Friday, August 21, 2015

A Commentray on Hiring the Best Salespeople


 
 
                 A Commentary
 Hiring the Best Salespeople
 


 

Hiring salespeople that will be productive, effective, successful and committed to doing their part to meet the firm’s revenue goals is a perplexing problem for many. Yet it needn’t be! There are, much like the laws of sales, certain fundamentals that remain constant even in the face of a rapidly changing economy, and the corollary is just as true, there are certain decisions that will nearly always lead to failure.

Far too often salespeople are hired out of emotion; “I really like this guy” or “he hit a homerun at his last place, let’s bet on him doing the same for us”.  And then emotion carries the day, while the firm’s executive leadership hopes for the best, forgetting or ignoring how expensive failure is.

Let’s examine some of the early indicators of sure failure

1.    Hiring based on the salespersons industry experience and success at his/her last firm.

2.    Offering a compensation  plan that looks like the one they left or looks like what  “everybody does”

3.    Not having a well thought thru “on-boarding “plan.

Borrowing a bit from Steve Jobs on what made Apple great; the best hires are those that come from the intersection of Liberal Arts Way, Technology Street and Character Avenue. 

A Liberal Arts undergraduate degree brings with it a host of advantages; the ability to speak and write, and the ability to analyze and think creatively and independently asexamples.

Next is technical aptitude. Virtually all products require an ability to master their design and function. And to a great degree in today’s marketplace, it will often, if not always, have a technological component. So we must probe, test for, and understand their technological aptitude.

Finally, character matters. One executive I know hires only after he has played golf with the prospect and he and his wife have had dinner with the prospect, their spouse (or significant other to be correct in today’s politically correct world).  He maintains he can quickly see how the prospect handles success, competition, discernment, consideration, honesty, focus and frustration. All key elements of a successful hire, yet attributes that are either overlooked or under challenged during the interview process.   

Success at a previous firm is among the least dependable predictors/indicators of success at the next! It will be a different set of products, even if it’s in the same industry. It’s a different culture. It’s a new set of policies and procedures. It’s a lot of change that historical behavior can’t and won’t confirm.

And it’s likely a variation if not a totally different compensation plan, even if it seems nearly the same; it’ll turn out to have nuances that will make it new and different. Compensation plans need to be carefully and thoughtfully designed. Often they are out of alignment with the culture, goals and the objectives of the firm. It’s not enough to say the comp plan pays for sales performance. It doesn’t and it shouldn’t. It rewards behavior! And that’s a concept many don’t immediately get. The right behavior will result in the right revenue a lot more often than not!

These critical elements of a successful hire can be uncovered by skilled interviews, augmented by sophisticated scientific testing, which is far more likely to be unbiased and accurate. I have used and recommended, as an example,   a firm that offers an electronic set of questions which normally takes a candidate about 45 minutes to complete at their leisure, yet it uncovers strengths and weaknesses, degree of honesty, skills, shortcomings and aptitudes, all of which then allows the firm to consider and accept or reject the prospect based on these attributes. And if he is hired, to then  plan for  and anticipate his unique style, personality and ability,  and  to plan around those limitations to assure his success;  along with recognizing the  leadership style they will respond to most favorably , and to a degree, the type of compensation plan that  they will respond to most enthusiastically.  It also serves to help recognize, in advance, the things we might do as a leader that surely won’t resonate with them. And conversely, those comments and directions that they will respond to favorably. It just saves months of trying to figure each other out with varying degrees of success. It has proven to be amazingly accurate and a stunning success for those who have tried and adopted it. Find one you like and trust and use it!

Once they are hired, the work continues. Far too often firms take a “to the lions Christian” view, offering little in the way of an on-boarding process and expecting this new sales person to be an island of performance unto himself. He won’t be! He’ll need a well thought thru, hopefully written plan that they know they can rely on to learn how to function within the new culture they have stepped into. And they’ll need to be reminded of the vision, goals, objectives and direction the firm is pursuing often… over and over!

