March 29, 2018

Negotiating the Complex Sale

“We’ve got your son.  Give us one million dollars, or he dies.” This is how Chris Voss author of Never Split The Difference starts his negotiation training class. He pulls a student up from the classroom and tells them they have one minute to negotiate on behalf of their son.

Chris is an former hostage negotiator for the FBI. Most of us will never have to hear these words (thank goodness), but it does demonstrate the seriousness of negotiation skills. In business, like in life, you are constantly negotiating. And the impact of negotiating effectively (or failing to negotiate effectively) can be enormous to your deal, your company, and your career.

Negotiating a business deal is very different from negotiating for someone’s life. We negotiate every day without even knowing it. Let’s say you want to wear black shoes to a party, and your spouse wants you to wear brown. Do you split the difference? Of course not. You would not wear one black shoe and one brown shoe would you? This exchange usually results in a negotiation. Just as you are trying to sell a million dollars worth of software to a company and they offer you $250,000 for it. Do you split the difference? Maybe or maybe not.


November 30, 2016

Reducing Sales Friction

Selling technology to IT buyers is executed in one lexicon, one language.  Selling to financial and business buyers (and influencers) requires sales teams to embrace a second language.  In a recent conversation with the CFO of a high growth software company, he described one of the management team’s objectives as “reducing sales friction”, a good topic for discussion today.

First, a definition: “Reducing sales friction means reducing the cost for customers to purchase, adopt and use a service/product — reducing the cost of sales and marketing effort required get a customer and generate revenue. The less friction you have in your sales and delivery model, the easier it is to scale. The easier it is to scale the faster and more efficiently you can grow.  The lowest friction sale can be a user clicking on a web page and the content owner getting paid for it.  The highest friction sale is spending lots of money on marketing and trade shows and having a large, direct sales force of expensive reps pounding the pavement for months trying to close a large deal with an enterprise customer.  Follow that with a three-month implementation process to get the customer happy.”  Ed Sim’s BeyondVC

Success with financial and business decision makers demands an understanding of business, corporate and financial performance objectives. Sales must put technical solutions into terms that map to a customer’s business objectives.  (more…)

September 15, 2016

The Most Important Sales Skill

With more than 20 years’ experience in high tech sales, I’ve had the privilege of participating in many sales calls with a wide variety of sales teams.  These include initial discovery calls as well as calls focused specifically on closing a prospect.  I’ve also participated in calls focused on install base customers who already committed to the technology; however, the vendor may be focused on selling a complete platform instead of a single product.  I’ve seen vendors be wildly successful in the endeavor as well as dismally fail.  Most importantly, I’ve noticed a distinct pattern of behavior on the part of the vendor that ultimately leads to either success or failure.

Depending on the nature of the sale, the stage in the technology lifecycle of the customer, their willingness to adapt or change, the art of the sale involves a delicate balance of educating the customer, moving them out of their comfort zone if necessary and creating a vision that is compelling.  How to create that delicate balance really depends on the customer, their environment and their overall objectives in the short and the long term as a business.  Therefore, it is critical to understand your customer, their business objectives (both long and short term) and what is top of the mind for the organization…listening to your customer.  Successful sales teams and vendors understand that demonstration of listening skills is just as important as (or more important than) presenting information.


April 29, 2016

What to Expect When Your Company Has Been Acquired by a PE Firm

Quite simply: expect the new private equity (PE) owners to play a very active role in day-to-day management.

In recent years, it has been a common experience for private equity firms to acquire mid-sized technology firms and delist them from the NASDAQ or other exchanges. What is behind this trend, what is the logic of it? High-finance considerations aside, proponents of private equity argue that a concentrated shareholder base, and its associated strong governance, are critical to the next phase of growth.

April 1, 2016

Failure Is Only Part of the Journey

I just finished reading a book by Jia Jiang called Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection. The premise was Jia put himself in situations in which he was certain to be rejected and then discussed what he learned.  He did crazy things like try to borrow $100 from a stranger, or ask the Southwest Airlines flight attendant if he could make the announcements.  Each time he got rejected he learned something and shared his knowledge.

I saw Jia speak at a Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco. He was funny and engaging.  The audience loved this guy.  You would have never known he had a fear of rejection.  I learned a lot about rejection, but one lesson stood out for me that I would like to share with you: failure is only part of the journey. (more…)

March 16, 2016

How to Improve Your Sales Enablement Effectiveness

By now, many of you have heard of the Microsoft study that reports human attention span dropping to eight seconds—that is one second shorter than the attention span of a goldfish! Couple that with the stereotype of a salesperson and it is easy to understand why sales enablement effectiveness is such a challenge.

At TFP we have been delivering sales tools and training to our enterprise technology clients since 2000. In some cases, through our vendor finance and value selling field support programs, TFP consultants have been the actual “tool” offered to sales reps. We have attended countless SKOs, QBRs, and webcasts, witnessing launches of all varieties of sales enablement initiatives (internally built and outsourced). Some have worked, but many have underachieved.

Quite frankly, sales enablement is hard, but here are a few things to consider for your next deliverable.

Remember to introduce a sales enablement tool with “What’s in it for me?” (more…)

January 29, 2016

Communicating In a Way That B2B Technology Buyers Understand

When Words Fall On Deaf Ears

My wife doesn’t have a sports bone in her body—especially painful since she’s from the great sports town of Pittsburgh. She more than compensates with numerous qualities that actually matter, but it has been a source of miscommunication for over 20 years. And by miscommunication, I mean me talking and her not hearing a word I say—I’ve come to know how Charlie Brown’s teachers felt!

Putting myself in her shoes, she has suffered through 20+ years of my lips moving about the SF Giants, 49ers, Warriors, and pretty much any other sporting event that has been on or in the news at any given moment. Add to this a decade of fantasy football and, quite frankly, I’m lucky that we’re still married. And yet, as she is my best friend, I continue to move my lips on these very same subjects with the faintest hope of a different result—crazy, wouldn’t you say?

Case in point—during fantasy football season, I’m faced with weekly last minute decisions. The NFL Inactives report comes out and I’m obsessing over which set of wide receivers and running backs will help me win my head-to-head match. And most every week, I turn to my best friend for support on this last minute decision. “Wah waaah wah wah …” (more…)

April 27, 2015

The Key to the C-Suite: Selling to the Financial Buyer

Training a sales force to sell products and services to the IT department is hard, but training a sales force to sell a product and services to IT finance, procurement, or a CFO is a LOT harder.  At TFP, we spend our days in the trenches with sales, system engineers and professional services teams justifying the value of your products to customers and providing financial options to facilitate the sale. Our teams are tasked with driving sales, improving deal economics and making it easier for customers to buy.
Integrated sale
We know how to sell technology to business and financial decision makers. We teach sales teams how to overcome financial objections to a sale. Additional discounting is not a winning strategy. We give sales teams more successful ways to deliver better results. (more…)