Ten Reasons You Shouldn’t Buy a Sales Enablement Solution

By | Mobile Productivity Tools

About twice per week, I get asked about sales tool adoption rates or how to get more reps to adopt a new tool deployed by a company.

After building and delivering these types of tools for the last 6 years for some of the largest brands on the planet, I have some pretty concrete ideas on the topic.

Did you know, for example, that CRM adoption rates are historically less than 50%?  CRM is a very expensive sales tool!

I suspect you won’t like most of what I have to say since the reason 9 times out 10 is not the sales people that fail to adopt, it’s that the company did not start with adoption first and then work backwards to a right sales tool.

So since it’s Friday and I thought it might be fun to jokingly give you some thoughts on why you should not ever spend your budget on a sales enablement platform.

Ten Reasons You Shouldn’t Buy a Sales Enablement Solution

 

  1. You think your reps will close more deals if you buy it for them with no training plan
  2. You have no idea what your cost to acquire a customer is or how to at least get a ball park idea
  3. You think your customer will be glad your sales reps have a mobile app
  4. You are afraid to email your sales team regularly with tips because it might bother them
  5. You are scared you will have to update the tool too often and, you just don’t have the band width
  6. You are marketer who thinks that sales people are morons that couldn’t sell any thing without you
  7. You are a sales manager that thinks marketing is what you do if you can’t sell
  8. Your CEO, VP Sales, or CMO will only be interested in the people that don’t adopt the tool
  9. You think all apps will be adopted like Facebook and used by people of all ages
  10. You are too afraid to get buy-in from your Sales Management, but you’ll just deploy it any way and sneak it in

How to Get 10X More Impact Out of Two Newly Merged Sales Teams

By | Mobile Productivity Tools

Today I’m going to show you a new strategy to instantly boost revenue from two newly merged sales teams.

(In 14 days)

This strategy also helps marketers from newly merged companies figure out what to rebrand and gets it back to the field in record time.

The best part?

You don’t need to create any new content.

And in today’s mega-post will show you the step-by-step process we’ve used at 4 mergers collectively estimated at $32B.

One day our customer success team was sharing some of our newer customers catalogs when I stumbled on the concept of using sales tools to quickly merge two sales teams and get them cross selling fast.

Take a look at this image of the application closely (original brands blurred at the owner’s request.)

IMAGE FROM RELIANCE

When I saw this for the first time, I thought, “Hmm that’s interesting.”

The client seemed to be basing their entire sales tool around two  unique “brands” despite the fact that neither brand is the name of the parent company.

You can see this instantly by looking at the first two smaller squares on the middle on the home screen. SharkValves and AcmeValves are the titles.

IMAGE

The same two brand names appear within the folder structure on the left hand side. The parent brand “ValveTech” is clearly visible at the top of the app.

IMAGE

Tapping on the “branded squares” on the home screen takes you further into the products and supporting collateral for either mini-brand.

Being the inquisitive person I am, I searched for news about the two mini-brands and found out that both were acquired by the parent company within the last 13 months.  Each had about 1000 individual products each coming with 3-5 variants or child products.

So a Big Co.  buys two Smaller Cos. to add to it’s portfolio and customer base.  Classic M&A.

Now going back to the sales tools, I asked our Customer Success gurus to run an Analytics report ranking the “pages” viewed in the app from highest to lowest.

IMAGE

BOOM! As you can see the reps have been consistently driving down by tapping down into the Two Mini-Brands and hitting the landing pages at a extremely high rate compared to other resources in the app.

How much? 10X more than any other action.

A quick call to the customer confirmed our hypothesis.  They intentionally designed the tool to intuitively promote cross selling and up selling from the two mini-brands by featuring easy one tap buttons directly on the home screen for the team to use in the field.  Even the oldest guys on the team can’t miss those buttons!

Now that you’ve seen the results, it’s time for me to walk you through the step-by-step process they used to promote instant cross selling for their newly merged sales teams.

 

The 3-Step Process to Building a Cross Selling Tool for a Newly Merged Sales Team

There are 3 steps to building a cross selling tool:

Step #1: Identify the most relevant content from both brands

Step #2: Organize the content and design the workflows

Step #3: Train the combined teams

Here’s why this strategy is so effective:

First, new reps from both team easily see and access your content from both brands.

