Sales – It’s Not About You.

Blog 2 of 7 in a series

Last week we discussed the increasing number of sales technologies and the importance of your role as a sales person, despite that. Over the course of the next few weeks we will discuss 6 sales imperatives–things in sales that are so customer-serving that they have withstood the test of time and lasted through many eras of how people buy and sell. When incorporated into the way people sell, these 6 sales imperatives are indispensable in driving success.

Here is the first one:

It’s not about you. 

In the movie Beaches, Bette Midler’s character throws out one of my favorite quotes: “Anyway, that’s enough about me, let’s talk about you. What do YOU think about ME?”

We all know that one person…no matter the topic, no matter the severity of the news, no matter what is intended, they can make it about themselves. It’s super annoying. We know it as soon as we see it or hear it. Generally, when I see someone do that it makes me uncomfortable and makes me question their emotional maturity. 

A huge part of building trust with clients and prospects is building credibility. To build credibility, I use the following model: 


Propriety: Behaving appropriately for your customer’s business and calibrating your behavior to meet their expectations. 

Competence: Demonstrating you can work in your customer’s business with the same care and results that they do. 

Commonality: Sharing ideals, hopes, goals, or history with your customer or prospect. 

Intent: Stating that you are there for a win-win relationship. 

Each of these things should be defined by the customer’s perspective, not ours. The reason for that is simple; at this stage of the game, we haven’t earned the right to make it about us. Showing up to a sales call and immediately launching into who we are, what our company does, and the details of our offer will damage our credibility in the eyes of the person we’re speaking to. Best case, it will make them a little annoyed or uncomfortable. Worst case, they won’t trust you. In either case, it is unlikely they will buy from you. 

Once we begin to realize that at the initial stages of a selling relationship it isn’t about us, it begins to change how we think about call preparation, how we engage, and what we say or do when we arrive. Taking a step back and ensuring that propriety, competence, commonality, and intent are all viewed from the customer’s perspective will ultimately make our prospects more comfortable. It will go a long way in building trust and will increase the odds of making a sale. 

All of the sales training WinSource provides takes a customer-first approach. Doing so leads to more closes, satisfied customers, and longer lasting relationships. If we can help you or your teams with the transformation to a customer-centric sales approach, feel free to reach out to us. 

Stay tuned for the other 5 sales imperatives. 

If you’d like to see the rest of the series or read more blog posts from The WinSource, you can find them here.

Please subscribe to receive future posts directly to email.

Ideas, comments, and questions are always welcomed! Happy Selling!

Sales Leaders- Increase Sales By Focusing On Buying, Not Selling.

Sales Leaders,

You have done an amazing job of crafting your company’s sales process. You have trained your sales force, set up your support system, and now have an army of salespeople ready to hit the market. Well done!

Here is the problem: Your prospects have not agreed to adhere to your sales process.  Frankly, they could care less about your sales process. They are focused on their business.

Your salespeople have not been coached on how to handle this. They are going to start exactly where you showed them- at the start of the selling process. They will assume the prospects are on the same schedule you are. The fact is, they are not. They are on their own schedule and it has nothing to do with you.

The reason for this disconnect is that there is a Buying Process. The good news is that the buying process is predictable and with a little work, it is pretty easy to align your selling process. The bad news is, if you haven’t taught your sales team the buying process they are wasting time and feeling less effective than they should.

[bctt tweet=”Even the best sales process pushed by the best salesperson will fall flat if it isn’t aligned to the customer’s Buying Process.”]

Lets work on fixing that, here’s how:

Your selling process likely looks something like this:Picture1

If not, call me. I can help. If it does, awesome! Let’s take a look at the Buying Process:

Buying cycle

This is a sample. Your prospect may go through slightly different steps. I assure you though, there is a clear Buying Process. Your prospects have become smarter and more self-sufficient. They will have started the Buying Process with or without you. Their own industry knowledge and  internet research has made it easy for them to get through the first few steps of the Buying Process on their own. That leaves us with three options:

  1. Meet them where they are. Assume you are coming in at Evaluate Proposal. Have your value prop ready, you’ll need it. Let your prospect know that you assume they’ve done research and will be providing them with information to make the decisions easier.
  2. Play catch up. Do some light discovery to find out where their heads are at. Be warned, if you come in at this stage and don’t acknowledge the Buying Process, your customer will assume you are a vendor, not a partner. “What’s your price?” will be one of the first questions your sales team gets. This is the customers attempt to bring you up to where they are in the Buying Process.
  3. Align you website and marketing to meet their needs in the first few steps of the Buying Process. Hand them the information they need to make comparisons. Make sure your marketing materials and website are about them and what they are going through, not just the stuff you offer. That will set you apart.

