Marketing

Empowering The Next Generation Of Sellers

There's a new generation of sellers that are dipping their toe in the water but not sure that they're ready to dive into the deep end. Everywhere a Millennial looks, there's a mirage of a growth hacks, quick fixes or automation. Are we going to slow down and teach the next generation the back-to-basics approaches of the great sales masters who came before?

I want to strongly encourage the next generation to enter the field of sales. Nobody ever felt as good as a salesperson closing a deal that makes her quarter. The prism of emotional endorphin based experience is impossible to produce without the overlapping of three separate inputs:

1. Being useful to another person...making them proud of an accomplishment that couldn't have occurred without a successful sales experience (SSE).

2. Feeling that your value is holographically fractal, that what has begun in your deepest emotional core, is repeatable and drives you further to begin limitless new sales cycles.

3. Being acknowledged by superiors or opinion leaders that lead directly to the achievement of your financial goals.

This triumvirate effectively unmasks the current phony value of the proverbial college education...NO ONE LEARNS ANYTHING about how to create the SSE!! Get these kids selling!! That will produce a generation of spectacular capitalists, who have achieved the one thing that has been elusive since the beginning of time...HAPPINESS.

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website: www.TonyHughes.com.au.

Main image photo by Flickr: Andrea Rose

5 Lover's Quarrel Ends: Sales & Marketing Must Bury the Hatchet

This is no longer about chucking the 'good leads' over the wall only to have bitter enmity grow between the marketing team and sales. It goes beyond that. The entire organization needs to generate unique, compelling insight. It's not Marketing's fault Sales can't close their leads. It's not Sales fault that Marketing is so out of touch. Let's not even get to the impact this vicious cycle has on Client Services trying to fulfill on solutions sold that the company probably doesn't even deliver.

The lines between sales and marketing have inextricably blurred. It's time to get stakeholders from all sides into the same room weekly to get on the same page.

  1. Marketing and Sales must collaborate together to build an insight generating flywheel machine. If you think this will erode selling time, think again. Generic decks and off kilter personas from the marketing team that don't align with top seller's vision, clutter the pipeline and create busy work ad nauseam.
  2. Marketers work hard and often make great sellers. They're masters of lead gen and due diligence experts. Sellers needing marketing skills and marketers need selling skills. Exchange books, ideas and training programs. Build an interdisciplinary marketing and sales superpower.
  3. Content marketing has changed the game for inbound selling, marketing and PR. If you haven't embraced a culture of content generation, you are simply behind the times. Every person on your staff should be blogging about their expertise. The caveat is obviously strong social media policy but that's so ten years ago. Build in quality control via a series of editors, even if you bring in former journalists to your content team, as LinkedIn is does. Massive open source software companies can now scale to tens of millions of dollars through community learning centers alone, pumping out vibrant, lively user generated forum content that attracts the key B2B customers, incentivizing them with value added services.
  4. The costs of paid content and native advertising are astronomical in contrast to guerrilla efforts customer driven and amplified. You need to be paying for a portion as a catalyst but a strong organic strategy is sound for SEO juice to fill the funnel. Google is a cash machine and for good reason. Jason Miller of LinkedIn, recently made the case that paying to promote select content in a "bat out of hell" strategy for the "big rock" content like The Sophisticated Marketer's Guide to LinkedIn, is essential. Thisexclusive interview is insanely relevatory. ––– 'I’ve seen ‘Big Rock’ content drive millions of dollars in business…. The first ‘Big Rock’ piece of content we created at LinkedIn over a year ago was called The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide To LinkedIn and has driven more than $4.6 million in business in just the first 90 days- it’s still bringing in business to this day!'
  5. Seth Godin said that 'all marketers are liars' and then as a corollary to that hit book redefined them as 'storytellers.' Truth be it told, only a data driven approach, that benchmarks performance, highlights case studies and allows your best customers to generate new customers, will ever be trusted. Bottom line is both sellers and marketers are fighting a tarnished image and reputation. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and there's just too much spam, scam and get-rich-quick empty promises reaching epidemic proportions in this modern incarnation of the internet.

