This topic is worth revisiting. While “profiling” typically carries a negative overtone in contexts such as police activity and airport security, Merriam-Webster spells out that in sales, profiling is not only acceptable but central to achieving success. The dictionary defines profiling in sales as “The act or process of targeting a person (or organization) based on known traits, tendencies, characteristics, or behaviors,” highlighting its importance in effective sales strategies. 

A thriving sales organization systematically targets customers by delving into their identities, aspirations, industry-wide obstacles hindering their progress, and purchase motivations. By understanding these “traits, tendencies, characteristics, or behaviors,” companies can effectively position their products or services within the marketplace, fostering a sustainable business model.  

It bears repeating – in a business setting, general targeting may work for marketing, but on the streets, sales reps need specific criteria to win. And be aware, it’s one thing to look at your audience from a high level, and quite another to evaluate ideal buyers at the granular level.  

Who are your reps prospecting? Are they using a haphazard approach within an organizational chart or do they have a wisely designed plan? Additional considerations: 

  • Is the team profiling the roles of those who truly are the decision makers or who will sway the buying decision?   
  • Are the reps attuned to how the influential roles might be evolving in the current marketplace?  
  • Do they know what obstacles these influencers may be facing, their overall objectives, and how to directly associate the unique aspects of their product or service with the specific roles?  

While the profiles of decision-makers may vary only slightly, a representative’s thorough understanding of these individuals, meticulously profiled, can significantly impact their success. 

We understand effective sales profiling can be complex which is why we offer Sales Process Definition Workshops. In our workshops we draw upon our research, joint industry experience and our knowledge to collaborate with clients to sharpen their profile aptitude. Here are our steps: 

  1. Working together, outline the profiles of the essential decision-makers and influences necessary to facilitate a sale.  
  1. Delineate the objectives, needs, issues and challenges of both decision-makers and those holding buying influence roles.  
  1. Help clients carefully determine how specific components of their products and services align with their particular targeted audience profile.  
  1. Build a customized strategy for reps to use when preparing for a conversation with the target audience. 

With clear targets, you can decrease the cost per sale. How? Profiling strategies accelerate the sales process by equipping representatives with the tools to deliver a targeted and consistent message. This facilitates quicker qualification of prospects, shortens the sales cycle, reduces setbacks, and enables representatives to efficiently close more deals. Strengths have been leveraged effectively, leading to optimized performance across the sales pipeline. 

Persuading a potential client to embrace your product or service and adopt a fundamental shift in their business approach presents a formidable challenge. Nevertheless, such persuasion is often a necessary step forward. In my experience, the most effective approach to move a prospect from reluctance to considering change is by showcasing value.  

I liken it to mastering the three M’s – measurement, the mechanism by which value is measured, and the meaning (dollars) of the measurement. Without perceived tangible benefits or a compelling rationale for change, buyers will likely remain steadfast in their decision to decline. 

Here’s a breakdown of the three M’s. Mastery of each will set you on the path to effective persuasion. 

  • Measurement: Understanding how the buyer calculates value is paramount. By asking pertinent questions, you can identify the metrics that hold the greatest significance for the buyer. For instance, in the medical device industry, value is measured in recovery times and reimbursements. In the hospitality industry, attention is often directed towards guest satisfaction ratings and occupancy rates, whereas in retail, metrics like sales per square foot and inventory turnover take precedence. Metrics reflect costs, which your product has the potential to alleviate. To what extent can your product help decrease expenses? This process establishes worth by yielding tangible monetary benefits, with dollar savings serving as a significant indicator of value. 
  • Mechanism: How do you calculate the value? In the medical device industry, it may be patient outcomes per procedure or cost savings per treatment, while in the hospitality industry, it could revolve around room occupancy rates. Does your client have a system? If not, work together to establish one. Achieving alignment on how value is quantified is crucial for an effective approach. 
  • Meaning: How do you evaluate the data generated or collaboratively developed in step two? These figures should undergo analysis to enhance profitability It’s imperative to analyze these figures to optimize profitability. For example, if a medical device company introduces a new procedure that shortens the duration of a specific surgery by 10 minutes, resulting in reduced anesthesia usage and shorter recovery times, the potential cost savings could be substantial. By quantifying this, it’s projected that the hospital could save $500 per surgery, translating to $60,000 in annual savings for each operating room. Such information alone carries immense importance for the buyer. 

