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Selling in tough times – the incompetent will fail

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Selling in tough times – the incompetent will fail

It continually astounds me how much some BDMs and Account Managers in the channel get paid – for what is essentially keeping customers happy and taking orders! 

I think this quote says it all:

“We see many high salaries being paid to glorified account managers and customer service people who bear the title of salesperson, but who are incapable of actually being consistent creators of business value and new business revenue. That’s a lot of money to pay for a cream-skimming, easily replaced, noncreator of demand and growth,” Marc T. Miller & Jason M. Sinkovitz, Selling is Dead.

Now – more than ever – our customers need us to create business value and growth! “Real salespeople” need to come to the fore! 

Case in point - remote working 

This is obviously a hot topic at the moment. EVERY channel salesperson should know the plans of EACH of their customers/prospects in this regard – and offer to solve problems the customer probably doesn’t even know they’re about to have. 

I’ve always found if you point out to a customer a problem they’re about to have – before it happens – you’ll not just get a sale, but you’ll have a customer for life. 

I’ve lost track of the number of blogs I’ve written on this topic of the past 2 weeks – but the issues appear to be:

  • Balancing end point security with privacy in BYOD situations 
  • Boosting bandwidth and accessibility of home networks 
  • Making sure internal infrastructure and cloud services can handle additional load 

etc etc. 

The problem is most customers aren’t aware of the above – “good” salespeople need to bring it to their attention. 

Definition of selling 

Here’s my definition of selling: 

“Selling” occurs when one human being brings to the attention of another human being a problem they may be experiencing and then goes on to support them to remove the problem with some commercial benefit accruing.

Low margins, low win rates, high customer churn relate to so-called “sales ambulance chasing.” 

High margins, high win rates, customer loyalty strongly correlate to this solution selling definition. 

So – given this – assuming we know what our customers are doing, are we bringing these potential issues to their attention? 

Common channel sales problems 

We’ve trained literally thousands of Microsoft, IBM, Telstra and other channel personnel to better sell solutions – before the customer knows they need it. 

The common mistakes appear to be: 

  1. Talking about products – not customer outcomes 
  2. Chasing deals already on the table – not creating new ones 
  3. Not engaging the Decision Maker – you can’t sell to someone who can’t buy 
  4. Not qualifying – pursuing deals you were never going to win 
  5. Not understanding the compelling event – why should the customer buy this NOW? 

One final quote I love this quote – and it relates directly to common mistake number one I’ve listed above. 

“We need to talk about customer outcomes – not our products and services. You never want to confuse what you make with what you sell. We make cosmetics; we sell hope.” Revlon Cosmetics chairman Michael Bergerac. 

Our customers need hope. Let’s point out and solve their problems – and take them there.

Bruce Rasmussen is managing director of Carpe Diem Consulting. He has trained over 3,500 Microsoft, IBM and Telstra channel partner staff since 2000. His company was commissioned to run courses throughout ANZ for IBM and Microsoft on selling in difficult economic times during the 2008 global financial crisis.

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