Chances are, 90%+ of the sales people that might benefit from the cross selling content never see it.

But when you repurpose your content into a simple tool like this, you create a huge opportunity for reps to start cross selling.

Second, you make both your teams instantly better.

I’d be willing to bet you have at least a handful of posts on your site that are outdated or mediocre.

The Content Relaunch gives you the opportunity to update and improve that content.

Better content=more traffic.

Third, your combined sales teams’ content has built-in cross selling proof.

When you launch this app, you have cross selling proof on day one.

For example, when we relaunched this tool for their Canada team a few months later. They instantly saw the same lift in cross selling type activities.

Image

 

With that, let’s dive into the step-by-step process…

Step #1: Identify the most relevant content from both brands

Your first step is to identify the most important content to help train and enable cross selling for your newly combined teams.

  1. Focus on profitable products first

Here’s how:

The objective here is to focus on the top 20% of items, products, or services that contribute 80% of the profits from the two brands.

In most M&A deals, there are a few select products, services, or entire lines that are coveted by the acquiring party for cross selling to their current customer base.  After all, everybody knows a current client is 6X more likely to buy compared to a new prospect (CITATION). That’s the M&A dream of every CFO in the world.

I can guarantee you the acquiring CFO has worked diligently for months to determine the products that drive the most PROFITS in her future acquisition.

Here’s why this is so critical… in the example below from the Business Owner, Peerless Consulting created more profit by simply eliminating 2 of 20 products that their reps could sell.

profits with apps

This shows that profits matter not sales or revenue per se.

This step should be performed for both portfolios and will set you up for success right off the bat.

2. Pull together the critical supporting information for the products

The Trick to Choosing a Sales App Your Reps Will Want to Use

By | Mobile Productivity Tools | No Comments

Discover the Ugly Truth About Workplace Change, and How to Avoid It Completely

Some people just can’t handle change.

When you introduce a new process or technology, confidence and predictability disappear. It’s something new to learn, which means it takes time, effort, and dedication on everyone’s part to make it work right.

And for those who don’t respond well to change, new solutions can initiate a domino effect of anxiety, stress, and productivity loss. Read More

Merging Two Sales Teams – 3 Things to Watch Closely

By | Mobile Productivity Tools
One of the fastest (and most complicated) methods to increase shareholder value is through a merger or acquisition. The dream of merging two sales teams and two product portfolios is just too big to pass up sometimes.

Surprisingly, a recent KPMG report indicated 83% of the time an M&A event has proved unsuccessful in producing any business benefit specifically with regard to shareholder value. Further, as many as 53% of companies that go through a merger or acquisition event actually destroyed shareholder value.

In other words, the fastest and most common way to expand a company’s footprint, results in no discernible growth for the investors 4 out of 5 times. Read More

What is a Cross Reference App for Sales Reps?

By | Mobile Productivity Tools
UPDATED MAY 24, 2017

What is a cross reference app and why would my sales people need one?

We hear this question often from organizations looking at mobile sales tools.

To put it simply, a cross reference app gives sales people the ability to instantly find the right products in their portfolio when they need to compare them directly with a competitor’s product.  Simple and effective!

Sales people often find themselves in situations where they are forced to talk about the competition when meeting with customers. Read More

71% of companies take 6 months or longer to on board sales employees – Let’s fix that.

By | Mobile Productivity Tools

How Sales Acceleration Technology  Speeds Up the On boarding Experience for Companies with 500+ Products

Congratulations – you’ve made the job offer to a new salesperson. They accepted.

Now, it’s a matter of figuring out the quickest, most effective way to prime them for selling, because the amount of revenue they generate is effectively zero until you can get them fully functional in the field. 

The more tools, time, and people involved, the more bogged down your entire on boarding experience can become, which typically leads to two possible outcomes: Read More

Three Ways Sales Reps Can Be More Productive and Increase Efficiency

By | B2B Sales, Sales Productivity
It’s very true – many of the best companies are struggling with the amount of time their sales reps spend in front of prospects.