Once the value is established, resistance to change diminishes. If the buyer remains skeptical, revisit step one to strengthen the connection between key metrics and value. Flannery Sale Systems can assist you in steering discussions with buyers to integrate value. When applied effectively, these tools will help buyers transition from traditional practices to your innovative approaches more seamlessly.  

One of the hardest parts of sales is keeping the pipeline filled with qualified opportunities. Nurturing leads is something salespeople put off. Akin to delaying the home maintenance project you perceive as time-consuming or the medical check-up that makes you uneasy – procrastination is a creeper But avoiding necessary actions can make things harder over the long term.

 

We know the importance of sustaining the pipeline and nurturing leads so why do we drag our feet? I’ll explain some reasons why as well as tell you how to prevent procrastination from taking root.”

 

So, what’s hanging us up?

  • Time Constraints: Sales reps often face tight schedules and multiple priorities. Nurturing leads requires time and effort, which can lead to procrastination when other urgent tasks take precedence.
  • Lack of Resources: Limited resources, such as manpower or tools for automation, can make lead generation seem like a daunting task.
  • Focus on Immediate Wins: Low-hanging fruit. Some may prioritize pursuing new leads and immediate sales rather than investing time in nurturing existing leads, especially if they are focused on meeting short-term targets.
  • Unclear Strategy: Without a well-defined strategy, sales teams may struggle to prioritize and execute consistent actions, leading to procrastination.

Being mindful of your circumstances and some of the classic reasons why we procrastinate can help reduce its occurrence. Here are some other ways to bury the tendency and continuously fill (not kill) the pipeline.

 

  • Evaluate Current Customers: It is not uncommon for 60-70 % of new revenue to be generated from an existing customer base. These prospects are more likely to close in a timely, predictable fashion, and forecasting their revenue is typically more accurate.
  • Assess the Lead’s Value: Whether a lead is given to you or organically generated, the most qualified leads are those with a personal connection. We are interconnected like no other time in history – personally and professionally. A quick LinkedIn search can reveal if you know someone within the company you are targeting. A cold lead instantly turns warm with an introduction from a mutual acquaintance.
  • Weigh Progress with a Milestone: The velocity of water through a pipe depends on pressure. Likewise, it’s advantageous for salespeople to have some pressure – or triggers – to determine the pace of a deal from contact to close. This is especially true immediately following an initial customer conversation. Did the customer share any goals? If yes, spend more time pursuing that. A great forecasting tool is a Deal Map. This document identifies by date and responsibility a map of the deal. Buyer and seller agree to the terms and proposed timeline. When both parties are working off the same document, forecasting probability and close date are easy to determine.

 

Regularly evaluating and refining your approach will contribute to a more resilient and effective sales pipeline management strategy – leading to more confidence and less procrastination. As William Butler Yeats, one of the greatest poets of the 20th century, said, “Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot, but make it hot by striking.”

Trust is a crucial aspect of business and relationships. Developing trust over the duration of a customer relationship takes attention and focus. Creating a good first impression can go a long way in establishing trust in business relationships. The initial encounter sets the tone for future interactions and can significantly impact how others perceive you or your company. 

I’ve shared how the concept of trust was uniquely presented to me as I went through airport security on an international trip. After responding to the standard questions, the security agent asked a final question, “Should I trust you?” I answered in the affirmative, of course, but the unconventional question got me thinking!  

Reflecting on the experience – which was used to gauge my response under pressure and assess my overall demeanor – I gained real insight into how trust is perceived and established. In business and personal relationships, trust develops through a combination of communication, consistency and demonstrated reliability. Verbal and non-verbal cues also play a significant role in establishing trust.  

