“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.
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…)
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.
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…)