These quotes from Jason Miller, Senior Manager, Content Marketing, Marketing Solutions at LinkedIn are just too phenomenal to pass up. Buy his stellar book: 'Welcome to the Funnel' to here and rock out with him! Underscore, double-underline, solar-flare high ninjitsu kick on these gemstones of quotes:

If you’re not using some kind of marketing automation… you’re behind the times!”
I’d rather one piece of content be viewed by 15 CMOs that I want to reach than a thousand-practioner types that we’re not trying to reach”
It’s 2015, folks: Native advertising – if you’re not paying to promote your best content then you’re missing opportunities."
At the end of the day, you don’t need to create more content you need to create morerelevant content”
I worry about our messaging being too forward-thinking…it’s no good if what you’re saying is not relevant to your audience or their current interests”
You have to repurpose the hell out of your content – make sure it’s optimized for every channel where your audience is.”
Marketers who use the right technology can now show their contribution to pipeline and prove that they’re a revenue-driver not a cost center.”
Don’t let your ego hijack your content strategy… I’m not concerned with the number of shares, I’m concerned with who is sharing it.”

It's time to break down the silos and competing methodologies and realize both groups are very much morphing into the same thing. The 'smarketing' of 2020 is about attraction. It's about building audiences and increasing engagement. The sales cycle on magnificent content can take up to 2 years to convert according to the prescient Tony Hsieh of Zappos. Here's a mind-blowing slideshare by Rand Fishkin of Moz that you should sit through explaining why your content marketing efforts are failing. It has massive implications on complex B2B marketing and sales alignment.

You have to ask yourself, whenever you are producing any type of content, Who will amplify this and why? ~ @randfishTechEmergence

Now it's your turn: Where do you see sales and marketing going? Will it become 'smarketing?' Will this battle du jour ever end? Do you agree with this article? I would love to hear your most outrageous or innovative thoughts about revolutionizing sales and marketing into something that works in a modern context below.

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website: www.TonyHughes.com.au.

Main image photo by Flickr: MGEARTWORKS

Strohkorb's SMARKETING Manifesto

'Smarketing' thought leader Peter Strohkorb sounds off on this subject for the ages:

First a caveat: I have nothing against technology. In fact, I am a big fan of it and believe that it has delivered great benefits to humankind. This article is about the WAY that it is often implemented, not about the technology per se, because human nature is such that anything that is imposed on us will initially be resisted, or even become outrightly rejected.

In my opinion, most business technology implementations are conducted the wrong way around, i.e. focusing on the Technology first, not on the People using it.

A common pattern that I have observed is that business executives become excited about what technology vendors are promising from their latest “solutions”, be it CRM systems or any other kind of business process automation tool. In my line of work, I have experienced numerous implementations of CRM and sales enablement software, and this is how it all-too-often seems to work out: Eager to see the promised business benefits materialize the executive team approves funding and hands the implementation over to the technical team, who then appoints a project manager to coordinate the various project streams.Have you heard the saying that “To a hammer, everything looks like a nail?”

What I have seen is that at that handover point to the implementation team the entire project focus changes, from the broader perspective of delivering business benefits towards mostly just getting the technology installed on time and on budget. The project plan suddenly moves to reflecting milestones and deliverables that largely focus on the technology, while the end users often become a bit of an afterthought. “Oh, we'll give them training.” is an often-encountered response.

Why is that wrong? How many sales reps do you know who love filling in forms? I have seen CRMs that demand the sales reps to fill in dozens of fields for each client interaction. Are you surprised that they then balk at this task and that process compliance and technology utilization rates reach nowhere near their projected targets?

Let’s face it, sales reps don’t view CRM systems as a sales support tool. They see them as a sales management tool, and what's more, one that expects them to give up their personal knowledge and client relationship information. They often feel that giving up this personal information makes them more vulnerable to job loss when their employer organization decides to downsize its sales force. In their minds, filling in CRM data is not only boring, time consuming, taking them away from selling but also reduces their personal job security.

According to Accenture, 85% of technology projects fail to deliver the anticipated business benefits. Is it any wonder? Are you surprised to hear that most CRM implementations take two to three years before they start to deliver the business benefits that the vendor promised would happen in a much shorter time frame?

So, what is the solution? For a start, you don’t do what seems to be the standard way that consultants like to work and that many technology projects seem to be implemented. All too often, I have seen consultants and technology experts come into an organization, work predominantly with the executive team and with the IT department on a process and technology solution that is then imposed on the end users with only the barest minimum of consultation. The catch-all that I have witnessed, as far as the end users are concerned, is often just a group email addressed to them with a list of the proposed solution features, and the laconic offer to "Let us know if you disagree with anything."

Are you surprised then that when the new tool is switched on, the end users do not naturally embrace the change, and often outrightly resist the new solution, complaining it does not work the same way, nor better than the old?