When meeting with a prospect for the first time, how do you establish trust? This is not the same type of trust you have with a family member or friend. It’s the trust that allows someone to have a candid conversation about their business issues. 

Plenty is written about what not to do, such as being pushy, talking too much or just falling into stereotypical selling behavior. But in that critical window of time (which can be as short as a minute) how do you make a connection that allows the prospect to feel comfortable sharing information with you? How do you show that you genuinely care about understanding their business situation? 

Here are three actionable steps to help establish trust during your initial interactions.  

  1. Be prepared with questions about the prospect’s organization and needs, not statements or brochures about your product, service or organization. 
  1. Allow the prospect to set the pace of the meeting. Help the prospect discover their needs by listening to what they say. A few well-constructed questions will help the prospect come to their own conclusion. And only offer suggestions for items to review after they have expressed their priorities. 
  1. Be sincere. Being sincere means doing what you say you are going to do. The first way to establish sincerity is a prompt, written follow-up after that initial meeting that captures the important components for the prospect and their organization. 

You can shape the trajectory of a long-term customer relationship by establishing trust early on. While some think trust takes years to cultivate and develop, the agent at the airport thought it could take one second, a reaction to a question. One thing is certain; establishing trust is a central component of all healthy relationships. Successfully lay the foundation and watch a lasting and fruitful customer relationship unfold.   

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When I’m retained by clients to help their sales team, the first thing I do is to ask to interview their top performers. My purpose is to decode their selling DNA and identify the markers that make them successful.  

Invariably, effective salespeople sell value, not solutions or services. They recognize that it’s the ‘why’ that resonates with buyers – the business value. Equally revealing is illustrating how today’s problems impact the overall bottom line. But selling value and the total cost of problems facing a customer is where many sales teams run into trouble.  

Pinpointing and helping customers articulate these positions may not come naturally but it’s a necessary practice if you want to meet or beat your goals. Top performers use the following three tactics to draw out the answers to business value and the cost of challenges.  

  1. Get to the cost of today’s problem. Buyers face a number of problems and challenges.  Great salespeople help buyers define – in totality – all of the costs these problems bring. While costs may be non-monetary, such as frustration or low morale, the numbers that hit the bottom line are those that are heard by every person involved in the buying decision. Great sellers shape and frame conversations around the costs of the buyer’s problems. This is especially important if the solution’s value comes with a higher price tag. Early conversations around costs will help sell more and ensure that the necessary margins are hit in the end. 
  1. Tell stories. Stories help buyers discover for themselves the problems that they are facing and the solutions they need. High achievers have several stories at the ready that they can tailor and share based on the buyer’s situation or desired outcome. When the conversation lulls and the buyer is unable to explain their problem, share a story! Start by framing who the experience is about. Then identify the problem, turning point and resolution. Buyers who hear successes and failures of industry peers become more willing to share details about themselves and have an easier time finding their voice. Stories not only get to problems, they also help describe how others use and derive business value from your products. Stories have purpose and great salespeople use them again and again. 
  1. Summarize conversations in writing. This is a tactic that all sellers tell me they do, but few do it well. I sell my services to many companies in different industries. I constantly refer to follow-up emails I’ve written after conversations. The emails sum up problems a client is facing and the associated costs, the solutions we discussed and their value, and of course, proposed next steps. These emails help the customer and I keep the focus on the problems we are trying to solve. Top performers don’t rely on memory. They simplify, write the plan down, share it with the customer and allow the customer to give feedback. 

If you want to sell the business value your products bring, incorporate these techniques and the process will be habit in no time.   

Many new sales managers think they are good at managing salespeople because they excel at selling. While selling may have come naturally to them, it’s not innate for everyone. And now, a frontline manager, it’s their job to recognize performance barriers and empower their reps. 

 

But a promoted salesperson often has a hard time letting go of the adrenaline rush that comes from being in the action and chasing big deals. He or she may end up taking charge of a customer relationship and finish the sale, undermining a rep’s motivation and confidence. Equally problematic are first-line managers who expect everyone to produce the same exceptional sales results they delivered – but without providing any coaching or constructive feedback.  