Anticipating the steps of the Buying Buying Process will help your salespeople match your prospects step for step. Not only will your prospect believe that you have anticipated their actions, they will appreciate how well your sales teams relate to their current state. There’s huge value in that. They will pay you extra dollars for it. Aligning yourself to the Buying Process is a competitive advantage. Unfortunately, so few salespeople are wired to think that way.

Let’s fix this disconnect right now! I’ll get you started and the good news is you already know how to do it and it won’t cost you a dime.

First, map out your customers Buying Process just like you did the sales cycle. It’s ok to just ask your customers. At this stage it’s also ok to make some educated guesses. You’ll have to take a pass at defining each step of the process.

Next, put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Ask “What do they need in order to move the decision forward?” at this stage?

Then, combine the two processes. Lay the customer’s Buying Process on top of your selling process. It should look like this:

COmbo cycle

Last, coach your salespeople. Once you’ve developed a map for your organization, coach your salespeople on how to safely merge into the Buying Process while it is in motion. Prospect already at decision-making? Great! Help them by providing not only your info, but also your competitors. Are they already meeting with your competitors? No problem, have your value prop ready and show them how you stand out. Better yet, use this Buying Process to determine an optimum start time to begin marketing to them. Get a jump on the competition by being the first person to remind of their own upcoming decisions. Talk about setting yourself apart, holy cow! Knowing your prospect’s business as well as they do will create value and turn them into customers for life.

The reality is that too many sales processes are developed from the inside out. They rarely consider the prospect’s Buying Process. This is a miss. Customers and prospects buy when they are ready based on their own task and personal motives. We may have some influence over it, but we do not control it. Even the best sales process pushed by the best salesperson will fall flat if it isn’t aligned to the customer Buying Process.

The most effective thing you can do is help your prospect through the Buying Process and make their decisions as easy as possible. Align your sales process to that and now you have momentum that no competitor can touch.

Sales Leaders- put the finishing touches on your selling process by identifying and coaching to your prospect’s Buying Process. Make your salespeople more effective by making buying easy.

Id love to hear your thoughts on this as you begin to outline your customer’s Buying Process. Keep me posted!

If you’d like to read more blog posts from The Win Source, you can find them here.

Please subscribe to receive future posts directly to email.

Ideas, comments, and questions are always welcomed! Happy Selling!



“CRM sucks!” Here are the top 3 reasons and what sales leaders can do about it:

CRM’s are being sold and bought to the tune of billions of dollars each year. An equal amount is spent trying to figure out how to get people to use them consistently. Let me save you and your organization a ton of money and a world of frustration. The reason your sales teams despise CRM, the reason your project leaders will get you to spend thousands of dollars to find root cause on low adoption, and the reasons your IT team and the business will treat each other like a soon to be divorced couple usually boil down to the same three items. I will give them to you for free and get you started on the path to fixing them. You might be asking “why would he do that?” It’s simple. I wish someone had done it for me.

Here goes:

  1. Sales Leaders and Executives aren’t fully on board. They either don’t understand their role or they don’t fulfill their role. When a high-ranking exec has their admin export data from CRM, create a pivot table in Excel, and then sends it to the sales leaders requesting answers on why something is happening they are killing the credibility of CRM. When leaders agree that CRM is how they will validate commissions for reps but then repeatedly approve exceptions for ‘special’ performers they destroy thousands of dollars in change management work that the company paid for. When sales managers ask reps for end of period reporting in excel or word docs prior to their 1-2-1’s they immediately damage their team’s adoption percentage.
  2. Purchasing or implementing a CRM without a defined sales process. CRM is designed to support a sales process, not change it or create it. Too often, companies set out on a CRM purchase before they have a defined sales process. This is a huge mistake. When this happens, everyone does double the work. The project team is doing double duty because not only must they worry about configuration, testing, launch, more testing, and adoption but now they have to draft a sales process and set up a system that controls the new changes rather than depending on sales management principles to do it. The end-user not only has to learn a new tool but now they have to learn a new common language and change the way they sell or report the sale. Each group is doing double the work. This is a recipe for disaster.
  3. Limited configuration, out of the box, or worse- minimum viable product. Any one of these is the equivalent of driving a Corvette with four deflated tires. Here’s what you get in this scenario: a system that sales managers love but sales reps hate. Managers love it because they get a very expensive policing tool that tricks them into feeling as though they are managing rep performance when actually they are monitoring activity levels, frustrating reps, and decreasing productivity as true objectives are lost. Sales reps are quick to pick up on this and resolve to touch CRM once or twice a week in order to stay off the naughty list. Quickly CRM gets a reputation as an administrative burden that offers no real value. Higher producing reps are relieved of this burden by managers that don’t know how to undo the mess and fear that the high functioning reps will blame missing target on additional administration or worse yet, they fear the reps will quit. This special treatment is observed and spoken about at the water cooler and is often followed by resentment and even lower adoption.