Finally, they’ll need collaboration. To be “managed” is largely inefficient and ineffective. But being lead is another matter altogether. Top down tiered management is a thing of the past, commerce moves too quickly for it to work anymore. Successful leadership requires collaboration, involvement and engagement. Using the results of the profile, those who succeed at hiring plan to come alongside their new hires to assure  success versus condemning them to failure.

Adopting a style and plan along this line will prove successful early and often!  
 
 
Michael Pearce  |  425 830-4156  |  pearce@focusedonrevenue.com  |  FocusedonRevenue.com
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Developing Exceptional Employees


Developing
Exceptional
Employees
 

”Exceptional leaders developing exceptional employees,

offering quality products, will yield exceptional performance!” 

On three recent trips to Venice, Budapest and Assisi we had private tour guides. Each city is renowned for certain aspects of life within the city and each is stunning in its own right. The guides proved invaluable in guiding us through the hearts of each of these special places.
While I was impressed with their knowledge and skill, and thoroughly enjoyed learning from them, I was equally impressed with their ability to lead and I saw qualities in each that reminded me of basic leadership requirements necessary to achieve  corporate success. 
In each case they clearly told us what to expect and what we would be seeing. They followed it by letting us know our responsibilities while under their tutelage. Finally they quickly assessed our ability, skill and desires and modified their plans based on these perceptions.
In every case, their goals were to:
·                  Make sure we finished our sightseeing (tasks) having gained the knowledge they wanted to impart.

·                  Verify we had learned from them.

·                  Confirm we left better for having been with them and glad to have had their guidance.

Exactly what great leaders do!
While management is important, primarily for assigning tasks and holding people accountable, leadership is even more critical to success because leadership is the foundation that allows managers to successfully manage!
Leadership has 3 clear components:
1.    Clearly define the path/vision.

2.    Clearly define expectations and responsibilities.

3.    Assure employees are equipped for success. 
Clearly defining the path/vision
It is an unfortunate statistic that more than 70% of the time, organizational leadership is a major cause of their employees’ unproductive behavior.
Far too often, the essence of leadership is overlooked in favor of management dictates and criticism. 
Leadership involves effective communication of the vision and direction the leader sees for the firm including: 

·         The leader’s vison for the future.

·         The path he has chosen to accomplish the vision/goals of the firm.

Devoting the effort necessary to know that the vision has been received and adopted is a critical step in developing exceptional employees. For the firm’s workers (like much of life itself) fear, doubt and uncertainty comes naturally from:

·         Not fully understanding the path.

·         Not grasping the vision

·         Not comprehending the metrics used to measure progress and determine course corrections.

·         Not assimilating the process that will be used for the employee to enact corrections

·         Not perceiving the degree of personal latitude each employee can exercise in helping achieve the vision.

Defining Expectations and Responsibilities

It’s equally as important to devote significant organizational and personal time with direct reports to ensure employees understand what their roles and responsibilities are; exactly how they will be measured and compensated and what latitudes/freedom of individual expression they will be allowed/expected to demonstrate in making decisions.

Finally, they need to understand what communication will be expected from them, at what frequency and for what reasons.

 

Equipping them for Success

Equipping them for success, while it embraces each of the above concepts, also requires significant engagement and collaboration. The days of hiring a salesperson, for example, and saying, “you did it for the other guys, that’s why we hired you, now go do it for us,” are long over. It didn’t work well anyway. Each employee has strengths and weaknesses. Each employee needs guidance and freedom to seek help. Understanding expectations is critical to a firm’s success.

 

Effective Collaboration

There are several key methodologies for achieving timely, effective collaboration, including:

·         Recognizing, believing and expressing that the employee has worth;

·         Communicating that each employee contributes intelligence, skill, and capabilities critical to the firm’s success.

 

They are the resources necessary to achieve and maintain the top position in your industry. It is the firm’s workforce that ultimately defines its success.

 

Only through effective collaboration and communication can a workforce move forward with commitment and passion.

