The Guide to Transitioning Your Team to Be Sustainable Resources


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The Guide to Transitioning Your Team to Be Sustainable Resources - Moving from "Transactional Persuaders" to "Consultative Resources" - A White Paper by Peak Focus

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The Guide to Transitioning Your Team to Be Sustainable Resources

  1. 1. PEOPLE. PERFORMANCE. PROFITABILITY. The Guide to Transitioning Your Team to Be Sustainable Resources Moving from “Transactional Persuaders” to “Consultative Resources” By: Jerry Scher, Principal Watch A Falling Star Contents Watch A Falling Star . . . . . 1 As the superstar sales person for his company two years running, John had developed a strong book of business. His forecasts were reliable. Role of the Sales Person He continued to add clients while retaining his existing ones. His sales Continues to Evolve . . . . . 2 manager regularly sang his praises. Everything was humming along. Transactional vs Consultative Then, in less than sixty seconds, John’s world dramatically changed. Selling . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Transition Your Team . . . . . 5 As he signed into the guest log to see Charles, the purchasing manager of his top client, Martha, the receptionist asked if he had time for a quick Selling is a Process, Not chat with the CEO that day. “The CEO? What on earth did the CEO want an Event . . . . . . . . . . 6 from him?” John thought. Traits of a “Consultative Resource” . . . . . . . . . 6 “Sure,” John replied, somewhat anxious. “Should I wait here or shall I go on back to see Charles?” Where to Go From Here?. . . 7 About the Author . . . . . . 8 “Why don’t you wait here. Charles is no longer employed here. Our new purchasing manager is Suzanne Smith. Have you by chance met Suzanne on your prior visits?” asked Martha. John barely heard the part about Suzanne. He was reeling. His only real relationship at the company was gone. He had no clue who Suzanne was. And, the CEO wanted to speak with him. All of this with no warning! What was happening here? And, what would happen to the substantial order Charles was to sign today? He was counting on that order to make his numbers this quarter – without it he would surely come up substantially short. His only shot at saving this critical order was to meet with the CEO! A purchasing manager was one thing, but meeting with a C-level person was quite another. John was completely out of his comfort zone. “What on earth could they possibly have in common or talk about?” he thought. He knew nothing about the CEO and had never done any real research about him. He had relied solely on Charles for information about the company. He was totally unprepared for this. John sat quietly in the reception area, his butterflies multiplying and his heart pounding harder and harder… Peak Focus LLC © 2008-2012 • All rights reserved.Page 1 Unauthorized duplication in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
  2. 2. PEOPLE. PERFORMANCE. PROFITABILITY. As you can tell, John’s relationship with Charles had been very “transactional.” Charles always knew what he needed to order. Occasionally John would tell Charles of a new product, and then leave him some literature. John had not developed other relationships there. He had not even given it thought. Why bother since he and Charles had such a good arrangement? Perhaps John’s story sounds a bit too familiar? The Role of the Sales Person Continues to Evolve The ability of sales people The role of the sales person continues to evolve in most industries and trained as “transactional rightfully so. Chances are you’ve noticed that your clients are far more persuaders” to confer with demanding today. It’s not just about quality, service, delivery and/or price these C-level decision demands anymore. Now they want to know things like how you’ll help makers and business/ them achieve their future plans and profit goals. Maybe they’re asking marketing executives is about your green/sustainable business strategies and solutions you can seriously being tested. Clearly offer to them to help them achieve their sustainability goals. The list of many sales people are well new questions goes on and on. outside their comfort zone. Some simply can’t make the More and more these questions are coming from the C-level decision stretch. makers and those responsible for the long term strategy for their company (the “profit” managers) and less from the purchasing department (the “cost” managers). The ability of sales people trained as “transactional persuaders” to confer with these C-level decision makers and business/ marketing executives is seriously being tested. Clearly many sales people are well outside their comfort zone. Some simply can’t make the stretch. Transactional sales won’t disappear any time soon, nor should they. There is still room for great transactional sales people and there is substantial transactional business that can and must continue to be done. However, consider the value of that business and how much of what the sales person handles can be turned over to an inside sales person, project manager or even web based technology. If the client knows exactly what they want and you are able to maintain business relationships without an expensive sales person in the equation, there are a variety of other ways to retain the existing business as well as further develop future business opportunities. So, how should you go about determining if you need to invest in transitioning your sales team (or at least select members) to a consultative selling approach? Start by considering these questions: ▲▲What do our clients look for in a sales representative? (If you don’t know, now would be a good time to start asking.) Peak Focus LLC © 2008-2012 • All rights reserved.Page 2 Unauthorized duplication in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
