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Shane Gibson's Podcast - Social Selling - B2B Sales and Influence

Shane Gibson Keynote Speaker | Social Selling | Sales Trainer | Social Media Strategy

Posts Categorized / Sales Articles

  • Feb 07 / 2009
  • 9
Managing Complex Selling Relationships Blog, Sales Articles, Sales Blog, Sales Management Blog, Sales Training, Selling In Turbulent Times

Risks Associated with Long Sales Cycle Selling

A large complex sales opportunity can be very lucrative and offer great rewards for salespeople who pursue them.  With these rewards also come risks because a large investment of our resources over an extended period of time is required for success.  This large investment can be in vain if we have not addressed some of the risks associated with large complex deals.


Not Targeting
If we do not have a clear idea of who our ideal clients are (referred to as A’s or the 20 percent that bring us 80 percent of our revenues) then we can be spending a lot time prospecting the wrong companies and opportunities. It is often a large effort just to get in the door and if we are knocking on the wrong doors, it can be costly.

Not Managing Pipeline
Being organized with a clear game plan is imperative as there are so many details and variables in a complex sale the deal can easily get side-tracked. By being organized in our sales process and managing our pipeline, we can reduce the chance of losing the deal due to apathy or distraction.

Not Knowing the Buying Process
We need to really understand how the client assesses potential suppliers and what process they use to do so. Too often we push our own agenda at our own demise.  Spending time probing, asking questions, and researching is critical in helping us understand the likelihood of landing a deal. It also ensures that we do not miss critical pieces of information and steps that are important to the prospect.

Taking the Wrong Advice

We need to gather information from multiple sources to make sure that our approach is in line with the values of the key decision makers. If someone is blocking your access to the internal network of your client company, and all the information comes from that source, there is a good chance that your proposal will miss the mark.  Take advice and gather information from people without personal agendas.

Not Having a Bid Qualification Process
Just because a big company sends you a Request for Proposal (RFP) it does not mean you should apply. Many companies have failed because they won the wrong contract and went bankrupt trying to service a large client and/or one with unique and expensive specifications.

As big complex deal hunters, we need to know what a profitable deal looks like. More importantly, we need to know how we could lose money or burn up time on deals that are a misfit.

  • Feb 03 / 2009
  • Comments Off on Influencing Top Level Decision Makers
Managing Complex Selling Relationships Blog, Sales Articles, Sales Blog, Sales Management Blog, Sales Training

Influencing Top Level Decision Makers

Influencing top level decision makers

Guest Blog By Bill Gibson bill@kbitraining.com

Top level decision makers are results-orientated. Both tangible results and intangible results appeal to them.  When we talk about results we can talk about both tangible and intangible results.

Tangible Results

The kind of tangible results that appeal to them are:

Raising Revenues:
Show them how their overall volume can be increased; in other words, an increase in sales. They know that an increase in sales means more profit if the expenses are well managed.

Increase Efficiency:
They want a sizable return on their monetary investment. If they see that their employees, or their equipment, or other capital will be more efficient, then the chance of their buy-in is higher.

Keeping Shareholders Happy:
Top-level decision makers are the ones who have to answer to the Board of Directors and to the Shareholders in a large corporation. Keeping the Board or shareholders happy is their main priority. This means that you are showing them ways to improve the value of the company, in turn improving the value of the shares paid out, or returning a bigger profit so that larger dividends are declared and paid to the shareholders.

Lowering Cost of Production:
Again, more logical, linear, left brain appeal to the top level decision makers. Lower costs equal better margins and bigger profits.

Increasing Market Share:
They are interested in advertising, marketing and business development strategies, tactics and methods to increase market share. Taking market share from the competition is something that inspires them. Also, gaining a bigger share of the average client’s   buying power  also means increasing market share to top level decision makers.

Higher Return On Investment:
Can you show them how they will get a bigger return on their investment for the money they invest with your services, products, ideas and concepts? If you can, they will want to know you and they will also open to investing time with you.

Dealing With Market Changes:
A sudden down swing in the economy, a new big competitor grabbing market share, a sudden market switch to a new technology, a new way of doing business, new government regulations that affect them adversely, a major change in consumer behavior are all examples of market changes that corporations have to adjust to and capitalize on. If you come with solutions for market changes that affect them, then they will  take the time to explore the possibilities with you.

