You are browsing the archive for 2012 April.

Every Sales Person Starts as an Educator

April 26, 2012 in Communication, Complex Selling & Transactional Selling, Mindful selling, Negotiation, Sales Culture, Sales Skills

‘Educate and Facilitate’ was voted by our readers as the fourth most important sales trend in Barrett’s 2012 Sales Trends Report. With the 21st Century ‘selling’ not being about features and benefits anymore what has taken its place?

Effective selling is a journey from education to opportunity. To sell something we need to educate in order to facilitate an opportunity. Our buyers determine where on that journey we must join them. Is it a well-informed buyer for whom we simply need facilitate the opportunity they seek? Or is it a novice whom we must help educate in order for an opportunity to be realised? Are they somewhere in between?

guide the buyer to destination

guide the buyer to the destination

Our effectiveness as salespeople is determined by our ability to identify where on the sales journey our buyer is and help guide them to their destination.

However creating and developing sales teams who can educate and facilitate is proving to be a greater challenge than many business leaders have anticipated. For years many sales teams were recruited for and trained to be product specialists who could recite product features and benefits. Essentially they were somewhat walking talking brochures. They were not recruited or trained to be educators or facilitators, a very different skills set as you would agree. And yet in today’s information society these new skills are exactly what are required.

Smart sales professionals have always known that they need to calibrate where a prospective customer is at before they start offering up products or solutions. They know their role varies along a continuum of education to facilitation. In 2012 and beyond, smart sales leaders know to recruit in and develop their sales teams to be educators and facilitators not product sales people. Their investment in their sales people will result in a whole new skill set including patience, listening, creative problem solving and dealing with ambiguity and complexity.

customers are at the heart of a sale

customers are at the heart of a sale

Customers will come to value the new and improved sales approach because in 2012 the customer, not the product, will be at the heart of the sale and they know the sales person will help them make the right decisions moving forward.

Here is the key – as we move into more unsettled times (the sales environment is now changing every 6 – 12 months) customers become more and more risk averse.

The most effective way to manage risk is to understand where buyers are on that continuum, just where they are on the knowledge platform. Understanding these two dimensions in the purchasing cycle not only speeds up the process, it gives those salespeople who educate and facilitate an edge.

Because they understand the importance of risk management as a competitive advantage that can’t be easily breached by rival’s who continue to push product related features and benefits.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

Author: Sue Barrett, www.barrett.com.au

So What Does Being Strategic Really Mean?

April 19, 2012 in Attitudes & Behaviours, Life Skills, Sales Consulting, Sales Strategy, Self Promotion

With sales under pressure to perform in a market where differentiation has almost disappeared and so many products and services are becoming ‘commoditised’,leaders and management are looking for an effective alternative. Everywhere you turn these days companies are (or want to be)’strategic‘. The challenge is, many business leaders and their management generally don’t say what they really mean by that, or how to do it.

So, what does being strategic really mean? Well for starters, being strategic is not a simple event. It is an enterprise-wide philosophy that resonates throughout the organisation, affecting everything from how and what raw materials are purchased, to how the organisation provides customers with access to their resources for service and support. And whilst there are many definitions (a Google search of the term “being strategic” will give you 85 million), all have a few criteria in common, namely being strategic means.


everyone needs to be committed

  • The organisation takes an outside – in view of how things are, and should be done (in other words, they base their methods and operations on what customers want, not what they do)
  • Organisation are proactive – strategic companies make things happen at a time that suits them, rather than waiting for events to force them to change
  • Everything is aligned – the entire organisation is committed to the journey, not just a department or two
  • Everyone involved is committed to an inspiring vision and purpose

With these fundamentals in place, like so many other business processes, there is no magic formula for being strategic. Probably a good definition is simply:“Being strategic means ensuring the organisation’s core competence is consistently focusing on those directional choices that will best move the organisation toward its new future, with the least risk and in the most orderly fashion”.

