Sound familiar ?

“As a result of an internal business review we’ve built a detailed specification of our requirements for [insert descriptive] that we feel your organisation may be able to satisfy. We’d like you to complete the attached RFP by [insert unreasonable time-frame]  and if considered suitable, to attend our offices on [insert non-negotiable date] and make a presentation about why you should be considered as a potential supplier”.

…and the unspoken bit hidden between the lines, “ We’ve also managed to come up with a list of your competitors and have asked them to do the same. Of course, one of your competitors is the incumbent and as such is very likely to retain the business”.

Sound familiar? Unfortunately, this type of conversation is becoming more and more common as buyers of B2B goods and services increasingly access publicly available information and use it to work out their own needs. Some studies suggest that they are completing as much as 60% of purchasing decisions before even engaging a supplier or speaking with a salesperson.

Of course, the RFP is an extreme of how the “informed” buyer is handling the procurement task. Not every solution is acquired through an RFP. Maybe it’s a scenario where the prospect says things like “I’ve been on the internet”, “I know how much it should cost”, “I’m familiar with the technical specs” or countless other examples. One things for sure, it’s a fact that every prospect can tap into information that just wasn’t accessible a few years ago and that changes the game.

So how do you adapt your sales approach to ensure that you are seen as an invaluable part of the buying process and be the one that secures the customers’ business?

An approach to this conundrum has been developed by Global Sales Training and Results Improvement Specialists, Mercuri International, and is centred on Differentiated Selling™ or put another way, the ability to flex your sales approach to the way people buy.

As the information age continues to gather pace, there are a number of your customers who having researched everything, feel that they know clearly what they want and are very comfortable to continue to trust you to provide it. In these situations the salesperson is fulfilling a known set of requirements in a “safe” relationship and only has to provide the solution. Typically, this type of selling situation would be managed by an Account Manager. That is, a salesperson who is focussed totally on the quality of the relationship between your company and the client.

But what happens when the prospect is not clear about their requirements and whether they want to work with your company at all? How do you approach this type of prospect?

Or the prospect who knows what he wants (or thinks he knows) but is not happy or convinced about working with you?

Differentiated Selling™ is essentially an approach that flexes dependant on the buying situation of the prospect. It requires you to think and act differently in different situations rather than have a “one size fits all” sales approach.

Are you ready to start being different? If you are, it could be useful to have a discussion with us first. We have some provocative insights into how you can turn your customer’s way of thinking on its head.

Interested in hearing more? Contact me by clicking here to arrange an introductory discussion and discover how to win that elusive customers business a little more often.

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Who are they ?

Like most methods of communication, blogs are all about content. The content of this blog is normally fairly informal covering general topics that have sparked my interest or that have come up in everyday conversations with business colleagues, friends and peers.

In this post I’m not going to do the talking. I thought that maybe it’s about time that my  posts have a bit of context to them. So it would be good to share a little about the company I work for and what it is that we do for our clients.

If you are in the business of selling and/or leading people that sell then it’s likely that this video might strike a chord. If so, please take the time to contact me or call me on + 44 (0) 7515 394373 – we probably should be talking.

Think like your customer

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted on here. My apologies. My attention has been on a whole range of other important stuff for the last few weeks and of course, before that it was summer holiday time.

A lot has happened in the world over the last few weeks and more particularly in this month of October. Earlier this month we sadly saw the passing of a true innovator and business leader; Steve Jobs.

Much has been written over the last couple of weeks about Steve with most of it being good stuff. However, some detractors saw it as an opportunity to have a pop at his management style and question his judgement on a whole range of things.

What they seem to have missed is that Steve was an entrepreneur. Not so many years ago, he co-founded what is now the largest technology company in the world. He did this from a garage with not a penny to rub together, but he still managed to succeed where others failed. This was, in no small part, due to his relentless drive and enthusiasm. Of course he rubbed people up the wrong way, he was said to lose his temper at times, he was known for culling thousands of ideas until he found the next big thing. But let’s face it, Apple is a company that he founded, was thrown out of and ultimately rescued when he returned. He was always going to be passionate about it.

For me, one of the key secrets of his success was to understand the consumer. He was able to do this because he thought like one. He didn’t need to conduct expensive market research because he relied on his instincts as a user of products and services to come up with great ideas that turned the (generally poor) user experience of computing on its head. He saw how computer based technology could be used by everyday people without needing a master’s degree in computer science.

I’m sure that there are things that Apple doesn’t do as well as it would like. It is staffed by human beings after all and we all tend to make mistakes from time to time. But in my view, it’s no coincidence that Apple has continued to grow and become so successful despite the worst economic slump for a generation.

Put simply, Apple has continued their legendary focus on innovation and challenging regular thinking in the world of consumer technology. They think differently, continuously question what’s possible and are 100% committed to the awesome marketing machine they have created. (I find it amazing that so many companies slashed their R&D, marketing and development budgets just when they need them most).

Time will tell how Apple will fare without Steve, but my guess is they’ll do just fine. Steve’s DNA is inextricably woven into the fabric of Apple Inc and it will take a brave man to deliberately try to unravel that.