Monday, February 3, 2014

Sell To The F500 Like A Pro

For key accounts, like the F500, sellers have to become part of the client’s strategic planning. 

The latter is NOT a process the customer alone, should own. Just the opposite is true, particularly amid economic uncertainty. Inserting yourself into a customer’s growth plans - by bringing ideas to the table or sharing what’s worked for others - is what positions salespeople to win big deals.

With a growing number of stalled deals, key business case elements can accelerate an investment decision. The lack of a clear, compelling financial justification is the number one reason deals stall!

A situation where a customer didn’t say no, but also didn’t say yes may be an implication and/or indication of declining business confidence, or - more likely - a failed sales process. And, as a result of waning business confidence, approvals for even modest investments often rest at executive level today.

The above offers a compelling reason why sound financial justification is required to attract C-Suite attention.

Sellers have to be comfortable with and know how to develop ROI scenarios for their solutions. Of course, a sound business case must also recognize additional elements, such as key risks, strategic rationale, and required success factors.

Business leaders are under pressure to deliver growth, particularly top line and earnings growth. To this end, short, specific, growth oriented proposals will catch a C-Suite buyer’s eye.

It’s easier to cut costs than deliver growth. That’s why simple, cost-cutting proposals are readily and easily dismissed. Show the C-Suite how you will partner with their business to help them achieve their growth objectives, rather than offering to cut costs, or implying that your product is the best! The latter two ("buy now and save" and "we have the best product") most commonly lead to epic sales failure!

Sales professionals must have the expertise required to help an executive execute his/her priorities. A salesperson should demonstrate an understanding of a prospective client’s business and link the sales pitch to the prospect’s strategic initiatives. Then, they need to take time to outline a financial rationale based on where their offering has worked before… and only then, might they be able to earn time with the C-suite for the purposes of educating them about how your product/service offerings will help them to achieve their strategic revenue and earnings growth objectives.

Salespeople require a 3-part story when they arrive to engage decision-makers:
1. Identify 2-3 of their corporate strategic business initiatives, and reasonably link these to whatever it is that you are selling.
2. Explain how you (and your solution) will work to change their business. What will different if they invest in a partnership with you? How will their business operate differently? If very little is expected to change, then there’s likely not much reason for them to consider your offering. Yes... even if you are offering them cost savings!
3. Therefore, you should deliver a growth-related financial justification, and not a cost-cutting one. Any investment should be quantified using meaningful metrics, like ROI. For example, a seller can include a high-level payback analysis over time, developed in conjunction with the team reporting to the business head.

The C-Suite is not looking to make friends. A sales call flows favorably when a salesperson respects time allocated to them, by quickly orienting the conversation around the client's business. More specifically, like the 3-part conversation mentioned above.

The C-Suite does not care about your product, nor your market-leading whatever bragging rights!

Getting in front of a F500 decision maker requires hard work to make the right connections with the prospect and this should be complemented by a pitch that demonstrates your understanding of their business, while clearly demonstrating how you will assist them in achieving their strategic objectives. 

The above... in a nutshell, is commonly called… enterprise sales.