I have even seen instances where the design of the new solution was changed at great expense and significant delay AFTER it was first launched, in response to belated end user feedback. As is so often the case, the people at the front line often have the best ideas but they rarely feel empowered to voice them, and only very few are ever asked for their opinion.

My recommended approach is to include those people early and comprehensively who are most immediately impacted by the new process and technology solution, namely the end users. What's more, the very people that help to craft the solution, will be far more likely to embrace it after implementation and they will be far less likely to resist change. So, in my opinion, most business technology implementations are conducted the wrong way around, i.e. focusing on the technology, not on the people using it.

One of my favorite sayings is this: “You can have the latest technology and the most sophisticated processes, but if your people are not with you, then it will all come to nothing.”

Why is it then that most business technology implementations, particularly as far as CRMs are concerned, seem to focus on the technology first, and on the people last? So, are most business IT solutions implemented the wrong way around? Are CRMs putting people last? What do you think ?

My team works with Sales and Marketing teams in medium and large B2B organizations. We hear all the time how sales reps complain that Marketing doesn't produce high enough quality sales leads. There are statistics around that, that say that Sales only follows up on about 15% of the leads that Marketing provides. That’s 85% of leads being wasted!

Sales says that Marketing doesn't produce “qualified” leads and Marketing says that it isn't their job to “qualify” them; that their job is only to generate enough general interest in their business offerings for prospective customers to just contact Sales. While they are really unqualified leads often Sales refers to them as “Cold Leads” or tire-kickers, rather than a real genuinely interested buyer.

That is the crux right there: Marketing may think that just a name and a phone number are a sales lead, whereas sales reps ideally want a ready purchase order and probably the accompanying payment for the product or service they are selling. Ideally, Marketing people argue, they want to be order takers, not sales people.

The old sales funnel is dying and the Buyers’ Journey is upon us, which means that the entire way organizations attract interest and sell things is changing dramatically. Organizations that do not adjust to the new paradigm really risk being left behind only to go the way of the dinosaurs.

My experience, with a lot of different organizations, is that there often is no coordinated effort between Sales and Marketing on how to manage leads. Instead of an agreed, documented and managed lead nurturing program often the initiative is handled solely by Marketing and then imposed on Sales without much collaboration between the two.

This results in sales leads of various quality being simply thrown "over the fence" for the sales people to follow up and then weave their magic. Marketing gloriously acclaims that they have successfully generated X number of leads. While Sales exclaims that they aren't worth their attention.

If the organization doesn't have a mutually agreed plan in place on what constitutes a lead and how to handle them, then the leads will most likely end up wasted with the response from the sales rep something like this: “I called them and they weren't interested,” or even worse “I called them and they didn't remember making an inquiry about our product.” I believe this is where the “Death of a Lead” happens, because what happens to a lead once it is handed over to a sales rep will demonstrate of how much value it was to start with.

In many organizations the quality of the feedback from Sales to Marketing is either non-existent, very poor or at best rudimentary. What is missing is a structured, measurable and - most importantly - consistent and constructive way for Sales to inform Marketing of what works and what does not.

Once Marketing receives constructive feedback from all Sales reps it can then make informed decisions on how to better support them. So, if we can close the feedback loop between Sales and Marketing we can create what we call a virtuous cycle of collaboration that stops wasting time, money and effort on both sides and allows both teams to live up to their full potential. We call that Sales+Marketing Collaboration, some call it Smarketing.

But no matter what anyone calls it, most would call it Nirvana. And wouldn't it just be a wonderful thing?

Sales and Marketing are two of the most customer-facing functions in any sales organization. As the key revenue-generators they are what a customer gauges the business on and they are the organization’s present and future growth engines. So you would think that there can be no higher priority to the senior management team than to ensure these two vital teams work together as effectively as possible in order to present the best possible image to the market and to entice customers to buy from us, rather than from our competitors.

Additionally, there is a whole lot of evidence that closer Sales+Marketing Collaboration lifts Sales Productivity, and I can show you that a lift of just 5% in Sales Productivity can yield a 20% increase in profit. So, Sales+Marketing Collaboration should be a BIG DEAL.