Great field sales reps are horrible admins. Don’t believe me?

Ask any marketing director in charge of providing marketing support to a sales team. Ask a VP of sales that’s charged with herding the cattle. At any tier, the response is the same.

I’ve worked with hundreds and hundreds of field sales reps over the years and the absolute best sales reps are coin operated.  If a task gets in the way of selling, they don’t do it.  Why should they?!

Read More

[Case Study] Simple Tactic For Marketers To Impact Dealer Sales

By | B2B Sales, Mobile Productivity Tools
“What are we really getting for our marketing spend?”

I cringe every time someone in sales asks this question!

Actually it’s not a question, it’s statement that sales does not believe in marketing’s contribution.  It is also a sure sign that sales needs someone to blame for missing their number.

Maybe there is also a bit of misalignment or internal chaos between marketing and sales.

I think we all know the impact of marketing on sales performance, but sometimes it is difficult to quantify. Wouldn’t it be really nice if people stop asking this question all together?

Read More

10 Mobile Sales Tool Etiquette Tips to Maximize Sales Meeting Success

By | B2B Sales, Mobile Productivity Tools
Nowadays every field sale person uses some kind of mobile sales tool to do their job.  More companies then ever are rolling out mobile devices for their sales teams to use during sales meetings.

In fact IDC predicts that by 2020, mobile workers will account for nearly three quarters (72.3%) of the total U.S. workforce.

Those in-person conversations are critical for closing opportunities and using a mobile sales tool is proven to be an incredibly effective way to increase your odds of closing that important deal.

Great – right?

Absolutely, but there is one major problem I need to point out. Read More

Fix 5 Common Mobile Device Mistakes at Trade Shows and Boost Your ROI

By | B2B Sales, Mobile Productivity Tools, Sales Productivity
Mobile devices, included iPads, Android tablets, phones and iPhones are being used more and more at trade shows these days.

Whether it’s as a mobile sales tool in a sales reps hands, a tablet on a stand showing videos, or even just a mobile tool for scanning badges, Trade Show Managers need to prepare their sales teams appropriately. Read More

ipad sales app

#1 Reason Reps Only Use 35% of Digital Sales Collateral Marketers Create

By | B2B Sales, Mobile Productivity Tools, Sales Productivity
Marketers spend a ton of time, money, and effort creating digital sales collateral for our sales teams.

In fact, I would argue it has never been easier or more cost effective to generate videos, images, PDF brochures, mini-apps, etc.

Never!

Yet, despite all the systems and repositories…time and time again salespeople ask us if we have a brochure for X or case study that is an example of Y.

Are you kidding me?  Yes, we gave you that 6 months ago.  Why are you emailing me? Read More

Most Effective Way to Launch a Distributor Mobile Sales App

By | B2B Sales, Mobile Productivity Tools
We’d just gotten the biggest opportunity in our career – the chance to deliver a distributor mobile sales app to 1000s of plumbing dealers across the US and Canada for the top manufacturer in the industry.

For our fledgling company, this represented the largest single purchase of seats in our history.  A great distributor mobile sales app meant huge long-term value to us and our shareholders since 1000s of people would be benefiting from its use.  Failure to create the right tool Read More

How to create a PowerPoint presentation that looks great on an iPhone (free template)

By | Mobile Productivity Tools
One surprising downside to using a mobile sales tool on your iPhone is PowerPoint presentations look like utter crap.

I get it, presentations with PowerPoint on iPhones are made to be projected onto a big screen in boardroom, but these days sales presentations can happen anywhere, anytime.  Coffee shops, bars, airplanes, you name it. Read More

Your Prospects Don’t Care About Your End of Whatever

By | Selling Tips
I cannot state this loudly or emphatically enough; your sales prospects don’t care about your end of the month, end of the quarter, end of the year.

You might be able to load up incentives and bake in the fat like a country grandmother sending her grandkids back to the city, but if your prospect isn’t in the buying phase of their cycle, it just won’t (colorful metaphor) matter. Read More

What is a mobile sales tool?

By | Mobile Productivity Tools

What the heck is a mobile sales tool any way?  The reality is most people including Google seem to have very different opinions.  So we set out to fix that.