 

To do this it also requires effective time management skills and processes. Leaders must focus on priorities, and resist yielding to the tyranny of the urgent. 

 

 

FocusedOnRevenue is uniquely equipped to help our clients effectively deal with the process transitions necessary for successful leadership.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Transforming Sales Teams

For all those who missed my live radio interview last week: the podcast can be heard at the following address - it was really enjoyable time--

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Time - The Secret Element in Success




 
How the Power of Time can ensure corporate success


Jantar Mantar, Jaipur, India - During a recent visit to Northern India covering  Goa north, we came across this little known sundial (observatory) park in Jaipur. It was an amazing find!  As I wandered around looking at the truly amazing instruments they constructed, I began to think about time in a much different way. I reflected on the many time management seminars I’ve attended and books I have read that didn’t work for me or anybody else I knew.
I still feel the need to figure out how to effectively “stretch” my day. Some people seem to have figured it out. We’ve all heard about people who are successful beyond the levels others are able to realize. So, what’s the secret? We have all been taught a variety of time management disciplines, yet few are successful. As I pondered the ancient sundial, it occurred to me that we have been ignoring a basic wisdom.We have been taught to use time as a way of managing our own lives, which is exactly what we should NOT do. Here’s what I discovered on that beautiful day in India. 
Between 1727 and 1734 Maharajah Jai Singh II built these “astronomical observatories” called "Jantar Mantars," incorporating multiple designs, each with a unique form and purpose. These enormously large structures, with their striking combinations of geometric forms, have captivated the attention of architects, artists, and art historians worldwide, yet remain largely unknown to the general public.

Passionately interested in mathematics and astronomy, Jai Singh adapted and added to the designs of earlier sundials to create architecture for astronomical measurement that is unsurpassed.  Early Greek and Persian sundials contained elements that Jai Singh incorporated into his designs, but the instruments of the Jantar Mantar are more complex and built at much greater scale.The site consists of 14 major geometric devices for measuring time. They predict eclipses, track star locations, ascertain the declinations of planets, and perform other astronomical measurements. The Samrat Yantra, the largest instrument, is a sundial nearly 90 feet high. Its carefully plotted shadow is remarkably accurate, determining the time within about two seconds. Its shadow moves visibly at 1/3 of an inch per second, or roughly the width of a hand every minute. It’s stunning to behold. 

Other instruments include the Ram Yantra whose primary function is to measure the altitude and azimuth of celestial objects, including the sun, and the Shasthansa Yantra, which gives extremely accurate measurements of the zenith, distance, declination, and diameter of the sun. The Mishra Yantra is another surprising edifice as it is able to indicate when it is noon in various cities all over the world. And this was done almost 300 years ago! 

As I spent the better part of the afternoon watching these amazing instruments work, and considering how important time was even then, it reminded me of one of the fundamental principles required for success that is too often overlooked: How we value time. Not how we’ve been taught to view time, but how we can effectively use time to make us far more productive and proficient. Learning how to treat time can change the very way we think and act, and it dramatically impacts culture. Collaboration, as an example, takes an investment of time but it opens new opportunities to attain higher performance levels. A commitment to a collaborative culture, and the time it requires, is one of the fundamental differences between leaders and managers. Managers (in the traditional sense of the word) are a function of a hierarchical management system that is largely obsolete. Strict management hierarchy was developed by the military to ensure communication throughout the organization. Today we have technology at our fingertips enabling communication directly, without the filter each person might give it. 

What would happen to an organization that began seeing executives as leaders rather than managers, and employees as producers rather than labor? Management implies authority while leadership implies truly enabling and empowering employees. Labor implies strict adherence to policies and processes. A producer implies ownership and engagement. 