  3. 3. PEOPLE. PERFORMANCE. PROFITABILITY. ▲▲How complex is our typical sale? ▲▲Has our sales cycle become more complex than in the past? ▲▲Who is really making the buying decisions? Has that changed in the recent past? ▲▲Are there new “green” supply chain requirements entering the purchasing decision? ▲▲Who do your sales representatives call on and what are the relationships? (How deep are they in each account? One person or many people, across levels – including the C-level.) ▲▲Who else in your organization is involved in the overall sales and account management process? ▲▲What type of marketing is proving most effective for your company in communicating with clients and prospects? Transactional sales people tend to focus on their After answering these questions and considering the ways you conduct product, not on their business, let’s not abandon a successful transactional approach; just client’s business. They are apply it differently. In the meantime, we must reconsider the role those responsible for identifying highly professional sales people can play in business development and prospects and telling their prepare them to deepen the multilevel relationships required in this company story. rapidly changing business environment. Consultative sales people focus primarily on the client Transactional versus Consultative Selling and their business issues. They develop multilevel Transactional sales people tend to focus on their product, not on their relationships including client’s business. They are responsible for identifying prospects and procurement, production, telling their company story. In the past they were the primary source of middle management and the information for the client about product/solutions that were available. In C-level positions. fact, many clients looked forward to meeting with sales people because they were the only source of industry knowledge. Today, especially with the pervasive use of internet technology, clients are far better informed and in many cases have more information than the sales people calling on them. Why? Most likely they’ve researched similar products from other companies. Unfortunately, most transactional sales people only know about their own products. A client searching for a solution to a problem can do their own research and by the time the sales person shows up at their door, they are fully aware of the choices available to them. In other words, clients already know what they need and where they can get it. The sales person must present their solution(s) and then persuade the client that theirs is the best choice. The focus is clearly on product, price and performance and the differentiation must come from the systems in place to satisfy issues Peak Focus LLC © 2008-2012 • All rights reserved.Page 3 Unauthorized duplication in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
  4. 4. PEOPLE. PERFORMANCE. PROFITABILITY. Transitioning Your Sales Approach Transactional Model Consultative Model Product is Commodity Client Focus Product is Understood Business Needs Assessment Buyers Know What They Want Focus Financial Implications Consumable – Repeat Business Complex Sales Process Price and Performance Business Growth Issues Delivery and Invoicing Value Provided Beyond the Product Consumer Multiple Levels Procurement Decision Makers & Influencers Seen as Source of Product Relationships Seen As Trusted Advisor Cost Manager-Limited Authority Profit Managers with Authority Establish Relationships Strong Communicator – Product Expert Interview and Listen Features-Benefits Presentation Skills Analytical Problem Solver Great Persuader Application of Financial Implications Facilitate Transaction Facilitate Implementation Sell as Part of a Team Peak Focus LLC © 2008-2012 • All rights reserved.Page 4 Unauthorized duplication in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
  5. 5. Is Consultative Selling Right For Your Company?PEOPLE. PERFORMANCE. PROFITABILITY. ▲▲ Do you want your of quality and delivery, along with the company’s ability to manage the sales people to be transactional experience. The selling relationship is at the procurement viewed as intruders level and that’s where the relationships are developed and maintained. or trusted business advisors? Once the business is established, the management of these transactions can be handled by non-direct sales people. In fact, utilization of an ▲▲ Are they capable, e-commerce model might work very effectively and be far more cost with additional training effective. So, you can see why it is extremely important that you carefully if needed, of dealing define the role of the direct sales person as well as cost justify their with multiple levels involvement. within the client’s business? Consultative sales people focus primarily on the client and their business ▲▲ Do you know issues. They develop multilevel relationships including procurement, what your client’s production, middle management and the C-level positions. Their primary expectations are of your responsibility is to engage these contacts in extensive dialogue, carefully sales staff? diagnose the current business issues that are “keeping them awake at night,” offer a range of solutions and orchestrate the resources of both ▲▲ Does your company companies to resolve the agreed upon issues. have the core competencies required They must focus on the clients’ business challenges and should be seen as to go beyond being a a partner in their efforts to achieve their business goals. They should be transactional supplier? capable of analyzing the client’s Long Term Value (LTV) to their company and position themselves and their company as a highly valued supplier. ▲▲ Are your sales The ability to build lasting relationships enables them to strategically people focused on position your company as a “trusted business advisor” – far beyond themselves, getting “vendor” status. the order and commission or are they studying their Transition Your Team From Being “Transactional client’s business and Persuaders” to “Consultative Resources” industry and searching for ways to add value It is increasingly clear that e-commerce will replace a larger segment of that differentiates the transactional business in which so many companies are engaged. themselves and your Furthermore, with other client-facing employees playing a more critical company? (And, are role in business retention and client satisfaction, the direct sales person’s they rewarded for the role in transactional business is diminishing. latter?) As a result of consolidations within many industries, the intensification of ▲▲ Do you have a clear competition and availability of new products and technologies, the sales understanding of your process across most industries is becoming more complex. company’s business relationship goals, For example, selling commercial printing is no longer just a function of acceptable margins and establishing a relationship with the print buyer and responding to their a concise go-to-market requests for quotes. Companies are entering into bundling programs and strategy regarding searching for assistance in executing a sustainable green printing strategy. everyone involved in Critical decisions are being moved up the ladder to higher level managers the selling process? and most transactional sales people do not relate effectively at that level. Peak Focus LLC © 2008-2012 • All rights reserved.Page 5 Unauthorized duplication in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
