Secrets of Great Salespeople: 50 Ways to Sell Business-To-Business
A new book by Jeremy Raymond
We are delighted to announce that PSfPS Tutor Jeremy Raymond has launched his new book: “Secrets of Great Salespeople: 50 Ways to Sell Business-To-Business.”
Jeremy Raymond has worked with William Johnson, Managing Director of PSfPS, since the early 1990s and having been interviewed for the book, William is listed as a contributor.
The book promotes many of the philosophies and ideas we advocate in our own business development training programmes for professional services firms (and non-traditional service firms who wish to learn from the best practices used within professional services).
As the title suggests, the book condenses the essentials of business development in a B2B context into 50 short lessons, each with 3 strategies that can be put into practice immediately. Whether you want to build lasting and profitable customer relationships, hunt down new clients, or are just beginning to work in a business development role, the book provides some tools and techniques that will immediately help you develop business more effectively.
We have kindly been given permission by Jeremy and the publishers to reproduce extracts of the book and have chosen four lessons (chapters) that we believe most closely match the learning, modelling, explanation and coaching we offer in our “Business development behaviours” programmes. Simply click on the title below to read the full chapter from the book (downloadable PDF).
We have also included sections from the introduction of the book below which give a further flavour of the content of the book. Should you have any questions about any aspects of the content of the book, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Alongside the book, Jeremy has just completed a significant new case study for PSfPS that is now being used in many of our business development, consulting and leadership programmes.
“Business services are different from products. Services – at the point of sale – are promises. Simple services can be tried in advance of purchase, but there is no real guarantee of reliable quality under exceptional circumstances. These promises are not about features; they are about outcomes. These outcomes have benefits, which have to be seen as commensurate with the price charged: a clean office, a well-serviced, reliable fleet of delivery trucks, a performance-enhancing training course. It is difficult sometimes to put a price on such things, as their value is both subjective and objective. The more complex the service, the higher is the risk to the buyer of the outcomes promised and the value not being delivered. At the highest-value end of the service food chain – professional or advisory services like legal, medical, consulting and accountancy – the outcome has to be taken on trust. When the delivery of the service may be a unique, one-off event and where the person buying will be materially involved in delivering the outcome with their professional – representation in court, say – there can be no ‘try before you buy’. You have to take your in-house counsel’s recommendation of the barrister on trust.
‘Solutions’ – the usual term to describe a tailored bundle of services and products – are no different from services in terms of the risk to customers. Clients can see the software works and play with the hardware involved – this is like buying a product. But ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼the maintenance, the training and the consulting elements are just service promises. When the client signs, she is often putting her own reputation on the line. ‘Will the parts of the solution work together – and with what we currently have?’ is the first question. Then it’s ‘Will it deliver the outcomes we need?, then ‘Will these outcomes be as valuable as we have been led to believe?’, then ‘What’s the cost – in terms of loss of productivity to introduce, time to train, time to buy, etc.?’ The customer needs to have a lot of trust in the vendor and its representatives before they sign.”
“In B2B selling, the ability to build trust is therefore critical. Solutions have to be tailored to client needs at some point, even if they have been designed for specific market sectors. This is because they have to integrate with other solutions working in the business – the legacy of previous buying decisions. As a twenty-first-century B2B salesperson, you had better be good at managing your customer’s risks.
Other selling challenges relate to managing the process of client decision-making. When goods and services get packaged up into solutions, they often interfere with the way a business operates. A business school professor might say they ‘re-engineer the value chain’; a consultant might describe this disruption as ‘innovation’ but local line managers might be more sceptical. So the decision to buy involves actively accepting this disruption in return for a later benefit – productivity improvement, perhaps, or reduced time to market.
Such decisions are generally too risky for one senior manager to make alone. Procurement functions are part of the risk-management process for senior clients; they slow things down (frustrating) but they analyse the risks and benefits of options (reassuring). For the salesperson it means that there are multiple clients involved with different views of their need, the solution, the sort of company they want to work with, the price they want to pay, and so on.