Intangible Results:

The types of intangible results that appeal to top-level decision makers are:

Lower the Risk And Worry:
Anything that you can do to lower or eliminate the risk makes them feel better. Showing them how you will finish a project on time, protect their investment, handle unexpected situations, save them personal stress or personal hassle are all examples of what they consider to be valuable as an intangible. It makes them feel better and reduces their worries.

Personal and Corporate Pride:
Senior executives and top-level decision makers are at the top because they have personal pride and are proud of the business results that they achieve. Whatever you can do to make them feel even more proud of themselves and their company, will usually provide positive results.  One particular business journalist who works for the Globe and Mail uses this as her primary strategy to get senior executives to call her back for interviews.  She will leave a message or send an e-mail genuinely complementing them on their achievements and track record and citing why she thinks they are an industry authority.  Her callback rate is almost 100 percent.

Image – Personally And Corporately:
Yes the car they drive reflects their success level. The suits, the shoes they wear, the house they live in, the office address, and the image their marketing material portrays are all examples of personal and/or corporate image. Not all top level decision makers hold image as a top motive for buying, although most do, whether they admit it or not.

Retaining And Attracting Good Employees Who Work Beyond The Norm:

The top level decision maker knows that you win when you have exceptional people working with you. Show them how to attract and keep really good people who work beyond what normal people do, and they will be open to listen. When they see these types of people around them they are impressed and it gives them that intangible result of a sense of pride and comfort.

  • Feb 02 / 2009
  • 6
Managing Complex Selling Relationships Blog, Sales Articles, Sales Blog, Sales Training

Sales Blog – Selling Intangible Solutions

Key Skills and Strengths for Selling Intangible Solutions

The following provides a brief overview of some of the skills and strengths needed to be great at selling intangibles.

1) Personal Brand of You
When selling intangible solutions, it really is about credibility and the relationship. Because the solution is intangible, the purchase is largely based upon the believability of the salesperson. For example, a business coach sells a very intangible service. They are often evaluated by their own personal presence, ability to communicate, and by third party endorsements and certifications.
Having a strong personal brand helps people understand who we are, what we are about, and it removes uncertainty. There is so much information out there to process that it is almost impossible for a consumer to choose a service or product—instead they choose the right company or the right sales representative and leave the product selection up to them.

2) Differentiation
People who are good at this type of sales often communicate what they do in a unique way. This means specializing and unique positioning is often necessary. Thousands of people in Canada call themselves “financial advisors” and the minute we hear that term we mentally lump them into the same category as the last 100 advisors we met and lose interest. One of the top one percent of advisors at London Life/Freedom 55 Financial refers to himself as a “Wealth Management Specialist” and just by the nature of his positioning, attracts very affluent clients. Find a way to present what you do in a way that makes it memorable and creates a distinction between you and the rest of the people in your industry.

3) Passionate Evangelist/Industry Authority or Both
As an extension of our personal brand and our ability to differentiate, our passion and knowledge are critical in selling intangibles. Because the client cannot often experience the service or solution in a tangible way, their experience of you has to be credible and inspiring. In fact, their experience in dealing with you will determine if they purchase or not.
Passion is really about having a strong conviction and unwavering level of confidence in ourselves, our company, our industry, and our solution. It is also critical to be seen as an industry authority—consistently doing such things as writing articles for local periodicals, blogging, being a guest speaker for local business or community groups, maintaining a regular newsletter, and having endorsements from well known people in the community.  A combination of passion and being an authority increases our believability factor and takes away the fear of saying “Yes” for the client.

4) Clarity

In communicating, your greatest enemy isn’t the noise around you – it’s the noise you create, un-wittingly – Harry Beckwith, author of What Clients Love and Selling the Invisible.

Brevity and focus are key. If we focus on one or two core things we are good at and communicate those proficiencies really well, we can own a large portion of client mindshare and wallet share. Clearly communicating what we do, and not trying to be all things to all people, sets apart the high-paid specialists from the generalists.

Nick Usborne, author of NetWords makes an interesting distinction when he says that:

We’re not just writing to be understood, we are also writing in a way that insures we are not misunderstood.

Make sure the message about what you do is clear, focused, and void of any ambiguity. Focused, predictable service providers make clients feel safe.