 

A recent report from Gartner found that the average sales manager spends only 21% of their time coaching – it simply gets pushed aside. Turnover becomes high in situations where businesses are not producing skilled reps who have learned to achieve revenue growth on their own. Progressive organizations, however, recognize that teaching managers how to deliver personalized coaching and training – which ultimately produces high-achieving team members – has a greater impact on overall sales performance than just training the sales reps alone.  

 

We were recently hired by such an organization. Their new sales rep team was being managed by their superstar salesman – who was also new to the role. With his compensation tied to the team’s revenue numbers, it was understandable that he wanted to “make it happen.” He was involved in every account, micromanaging the reps, constantly asking for updates, solving problems, and often stepping in to save the sale as quarter-end approached. While the compensation was good for all of them, the manager was exhausted and the reps felt unappreciated, unmotivated, unfulfilled and eventually, unable to work under such conditions. 

 

Major change was needed and teaching their first-line managers how to coach their direct reports on sales skills was priority one. We helped the organization link its sales process to practical, teachable selling skills, setting up a structure for skills coaching based on individual sales reps’ needs. The change came slowly but steadily. Because the managers were trained around conversations on current account strategies and within the parameters of their busy schedules, they developed muscle memory around their new coaching skills through practice with their teams.  

 

Results followed, with an 11% increase in revenue from existing customers, a noticeable increase in the new opportunity pipeline, and a happier, more productive team. So remember, if you’re looking to drive sales productivity, make sure coaching is a part of your process.   

 

In the current business landscape, establishing the value of your product or service is more crucial than ever. If you can’t clearly communicate how your offering can boost revenue or reduce costs, it becomes challenging for potential customers to see why they should choose you over your competitors. According to a study by Forrester Research, the primary obstacle to achieving your sales targets is the inability to effectively convey a value proposition.

Here are some of the top inhibitors to meeting sales quotas:

  1. Insufficient leads: 13.3%
  2. Poor sales skills: 16%
  3. Too many products to know: 21.4%
  4. Information gap: 24.3%
  5. Inability to communicate a value message: 26%

“Value proposition” is a term that gained popularity in the 90s, and regardless of whether it’s considered a buzzword or not, establishing your product or service’s value without overwhelming potential customers with a barrage of features and benefits remains essential. So, how can you achieve this?

  1. Understand Your Customers: Begin by studying your customers thoroughly. Dive into their market, understand what they sell, assess the competitive landscape, consider the size of their organization, and identify the key decision-makers involved in their processes. Conduct informational interviews within your network, seeking insights from industry insiders who have experience with your ideal customer. Lastly, engage directly with your customers and prospects. Learn about their goals, how they measure success, and understand their pain points. Armed with this research, you’ll be well-equipped to position yourself effectively to resonate with your target audience.
  2. Demonstrate Value: Utilize the knowledge you’ve gained about your customers to craft a message that highlights the value of your product from their perspective. Explain how your product can alleviate their pain points and help them achieve their daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly objectives. Some examples include:
    • “Imagine a day without the stress of x, y, and z. With the time you save, you’ll be able to accomplish twice as much of what you need to do.”
    • “Whether it’s daily, weekly, or yearly, we understand that goals are always top of mind. Let (product X) help reduce the time it takes to meet those goals by taking advantage of x and y capabilities.”
  3. Position and Differentiate: Identify what sets you apart from your competitors. Is it your exceptional customer service, an extensive range of capabilities, or competitive pricing? Whatever it may be, ensure that this differentiation is consistently emphasized across all your sales and marketing channels. Align your messaging on your website with your social media channels, marketing materials, and the language used by your sales representatives. This might sound straightforward, but regrettably, many organizations overlook this crucial step.

By understanding your customer, effectively demonstrating value, and clearly positioning your unique offerings, you can streamline the sales process and avoid falling into the 26% of businesses that struggle to communicate their product’s value consistently and persuasively.