Whilst there are many nuances and pitfalls along the way, Barrett has a practical approach for creating realistic strategic maps and then using that map to navigate through the rough or calm waters. Here are the five steps in a nutshell

  1. Decide what challenges you’re solving: Once there is a clear sense of the challenges being addressed – they can start being addressed.
  2. Answer the Value Proposition question: “How can we provide a uniquely valuable customer experience that drives our business’ success?” Look at core competence and decide what the value proposition is. Make sure it answers the question.
  3. Know where you’re starting from: Once you’re clear on your challenge, it’s important to have an accurate picture of the current reality. Be brutally honest as the one check the way the business is run, versus what management wants it to be like.
  4. Be clear about your new future: In difficult times it’s always easy to retreat into survival mode. However, having a clear, bold sense of the future gives employees a positive frame and offers an antidote to fear.
  5. Face the obstacles and determine the brutal facts: Now look at the possible obstacles to the vision in a dispassionate / objective way. What are the brutal facts you can control and which ones can’t you control? By facing the obstacles in a clear minded manner allows the organisation to assess the situation well and take appropriate action to overcome them.
Risk management flow chart on paper

Calculated Risk

Therefore strategies are based on a combination of our knowledge, experiences and hunches where we take calculated and, sometimes, uncalculated risks that we hope will pay off sometime in the future. So ‘being strategic’ really takes courage to lead people into uncharted and uncertain futures. “Being strategic” requires a sense of confidence in one’s decision making process which cannot be founded on 100% proof of concept. ‘Being strategic’ means being perceptive, future oriented, open minded, proactive, working off the front foot, making and taking decisions based on evidence and calculated hunches. As Samuel Johnson said “Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings.” Being strategic can be and often is the beginning of great undertakings and with all that the reality is only you know if a strategy works after it has happened. So do you have the self confidence, insight, and courage to be strategic?

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

Author: Sue Barrett, www.barrett.com.au

Top 10 Tips when Negotiating

April 12, 2012 in Attitudes & Behaviours, Communication, Education in Sales, Life Skills, Negotiation, Sales Results, Sales Skills, Sales Strategy, Sales Tips, Sales Training, Self Development

Everybody needs to negotiate from time to time; at work, at home, as a leader, as sales person, and as a consumer. For some it seems easy, but others view the process of negotiation as a source of conflict to be resisted and avoided if possible. Negotiation is a process and a skill that can be developed.

Negotiation can be described as a process that involves two or more people dealing with each other with the intention of forming an agreement and a commitment to a course of action where compromise needs to be reached in order to move forward. In a sales environment, not every sales situation needs negotiation however when a compromise needs to be reached negotiation often involves a series of communications between two parties to form an agreement about the details of a sales solution.

In many cases, it is possible for a proposal to be generated that satisfies the needs of both parties this is called a Win:Win.

different types of negotiation outcomes

different types of negotiation outcomes

Win: Win – In this approach, both parties go into a negotiation or transaction with the intention that they will give something towards the transaction in order to receive what they want. This is the strategy that has the best formula for success.

However, sometimes one or more parties may have to accept less than they had hoped for when they entered the negotiation process. This is when you come across the Win:Lose.

Win: Lose – The second approach has a good opportunity for success given one party is open to giving in order to receive, therefore paving the way for the sale to proceed. Both parties are open to giving, although the second party will give only once they have received. However where this approach can fall down is when Party B waits too long, wanting to receive as much as possible. If they wait too long, Party A may decide they wish to reconsider and a stalemate could ensue. In the worst case scenario the fulfillment of one party’s wishes may come entirely at the expense of the other party’s.

In a Lose: Lose situation both parties are unwilling to give before they receive. This approach is the least effective when it comes to negotiation, given that it is easy for a stalemate to arise. Unless one party is willing to take the risk of compromising, there is likely to be no negotiation.

Therefore, negotiation is the process of navigating your way through each of these alternatives, ideally aiming to come to an agreement that is complimentary to both parties’ needs. So here are 10 tips to help you navigate you way through negotiations.

10 Helpful Tips

10 Helpful Tips

1. Develop ‘negotiation consciousness’: Successful negotiators are assertive and challenge everything. They know that everything is negotiable.

2. Become a good listener: Negotiators are detectives. They ask probing questions and then remain silent. The other negotiator will tell you everything you need to know – all you have to do is listen.

3. Be prepared: The boy (and girl) scouts were right. Gather as much pertinent information prior to the negotiation. What are their needs? What pressures do they feel? What options do they have? Doing your homework is vital to successful negotiation.

