Training Industry

Strengthen the Backbone of Your Sales Performance, Part 1

  • Strengthen the Backbone of Your Sales Performance, Part 1

Selling has always had its share of stresses. Certainly economic uncertainty has placed additional pressure on sellers to creatively manage the sales cycle. The New Normal of sales will require resolve and backbone to survive.

What is the new normal of selling?

In the past, sellers built business partnerships with buyers.  Buyers needed support in their decision-making process to ensure a wise dollar spend. Gaining access to the decision makers was never easy—However, once the negotiation took place and an agreement was hammered out, the seller would work with procurement only to tie up the sale’s details.

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Today, we live in a business environment where buyers are well-informed and aware of what it takes to improve performance.  As the layers of management flattened, they have grown to involve procurement as a more integral player in the decision process. Procurement’s mandate? Get more for less! The effects of the economic downturn and the need for companies to tighten up their proverbial belts have created a perfect storm.  Armed with the mandate to derive more value for less money, procurement targets double digit savings from “sourcing initiatives” aimed squarely at your prices.

What is procurement’s playbook?

Procurement uses a well-defined script to undermine the sellers’ confidence.  Common language includes:—“All vendors are the same” and, “your product is a commodity”—language crafted to diminish any differences between a low-cost bid from a competitor and your value-rich offering. 

In a deliberate effort to cause confusion and chaos, procurement ignores your value and then sits back to see how far vendors are willing to go to “buy the business.”  Hence, if you do win the battle of the competing vendors, you are now a source of cost-savings and no longer a business partner. Procurement has won. They have intentionally rattled your confidence!

Three tips to effectively manage procurement’s involvement:

  • Know your value and have confidence in your price: Customers make buying decisions to resolve business problems. Understand how your products and services drive improvements in your customer’s business. If your products and services can address costs, increase revenues or diminish risk, resolve to stand your ground and prove it! “How will the differentiator(s) of your offering be stated in tangible financial terms?"
  • Identify who needs to care about the financial improvement: The next step is to determine which user within your buying center cares most about the impact your differentiator will have on their business issue. In this case, likely the loan officer.

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  • Bring key stakeholders into the conversation to build a coalition of support: Strengthen your position by involving other members of the buying center. Consider the time and effort it takes to have the staff to make call backs to gain missing information. Would the head of operations be interested in your value impact on their productivity levels?

Check back next month for part two of this three-part series on how to strengthen the backbone of your sales performance. 

Tannis Ashworth

Tannis Ashworth is the manager of facilitation and performance development at Holden Advisors with over 20 years of experience in working with complex sales organizations within technology, telecommunications, manufacturing, professional services and banking in North America, Asia Pacific, UK, Europe, Scandinavia and the Middle East. An expert in price negotiations, Tannis specializes in building confidence in the sales team to defend price and value with discount-seeking customers. 

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