As we celebrate the remarkable career of this iconic rockstar, let’s draw inspiration from his enduring success and apply it to the world of sales.

Like Mick, sales professionals must have the charisma and stage presence to captivate their audience. Whether it’s a live performance or a sales pitch, engaging your audience is key.

Just as Mick continuously evolves his music, successful salespeople adapt their approach to meet changing market demands. Embrace innovation and stay ahead of the competition!

Moreover, Mick’s perseverance through challenges is a valuable lesson for sales. In the face of rejection, keep pushing forward, refining your techniques, and learning from each experience.

Lastly, surround yourself with a talented team – just as the Rolling Stones have done. In sales, collaboration and mentorship can amplify your success.

Let’s toast to Mick Jagger’s 80 years of greatness and use his rockstar principles to excel in the art of sales coaching. 🥂 #SalesCoaching #MickJagger80th #Inspiration

If only your sales representatives could persuade their customers and prospects as effectively as they convince you, their manager, about the necessity of obtaining SPQs (Special Price Quotes) or discounts at the end of the month or quarter, you wouldn’t find yourself trapped in this predicament driven by buyers. Unfortunately, we often find ourselves in the final days of the month or quarter, where buyers sense the opportunity to negotiate lower prices and push sellers to meet their revenue targets. This scenario has become predictable and tiresome, but with the right approach, it can be handled easily. 

Some sellers are well-versed in countering this madness by establishing and emphasizing the value of their offerings early and consistently throughout the sales process. However, if you have neglected this crucial step and are now trying to close deals, it may be too late. If you have already done so, congratulations! You have equipped yourself with insurance for this high-pressure closing dialogue. 

According to Forrester Research, a mere 26% of CEOs believe that their salespeople possess the ability to help customers truly comprehend the value their organization provides. So, what about the remaining 74%? They are currently lining up at your office, seeking those SPQs. The decision to grant them lies in how effectively they sell the idea to you. 

To prevent this situation from recurring in future quarters, it’s worth examining the insights shared in the blog post “Help Your Sales People Hold Pricing.” Afterwards, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a conversation. We are prepared and ready. Are your sellers? 

 

It all started last fall when the team from my original hometown, the Philadelphia Phillies, lost the World Series to the Houston Astros.

Then, in November, the Brown University Women’s Volleyball team lost the Ivy League Championship to Yale. My daughter plays for Brown. Ouch.

Follow that with the Super Bowl in February where my Philadelphia Eagles lost to the Kansas City Chiefs and just two short months later, my beloved San Diego State Aztecs went down to the University of Connecticut in the NCAA Men’s Championship. It was starting to feel personal…..

In sales, a loss is a loss — even if you’re the runner-up. After all, we only get paid when we win. And when we do not, we often hear buyers attempt to let us down softly with vague explanations such as “your product didn’t have this bell or whistle,” or, our favorite “you were just too expensive.”

But in sales, as in sports, what happens next is important. Do we take the time to learn why we lost? As we were developing that opportunity, where did things start to go awry?

We’re proud to say that the sellers we work with do. They have such a clearly articulated and aligned selling process that they can tell exactly where in the buying cycle something got missed. Maybe the buyers went quiet or skipped an agreed-upon next step?

One of the most important jobs Flannery Sales Systems does for our customers is to help them refine their sales process to ensure it is strategically aligned with the buying cycle. Doing this drastically increases their probability of success.

Want to minimize your chances of ending up in the dreaded runner-up position? Make sure the following checkpoints are an integral part of your sales process:

  • Do we have all key players identified?
  • Have we had targeted conversations with all key players BEFORE sending a quote or proposal?
  • Can all key players articulate our core value proposition?
  • Have we been able to build an implementation plan before the proposal is delivered?

Most of our customers’ selling situations are similar (despite the dire need some have of telling us “this one is UNIQUE”). Coaching them to use a sales process not only helps them understand how to win, but also has the added benefit of helping them identify where things go wrong. It is never pleasant to lose, but when it happens, we will take the time to learn from it as we set our sights on our next big win.