A recent poll suggests that as many as 70% of all employees are disengaged. Applying time differently can radically change the results of that survey. It further suggests this awful result is a function of how we treat time. When we treat time as “ours,” we can’t be as responsive to our producers as they might need. We can’t be as open to interruptions that allow good ideas to surface. However, when we see our time as an opportunity to come along side our producers and compensate for weaknesses they may have, we make them better employees. It reassures employees that leadership is approachable. This method is a far better use of time than the traditional performance review that takes too much time to document and is not an effective motivator. 

Moving toward a culture of collaboration provides a significant opportunity to change our view of the organization. It allows us to view those at the senior levels as leaders versus mangers, and to relegate the idea of “labor” to the ash heap of obsolescence, replacing it with “producers.” Committing to a collaborative environment serves to “stretch” time by dramatically increasing productivity.   

Consider the need for transformation versus the standard consultant mantra that “all we need to do is improve a little each day.” To be sure, a careful examination of every phase of our business is critical, and looking for ways to improve is important, but even if you make the best buggy whip ever, there is still no market for it. Buggy whip companies needed a new idea, a new concept, a new direction. They had to transform or die. 

Where will transformation in your company come from? Will it come from the Executive Suite? Possibly, but more often the idea lies right there on the factory floor or in the head of the sales people who are out in the market every day. The discovery of the transformational idea normally requires acts of faith and a willing ear by leadership. 

So, let’s get back to the time quotient! How do we view interruptions? Most managers see them as impositions on an already busy day, so they either don’t carve out the time to hear the idea or they give it less than full attention. I remember my wife, as our girls were growing up, knowing far more about what they thought and what they were doing than I did. When I asked how she knew so much, she replied, “I was ready to listen when they were ready to talk.” Therein lies a transformational thought! If we view interruptions as potential opportunities, rather than impositions, we will treat our producers and our time with more respect. The result will be a collaborative culture. Such a transformational concept is rarely invoked because we just don’t take the time to do it. Many great ideas are the result of leaders using time as opportunity: the digital camera, the ATM, the post-it note, the internet and email for instance. The list is impressive. These winners have learned to harness the power of using time collaboratively.

Additional articles can be found on my website at www.focusedonrevenue.com or my blog at: http://michaelbpearce.blogspot.com/.  If I can serve you or answer any questions, I can be reached at pearce@focusedonrevenue.com; or  425-830-4156
 
 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Standing the Test of Time

Standing
                                                                                                           Article and photo by Michael Pearce

On a visit to southern France recently, I walked to and across the Pont du Gard. It’s a
phenomenal engineering feat built by the Romans around 19 BC that delivered an
estimated 52 million gallons of water to Nîmes every day. And it successfully did so until the
1950’s! As I walked across and thought about its astounding durability I was reminded that,
while we need to innovate and change our sales approach as technology and culture demands, there are still some fundamental “laws of sales” that, like the Pont Du Gard, have stood the test of time.
 
 

A Bit of Interesting History
 

 
The aqueduct was built to channel water from the springs of the Fontaine d'Eure near Uzès to the castellum divisorum (a holding basin) in Nîmes. From there, it was distributed to fountains,baths and private homes around the city. The straight-line distance is only about 12 miles but  the aqueduct takes a 31 mile winding route.
 
The Fontaine d'Eure, at 249 ft. above sea level, is only 56 ft. higher than the basin in Nîmes, but this provided a sufficient gradient to sustain a steady flow of water to the 50,000 inhabitants of the Roman city. The aqueduct's average gradient varies widely along its course, but is as little as 1 in 20,000 in some sections.
 
The reason for the disparity in gradients is that a uniform gradient would have meant that the Pont du Gard would have been unfeasibly high, given the limitations of technology of the time.  One section, required an extraordinary degree of accuracy to allow for a fall of only ¼
of an inch  in 330 ft.
 
The Pont du Gard was constructed largely without the use of mortar or clamps. It contains an estimated 50,400 tons of limestone extracted from a quarry located approximately 2,300 ft. downstream. The builders had the blocks precisely cut, numbered and inscribed with specific locations to fit perfectly together by friction alone.
 