4. Aim high: People who aim higher do better. If you expect more, you’ll get more. Successful negotiators are optimists. A proven strategy for achieving higher results is opening with an extreme position. Sellers should ask for more than they expect to receive and buyers should offer less than they are prepared to pay.

5. Be patient: This is very difficult for some people. We want to get it over with. Whoever is more flexible about time has the advantage. Your patience can be devastating to the other negotiator if they are in a hurry.

6. Focus on satisfaction: Help the other negotiator feel satisfied. Satisfaction means that their basic interests have been fulfilled. Don’t confuse basic interests with positions. Their position is what they say they want. Their basic interest is what they really need to get

7. Don’t make the first move: The best way to find out if the other negotiator’s aspirations are low is to induce them to open first. They may ask for less than you think. If you open first, you may give away more than is necessary.

8. Don’t accept the first offer: If you do, the other negotiator will think they could have done better. They will be more satisfied if you reject the first offer because when you eventually say “Yes”, they will conclude that they have pushed you to your limit.

9. Don’t make unilateral concessions: Whenever you give something away, get something in return. Always tie a string “I’ll do this if you do that”. Otherwise, you are inviting the other negotiator to ask you for more.

10. Always be willing to walk away: Never negotiate without options. If you depend too much on the positive outcome of a negotiation, you lose your ability to say “No”.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

Author: Sue Barrett, www.barrett.com.au

Seeing with New Eyes

April 5, 2012 in Attitudes & Behaviours, Collaboration, Ethics & Values, Sustainability & Environment, Teamwork, Uncategorized

Joel Barker, a Futurist, has been a favourite thinker of mine for many years. His way of seeing the world with new eyes, his openness to possibility has inspired me to dream and explore the world. In times of unprecedented change we can be forgiven for feeling scared or worried. We can find ourselves looking backwards at the ‘good ‘ol days’ instead of forwards. We can feel closed to opportunity instead of seeing new possibilities as liberating.

Futurist painter Felix del Marle: Looping 1914

Rather than dwell on the past and become nostalgic I propose we breathe deeply and take a look into the future to see what is possible. As Marcel Proust once said “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”

Therefore over this holiday weekend I would like to share with you Joel Barker’s ‘The Star Thrower Story’.

Joel writes that this story was inspired by the writing of Loren Eiseley. He goes on to say that Eiseley was a very special person because he combined the best of two cultures. He was a scientist and a poet. And from those two perspectives he wrote insightfully and beautifully about the world and our role in it.

“Once upon a time, there was a wise man, much like Eiseley himself, who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day he was walking along the shore. As he looked down the beach, he saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself to think of someone who would dance to the day. So he began to walk faster to catch up. As he got closer, he saw that it was a young man and the young man wasn’t dancing, but instead he was reaching down to the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean.

As he got closer, he called out, “Good morning! What are you doing?”

The young man paused, looked up and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

“I guess I should have asked, Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?”

“The sun is up and the tide is going out. And if I don’t throw them in they’ll die.”

“But young man, don’t you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it. You can’t possibly make a difference!”

make a difference

making a difference

The young man listened politely. Then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves. “It made a difference for that one!”

His response surprised the man. He was upset. He didn’t know how to reply. So instead, he turned away and walked back to the cottage to begin his writings.

All day long as he wrote, the image of the young man haunted him. He tried to ignore it, but the vision persisted. Finally, late in the afternoon he realized that he the scientist, he the poet, had missed out on the essential nature of the young man’s actions. Because he realized that what the young man was doing was choosing not to be an observer in the universe and make a difference. He was embarrassed.

That night he went to bed troubled. When the morning came he awoke knowing that he had to do something. So he got up, put on his clothes, went to the beach and found the young man. And with him he spent the rest of the morning throwing starfish into the ocean. You see, what that young man’s actions represent is something that is special in each and everyone of us. We have all been gifted with the ability to make a difference. And if we can, like that young man, become aware of that gift, we gain through the strength of our vision the power to shape the future.’

In times when changes rife and you don’t feel you can contribute effectively, remember that every small action makes a difference to yours and our collective future.

And in Joel Barkers’ words: ‘And that is your challenge. And that is my challenge. We must each find our starfish. And if we throw our stars wisely and well, I have no question that the 21st century is going to be a wonderful place.’

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

Author: Sue Barrett, www.barrett.com.au

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