Forward to the new “basics “
In her previous book, Selling to Big Companies, Jill Konrath introduced a number of core principles that – if fully understood and properly applied – can help almost anyone to achieve success in sales. She suggests that experienced sellers must “un-learn” much of what they assume to be true thus far, and by doing so, Konrath makes it crystal clear what simply doesn’t work…and why. Less experienced sellers will probably find it easier to apply her advice that is eminently practical…and immediately actionable.
Konrath also explains how to “build a foundation” for what eventually could become a cohesive, comprehensive, and cost-effective system for effective preparation, cultivation, and solicitation. What she is talking about really is a high-stakes “game” played against formidable opponents according to rules that can sometimes change suddenly in response to unexpected developments.
Indeed, a great deal has changed during the five years since that book was published. For example, mostly because of online resources that are easily accessible, customers are much more knowledgeable about options purchase now than ever before thus and have more issues to consider than ever before. One result is that they seem to have the attention span of a strobe light flash. Another is that, especially during a down economy, customers often feel (as Konrath characterizes it) “frazzled.” Whether selling to a big company or to an individual, those in sales must make “fundamental shifts” (adjustments, modifications, refinements, etc.) in terms of what they do and how they do it, what they avoid as well as what they master and then initiate, “in order to get in front of this rapidly changing marketplace.”
Konrath acknowledges, “Some people won’t like what I have to say. They don’t want to change. They like [what they believe to be] their tried-and-true sales practices. In fact, right now they’re probably saying, `We need to get back to the basics.'” Well, as she carefully explains, many of the traditional basics need to be replaced by what the new marketplace realities require.
She is convinced – and I agree – that sellers the need to proceed forward to new “basics” and master them ASAP. As the title of a book co-authored by Robert Kriegel and David Brandt suggests, Sacred Cows Make the Best Burgers. How? Konrath identifies and discusses what she calls “SNAP Factors”:
“Simple: Your ability to eliminate [counter-productive] complexity and [non-productive] effort from your prospect’s decision-making process will improve your chances for sales success.” The challenge is to ensure maximum simplicity in everything you do, to be sure, but also to make doing business with you and your organization as easy as possible for both prospects and customers. Hence the importance of a rigorous analysis of all (not most) aspects of prospect and customer interactions.
“iNvaluable: In a world of copycat products and services, the value you personally bring to the relationship becomes essential.” People buy (or don’t buy) from other people, not from companies. These days, prospects and customers not only expect but indeed demand that those selling to them “know their stuff,” not only about what a product offers (i.e. functions, features, and benefits) but – more importantly – how specifically that product will be of substantial benefit to them. For example, how will it help them to strengthen relationships with their own customers?
“Aligned: You must stay relevant to your client at all times; they don’t have time [or patience] for anything else.” Frazzled customers demand that there be an immediate, seamless, and on-going connection between what you offer and what they need. As prospects move through the decision-making process, they need to know that the alignment includes not only the given product, service, or solution but also core values and beliefs such as the importance of being a good citizen.
And finally, “Priority: With an ever-changing business environment, you can’t afford to have your prospect deem your services [or even paying attention to you] urgent.” Hundreds of customer satisfaction research studies involving millions of respondents clearly indicate the importance to them of feeling that they and their highest priorities are respected and appreciated. Konrath observes, “To be in the Go Zone, target prospects whose priorities you can [fully] address, and focus on raising the priority level of initiatives that have dropped in importance to your prospects.” Because circumstances change, priorities change. Those in sales must be ever-alert to these changes. More to the point, they must anticipate them on a contingency basis and prepare accordingly.