We asked our design team to spend some time creating an engaging and humorous presentation that demonstrates exactly what a mobile sales tool is?

The presentation is fully available on SlideShare and has been downloaded close to 60 times since we published it.

Hope you find these sales tips and tricks useful!

 

Here’s my notes from a recent talk I gave using this slide deck. Maybe they’ll give you further guidance.

What is mobile sales tool?

1. WHAT IS A MOBILE SALES TOOL? Heck, maybe you have been tasked with building one. You own a smart phone You’ve heard about mobile sales tools

2. ONE BIG PROBLEM

3. GOOGLE CAN’T FIGURE OUT WHAT A MOBILE SALES TOOL IS!

4. a variety of apps that can be useful to sales people on their smart devices.

5. Google thinks it’s a mobile tool salesman.

6. If Google can’t figure out what a mobile sales tool is, how can a Marketer be expected to do any better?

7. LET’S FIX THAT!

8. n/a

9. CAN WE ALL AGREE THAT SALES PEOPLE COULD USE MOBILE APPS TO: LOCATE THEMSELVES SAVE KEY INFORMATION LOOK UP CUSTOMER INFORMATION PRESENT INFORMATION TO PROSPECTS

10. DEFINITION OF A MOBILE SALES TOOL An application that is used to enable or accelerate the sales process conveniently from a tablet or smartphone wherever or whenever the timing is right.

11. AS A MARKETER OR SALES MANAGER, YOU ARE MOST LIKELY CONCERNED WITH GENERATING REVENUE.

12. REVENUE-GENERATING MOBILE SALES TOOLS FALL INTO THE “PRESENT INFORMATION TO PROSPECTS” CATEGORY.

13. SO, WHAT TYPES OF MOBILE APPS DO THAT?

14. IT DEPENDS ON HOW YOUR TEAM SELLS.

15. THEY MAY SELL WITH: PRESENTATIONS GIANT CATALOGS (DESCRIPTIONS, PRICES, SKUS) VISUAL SELLING AIDS (VIDEOS, IMAGES, CHARTS, ANIMATIONS) FORMS FOR CUSTOM PROJECTS AND SERVICES

16. Or they may use ALL THE ABOVE to sell to prospects.

17. SO, TO DEFINE THE BEST MOBILE SALES TOOL FOR YOUR TEAM, YOU NEED TO START WITH HOW YOUR TEAM SELLS FIRST.

18. HOWEVER, TO GENERATE REVENUE, YOU NEED TO PICK A TARGET. A REVENUE-GENERATING TARGET.

19. HERE ARE 10 WAYS Marketers and Sales Managers can hit revenue-generating targets with mobile sales tools. 1 Focus on the middle 60%. 2 Profitable products first. 3 Train new reps faster. 4 Reduce your print spend.5 New product training is key. 6 Build for your top dealers and distributors. 7Make pricing easy to find. 8Focus on HOT new products. 9 Get the jump on competitors by cross-referencing data. 10 Stop emailing sales collateral.

20.
21. So, now you know how your team sells and you have a target. Let’s dive into the tools to get your app built.

22. Mobile sales tool platforms on the market may be composed of 3 layers.

FILE MANAGEMENT LAYER – Where marketers organize, upload, and manage product assets.

PRESENTATION LAYER – Where sales reps interact and present product data to prospects.

AUTOMATION LAYER – Where prospect information is seamlessly integrated into your CRM.

23. These 3 layers make it easy to: Manage and easily find information Deliver information (files, product specs, branding) Capture information (customer data and usage data) Integrate into other systems (CRM, Marketing Automation, ERP)

24. A great File Management Layer makes it easy on the Marketer and engages them to use it!

25. The Presentation Layer is an App on a Smart Device or “System of Engagement.” Presents information to reps and prospects Captures information via rep input Sends sales collateral

26. THE SINGLE BIGGEST MISTAKE IS TO ASSUME THAT THE APP IS THERE TO ENGAGE YOUR CUSTOMER!

27. The app is the system of engagement for your sales people, not your customers. Sales people use the tool to engage prospects and accelerate their sales cycle.