The aqueduct is credited to Augustus’ son-in-law, Marcus Agrippa, the senior magistrate
responsible for the water supply of Rome and its colonies. It is believed to have taken 800 to 1,000 workers about fifteen years to build.
 
How does that connect to sales you ask? The sales laws that follow are every bit as durable as
this extraordinary engineering feat. They deserve to be regularly reviewed. Consider it performing necessary maintenance!
 
The sale is “closed” when it can be referenced!
 
The times have imposed another change on us. While referrals have always been important, it has traditionally been a more one on one personal issue, but now referrals and references are a matter of public knowledge. It’s rather like throwing a rock in a pool. In the past, the rock just sank, now the ripple effect goes on for a long, long time. Social media has given everyone the ability to seek a “reference” and they do! The truly great know that receiving a purchase order isn’t the end of the sale, it’s merely the beginning. But too many believe the sale is official when the service/product has been delivered. That is still a bit pre-mature to celebrate. The sale that matters most is the sale that meets the customer’s requirements in a way that results in a referencable customer. References matter for more than just future
business and general favorable awareness, they also shorten the sales cycle, which is a
critical element in todays need for high performance and effectiveness. It is said that
80% of all commercial sales occur after the 5th  contact. A meaningful reference can cut  the time and sales expense by nearly 40%! Consider that 76% of all people who get a good personal reference buy.
 
 

Don’t misinterpret “the customer is always right.” The customer is right

about his desires, perhaps even his requirements. But too often they really don’t know what  they don’t know. The skilled and effective sales person knows and accepts that they have
come to have their salesperson add value to their purchase decision. An example is a
woman at a cosmetics counter - they’ve been applying their cosmetics for years, they
know exactly how they want to look, yet they ask question after question at the counter.
Why? Because the cosmetic sales person is experienced and trained with the latest
products and may have good ideas and greater knowledge. Customers want to be
educated. They want to be shown a better way and have their needs/requirements
refined to take advantage of current products/services and methods. They don’t want to
make a mistake and be “sold” what they asked for, when they could have done better
with some expert input and guidance. They need their sales people to listen, interpret
their comments, then offer a solution that adds value to the transaction. The truly skilled
salespeople know and practice this in every sale.
 
 


Respect the buyer’s process

. Truly successful sales people know they have a superior  ability to “take the customer out of the market.” In other words, they know that they  have been successful in establishing the trust-bond, and in matching their services/products well with customer’s requirements, so that when the customer buys, they know the customer will buy from them. They accept that they cannot and should not try to materially alter the buyer’s process, for doing so will violate the trust-bond, and likely result in sacrificing margin. Far too often, those in desperate need to meet a quota deadline will offer a concession to win a deal earlier than the customer was prepared to authorize. In many cases the incentive comes in the form of a price reduction. “If I could get a lower price, would you order this month?” It’s a lose/lose question:
o The trust-bond has been broken. The customer now knows he didn’t get the best his sales person could have offered.
o The sales person has sacrificed margin, making the transaction and his company less profitable.
o The customer must do abnormal things to make the sale happen, which he’ll 
resent, but more importantly, he’ll learn from the experience and know exactly
how and when to buy in the future, reducing the value of all future sales as well!
It is much better to manage the pipeline better, spend more time developing prospects
and less time chasing deals that really aren't qualified deals. Developing enough
opportunities in the sales funnel insures the requisite number will materialize, without
adversely impacting the normal and natural course of events with any single customer.
 
•  Value the importance of the trust bond,  for it may equal all of the features and
benefits of any product or service. People buy from people they trust and sales people who add value to the relationship. Notice I didn’t say a person they like, which is important too, but less so than the trust bond. Too many organizations teach their sales people all about the features and benefits of their products/services, but they fail to focus in either their coaching or their measurement standards on this key element of truth—the trust bond matters!


Form, Feel and Fee.

