US Comedian, Jerry Seinfeld suggested that the tuxedo must have been invented by women on the premise that ‘Men are all the same, might as well dress them the same’.
Unfortunately too many sales methodologies are based on similar thinking and if the tuxedo comment is sexist, I’m going to coin the phrase ‘Sales-ist.’
Like ice cream flavours, depending on your preference, you can choose a methodology that’s designed to build consensus or challenge decision makers or be customer-centric, be solution-centric, seller led, buyer led, forecast led, focused on large accounts, mid-tier accounts or even baby bear accounts.
You choose, Goldilocks!
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Now many of you will have your favourites and swear by them as is often the case when people feel it’s the methodology that has made them successful.
Whilst there are a lot of good principles in different methodologies, I think it’s more about you.
This week is my 12th birthday consulting and coaching leaders, sales people, pre-sales experts to win significantly more business. (Not counting the 15+ years before that actually doing it)
During this time I’ve coached thousands of people including the philosopher, the ego-head, the dyslexic, the self assured, the intellectual, the Year 10 dropout, the OCD, the introvert, the impostor, the sycophant, the drug addict, the 4 times divorced, the driven, the lazy, the unflinchingly decent and the self-esteem bandits.
They’re called human beings.
Each one has their own personal and professional background that they bring to the sales process and client engagement.
This is where there is still too much sheep dipping no matter how many times you see ‘tailored’ in the workbooks.
My mobile phone plan is tailored just for me too….just as I also believe Megan Gale will be interested in me some day.
So, unless you have 5000 reps selling soft drink, where a standardised methodology is a good thing, what are the options for you to develop consistent sales success in B2B Sales?
People learn from doing, not watching so here are three things you can do.
1.Only learn on live deals. Frameworks that use historical data are less relevant tofuture success.
Discuss, coach, guide on real opportunities where the sales person has a real voice on what’s going on and there’s a chance to do something about it.
Focus on the steps that are most relevant to that client at this particular moment in time.
So what if they skipped step 3 in the process, if it wasn’t the key issue?
2. There is more than one way to win a deal. Look around the office.
Jacinta sells very differently to Nathan, right? Learn from both. Leverage all the internal skills and opinions to see how real business is won.
Some sales managers say Jacinta is too reliant on relationships and Nathan is too technical – we need to change this and stick to a formula’.
Do we? Or do we just add new creative approaches, skills and ideas into the mix and coach them to try them rather than change who they are?
My Year 10 dropout for example, still said ‘Youse’ and hated filling in sales process sheets…not overly professional, but her success was borne out of courage in going deep across all decision makers and her understanding of her client’s real needs was outstanding.
My intellectual philosopher was considered a ‘wanker’ by some colleagues and he would reference Nietzche in his sales frameworks.
Yet he had a laser-like ability to dissect the commerciality of the deal so that clients clearly understood the whole story.
3 Too much process stifles creativity. The left field ideas, the courageous ideas, the game changers, the work to massively differentiate as opposed to producing flaccid sales messages is limited in rigid (tailored) methodology.
Finally, a voice from the customer.
After interviewing and befriending many Chief Procurement Officers and senior decision makers I discovered a little known game they play.
It’s called ‘Guess the methodology’.
Yes, these people who get pitched to every week have to do something to overcome the tedium of self indulgent meetings and poor presentations, so they grab a coffee and try to guess what the sales person has been trained in and then predict what’s going to happen next.
Hours of fun!
It doesn’t help you differentiate, though.
Amidst the noise of competition and sales messages out there, authentic, creative, human conversations focused on the client are the differentiator.
Combined with creative, fresh ideas and coaching, your human-ness is your differentiator.
As Oscar Wilde said “Be yourself, everybody else is already taken’
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Elliot Epstein is a leading Pitch Consultant, Keynote Speaker, Corporate trainer who gets sales results rapidly. He has coached and trained high profile corporates globally in presenting, selling, negotiating and pitching. He has spoken at over 1500 conferences and workshops for leading companies such as HP, SEEK, Avaya, Hitachi , Computershare and CUB.
He is internationally renowned for ensuring sessions are creative, engaging, interactive and relevant to winning business in competitive markets.
Elliot is based in Melbourne where he lives with his wife and two expensive children.