If you find yourself in or around a CRM implementation project, I would make it your mission to see that you avoid these three CRM killers. First and foremost, get yourself a great implementation partner, preferably one that has an excellent change management practice with references and case studies from you industry. Next, get educated. There are countless books, videos, and articles written on these three topics and how to avoid them. Please let me know if I can help or make any recommendations on either of these. Educating yourself and your team then partnering with a great consulting group will help but, unfortunately, it will not eliminate these three issues. These issue are almost completely internal, company issues.

Here’s what you can to do help avoid them:

  1. Execs and Leaders- Sponsorship of a CRM project is not the same as buying your kid’s tee-ball team their t-shirts. You don’t get to throw your name on it and sit on the sidelines to watch it play out. Executives and sales leaders have to get in the game. Show up to planning meetings, help make decisions early about fields, click counts, workflows, and account hierarchy. All of these will matter on game day. Lobby for a budget that includes communications, solid training, change management, and tools that will help reps and managers be more productive like a good marketing tool or a plug-in that will add insight into prospects. Once you go live, make CRM the system of record. If it didn’t happen in there, it didn’t happen. Eliminate excel reports and use dashboards or CRM reports to fuel meetings, customer and funnel reviews, and quarterly business reviews.
  2. The best tools support good process. Stop using tools to compensate for the things you wish your managers were doing. Look at the changes you want to make in your CRM environment. Do those changes reduce the number of steps a rep has to take while they nurture a lead or opportunity or do they increase the clicks, number of fields to fill out, and increase the internal complexity to win a deal? If you find that you are having conversations around how to force reps to fill out fields or you are trying to force them to take action steps and specific activities that they don’t do today, then you have a problem with your process. Adding these items will not help your process they will only hinder your adoption. Hit the pause button and get the right people in the room. Once the process is outlined, agreed upon, and communication is planned you can go back to system configuration. Make sure your processes are solid, understood, and managed. If that happens first, implementation will be easier and adoption numbers will ramp quicker.
  3. Limited configuration is code for “I don’t have or understand a sales process”. Out of the box deployment means ‘I way underestimated costs and can’t afford consulting, training,  or meetings needed to get the system set up to meet my company’s unique needs.’ And my favorite- MVP: Minimal Viable Product is usually code for sideline execs pushing for an unrealistic deadline coupled with an over-burdened IT team that can’t agree on prioritization with the business. Don’t let any of that happen. Not only does it indicate that CRM is low on the priority list but it leaves a system of little value for the sales reps. There are tons of tools that can be added in to make a reps job easier and make them more effective. There are workflows or plug-ins that allow reps to decrease the steps it takes to get, manage and qualify leads and shorten the overall sales cycle. Budget for these tools. Budget for both the cost and time to add these tools in the system. Pick one or two things that will help reps close deals, get leads, or operate more efficiently. Better yet, let the reps pick them. Let them get some skin in the game early and watch what it does for your adoption.

Today’s CRM systems are pretty awesome. I get blown away every time I watch a promo video or see a teaser about the next upgrade. The technology is advancing very quickly. CRM vendors are building these tools to connect to, enhance, or even replace finance systems, POS, social monitoring, lead gen, and even phone systems. With all this available it is not even a question of whether CRM can make us more effective. It surely can. It can better connect us to our customer, teams, and resources leading to longer customer relationships, faster deals, more productivity, and happier, more fulfilled staff. We have to get out of the way and let it do its thing, or better yet, enable it to do its thing.

Start by trying to remove these three obstacles. Get these right, and maybe, just maybe your CRM won’t suck.