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Complex Sales Require Strategy and Planning
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
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Winning a sale doesn’t happen by accident. Selling requires thoughtful preparation and flawless execution. Because no two sales opportunities are exactly the same, a seller must develop a sales strategy for each opportunity that’s as unique as the opportunity itself. A new release from ASTD Press, Premeditated Selling: Developing the Right Strategy for Every Opportunity, provides a scalable five-step process and tools for managing complex sales, as well as explores strategic elements that exist in every major sales opportunity and use case studies to show best (and worst) practices in action.  

I recently asked one of the authors, Kevin Jones, to share a little insight about what inspired him and coauthor Steve Gielda to write the book. Here’s what he had to say.

Tell us a little bit about the new book Premeditated Selling. 

Premeditated Selling is a "how to" book—giving salespeople the tools they need to evaluate a sales opportunity and to develop a strategy for that opportunity. Premeditated is an adjective meaning "characterized by deliberate purpose and some degree of planning." This book is about providing salespeople tools that that they can be deliberate in their selling process with a well thought out plan to succeed.  

In the book, Steve and I introduce five key elements of sales opportunities that must be considered when developing a sales strategy. Within each chapter are concepts and tools supported by real case studies. In addition, we take those elements and explain how they can be used to develop or enhance a sales pipeline management process. And lastly, we included a chapter that provides guidance to sales managers on how to coach to the tools taught in the book.  

What inspired you to write the book?

Steve and I have worked with thousands of sales professionals from a variety of industries. In our work, we have had a chance to see how the "best of the best" approach opportunities and how they modify their sales approach to suit the circumstance in which they are selling. They have a plan and use the tools we describe in this book. However, those salespeople that aren't part of the "best of the best" population often find themselves scratching their heads when a deal goes awry.  

We ask sales people why deals are lost, and a leader answer (or excuse) is almost always “price.”

Sales people believe that the premium price of their solution is the reason prospects select a different vendor. Unfortunately, these lost prospects have given us a different answer.  

According to the prospects we've interview, price had little to do with their decision. And if the salespeople had known the real reason deals are lost before the deal was lost, they could have changed their approach and upped their chances for winning.

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What can learning professionals take away from the book?

That there is a systematic approach to strategy development. That sales requires analysis and critical thinking. The more information you have, the better. Our tools help people organize the critical information so that critical thinking can focus on the right areas.  

The other takeaway is how sales tools are created and used. Too often, we have found tools are simply forms that sales people feel they are forced to complete. We encourage, through this book, the application of tools as support for critical thinking and information organization.

How do you see the sales profession changing in the next few years?

Customers will continue to amass information that will help them in their own buying process. Power in the decision making process will continue to move away from position-specific individuals (in other words, decisions won't always be made by the same person or same title; sales people will have to determine who is involved and how).

However, those responsible for making a decision will want to ensure that there is a return on the investment they will be making. Salespeople will need to do a better job selling the economic value of their solutions and be able to show the impact that they can have across an organization.

How can learning professionals help sales people prepare for the future? 

We believe that realism is what makes learning effective. Salespeople need to learn skills (whatever they may be), and be able to apply them in a classroom environment that closely reflects reality. In general, salespeople don't like to be removed the field unless they can gain immediate application of what is learned in the classroom. For them, it is all about relevance: How can learning professionals make the information real.  

Download a free sample chapter for Premeditated Selling or purchase the book at the ASTD Store.  

About the Authors 

For more than 15 years, Kevin Jones has been designing and delivering training solutions that impact people’s lives. Kevin’s goal is to create a learning environment where participants can thrive and where lessons learned can be translated to the field. Kevin has worked in finance, sales, and sales training. It was in sales training that Kevin found his true passion—developing people. Kevin received a B.A. in Business from North Carolina State University, and an M.B.A. from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Kevin uses his academic exposure and real-world experience to develop training solutions that drive business results. Kevin’s work has enabled him to influence hundreds of companies in more than 30 countries worldwide. 

For more than 20 years, Steve Gielda has been helping companies throughout the world improve their sales performance and meet their business goals. Steve is a salesperson to the core—he loves working with clients, understanding their needs, and helping them improve their business outcomes. Steve started his career at Lanier Worldwide, pounding the pavement and knocking on doors. His success as a salesperson and his desire to take on leadership roles allowed Steve to move into the positions of District Manager and Region Sales Director. Steve’s success comes from his persistence and willingness to forge strong client relationships. He understands the importance of building smart sales strategies that are linked to driving his clients’ business goals. Steve began his career in sales training in 1997 when he joined Huthwaite, Inc. Steve later established his own practice as partner with the Advantage Performance Group, an affiliate of Sales Momentum. In 2010, Steve and Kevin joined together to form Ignite Selling, Inc.

About the Author

Ryann K. Ellis is an editor for the Association of Talent Development (ATD). She has been covering workplace learning and performance for ATD (formerly the American Society for Training & Development) since 1995. She currently manages ATD's Community of Practice blogs, as well as ATD's government-focused magazine, The Public Manager. Contact her at rellis@td.org. 

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