the hotel and meeting facility. How far is it from the airport? This forgotten factor is important because no one likes the hassle of flying all day only to have to shuttle for another hour or two to a hotel. The hotel meeting facility you choose also sends a message to the sales team. Is the company trying to send a message of austerity based upon the economic climate or do you want them to feel appreciated for all their hard work? Whatever your situation is, make sure the hotel mirrors the main messages being delivered by the senior leaders presenting at the meeting.
Wrong Acknowledgement. No one has ever been fired for saying too many compliments or handing out too much recognition at a sales conference. Awards are extremely important because salespeople enjoy the acclaim and the public identification as a role model with their peers. Therefore, compliments to individual salespeople should be given out continuously throughout the sales kickoff and awards should always be done in full view of the entire organization.
Other Articles That Might Interest You:
How to Choose a Sales Kickoff Theme
Annual Sales Meeting Ideas for the Best Sales Conference
How to Structure the Sales Kickoff Meeting Agenda
Top Five Sales Kickoff Meeting Mistakes
How to Select a Sales Kickoff Keynote Speaker
Harvard Business Review is arguably the most prestigious publication for business leaders and management thinkers. Here’s one of my recent Harvard Business Review articles titled the Win More Business with an Indirect Strategy.
For the past two decades, business to business selling has been conducted in basically the same way. Salespeople directly approach customers armed with facts, features, and the benefits of their products to convince customers to buy. However, customer decision making has changed and today’s buyers are smarter and more sophisticated than ever. In addition, your competitors have not sat idly by. They’re focused on defeating you so they have educated themselves about your products and sales tactics. Sales success in today’s times requires a new way of thinking about sales strategy. The question is, what is the right strategy for today?
In his classic book Strategy, famous military historian Lidell Hart detailed the “indirect” approach to war. In painstaking detail he described the superiority of the indirect strategy over the direct strategy, using examples throughout the history of warfare. He theorized that the outcome of every major war from Roman times through World War II could be attributed to the grand strategy the parties selected. Instead of a brute force direct attack to overwhelm the enemy, the victors always chose to battle indirectly. When forced to fight, the indirect strategy involves using surprise, intelligence, logic, and human nature to exploit the enemy’s weaknesses.
Hart argued that the indirect approach was not solely a war strategy but also an influential philosophy that could be applied wherever opposition to new ways of thinking exists. He said, “The direct assault of ideas provokes a stubborn resistance, thus intensifying the difficulty of producing a change of outlook.” For example, “The suggestion that there is a bargain to be secured is far more potent than any direct appeal to buy.” Below, you will find seven principles of the indirect strategy and their business to business sales application.
1. Employ Psychology. The first and foremost principle is that the indirect strategy is a psychological operation (“psy-op” in military jargon) based upon understanding, predicting, and influencing human nature. In sales, winning requires earning the trust, respect, and friendship of another human being. The victor builds the strongest customer relationship while inflicting mental and emotional trauma on his enemies. The secondary psychological goal is to elevate the enemy’s combat fatigue and skepticism about winning because a halfhearted warrior is more than halfway to losing.
2. Plan Your Strategy. During a long sales cycle of several months or more, it’s easy to focus on individual battles and lose sight of winning the war. The sales cycle is reduced to a series of battles without an overriding grand strategy. Salespeople become fixated on the next customer interaction, proceeding from the initial sales call to the sales presentation, then on to the product demonstration and evaluation. However, all salespeople are like generals who should create a strategy to win their wars long before the first battle begins. The successful military leader preplans how and where he will attack in accordance with the resources at his disposal. The victorious commander achieves his objective through calculated maneuvers to gain the advantage and counter tactics to neutralize his enemy’s advantages.
3. Know Your Enemies. How well do you know your competitors? How much time do you spend studying their Web sites, products, and marketing collateral? Do you take the time to perform an honest win-loss analysis after each engagement? Most salespeople argue that they simply don’t have enough time for these types of activities. However, history repeats itself for those who don’t learn from the past.
4. Be the First on the Battlefield. As a rule, it is always best to be the first salesperson in an account. The chance to understand a customer’s environment first, establish relationships, and set the criteria for the selection process are obvious advantages. But if you work for an underdog company that competes against industry favorites, being the first on the battlefield is the difference between success and failure.