The third challenge is about the calculus between what you, the seller, propose and what each of these stakeholders will use and value. The old model of buying solutions meant that each stakeholder accepted some degree of compromise in the interest ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼of one solution ‘sort of’ fitting all. All-things-to-all-people solutions are extremely complex and costly. Think of how many of the functions of your computer software you never use (but pay for). Unwanted features and complexity are an irritation in B2B buying, too, an opportunity cost we don’t want to pay for. If we can customise our phone, we want to customise our order- processing solution.
We don’t want to pay an upfront fixed charge for the system, with all the associated depreciation in the value of the asset. If we can pay per use for different vehicles in a city-wide car pool, why shouldn’t we pay for our personal usage (heavy or light) of the functions of the solution? The Cloud means that the provider can easily track which functions individuals are using and when, so this is possible to do.
Of course, the information about usage is valuable, not just in terms of billing but also for the client who uses the solution. To know which functions and features people use most, to measure the impact of the outcomes achieved, to be able to modify your business processes on a regular basis to maximise the return – lean processes and lean services – this is a kind of holy grail of management information. Cloud-based solutions have this potential. And the provider, monitoring this information across multiple clients, becomes more intelligent about, say, order processing – to the point where they can really advise their clients about how to do things better, based on real data. The information helps them modify and improve the solution design and may create new revenue streams. The information might be as valuable in some situations as the original solution itself.”
Given this changing environment with increasing customer expectations about convenience and value, what is happening to the selling process? From interviews with successful salespeople, it is clear that new challenges call for some new and some not-so- new responses:
1. You really have to understand your client’s business.
2. You have to understand the decision-makers and how they will take a decision to disrupt their business (with your solution).
3. You will need to inspire the organization with your vision.
4. You need to build authentic relationships with senior people who will help you meet your quota for years to come.
5. Finally – and more invisibly to the client – you will need to have the same sort of relationships internally in your company.
Commentators and fans are lauding them for their efforts, and competitors aspire to reach the same levels of success.
Sadly, a large proportion cannot accept that this level of success is possible. Instead they have decided and are happy to decree that Team Sky, and Chris Froome in particular, must be cheating.
In reality, the best firms don’t need to cheat. There is no secret formula. When you look deeper, the reasons for their success are clear.
The best organisations (and sports teams) in the world have a deep-rooted value set that drives all behaviours. Everyone shares the same values and works towards a common objective. Successful firms believe in doing things the right way…
You are a successful professional services organisation and have a proven track record. Why then, would you question your client management?
Maybe your client has started to suffer from ‘consultant fatigue’ having undertaken numerous consultancy projects over the last year and now feels that using more consultants will lead them to be criticised for their management of resources?
Perhaps this scenario sounds familiar to you: Your client has decided to postpone the next phase of a proposal and there are the usual excuses for the postponement – they now plan to go out to tender, next year the budget will not be there, there is no rush. The problem for you is that, if they delay, you know your client will struggle to get continuity of consultants.
What practical steps could you take to stop this standstill and get the best outcome?
PSfPS have created this checklist that you can download to help you benchmark your current practices, processes and procedures of client management against best practice…
The perceived reality in the minds of many clients is that all accountants/lawyers/consultants offer pretty much the same services, in the same markets with the same outputs.
When you see the examples in this article from real proposal documents, it’s easy to see why this view is held.
Importantly, your personal brand also represents the organisation you work for.
These ‘LinkedIn Out Loud” videos put together by production company Joseph & Joseph show a collection of how not to set your personal brand on LinkedIn…
- “I run towards fires”
- “I’m not the boss. There’s only one boss and that’s Mr customer”
- “Welcome to a window into the life of me”
- “I don’t go with the flow – that’s for fish”
- “I’m not racist”
You can watch all the videos here…