Every buyer seeks Return On Investment (ROI) from a purchasing decision but the seller also makes an investment in the sales process. In complex enterprise solution selling the costs are substantial and the sales organization also needs their ROI – return on sales investment.
But here is a new take on the ROI acronym. Sales ROI can only be achieved with Relationships Of Integrity, Relationships of Intelligence and Insight, and Relationships of Influence with the most senior people within the customer’s organization – this is The New [sales] ROI ©.
Sales success at any level depends on positive relationships because customers buy from those they like and trust. Recommenders and coaches within the enterprise may provide useful information and feed-back concerning how you need to position and price your product or service, but don’t rely on or be trapped with mid-level relationships. There is no substitute for starting at the highest level possible to thoughtfully and positively challenge the status quo. Diligent research, planning and alignment with genuine political power are essential.
Strive for Relationships of Integrity because trust is essential in all business dealings. Invest however with those who represent genuine power, more than mere influence or support. Instead of being trapped with recommenders, foster powerful business relationships that provide differentiating insight and alignment with political and economic power.
It is only senior relationships of integrity that provide what is necessary to win – intelligence, insight and influence. When considering the issue of relationships, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I know all the people in the customer’s power-base?
- Who are the influencers, recommenders and decision makers?
- Do I know the puppet master, the person pulling the strings in the background?
- Do I know every person who has the power of veto?
- Have I mapped my team to all the individuals in the buying- center?
- What relationships need to be established between my team and the customer’s key people, and how are introductions and linkages best facilitated?
- Do I know every individual’s buyer type: economic, technical or business?
- Do I understand every individual’s dominant personality traits, communication preferences, political agendas, decision drivers and risk versus opportunity mindset?
- What relationships do my competitors have within the account?
- Who influences the customer externally in the form of analysts or consultants?
- What other companies are respected and watched by my customer and do these organizations use my competitors? If so, how successfully?
- What reference site relationships need to be managed?
The best way to map and strategize an opportunity is to draw the organizational chart identifying the buying center (all the people who have a say in the selection and recommendation process), and then overlay the power-base which are the people with power of veto and who own the business outcome and funding. Who are the real decision makers? Who is really leading and engineering the selection outcome within the buying organization?
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Photo by: Simon Cunningham