5. Spies Provide Privileged Information. Nearly twenty-five hundred years ago Chinese general Sun Tzu wrote about the indirect strategy when he said, “Knowledge of the enemy’s position can only be obtained from other men. Hence, the use of spies.” These words are still true today. In order to win any complex sale you need proprietary information that only a spy can provide. These spies are members of the selection team, other company employees, or business partners. They provide valuable information about the internal machinations of the selection process and inform you about the thoughts of the various selection team members. Without a spy, you never know how well you are positioned in an account or what the enemy’s next move will be.
6. Understand How the Objective is Organized. All battlefield commanders need location-based information so they can map the way to reach their objective. Similarly, salespeople need a complete understanding of how the evaluators are organized within their company because political power during the decision-making process goes far beyond the lines and titles on an organization chart.
If you are involved in selling an enterprise solution, you already know the importance of understanding the inner workings of the various departments within a company. Your product might be purchased by the information technology department and used by accounting and manufacturing. Therefore, it’s critical to map out the political interrelationships between evaluators and their respective departments of the organization.
7. Create Turning Points. The indirect strategy is based upon creating turning points which cause enemies to lose momentum they can never regain. Like war, every deal has a critical moment, or turning point, that determines the winner and the loser. In sales, information can be used to create turning points that eliminates competitors. Your expertise on the customer’s industry, understanding of best practices, knowledge of unflattering facts about your archrival, and the willingness to raise critical issues the customer is unaware of can be used to create turning points.
For the sales warriors of the business world today, the difference between being hailed as a hero or branded a failure hinges on winning. But in order to win, you must know the steps it takes to develop a winning strategy. Winning is everything in sales as it is in war. In the words of indirect strategy practitioner Napoleon Bonaparte, “Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever.”
Sales is a profession based upon pressure: pressure from sales management to make the numbers, pressure from competitors who are trying to defeat you, pressure you place yourself to be number one, and the pressure to perform on every sales call.
Pressure upon the salesperson during sales calls has a profound impact. It creates an emergency situation that triggers our body’s “fight or flight” system. Here are a few of the physiological changes that happen to a salesperson who is making a stressful customer sales call or conducting a critical presentation he hopes will land him the big deal.
The eyebrows instinctively rise and the eyes widen. The iris eye muscle contracts, causing the pupils to dilate. These actions enhance vision so that maximum visual information about the perceived threats can be sent to the brain.
The brain’s cortex interprets the visual information it is receiving and transmits messages to the brain’s hypothalamus. The hypothalamus activates the adrenal gland, which instantaneously releases adrenaline into the blood stream. The hormone adrenaline activates the body’s emergency response systems.
The heart pumps at up to twice its normal rate. Breathing increases so that the lungs can supply more oxygen to the blood. Oxygen-rich blood is sent to the brain for clearer thinking and to muscles for quick reactions. The stomach stops digestion so that blood can be diverted elsewhere in the body. The liver releases sugar reserves for a quick boost of energy, and the bladder sends a message that it wants to be emptied so the body can flee faster.
On the outside of the body, perspiration gathers as sweat glands are activated to reduce the body heat caused by the increased flow of blood. The mouth widens so that air can be taken in faster than through the nose. The face loses color and appears ashen as blood is diverted for more important uses.
The increase in bodily activity corresponds to the escalation of mental activity as well. The salesperson’s internal dialogue speeds up, jumps from subject to subject, and second-guesses itself. “Are they with me?” “What should I say next?” This tension and fear are exposed in the salespeople’s speech. They talk too fast, repeat themselves, stutter, or under extreme stress completely forget what they were going to say.
The reality of this situation is that the salesperson must project a calm, cool, collected presence to the customer at all times. To do otherwise would increase the customer’s stress level. Nervousness and agitation may be misinterpreted and convince customers that the salesperson has something to hide. Verbal faux pas may be thought of as incompetence. Think about your last visit to your dentist. What would your reaction have been if before he started to work on your mouth he seemed nervous, agitated, or flustered? You would be scared and have a very stressful appointment.
Basically, every deal is in one of three zones: your zone, a competitor’s zone, or open business that is up for grabs. Typically, fifteen percent or so of business is in your zone, meaning it’s yours to lose. Most likely, your competitor’s zone is similar in size to yours. However, you cannot win there, so you shouldn’t even try. The remaining deals, representing the lion’s share of business, should be hotly contested because there is a path for you to win them. All you have to do is figure it out before your competition.