28. Thus, a mobile sales tool enables your reps to sell more of your products & services via the Presentation Layer.

29. The Automation Layer logs the activity or triggers the appropriate actions within a third-party platform such as a CRM or Marketing Automation system.

The 10 Minute Mobile Sales Video Marketing Fix That Will Boost Sales

By | Mobile Productivity Tools, Video Tips

My friend Mike is a senior sales rep at a Silicon Valley ‘unicorn’. He’s always trying to impress me with how great the perks are (free scooters, milkshakes, Wednesday’s blue grass jams, unlimited vacation, etc). But his biggest brag is full autonomy to work wherever and however he chooses, because the company believes in mobility for it’s sales team and that means selling with videos.

As a marketer focused on mobility, I’m interested in how to boost sales; this translates to supporting the sales teams with videos that captivate prospects. So, last week when I met Mike for a couple of beers, I decided to test him on the quality of his mobile sales videos and also drill him a bit, just for fun.

After the first beer, I ask Mike to give me his sales pitch on his company’s product and to show me his best video. He agrees and complies by taking out his iPhone and queues up a video and I grab it and press play.

Four minutes later Mike looked at me in shock when I told him that his product video “sucked”! So I bet him four nights of drinks I could improve the video 100x in just 10 minutes, which would help him close more deals.

Understanding the key characteristics of great mobile sales videos and then applying them to your own is key to making videos that boost sales. Editing and fixing bad videos takes just 10 minutes with two simple tools, Camtasia and Handbrake. After a little practice you will become a mobile sales video marketing superstar.

The techniques are easy to understand and apply to virtually any existing sales videos. It does not matter what your products or services are; they will work for any company that uses videos for mobile marketing and selling.

Click Here to Grab The Four Tip Checklist for Creating Videos for Your Sales Team

To be effective for in-person meetings, mobile sales videos need these four key characteristics addressed

1. Keep it short – Eight (8) to twenty (20) seconds long, at the most. Remove any intros that take up time.

2. Make sure the video is available online – Videos should be available on any device (tablet, phone, laptop). Apple devices require videos to be .mp4 or .m4v.

3. Keep it contextual – Cut small videos from longer ones, and make sure to title them contextually.

4. Easy to share – Provide either links on YouTube or create pre-formatted emails with video links.

Now that you know what characteristics make up great sales videos, let’s focus on how to apply the knowledge, editing a video.

The tools you need to edit and format videos are Camtasia and Handbrake.

Step 1 – Download and install Camtasia here.

Step 2 – Download and install Handbrake here.

Cutting the video in Camtasia (7 minutes)

I use Camtasia because it’s a great full-featured editing tool. I’ve used it to cut videos into small usable snippets, with the ability to save as .mp4 for Apple devices. It doesn’t require you to take a class or read a book. I can make a cut exactly where I need to edit and then review, save and play.

Step 3 – (1 minute) Open Camtasia and import the video you want to cut by double clicking on the video icon and drag the video to the timeline (that’s the area at the bottom) and press the play arrow.

Camtasia Import Media 3

Camtasia Play Media

Step 4 – (4 minutes) Locate the starting part of the video that you would like to cut in the timeline, then right click and select split on the beginning part you want to cut. Next, locate the end part of this video section that you want to cut and do the same, right click and select split.

Camtasia Split 2 End

Step 5 – (2 minutes) Delete the split piece of video and press play to see the new video with the cut. If it looks good then save the video.

Camtasia Delete

Formatting the video into an mp4 with Handbrake (3 minutes)

I tried all kinds of video converters and I found that Handbrake has the most formats, the user interface is great and it does the job fast. You can convert any video so it will play on Apple devices (iPhones, iPads,etc.).

Step 6 – (1 minute) Open Handbrake and locate the video file by clicking the source button. Once you have selected the source file, click open.

Handbrake Toggle Presets iPhone

Step 7 – (less than a minute) Press the toggle presets button on the top menu and select iPhone/iPod Touch.

Handbrake Select iPhone & iPod Touch

Step 8 (1 minute) – Press start, when the conversion is complete, you’ll here a tone and a pop up will tell you the conversion is done.

