Seven traits for modern day solution sellers

If you’ve worked in sales for any length of time, you’ve probably already noticed that things have shifted – a lot – in the last few years. Buying behaviors have changed dramatically, so we now operate in an “asymmetric” environment where buyers are better informed and more empowered than they used to be. Traditional sales tactics aren’t working so well (or at all), so a different mindset is required, and ideally, a different management approach to go with it. Here are some character traits that I hope will help you embrace a mindset fit for purpose for 21st century sellers.

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Why close dates are bad for your sales pipeline health

Close dates. As a B2B solution seller, I, like many others in similar roles, have spent so much time over my career obsessing over this seemingly simple data point. I mean, it’s pretty normal right? The focus of our work is finding, developing, and closing sales opportunities, and the close date is a vital piece of information that is captured, updated, and reported on ad nauseam.

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Cross Functional Teams: Why They’re Good for Your Sales Organisation

Ever worked in a startup? In particular an early stage one with around 6-12 people? My bet is that it was populated by highly motivated individuals with a strong desire to succeed, and was most likely immense fun to be a part of – and not to mention the hardest you ever worked! And by definition that team was cross-functional and self-organising – in other words it had all the requisite roles and skills to succeed, and was empowered to figure out how to achieve its goals. Continue reading “Cross Functional Teams: Why They’re Good for Your Sales Organisation”

Book Review: The Unintentional Salesman by Glenn Coe

Glenn Coe chose to sub-title his book: “Lessons from a life on the road. The essential guide for a sales career”. In that respect, the book delivers – lots of solid advice, based on real experience. It’s chapters are structured as a series of questions, starting from the very basics, for example: What is Sales?, What Does it Take to be Good at Sales?, How Do I know if I’m Cut Out for It?, and so on, including, later on, Should I Buy a Porsche?, and Why Do My Colleagues Hate Me?

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Three Ways Kanban Boards can Improve Your Sales Process

B2B sales is a complex job – there are often many different moving parts associated with a sales opportunity, including the customer, and the various stakeholders involved; the opportunity itself, and the potential investments and rewards it represents to the customer and the supplier; the specific requirements which need to be satisfied; the solution that is offered; the contracting process – and so on.

Keeping track of all these different moving parts, in any coherent kind of fashion, is not easy, especially as they: a) can move independently of one another; b) do not always progress in a simple linear way; and c) are often outside of our direct control. Multiply that by everything that’s in your pipeline and you have a challenge on your hands. The greater the complexity of your opportunity (or set of opportunities in your pipeline) the greater the chances of missing some key aspect or piece of information, leading to increased risk (of losing deals), and therefore decreased reliability of your forecast.

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Lean & Agile Principles & Practices – How They Can Improve Your B2B Sales Process

Over the last decade or so, lean and agile principles and practices have become increasingly popular and prevalent in many aspects of business. Whole communities of people have begun to embrace lean and agile, industries focusing on lean and agile have sprung up, and many organisations have bet their futures on “transforming” to lean and agile ways of working.

So what has this got to do with the business of sales and selling? I believe there are many good concepts in lean and agile, and that sales and salespeople can benefit from embracing at least some of them.

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Lean & Agile Sales Process: a Non-Linear Approach

Why did we create the Essential Sales Process (ESP)? Well the answer is that myself, and the other co-creators of ESP, have worked in solution selling for most of our careers, and we felt that most of the available solution selling processes on offer didn’t work very well. They tend to be very linear, and assume a “happy day” scenario where everything goes according to plan, and we always have control over what the customer does, and what the competition does. Continue reading “Lean & Agile Sales Process: a Non-Linear Approach”

Improve sales governance with a well-defined opportunity lifecycle

A good sales process not only helps the sales team with opportunity qualification, assessment and planning, but also supports good governance. A key aspect of sales governance in most organisations is the opportunity lifecycle, usually defined by a linear progression of stages, e.g. Suspect, Prospect, Qualified, Business Win, and Closed Won. If your organisation uses a CRM system (who doesn’t these days?), then these stages will be hard-wired into that system, and will be key indicators feeding up into management reports and dashboards upon which forecasts and critical business decisions will be made. Continue reading “Improve sales governance with a well-defined opportunity lifecycle”

Performing opportunity reviews and planning next steps with the essential sales process

Improving win rate and accelerating deals requires that we have an accurate understanding of where we are with any given opportunity, so we can effectively plan next steps to advance the deal towards closure. Think of this as your “Sat Nav” for sales opportunities. Continue reading “Performing opportunity reviews and planning next steps with the essential sales process”