Monday, 20 June 2011

Don't forget it is also about saving money

One of my strongest memories as a Junior Sales Representative (a long time ago, in a galaxy far away) was a prospect's reaction to a sales proposal that I thought was absolutely compelling.

The system I sold at the time was a direct replacement for an old piece of equipment that my prospect had been running for over 10 years. The job the kit did was critical to my prospect's manufacturing process and I knew that we had a higher specification and were 10% less expensive than any of the competition. The prospect actually confirmed to me that these two facts were absolutely correct - we were better and cheaper.

However, his next question did not seem to make any sense to me. "How much money will it save me?" In my naivety, I pointed out to him that he had to replace an existing piece of equipment and that we were "better and cheaper" than the competition. Where had the notion of saving money come from? Needless to say I lost the deal. At that early stage in my career, I had not yet realised that however much apparent "upside" there may be for a purchase from a need, demand or performance perspective, people also want to save money. Just because someone needs to buy something, does not remove the desire to also save money.

I subsequently learnt that the company who won the business showed how their system would allow two of my prospect's current workforce to be diverted onto other manufacturing tasks for 60% of their time (it was how they justified the purchase). This was exactly the same as we could have achieved, but I never told him! I believed that if he was buying a replacement the only consideration would be "better and cheaper".

These days I still come across salespeople who are in denial about the need to also save money and often try to avoid the subject. Think about how you can save your client money and get it into your sales 'mix'. As I learnt a long time ago, its often how they will justify the purchase.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Farming, Hunting or Fishing?

Before anyone mentions it, I absolutely accept that this is not my original idea. However, it so aligns with how I fundamentally feel about sales, that I have no qualms ‘passing it on’.

Most of the time sales structures are based on Hunters and Farmers. The accepted theory being that some sale people love to find and win the initial deal, but are poor at long term relationship building and account development – the Hunters. While their mirror images are uncomfortable dealing with new prospects that they don’t know or understand, but thrive on delivering long term sustainable value and growing the client from a one-off purchaser, to a major repeat customer over an extended period – the Farmers.

The problem is, particularly in a Consultancy Selling environment, you need to do both. The fisherman (and Fisherwoman) actually blends the Farmer and Hunter characteristics very well. Fishing requires significant planning about where to go to find the fish, research about what the fish like to eat, and the bait that might get them interested. It requires patience while the fish are nibbling and aggressiveness when its time to reel it in. It also takes the courage to throw some fish back in when it’s not right for either them or the fish. A good fisherman knows when the conditions are right to catch the ‘big one’, but knows that some times its better to concentrate on catching lots of small fish to make up the weight. And critically, a Fisherman gets a great deal of satisfaction out of the whole process of fishing, as well as the enjoyment of catching the fish.

Maybe the next time someone tries to put you in the Farmer or Hunter sales box, you can suggested your skills are right down the middle?