What? You’re Not Selling Backward?

Ideas in this posting will help you: Make Money, and increase the ease with which you Close Business.

I am privileged to spend time chatting with many business people who carry a revenue generation responsibility. They range from Sr. Executives, to Managers, to Key Account sales professionals. I am infinitely curious to learn how they sell, and how things are going for them.

I ask “How do you go about selling your products/services today?” Invariably the response I hear is “Well, I usually start out talking about my company’s products/services. I tell the buyer about the cool features and all that. Then, we talk about how they might fit into their operation. You know, their needs.”

These people then proceed to share with me the inconsistent [and often below plan] sales and revenue results they have been achieving.

Now, everything I have experienced has shown that success in generating revenue comes from learning a buyer’s needs first, then talking about the capabilities of my product/ service to meet those needs second.

Apparently I am selling backward! I must tell you though that it works, consistently. Selling ‘backward’ works so well that I make it a point to teach it to all of my clients. They have found it works for them too [My approach is called The 5 Reasons Sales Method].

Here then, is a method you can follow to sell ‘backward’…

1. Learn about your buyer’s current situation as it relates to your product/service

2. Ask questions to learn about their Needs as they relate to your product/service, and the value they seek to realize by having those Needs met

3. Clearly demonstrate the capabilities of your product/service to meet those Needs and deliver that value

Try asking yourself/your team the questions “How do you go about selling your products/services today? Are you achieving consistently solid sales results?”

So, are you and your team selling ‘backward’? Selling backward is the new forward you know.

Handling the “No Budget” Objection

Ideas in this posting will help you: Save time in your sales process.

Your Buyer: “I’m sorry, I don’t have any budget to spend right now.”

You: “Oh really? I guess we will have to put this proposal on ice for now, huh?”

Ouch!! If you find yourself in a sales situation playing to this unfortunate ending, stop and do a quick rewind. There is an effective way to handle this common objection and maintain momentum on a revenue generating opportunity that threatens to grind to a halt.

Like others, the ‘No Budget’ objection often belies the true underlying concern. Behind ‘it may be “I don’t see that my problems are great enough to do anything about right now.” Or worse “I don’t see enough value in what you are offering to free up money to spend on it.”

Try this strategy: 

  1. Put the buyer’s stated lack of funds aside for the moment.
  2. Focus on displaying that their current needs are significant, and there are real downstream implications of not addressing them now.
  3. Show convincingly that you are uniquely qualified to help them avoid those implications.

Often budget can be found if a project is deemed to help a buyer avoid a big problem or capture a great upside opportunity. Demonstrate how you can help, in dollars and cents and an improved situation [that involves you]. 

Funds are regularly diverted from one project to another if the upside is determined to be big enough [I know of one buyer who put off hiring an FTE to divert those salary dollars to a project that was deemed to be of great upside to the company]. Your job is to articulate that upside clearly and compellingly.

Eliminating Sales Peaks and Valleys

Ideas in this posting will help you: Make Money

Life in business is sooooo good when sales are happening. Why though does it seem that sales – and the precious revenue that they generate – often comes in peaks of activity and valley’s of inactivity? Let’s look at why this happens, and how to avoid it.

I was speaking to a colleague of mine the other day, a successful consultant with a thriving practice. He is well regarded and published regularly in one of the country’s largest newspapers. I was surprised to learn that his practice suffered from revenue peaks and valleys. How could this be?

Anyone with a revenue generation responsibility has seen this cycle before. Sales pick up, and things are great. So great in fact that the development of ‘net new’ business falls by the wayside as the intricacies of closing and implementing existing sales commands more and more time. Before you know it those deals have closed, and precious few new sales opportunities are behind them. Sales have peaked and you are now on a rocket ride down into a valley. This is a four ticket ride, but it sure isn’t any fun! How do you avoid this unpleasant journey?

Here are a few ways you and your team can solve the revenue peaks and valleys cycle:

Don’t stop selling. Ever
The jazz for most salespeople is in closing deals, full of high fives, adrenaline, and dollar signs. Prospecting, not so much. Ensure to book – and honour – an appointment with yourself every week for business development work. Even when at your busiest closing and implementing deals, set aside at least 10% of your work week for finding new sales opportunities. Keeping this appointment with yourself will ensure your sales follow a steady, rather than peaks and valleys, trajectory.

Watch your sales activity dashboard
Sometimes you don’t realize you are entering a revenue valley until you are in it. Do your best to predict your sales future by keeping an eye on the level of business development activity of you and your sales team. When activity levels of those things that cause sales to happen – prospecting phone calls, face to face sales calls, proposals presented – fall, you can bet that a few weeks or months later sales revenue will follow. Keep a keen eye on your dashboard. If you don’t have a dashboard, create one. Encourage and reward those on your team who maintain their business development focus in busy times. Remind those that don’t to book and keep that regular business development appointment.

Employ the ‘Mid-deal Next deal’ Strategy
The best place to develop new business is with existing customers who know and like you. The best time to sow those seeds is when implementing on an existing project or sale with them as you are already actively engaged with key decision makers and implementers. Use this opportunity to identify new ways you can help them related to the work you are currently doing. Developing new business ‘mid-deal’ rather than waiting until the end will set up the ‘next deal’ to close much sooner and shorten or eliminate a revenue valley.