Handbrake Complete

I sent the video back to Mike and asked him to take it for a test drive.  A week later he shot me an email reminding me that he is buying drinks for the next four meet ups!

Click Here to Grab The Four Tip Checklist for Creating Videos for Your Sales Team

Effective Conference & Leads

By | B2B Sales

I’ve gone to a lot of conferences in my day. Most of the time I’m appalled by the booth management and the flurry to scan my badge without ever having any real intention of engaging with me. I’ve become surly in my old age telling the bright-eyed marketer that comes gleefully to scan my badge that, “I’m a terrible lead” or worse, “I’m going to blacklist you if you send me an email.”

Nothing dissuades them, nothing.

Then I saw the entire process turned on its head and ran ruthlessly effectively. This lead capture system was the most organized, successful, and effective conference campaign, which despite the cost, they more than covered expenses even before the packed up and left.

I was in awe. Such awe that I’m pitching my boss to do this lead capture system next year and ordering a chartered jet home to haul all the cash we will make.

It was that woefully efficient.

Here’s the story, as best I can remember it.

I’m wandering the conference floor, and I get accosted by a rep, “Hey have you sat in on our demo?”

That is so wrong on so many levels, yet it was perfect.

The rep didn’t care who I was, what I wanted out the conference, nothing about me (and I’m narcissistic, I’m all about me). All he cared for was if I sat through his demo.

“No”, I responded and made note of the company, Curata, and went on my way.

A while later I bumped into the rep, possibly on a coffee break, and again he asked, “Hey have you sat in on our demo?”.

Ok, I’ve seen this play before, this is the Green Eggs and Ham play. You know, you wear the person down until they comply, then the prospect might, just might have a change of heart and see things your way. Ug, am I going to have to deal with this guy all week?

After a few more interactions, I got dribs and drabs of more information about the product, always followed with the monotonic request to sit in their demo. No, I could not have a private demo, no I could not get a trial, I had to sit in on their demo. If I wanted more than the 60,000 ft view of the product, I’d need to sit in the demo.

To sweeten the deal, for attending the demo I’d get a Bluetooth speaker. Not the best conference swag, however, I could do far worse.

Like the character in Green Eggs and Ham, I finally relented.

The Conference Czar of Curata had a small room on the conference floor. Inside the meeting room, there were 20 chairs packed close together with just enough room for a monitor and presenter. Ward Perry stuffed 20 of us in that room then, in walked Randy Bernard, Director of Sales. He quickly introduced himself, asked a couple of questions and pitched for 15mins straight.

Captive audience.
That was amazing.

At the end, each of us got our Bluetooth speaker and sent on our way.

Not all of us, there were a few that had other questions and showed genuine interest.

What the Curata team did was cast a ridiculously wide net that guaranteed themselves at least a few qualified leads every time that net went out.

I’m pretty good at making connections at conferences. When I have a booth, I pull in a bunch of qualified leads. Nothing compared to the Curata method.

By my estimations, they ran two demos per hour, 20 people per demo, at least 5 hours a day, for three days. They managed to ram their message down the throats of at least 600 people. One person. Granted it took a team to stuff the room for every session, but they had their best pitchman pitch to 600 people over a three day period.

AMAZING.

What’s more at the end of the conference I spoke with Ward, and he already had in his hand four inked contracts from leads that were nowhere in his funnel. He wouldn’t tell me how many pre-qualified leads closed, but they pulled four brand new leads out of thin air.

Ok, those numbers aren’t great, 4 out of 600, by any rubric, those are TERRIBLE NUMBERS. However put them in context, put them in the funnel. 4 of 600 entered the top of the funnel and closed with three days.

Three days to close.

How many deals have you had that closed within three days? Now imagine what the rest of the funnel looks like? I’d guess it is bursting at the seams.

Sure some folks will fall out of the funnel.
Sure some folks will get educated and move to a competitor.

Now just think about how much you spend for a conference and how many leads, qualified leads you leave with, that know your message.

Dollars to donuts when a Curata sales rep follows up with those leads, they will remember the Curata experience, and if they engage with the sales rep, the rep should get ready to bang that gong.