5) Value Builders
Because what we are selling cannot be seen, touched, or measured, we need to be good at building value. Your ability to articulate the real value in terms of return on investment is very important. Solutions must be presented in a way that solves a core client pain or challenge. Describing our solution as innovative, leading, next generation etc. is not enough. These are weak business cases that are uninspiring. Look for client pains, fears, and challenges, and then talk about your solution as a pill for their pains. Back up your claims with research, data, client references, and proof. Help your clients measure what they cannot see.

  • Jan 27 / 2009
  • 16
Internet Marketing and SEO, Marketing and PR, Sales Articles, Sales Blog

Social Media Phobia Why Executives Aren’t Onboard.

I asked the question today on Twitter today:

What do you think about Social Media Phobia? What are executives and business owners afraid of? I had some great responses from people online via Twitter.

GusF @shanegibson I think the big fear is that they have to interact. Also once they say something it’s out there, no turning back.
Eagranie Yuh
eagranieyuh @shanegibson It’s a paradigm shift – you can’t control the message anymore. Throw in new technology and people get scared.
KyeGrace @shanegibson I think many think Social Media is the Wild West & in many ways it is…some choose to ride their horse through town some don’t
Renbor @shanegibson I’d guess it is the visibility they don’t like.
Maury Lum
maurylum @shanegibson I think part of phobia is fear that if things “too” personal, will not be professional. Can they co-exist or help 1-another?
Ian Watt
IanWatt @shanegibson I need some office support
Igor Faletski
igorskee @shanegibson wasting money :)))
davemacdonald @shanegibson They are still upholding the illusion that the company owns the brand and that less transparency ensures more control.
Simon Rai
Raize604 @shanegibson “social media” is simply a way to socialize online…some people are just more grounded in real life than online life
Jason Brown
Financial_Plan @shanegibson I think the phobia of social media comes from maintaining a single corporate image, and compliance dep.; bottom-line impersonal
Michael Allison
michaelallison @shanegibson Partly, it’s not understanding the value. If they’ve been successful without it all these years, why start now?
raincoaster @shanegibson Simple: they are afraid of You and Me and everyone else. That’s why they have receptionists. To keep the curtain closed.
Mark aka OLM™
OtotheLtotheM @shanegibson This is just a matter of adjusting old mindsets to new ideas; easier said than done.
Mark aka OLM™
OtotheLtotheM @shanegibson Phobia comes from the unknown; Unsure how to implement, think it will take too much $/time, no direct way of measuring impact
Yam D
tyamdm @shanegibson I was talking about that with @jesus_hoyos last week and for example in LatAm privacy and safety are a big Issue.

To a large degree the consensus is people are afraid of technology and/or they are afraid to lose control of their brand.  Regardless of whether or not we like it, what people are saying about our brand line, is now our brand.  Getting invovled in social media and learning a few simple tools (Twitter is easier than Hotmail to use) is a lot less painful than not being part of the conversation and/or watching our competitors mop up mind share and wallet share using social media.

I would be very interested in your thoughts on why people aren’t willing to dive in sooner than later?

  • Jan 18 / 2009
  • 1
Leadership, Marketing and PR, Sales Articles, Sales Blog, Sales Management Blog, Sales Training

Work the Pond Networking Tip of the Week

Authors of the Book Work the Pond Darcy Rezac, Gayle Hallgren-Rezac and Judy Thomson  put out a weekly networking tip.  Periodically I will be posting their tips.  If you haven’t picked up a copy of Work the Pond yet I strongly suggest you do, it’s on the top of my books to read list for sales people and professionals of any discipline.  Here’s the tip for this week:

RSVP Like You Mean It. We recently attended an event–a very popular wine tasting hosted by a large firm. At the end of the evening, we noticed the registration table still had about 15 guest name tags! These were the folks who hadn’t bothered to show up. It was a shame because this event had a waiting list. In this day of instant communication, sending a quick email, text message or making a cell phone call would have been an easy way for those no-show folks to inform the organizers that, unfortunately, they had to withdraw their RSVP. Being a no-show simply looks bad. It’s your reputation, protect it.

–Darcy, Gayle and Judy

Got a great networking tip for 2009? Share it with us at: info@workthepond.com We are giving away a copy of the audio version of Work The Pond! for the best tip!

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