The Art of Selling

Over the last twenty years, I have been exposed to a great number of great sales people, selling strategies, classes, books and claims of expertise. Many of them are good and offer nuggets of value that have in some way helped shape me into the successful salesperson that I am today. Being in the position now of leading my own company and demonstrating salesmanship to my people, I have outlined and articulated some thoughts around what I believe are the most important points. In fact, my people know that they have to have thought through these things before I speak with them about their pipelines on a daily basis. Much of what I will share is common sense and logical, but perhaps the way I organize and share it will be helpful. Let me know.

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The Art of Selling – Stage 1: Lead

First, let’s talk about the LEAD stage. This is when a prospect has been IDENTIFIED as someone who would make a great client or partner for your company. You do not know this person, or the company per se but you have examined their business and you believe that they could benefit from your product or services.

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The Art of Selling – Stage 2: Qualified Prospect

If your contact is the right person to be associated with the opportunity; and there is a confirmed fit between your solution and their company; and there is confirmation of need; you’ve qualified the prospect.

KNOW the answer to every one of these questions to satisfy the stage of Qualified Prospect: 

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The Art of Selling – Stage 3: Meeting Scheduled

First and foremost, if your upcoming meeting a Business Discussion or a Product Demo and is it an introduction or a deep-dive? This is essential to know ahead of time as it will help you set internal expectations at your company – like with your supervisor who watches the pipeline like a hawk – and with the core experts that you plan to bring with you to the meeting.

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The Art of Selling – Stage 4: Meeting Completed

Was the meeting successful based on GOALS that you had set PRIOR to going in? Are you moving forward? And more importantly, does the Client think so too? If a different kind of meeting took place than you had expected, did you lose control of it or did you pivot and get other valuable things from it that will still progress the opportunity? Always post-mortem your meeting to learn from it and involve the participants from your team to elicit feedback. Be sure to check your ego at the door first.

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The Art of Selling – Stage 7: Negotiation

This happens more than once so don’t be fooled. The deal gets negotiated with the business and again with procurement and legal.

KNOW whether of not your objectives are aligned with the client – what about others who will participate in the negotiation process? Have a wingman (supervisor) to kick tires and help with issues and options. Don’t fly solo. Continue reading

The Art of Selling – Stage 8: Verbal

Don’t get too comfortable…you have not closed the deal.

KNOW if you’ve received the verbal approval, whom did it come from? What is their role and how are they connected to the contract and budget? What about Procurement and legal? Investigate who is still potentially in your way that you may not have identified? Continue reading

The Art of Selling – Stage 10: Closing

Hand-offs are everything

KNOW that now is the time to promoted and leveraged your teams who must DELIGHT the customer you’ve closed. Your company needs to leverage the relationship you cultivated. You’ve worked hard to build a lot of bridges, spend time replacing yourself at each level with your core competent experts. Continue reading

Sales vs. Business Development 101

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Sales and Business Development couldn’t be more different

So many people in business do not understand the fundamental difference between sales and business development. Usually these same individuals also carry the title VP/Director/Manager of Sales and Business Development!

How can someone possibly understand the nuances and practicalities that go into artful selling if they do not even understand the appropriateness of their role?

Simply put, sales is selling a product, service or other thing to a buyer directly for revenue. That’s it. A sales person is responsible for revenue. They are expected to carry a quota – a bag – and be responsible for a number.

Business development on the other hand requires selling skills but is not revenue generating – or at least not directly or immediately. It is the practice of developing relationships that can lead to greater revenue. These relationships introduce revenue opportunities with a multiplier such as a channel, resellers or access to customers that would not otherwise be accessible or easily accessible to your sales team.

Sometimes business developers are also responsible for selling through their channels as well. For example, if you are selling ad technology and you establish agency relationships, you may still want to sell to advertisers through the agencies to increase your revenues through that channel. But that takes time and your compensation should reflect that.

So which are you, sales or business development? If you’re both, you have conflicting goals. If your compensation is based on revenue, then you want to be in sales. If you are business development, then your compensation needs to have a different metric, such as number of channels, partners etc. – an override on revenues some time down the path is meaningful only if you have the opportunity to sell through the channels you create.