When people buy, they emotionally rate these three areas every time they purchase. Violating any one of them can often be the reason for a lost sale: 

Form: “Does it meet or exceed my requirements; has he listened to me and  designed a solution that works for us?”
Feel “Does this feel like a person and an organization I’d like to do business with, and do I believe they will deliver as promised?”
Fee “Is it a fair price and within my ability to pay it?”
 
Be wary of the “yes” that isn’t an order.

The great sales people over time have realized they must learn to be discerning enough to know when they haven't yet  successfully matched their services/products with the customers’ requirements. Too often the customer is unable to “just say no,” so we continue to call on them hoping for a miraculous conversion. And they do occur! But the cost of the sale is nearly always too expensive, especially when you factor in the cost of lost opportunity. Other potential sales may have gone to competitors uncontested, as there was no time available to develop them. Customers can recognize the “yes” that comes from following the path of least resistance versus the path of a disciplined methodology. When the sales manager asks if an account closed and was the order placed, and the answer is, “not yet, but they said they’d like to meet again” we’ve potentially allowed ourselves to fall into the trap of
the “easiest yes.” This can be avoided by setting goals and objectives for each customer
contact that will advance the sale. It may not always go as hoped or expected, but at least
it will be a planned sales call with a defined objective against which we can measure the
success of the call. Avoid the “yes” that does not mean you’ve won the sale, but does
impose additional expensive time, effort and sales cost.
 
 
Additional articles can be found on my website at www.focusedonrevenue.com or my

blog at: http://michaelbpearce.blogspot.com/



If I can serve you or answer any questions, I can be reached at


pearce@focusedonrevenue.com; or on 425-830-4156





 
 
 
 

 


 


 
 
 
 


 








 





 


 

 


 


 
 







 



 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 



 
 
 

 


 
 
 
 
 






 
 
 




 








 



 







 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 
 
 
 
 



 

 





 


 


 
 
 
 
 
 


 
 
 



 







 

 



 
 
 



 





 

 
 
 
 
 


 
 

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




 

 

 

 

 


 



 

 



 
 





 
 



 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 



 
 
 
 

 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Why Aren't We Marching

Watching a press conference not long ago, The Pres Sec said a particular tyrant had to go because “thousands of people were marching in the street”—is that all it takes? Then why aren’t we marching? Let’s consider Syria: is there really any compelling reason to kill people in Syria; is there really any national interest? Cruise missiles aren’t for “sending a message” as Pres. Obama says he wants to do, that’s what Western Union is for- cruise missiles are for destroying their targets! And let’s not accept the “domino theory” stuff, it’s never been true, wasn’t in Indochina, isn’t now! There is literally no strategic value in interfering in Syria! And what are we saying in effect, we don’t care how they kill ‘em just don’t use gas. Is that the message? Its abhorrent! And are we to decide who will be the winner and who will be the loser in every civil strife that occurs around the world? It’s just not our job, and we are hated around the world for assuming it is – all from the President who told us he would rebuild ourI international relationships and they’ve quite literally never been worse. So we’re now providing arms and training/supporting the rebels, over ½ of which are Al Queda! So we kill ’em sacrificing our precious young people to do it in one country and arm them in another—I ask, why aren’t we marching! And there’s more to say, a lot more than just this short series of questions—this is a fight we don’t have a dog in—we need to be marching!!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Petra- Lessons in Building Competitive Barriers-