In your zone is a natural combination of human chemistry, business synergy, and technical fit between you and the customer. This is your “sweet spot.” Heavy Hitters (Truly Great Salespeople) know their sweet spot inside and out. One might say, for example, “My sweet spot is packaged-goods companies with $250 to $400 million in annual revenues where the key decision maker is a gregarious fifty-five-year-old former factory worker who rose through the ranks and is now on a mission to increase plant efficiency.” The more specifically, you can describe your zone, the better off you are.
Your competitor has a sweet spot as well, and it may be quite close to or far away from your zone. Continuing the example from above, the competitor’s zone might be billion-dollar-revenue packaged-goods companies where the key decision maker is an introverted forty-five-year-old who has an extensive financial background.
So, what is your zone? Where are you strong and where are you weak? Equally important, ask these same two questions about your competitor before you decide to work on an account.
Minimize mistakes when working on a deal in your zone. Apply your strengths against the competition’s weakness in open accounts. Stay out of deals in the competitor’s zone. Salespeople who willingly compete on the enemy’s terrain are only fooling themselves. Sales managers who mandate that salespeople go after accounts deep in the competition’s zone are just plain foolish.
I’m very excited to tell you about the fifth volume of the “Heavy Hitter” series of books for senior salespeople. I’ll be sharing more information in future posts. The book will be available this fall and click here to preorder a copy from Amazon.
Heavy Hitter I.T. Sales Strategy
Competitive Insights from Interviews with 1,000+ Key Information Technology Decision Makers and Top Technology Salespeople
Influence the Hidden Organizational Politics That Impact Decision Making
THE ART OF SALES “WARFARE” STRATEGY
All salespeople must must be generals who create a strategy to win their wars long before the first battle begins. The successful military leader painstakingly plans how and where he will attack in accordance with the troops and weapons at his disposal. When the fighting starts, the victorious commander achieves his objective through battlefield maneuvers to gain the advantage and countertactics to neutralize his enemy’s advance.
If you are in sales, you are perpetually in a state of war. All salespeople are warriors who must fight the relentless march of time and enemies who are trying to defeat them daily. Sales is an intense hand-to-hand battle fought between two people or two groups of people who are each trying to win over the customer. The victor outsmarts, outmaneuvers, and overwhelms his enemies.
In sales, just as in war, there can be only one winner, and today’s conqueror can quickly become tomorrow’s vanquished. The deciding difference is strategy. Strategy is the most critical component of sales success. Without the right sales strategy, all of your hard work and sales acumen are inconsequential.
Please click here to read about my latest Harvard Business Article Review article about The Indirect Sales Strategy. Lean how the greatest military strategists won and what the ages have to teach us about defeating our enemies on the battlefield of business to business sales.
I first met Jill Konrath in South Africa three years ago while were speaking at the same sales conference (that’s our picture on the sign along with Nick Read). She’s smart, talented, and we hit it off famously. She’s written some of the best-known books on sales and her body of work speaks itself. Her new book is titled “Agile Selling” and click here to order your copy from Amazon.
“Being an agile seller in today’s business environment virtually guarantees a prosperous career. You can ramp up quickly in new positions, becoming competent in record time. You can jumpstart sales of new products or services. You can instantly adjust to new market dynamics. In short, agility becomes your competitive edge.”
When salespeople are promoted, switch jobs, or face new business conditions, they need to learn lots of new information and skills quickly. It’s a daunting task, compounded by the fact that they’re under intense pressure to deliver immediate results.
What sales guru Jill Konrath calls agile selling is the ability to quickly learn all this new info and then leverage it for maximum impact. Having an agile mind-set, one that keeps you going through challenging times, is the crucial starting point. You also need a rapid-learning plan that helps you establish situational credibility with your targeted or existing customers in just thirty days.
In Agile Selling, you’ll discover numerous strategies to help you:
• Pinpoint “must know now” information and skills
• Home in on the business case for making a change
• Ferret out the most effective sales approaches
• Find fresh solutions to problems you’re facing
• Maximize your productivity
The result? You’ll become an overnight sales expert, slashing your path to proficiency. Today’s savvy, well-educated prospects expect you to be a knowledgeable resource from the first minute of your relationship. If you’re not, they’re unforgiving.
That’s why getting off to a fast start is so important. In changing times, your short-term success determines your long-term success. Yet few companies have implemented a sales onboarding plan to ensure that this happens. Most sellers are on their own to learn by osmosis, shadow an experienced rep, or go through a few days of training. Those strategies simply don’t work anymore!