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Help Your Sales Team Succeed

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Wed Aug 26 2009

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Help Your Sales Team Understand the Buyer

Businesses seeking to increase revenue growth should shift specific focus to the buying environment within each potential customer. Great sales professionals recognize there are a distinct set of phases that a buyer engages to buy with the end result of this buying cycle being the purchase of the product or service, or not.

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Unfortunately for all buyers, each selling organization and their individual sales professionals are unique and often require immense amounts of energy to build a relationship with. This keeps buyers guessing, which in turn keeps the sales organization guessing. It's a constant game being played out across offices across the country.

To help both sides, it may be prudent to go back to root cause of these ambiguity. The only common denominator across all sales organizations and all buying organizations is the dollar sign. Surprise! Buyers and sellers are concerned about the same thing! The buying organization wants more revenue through decreased revenue; the selling organization wants more revenue through sales. The bottom line-- we all want more revenue.

The item that keeps most C-level executives up at night is how to engage in the global marketplace to increase revenue or reduce costs-that's it. All decisions being made today, whether it's compliance to new laws, expansion into new markets, or whether to lay anyone off, can be traced back to these two sides of the dollar sign. The key for many companies is to focus on aligning marketing, sales, and customer service functions to that common dollar sign--but this is easier said than done. What many companies fail to do is to align these systems to the buying organization and their actual buying processes instead of forcing their process onto the buying organization.

This approach can be summarized as:

(1) Know your customer,

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(2) Know your product,

(3) Be ready for the customer to buy, and

(4) Stay engaged with the customer after the sale.

Many organizations train their sales professionals, marketing departments, and customer service representatives on their product, but stop there. As a result, they have spent millions of dollars on training with little results. The problem with this approach is quite simple; they have not first asked "what is the process the buying organization uses in relation to these four phases?"

Believe it or not, the occupation that must understand this question absolutely and definitively is the sales profession. This is because the sales profession has the responsibility for converting market demand into revenue for the selling organization by understanding the desire to increase revenue in the selling organization. Sales professionals fill a critical position in any company by spanning boundaries from one organization to the other. The sales organization (sale professionals, and all supporting infrastructure) must build relationships, understand the customer, and articulate how bring value to the lives of their buyers. This in turn helps the subsequent customer. Sound confusing? Try doing it with a CFO of a telecom firm in the morning, a VP of Marketing in an IT software firm at lunch, and a CEO of a fortune 1000 at night!

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The question is not "how do project our sales process onto the buyer?" The real question is "how do we facilitate the customer experience?"

As an example, how would your organization sell to the federal government? Would it be easy to do so if your organization had never done it before? The reason why it is difficult to sell to the federal government lies in difficulty of understanding how the federal government procures their goods and services. By understanding how the government buys obviously helps companies understand how to sell. This needs to happen in every industry, with every buying customer. Unfortunately, this crucial understanding is often overlooked, at the expense of driving lop-line growth.

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