So, what stands in the way of getting Sales and Marketing teams to support each other more effectively ? The following is a collection of high level mistakes that we have compiled for you. Contact us for more detailed information.
Here are seven of the most common mistakes:

1. Ignoring the Problem and Doing Nothing
The worst mistake one can make is to turn a blind eye to problems. Yet, denying that there is a problem, that there is room for improvement, and merely accepting the status quo can magnify issues that would be otherwise manageable. For too many companies, sales and marketing departments are working in their respective silos, blissfully unaware of the need to adapt to the changing world that surrounds them. Too many organizations have taken this path and have suffered for it. How did Kodak miss the digital-camera revolution? How did Canon not see the threat from smartphones with in-built cameras? Show initiative and address the problem.

2. Relying on "Quick Fixes"
The world is increasingly impatient and our attention spans are becoming shorter. Combine that with the short term results outlook in many sales organizations and it is no wonder that when problems arise we look for quick fixes. However, shortcuts rarely work when it comes to sales and marketing collaboration. When sales reps do not make their targets, many organizations try to fix the problem with short-term solutions.

Let’s look at some of these quick fixes:

• Provide more sales training
This is a popular panacea but according to the nineteenth-century German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus, 87% of new knowledge is forgotten within 30 days. What do you think happens 30 days after sales training?

• Hire more sales reps
The rationale for this popular choice is as follows: if X number of reps bring in Y amount of revenue, more reps will bring in more. However, bringing more reps into a flawed sales and marketing environment will not yield the desired results .

• Generate more sales leads
Surely, this is the way to boosting sales results? Well, it would be if all your sales lead creation and management processes were perfect, if sales and marketing were working harmoniously together to generate, nurture, hand over, close and report on leads perfectly. If that is not the case, why would you want to spend good money creating more leads only to see them dry up and lead nowhere thanks to a flawed process? Stuffing more leads into a flawed sales process will not resolve a sales effectiveness problem. The best thing here is to fix the cause, not the symptom.

3. Having no one responsible for improving Sales+Marketing Collaboration
Sales and marketing obviously need to work together. For such cooperation to be possible, cross-functional processes need to be in place to make sure that both sides are in alignment. Not having a intermediary in place to intermediate between Sales and Marketing is a gross oversight. Get a referee.

4. Neglecting the Human Element
Collaboration is a deeply inter-personal matter, it relies on people doing the right thing. When attempting to foster a cooperative relationship between Sales and Marketing it is important to address the human dimension as a priority. Only then will it be appropriate to move on to HOW each department can support the other, what tools should support them or what joint processes and metrics we should use. People come first.

5. Believing that Technology will deliver a Miracle
I have nothing against technology, as long as it is deployed properly. It seems though that there are vendors out there that offer their latest whizz-bang technology by promising the world. It is pretty obvious that even the most sophisticated technology will remain ineffective if you don’t have your people and your business processes aligned first. Technology is good, use it wisely.

6. Trying to implement Change without Executive Support
When change touches on aspects of corporate culture, implementing reforms can be an uphill battle. As laudable as it might be for middle managers or junior staff to attempt to make cultural changes, such optimistic projects are often doomed to failure unless they have executive buy-in. Get the boss involved.

7. Expecting Immediate Results
Too often, we expect overnight results, and sometimes even that’s not fast enough. The fact is, any change must be given time to work its way through the system if it is to have any chance at producing the hoped-for results. Hasten wisely.

Now it's your turn, please go check out Peter Strohkorb's acclaimed consultancy: How are you aligning sales and marketing in your organization? How are you solving the age old problems of CRM with proper implementation and enablement? What are your thoughts on Peter's powerful thought-provoking contribution and advice above? Perhaps drop him a line in the comments below if you agree or have a different opinion. He's raised some critical issues that all business people must endeavor to collaboratively resolve in the information age.

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website: www.TonyHughes.com.au.

Main image photo © 2015 Peter Strohkorb

 