  6. 6. PEOPLE. PERFORMANCE. PROFITABILITY. Companies continue to analyze their business relationships and reduce the number of vendors with which they choose to do business. The partners they select for their future must bring a great deal more to the table and a true consultative sales professional must be able to strategically position your company to be taken seriously. This will happen only when real value is added beyond the product. Selling is a Process, Not an Event A consultative sales strategy requires a higher degree of competence. To More often than not, begin with, sales professionals must have a strong knowledge of business people are hired based management, not just your product line. They must be truly capable of on eligibility and fired focusing on the client’s business and willing to study the industries to based on suitability. which they are selling. They must have a thorough knowledge of your Most companies look at company’s core competencies and how these competencies link to their a resume, get references clients’ businesses. In fact, one way of looking at them is they must be and then interview – and a businessperson first, involved in selling with impressive interpersonal hire or promote based on communication skills. They must understand that selling is a process, not eligibility. Few take the an event and be able to function as a business advisor and an orchestrator. time to objectively evaluate candidates (for hire or Traits of a “Consultative Resource” promotion) for suitability. It is imperative to look beyond Behavioral traits that demonstrate an individual’s suitability as a can the person do the job, consultative sales professional include a blend of the following: and look at will they do the job, and do it well… Wants Challenge Wants to Lead Takes Initiative Diplomatic and Frank Persistent Authoritative Enthusiastic Optimistic Helpful Empathetic Influencing Analytical Self Acceptance Enlists Cooperation Planner Precise Handles Conflict Systematic Open to Feedback Self Improvement Handles Stress The skills that you should look for when evaluating a candidate’s eligibility for a consultative sales position are as follows: ▲▲The ability to ask questions and comfortably engage people in dialogue ▲▲A working knowledge of the consultative sales process ▲▲A clear understanding of the strategies of value added selling ▲▲Experience and comfort calling on all levels of a client, including C-level contacts Peak Focus LLC © 2008-2012 • All rights reserved.Page 6 Unauthorized duplication in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
  7. 7. PEOPLE. PERFORMANCE. PROFITABILITY. ▲▲Strong negotiating skills (with the client and on behalf of the client) ▲▲The ability to work around the politics in an organization (yours and that of the client) Start with a full, objective evaluation of your current Transitioning a sales team from a transactional sales approach to a team. Yes, objective consultative sales strategy requires careful planning, evaluation of evaluations are hard to your existing sales professionals and a strategic approach to identifying, come by. That’s why we recruiting and training new talent for your organization. use a proven tool for the You not only need the right strategy, you need the right people carrying job. it out. Where to Go From Here? Not sure if your sales team has the right people with the right skills or potential? If you said “yes,” you’re not alone. As a matter of fact, it’s a very common problem. A coach knows that to win a national championship, the team must be well balanced, great players recruited, skills carefully taught and everyone individually coached to bring out their best come game time. Your optimal sales team really isn’t any different. Start with a full, objective evaluation of your current team. Yes, objective evaluations are hard to come by. That’s why we use a proven tool for the job. The Harrison Assessment™ (HA) is simple to administer and delivers insightful, powerful results. This tool, used for these purposes, will help you accomplish two things. One, a better understanding of how well your sales team members match up to the suitability traits already discussed in this paper. And, using the same data gathered already, generate a recommended coaching program, individualized for each person you decide to retain on your “consultative” team. Once you understand who you want to keep on your “consultative” team, you must train and coach them so they can excel. The HA results for each person, along with some insights from our team gleaned from discussions with you, can help you clearly identify the training and coaching needed. Yes, it really can be that simple. If you’d like to learn more about our “jump start” program designed to help you build your dream team, we’re happy to talk with you about it. Peak Focus LLC © 2008-2012 • All rights reserved.Page 7 Unauthorized duplication in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
  8. 8. PEOPLE. PERFORMANCE. PROFITABILITY. About the Author Jerry Scher - Founder and Principal at Peak Focus Jerry is well known as a business builder, c-level executive, conference speaker, trainer, facilitator, coach, entrepreneur, and mentor. Regardless of the title, the end result is the same–Jerry makes the people around him significantly more successful through his ability to simplify the complex, ask the right questions, and develop appropriate solutions to keep businesses and individuals moving forward. About Peak Focus PEOPLE. PERFORMANCE. PROFITABILITY. Peak Focus gives you the tools to grow, develop and strengthen your team. With a mix of resources that we’ve created ourselves, as well as several powerful tools we’ve carefully assessed and believe in, we combine our passion and experience to guide companies and individuals toward optimized performance. Select your team members with confidence, help your key players develop their soft skills, and learn how to coach your entire team more effectively by engaging the experts at Peak Focus. For more information and access to free resources, please visit our website at Engage With Us Free tools, resources & updates LIKE us on Facebook Check out our blog Follow us on Twitter Follow us on LinkedIn Peak Focus LLC © 2008-2012 • All rights reserved.Page 8 Unauthorized duplication in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.