Call a Timeout

By | Sales Productivity

Guest Post by Mark Shalinsky – Business Development Manager at The New Office.  Mark is a veteran sales guy that loves the hunt and metrics.  He taught me some great techniques over the years including “whale hunting” at conferences, one of my go to strategies. In this article, Mark shares how to to become a communication catalyst, pulling in a collaborator to make everyone a winner.

I ran into a rough situation the other day.

My boss and I are in the boardroom. Across from us are sitting the client champion (I’ll call her “Darcy”), one of her colleagues, and two outside consultants. We had several short conversations with Darcy prior to finagling a sit. Usually, I go on these alone, or with a pre-sales engineer, not typically with my boss, the CEO of the company. I like to hold him in reserve so we can play good cop / bad cop during negotiations. For whatever reason, my boss decided he wanted to be in the thick of the action.

I’ve worked for a bunch of tech companies and up until now all the founders were tech people. Mostly extroverted, so they’d stare at my shoes not their own. My current boss is the consummate, old school sales guy. He loves filleting the pain, negotiating, and closing. He’s the encyclopedia of sales plays and effective meeting strategies, so I know I’ll always learn something when he comes along.

So we get started. I boot up our demo and immediately our champion, Darcy pulls out her Gatling gun and starts peppering me with questions. Right out of the gate she’s on fire. We’d barely finished the pleasantries, and she started to unload. And unload hard she did. You know those deep cutting questions that go to the core of your product and your value proposition.

While I was able to easily and deftly field these questions, it put me on the defensive track. Defensive is terrible. Defense deflects the ball. Defense does not control the conversation. The worst part, I could not get on the offense. Remember what I said about my boss being the quintessential sales guy? Well, he was able to grab the ball and called a timeout.

Wait. Can you call a timeout on a sit? Why did nobody ever tell me? How come I never knew? Regardless, my boss slammed his hand on the big red button and said, “Darcy, we’ve had a couple of conversations, why are you the only one talking?” Then he laid on the big William Shatner pregnant pause. Darcy mentioned something squirrely tried to go on offense again, but my boss wouldn’t let her. “Darcy, we’ve got two of your colleagues, I have an idea what they do from our intro, and are you are paying a handsome sum to these two implementation consultants to sit here and listen to Mark’s answers?”

Then he dropped the mic, put the ball right back in the middle of the table and went back to the edge. It was at that moment that something amazing happened. With little prompting, those two statements got five people starting to talk. Those two groups had not outlined the problems that they wanted to solve individually, as a group, nor had they had the opportunity to hash out their issues.

It became abundantly clear that the entire reason we were called in was to act as a conversation catalyst. Darcy needed to have the conversation with her colleagues and the consultants that my boss had created, however she did not know how to get that conversation started. Then when she found herself in a room with three different groups that, in her mind, all had set objectives, she believed she needed to dominate the conversation to get her way. Wrong.

Had the sit gone the way Darcy initiated the result would have been an impasse at best, a failed implementation that would have made my product look bad, the consultants overcharging their client, and Darcy pulling defeat from the jaws of victory that may cost her her job.

The better way, start from zero. If we are all not on the same page from the outset, start again. Yes, we did go around the table make introductions with roles and responsibilities. However, I failed because I let Darcy grab the ball and run with it. She ran to her end-zone. The problem, her end-zone was not my end-zone, her colleague’s end-zone or the consultants end-zone.

Step 1 is to identify the players.

Step 2 have each player define what success looks like.

Step 3 paint the complete picture where everyone comes out a winner.

If you can’t provide the complete solution, be honest and offer what you can. Gain credibility with effective meeting strategies like offering to pull in a collaborator that can help you make everyone at the table a winner.

 

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAaTAAAAJGRkOGJlNWVjLTliYTYtNDgyZS05M2MxLTZhMmI2MmYyOGQ0OAAbout the author

Following an academic career, Mark moved into business development and has been the critical early sales hire at start-ups that have grown to become global brands in scientific publishing and IT security. Currently, Mark leverages academic skills and sales experiences in the tech sector identifying market sweet spots and cultivating sales reps into power-players, closing bigger deals faster.

Read more of Mark’s articles here and follow him on Twitter.