How many times have you won an account only to realize, mid-engagement, that the account really isn’t what you’d hoped it would be—a solid revenue generator with long-term potential? Instead, it was a resource-drainer that you seemed to constantly have to fight to win over and over again, despite having a signed agreement and doing as good a job on the account as on any other account.
In his book, Unselling: Sell Less … To Win More, Author Peter Bourke claims, “Successful sales teams walk into a relationship with a prospect with a pre-disposition that the first priority is to bring our expertise and knowledge in helping clients make informed, well-thought-out decisions so that they can choose the very best solution.” According to Bourke, “Alternatively, less-experienced sales teams are so ‘delighted to be invited’ that their inclination is to comply with whatever buying process the customer has devised, regardless of how flawed or incomplete it may be.”
How you enter into a sales pitch matters not just because how you enter can make or break the sale, but because how you enter has the potential to set the tone for your future engagement.
CEB Managing Directors Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson might agree with Bourke’s thoughts on how to enter a pitch. In their joint Forbes article, “The One Kind of Sales Rep Who Does Best at B2B,” Dixon and Adamson claim that there are five clear sales professional profiles that can all bring something to the table, but that the rep they call, The Challenger, is by far the most effective. The Challenger profile provided in the article is as follows: “The Challenger always has a different view of the world, understands the customer’s business, and loves to debate.” Dixon and Adamson go on to explain, “The Challenger is defined by the unique ability to use constructive tension throughout the sale and provide value to customers through a three-pillar approach of teaching, tailoring, and taking control.”
It goes without saying that many sales teams aren’t trained well. This is particularly true in the B2B technology space, even though the stakes are often higher and the money changing hands is generally more significant than it is in other sectors. If you’re a B2B sales manager, you know that it can be very easy to get yourself caught in a hire-and-fire cycle that results in high turnover and big wastes of your time. You also know, if you’ve been around a while, that developing recruiting, hiring and training programs internally may not be any easier than hiring and firing at a frequent rate, but that it is certainly more productive.
Are you caught in a hire-and-fire cycle? Are you looking for those B2B sales reps that Dixon and Abramson call Challengers? You may need the assistance of a third-party sales management consultant. A qualified sales management consultant can help you develop the solutions you need to be more productive moving forward without compromising day-to-day operations.
It’s no secret that the widespread lack of teaching and training in the B2B space causes everyone to suffer—sales managers, sales reps, and customers. By finding the right representatives for the job from the start, training them to enter into the pitch as information providers, and giving them the other tools they need to successfully debate and challenge prospects throughout the lead nurturing process, you can greatly reduce your organization’s suffering—not to mention put it ahead of the majority of its competitors.