We just finished visiting Israel and Jordan. The primary reason to go to Jordan, other than seeing the wonderful city of Amman, was to see Petra, long on my “bucket “list. It turned out to be one of a handful of places in the world that deserves to be on everyone’s “top 5” list. Situated between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea and inhabited since prehistoric times, the rock-cut capital city of the Nabateans, became a major caravan centre for the incense of Arabia, the silks of China and the spices of India. During Hellenistic and Roman times it was a crossroads between Arabia, Egypt and Syria-Phoenicia. Petra is half-built, half-carved into rock and is surrounded by mountains riddled with passages and gorges. The dramatic city, built in the first century AD features rock cut temple/tombs, an amphitheatre, homes, shops and crypts. We approached via a natural winding rocky clef called the Siq. The Siq is the gorge formed by torrents of flood water called the Musa, which the Nabataeans blocked with a dam and channeled to carry drinking water to the city. Once inside, the Siq narrows to little more than 12 feet wide, with walls towering up hundreds of feet on either side. It is a masterpiece of a lost city that has fascinated visitors since its “discovery” early in the 19th century. The most recognizable building, The Khazneh el Faroun, or the Treasury, is an imposing facade standing some 120 feet tall, cut directly from the rock of the mountainside. It is an architectural and sculptural achievement of the highest caliber. As I walked the mile plus through the winding Siq to the city, it occurred to me that this was an exceptional example of how these people built a competitive barrier. It’s an example we should incorporate into our sales efforts, because it is as important to create effective competitive barriers as it is to successfully present what needs to be a winning solution. These barriers can and should include: A Solid Relationship This does not mean to make the prospect a friend. That may happen over time, but it’s a fallacy to believe people buy from people they like. People buy from people they trust who add value to the business relationship. An effective barrier includes reference accounts, customer endorsements and testimonials. Competitive barriers also include a “listening” focus that is legitimate and sufficiently sharp to process the nuances of what the customer is saying. The ability to repeat accurately what the customer thinks he has said, and to design a solution that exceeds his expectations, must be incorporated into a sales professional’s process. An effective sales person contributes edifying ideas and concepts that are new to the customer. This represents value that makes the solution one that exceeds the customer’s requirements and makes it a unique proposal. Recognize the importance of the trust- bond. That is the position reached when the prospect accepts that the salesperson is truly working to develop a solution that will exceed his requirements. Far too often salespeople focus nearly exclusively on the merits of the features and benefits of their product/service, largely because it’s all they are trained to do by their organizations. This key truth cannot and should not be overlooked. It is far more important to have established a relationship based on a differentiated solution that clearly matches the prospects articulated requirements than it is to be “liked.” It leads to the purchase criteria every prospect goes through which includes: Form, Feel and Fee When people buy, they emotionally rate these three areas every time they make a purchase. Violating one of them can often be the reason for a lost sale: Form: “Does it meet or exceed my requirements; has he listened to me and designed a solution that works for us?” Feel: “Does this feel like a person and an organization I’d like to do business with, and do I believe they will deliver as promised?” Fee: “Is it a fair price and within my ability to pay it?” Respecting the buyer’s process. Truly successful sales people know that they have a superior ability to “take the customer out of the market.” They are successful in establishing the trust-bond and in matching their services/products well with a customer’s requirements. When the customer does buy, it will be from the one they trust. They accept that they cannot and should not try to materially alter the buyer’s process, for doing so will violate the trust-bond, and likely result in a number of adverse consequences not the least of which is sacrificing margin. Far too often, those in desperate need to meet a quota deadline will offer a concession to win the deal earlier than the customer was prepared to authorize it. In a great many cases the incentive comes in the form of a price reduction—“if I could get a lower price, would you order this month?” It’s a lose/lose question because: 1. The trust-bond has been broken. The customer now knows he didn’t get the best price his sales person could have offered. 2. The sales person has sacrificed margin, making the transaction and his company less profitable. 3. The customer must do abnormal things to make the sale happen, which he’ll both learn from and resent. It is much more effective to manage the pipeline better, spend more time developing prospects and less time trying to force a deal before its time. Don’t misinterpret “the customer is always right.” The customer is right about his desires, perhaps even his requirements. Often they really don’t know what they don’t know. They have come seeking advice and guidance in their purchase decision. Customers want to be educated, to be shown a better way, to have their needs/requirements refined. They don’t want to make a mistake and be “sold” what they asked for, when they can do better with some expert guidance. Listen, interpret their comments, and then offer a solution that adds value to the transaction. Just like Petra, it’s imperative to build these competitive barriers, while building trust and offering a superior solution. When this is successfully practiced, sales performance dramatically increases!