10 Telltale Signs You Just Might Be A Sales Change Agent

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.” ~ Pericles

  1. Not only do you 'default to prospecting mode' [Weinberg], it's your favorite part of your job - talking to prospects, customers and clients. In fact, you'd always rather be dialing, skyping or inmailing rather than doing reporting for the reporting or endless admin or passive strategic process docs.
  2. You're fundamentally proactive. If you don't get 3 major boulders moved by lunch, you know you failed so you always do this with gusto and that habit generates big commission checks this quarter and ensures rich pipeline for the next.
  3. The status quo is like a challenge to you. You see the world through disruptive rose-colored glasses and this is a good thing. When you look at a business model your knowledge of the industry already plugs in 5 ways to stand the legacy paradigm up on its head.
  4. You speak CXO, the language of outcomes and risk, the language of strategy. Your vernacular is about 'real business outcomes,' opportunity cost and risk mitigation.
  5. 'I can't' and 'I'll try' aren't in your vocabulary. You abhor too much talk and not enough action. While everyone is busy strategizing how to get into the account or proceed to the next step in the sales cycle, you've already had multiple cell phone conversations with the key stakeholders.
  6. Your CEO loves you as do dream clients. You're treated as a trusted advisor everywhere you go on many subjects way outside the realm of "selling" – branding, marketing, product innovation, scaling, forecasting, technology and 'big ideas' to take back to any discerning board.
  7. Face-to-face contact is the root of your book of business. You preference meeting with real people above anything else, even if you run an inside sales team. Nothing happens until a sale is made and a customer is satisfied. You are the engine of the new technoconomy.
  8. You don't follow a script. You riff off 10 scripts you're A/B testing in real-time until you've honed in on the chained lightning winner.
  9. Your activity levels are off the richter scale. By 9am you've done more outbound hunting than the next 5 people on your team did last week. Serious! You understand the symbiotic relationship between leading measure activities and hard revenue outcomes. You're action oriented and detail oriented without being overly-fastidious. You practice economy of effort in your writing, speaking and body language.
  10. You are confident to a fault but empathetic and collaborative. You're never afraid to challenge but do so respectfully. You see the world differently like Steve Jobs.You're not afraid to give candid feedback and speak your mind. Although you may not be the ideal manager of people,clients love and trust you because you tell the truth and that's literally 'priceless' in their business. Your deeper motive is aligned with helping them succeed with your solutions and navigate the complexity of the ever changing landscape. There is no need for a tactical 'social selling' distinction – only high quality strategic selling - Social has been in your DNA since 2004.

Now it's your turn: How do you personally relate to these 10 points? How and why do you see yourself as a change agent? How have you changed the company's culture you work in or that of a customer's? Where do you need to improve? I ask myself this last question every day. Please comment below.

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website: www.TonyHughes.com.au.

Main image photo by Flickr:  Gemma Stiles

Social Listening: Pillar One of Strategic B2B Social Selling

Social Listening: The process of proactively searching for trigger events that provide potential opportunities to improve your own customer service, intercept competitors' customers, or engage a potential client early in their own buying process.

Selling has always been about being a great listener... social selling is no different. But in modern selling there are many tools that can be used to automate the listening process; Hootsuite and TweetDeck are two examples. But before you start configuring your listening tools you need to have a clear understanding of what you're listening for.

Have you segmented your markets and identified the various buyer roles that you can target effectively? Who are the competitors where you have a track record of switching their customers over to your solutions? What events create awareness of need or that amplify perceptions of pain?

What negative events motivate people to take action to change the status quo? Is it scandal, legislative changes, new compliance obligations, suppliers being acquired or dropping the ball, competitor reps moving on or retiring? The list is endless but the point here is that you need to know what you're listening for. I'm surprised at how few sellers are creating basic Google Alerts or Twitter lists to listen by segments.

Stephen Covey said, "seek first to understand than be understood." You must first open your ears, heart and mind.

Practice social listening with a trigger event oriented focal point. In the past, organizations have focused on the territory or target list without ranking the accounts by propensity to buy based on the most compelling triggers. In the old days of solution selling, questioning was leveraged to uncover the "compelling event." Now that's just table stakes. The compelling event should be self evident through effective listening. You should know that going in. Now it's up to you to meet that golden opportunity with disruptive insight to open this account and gain preferred status upstream educating and enabling your prospects along the buyer's journey collaborative. Develop trust and help them to realize that business transformation is possible by implementing your solution. They'll also get a flavor for what the working relationship will be like.  

Beyond the obvious Google Alerts, make sure that you have a dashboard set up to glean every aspect of what your dream prospects are putting out into the social ether: press releases, white papers, reflections on the annual report, balance sheet, interviews, YouTube videos (subscribe to their channel), Tweets, Facebook shares, Google+ updates, Pinterest boards, Instagram, SlideShare and even search the first 15 pages of search results of Google with a fine toothed comb. Successful strategic selling starts with a keen interest and insatiable curiosity. 

Create you own social listening headphones! Or even better, a social selling war room. The main picture in this post is of the Dell Social Listening and Social Media Command Center.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator now compiles all these updates in one place so you can track leads and accounts, the updates their sharing, news related to the companies, and it even suggests leads to you and how you're connected via your overlapping networks. Owler.com is a phenomenal free tool I'd recommend for competitive analysis and triggers invented by Jim Fowler, the founder of Jigsaw, that became Data.com. Also consider tools such as insideview and techwalkeralerts. All of these products below are excellent social listening and monitoring tools.

