Recently I spoke with Burke, the VP of Business Development for an engineering firm in the material handling industry.
Unlike many people in this industry, Burke has a marketing background rather than a technical one. Since he joined the firm, their business is booming, seemingly unaffected by the recession. I asked him about that.
What he told me was really useful from a sales and marketing point of view:
“When I first got here in June of 2007,” he said, “everyone told me ‘The problem we’re having, Burke, is that we’re struggling for budget dollars.’ That is what it looked like to them.
“However, I discovered that was not the problem at all.
“Our prospects are warehouse managers who have to put together proposals for projects and get them approved. Some justification is involved for both business (cost) justification, and justification for technical architectures and other decisions.
“What I learned was that we were not helping prospects assemble their information in a way that was sellable up the chain of command.
“So, I put in place a process for doing that:
- “We take a consultative approach,
- “We gather the information,
- “We put the argument together,
- “We build the PowerPoint® slides
- “Literally, all the warehouse manager has to do is present it up the food chain and we’ve been winning a lot more often than we used to
“There are only a few people in our company who I would really call ‘salespeople.’ Most of the rest could be called sales engineers, at best. And there are lots of people who are only involved in some small aspect of ‘the sales process’ at any given time.
“So, setting up a structure to follow for handling the customer’s information enabled them to become more productive, because it helps them partner better with the customer. They now know they should be looking for business as well as technical information, and they know what to do with that information before they give it back in the form of various documents, including proposal documents. The questions, the steps, and the documents we provide help the warehouse manager ’sell’ to others within their own company more effectively.
“You need business ROI, we got that. You need rationale for the controls architecture, we got that. You need a throughput analysis, we got that. You need a time-phased projection of the project cost, we got that too. Whoever they need to talk with inside their company, we help them do it.
“We’re easier to deal with than the other guys, and we’re winning more deals as a result.”
I thought that was a great example of how sales is supposed to work. It is supposed to be simple.
Of course getting to that simplicity within your organization is not always so easy!
That’s where we can help you, hopefully a lot:
I’m proud to announce that www.salesperformance.com
now is the home of the Sales Performance Improvement Forum – a website intended to help you get the insights you need to design and improve your own company’s sales process.
There are lots of new free materials, including articles, videos, recordings, and some new membership levels:
You can visit the site and surf anonymously, as you always have been able to. Then, there is the opt-in Free SPIF! Sign up, where we’ve added some videos, an “Ask You’re Question!” section and access to some of the best articles from the original website (including “Customer Value Mapping,” which Burke applied heavily).
Then, we’ve added a Professional Members area, where (for a fee about equivalent to that of a professional association) you get access to the in-depth Sales Kaizen webinars every month, archives of past webinars and conference presentations, the Print SPIF! Newsletter, private bulletin boards, and other helpful goodies for executives and consultants.
One of the coolest things is the ability for you to comment, compliment, criticize, or what ever you want on virtually every page. Check it out!
And don’t forget to check out Thursday’s Sales Kaizen Webinar:
How to Generate and Sustain a 25% Increase
in Sales Opportunities in 90 Days or LessSales Kaizen Webinar with Brian CarrollAuthor of Lead Generation for the Complex Sale
February 5, 2009, 3:00pm Eastern Time
I look forward to hearing from you!
February 2, 2009