Also read the old world newspaper (an oldie buy a goodie) online. Subscribe to services such as Meltwater. Listen by tuning search engines, subscribing to RSS feeds or content aggregation services. Here are the big social platforms to monitor if you are committed to strategic social selling.

LinkedIn is ideal for monitoring buyer roles changing in target organizations or listening to issues, trends, hot topics, opinions and opportunities in special interest groups. Those who actively use LinkedIn are 50% more likely to achieve their sales targets! failure to use LinkedIn in B2B selling is negligence!

Facebook if you're in the world of B2C. Two-thirds of social happens in Facebook and there 1 billions searches every day! Facebook continues to be giant in social.

Twitter is the megaphone of social amplification and the most rapid notification system on the planet. Use tools such as TweetDeck to build you listening lists.

Here is a post on why listening is the timeless skill we all need to master.  Now it's over to you... Where do you get the best results in social listening? What are your tips for others?

Here's how to get back to my Social Selling overview.

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website: www.TonyHughes.com.au.

Main image photo by Flickr: Geoff Livingston; Dell's Social Media Command Center

Do We Ever Really Learn From Sales Failure?

I've recently had the privilege of getting to know Cian Mcloughlin as part of a Sales Masterminds group that's been formed in Australasia and led by John Smibert (Strategic Selling Group in LinkedIn). Cian has real insights into how to drive massive success in complex selling and I asked him about the role of win and loss reviews, why they're important and what mistakes companies make. Here is his wisdom... the rest of this post is from him (with pics from me).

“You don’t learn from successes; you don’t learn from awards; you don’t learn from celebrity; you only learn from wounds and scars and mistakes and failures. And that’s the truth.”  Jane Fonda.

Not all scars, in life or in business, should be seen as badges of honor. Most of my business battle-scars (with the possible exception of my grey hair) I wear on the inside. Earned in hard fought deals lost at the 11th hour or sales skirmishes over before a single power-point had been fired in anger.

The thing about scars, be they from life or business, is we should always learn from them. It’s one thing to lose a deal or miss out on a promotion at work, but before the scar has even begun to form, you need to be asking yourself “what can I take away from this experience, how do I learn from it and ensure I’m better, smarter and more prepared next time around?”

Unfortunately the vast majority of professional sales organisations, I’m talking big companies spending inordinate amounts of time and money prospecting for new business, actually spend very little time or money trying to understand why they won or lost a deal in the first place. We all know line attributed to but almost certainly never uttered by Einstein “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome”. You can guarantee whoever did say it, didn’t work in the b2b sales world!

The amount of wastage, duplication and chasing of lost causes which occurs across the business world is borderline criminal. I wouldn’t even hazard a guess at the real and opportunity costs associated with sales organisations (be they technology, professional services, engineering & construction, utilities, oil & gas companies) responding to numerous tenders, conducting lengthy cycles with would-be customers or undertaking hugely expensive proof of concepts, only to lose the deal and walk away with nothing.

My personal opinion (and I’ll be the first to admit I’m biased) is that win, lose or draw if you’ve conducted a professional sales process, you’ve earned the right to extract some value from the experience and the vast majority of b2b customers out there agree with me. So, the next time you’re conducting a major deal, whether you’re in the box seat or staring down the barrel of defeat, pause for a moment and ask yourself the following questions. Win, lose or draw…

  • What insights could this client give me to improve or refine my sales skills and do an even better job next time?
  • Could their feedback help me to distance myself from my competition in some small but important way?
  • Am I winning this deal on product, price or my ability to present a compelling, credible and believable story?
  • Am I losing on product, price or my inability to engage, inspire or educate my prospective client?

I suppose the real question you should be asking is what lesson could this new new scar teach me?

Follow Cian in LinkedIn and read his posts. He has held senior sales and channel management roles in a number of the world’s largest IT software companies, including Cognos and SAP, in 2011 Cian became the founder and CEO of Trinity Perspectives, a boutique sales consultancy firm based in Sydney. He also co-authored an Amazon #1 bestseller ‘Secrets of Business Success”, and is a regular sales and marketing commentator in the mainstream media including Sky News Business, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers.

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website: www.TonyHughes.com.au.

Main image photo by Flickr: Erik Charlton Fire Eater