Archive for May, 2012

Are You a Challenger?

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

by Kathrine GlassKathrine Glass

In today’s competitive marketplace, sellers in all industries are being tested.   Their product portfolio continues to broaden, requiring sellers to provide multiple and more complex solutions to their clients.  We use to sell just radio, newspaper or television.  Now we are responsible for our core product, plus digital, plus social, plus events/sponsorships/NTR.

Meanwhile, as our solutions have become more multifaceted, customers are interacting with us in a more guarded way.  They are more sophisticated.  They are requiring more cross-departmental consensus prior to purchase.  Since budgets are tight, there is more scrutiny on the ROI of  campaigns.  They are looking at more stringent metrics to determine success.  Clients are also looking for unique customization that can address what problem you claim to be able to “solve” for them.

As a seller in this ever-evolving environment, what attributes are common among the most successful performers?

In a new book from the Corporate Executive Board called The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation, the authors Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson share incredible insights that could change the way that you sell and for managers, the way you hire.  Dixon and Adamson suggest that the talent gap is widening between core performers and star performers due to the evolution of how business is being done.  Their research of over 6,000 individuals in over 90 companies in all different industries has defined five different profiles, with The Challenger being at the top of the high performer category.

You may identify more with one than another.  You may have characteristics of one or more of the profiles.  The key is to understand which characteristics most define you.  Keep in mind that there are successful sellers in each of these profiles.  Which one do you think you are?  Based on the research, The Challenger profile makes up 39% of high performers.  What can you learn from those individuals and their sales traits?

I love this quote from Neil Rackham, who wrote the Foreword of the book, “…a customer relationship is the result and not the cause of successful selling. It is a reward that the salesperson earns by creating customer value. If you help customers think differently and bring them new ideas – which is what the Challenger rep does – then you earn the right to a relationship.”

Profile % of Core Performers % of High Performers
The Relationship Builder: Builds strong advocates in customer organization, generous in giving time to help others, gets along with everyone 26% 7%
The Challenger: Always has a different view of the world, understand the customer’s business, loves to debate, pushes the customer 23% 39%
The Hard Worker: Always willing to go the extra mile, doesn’t give up easily, self motivated, interested in feedback and development. 22% 17%
The Lone Wolf: Follows own instincts, self-assured, difficult to control 15% 25%
The Reactive Problem Solver: Reliably responds to internal and external stakeholders, ensures that all problems are solved, detail oriented. 14% 12%

If you are interested in learning more, you can pick up the book at your local bookstore or  I highly recommend it!

The Power of Three

Friday, May 11th, 2012

by Ginny Speaks Ginny2012

Here we are approaching the middle of second quarter and I ask myself, how did we get here so fast?  Now would be a great time to evaluate where you are, where you want to go and see if you are doing what’s necessary to ensure that you achieve your goals by year’s end.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How am I pacing to hit my revenue goals?
  2. Am I doing good research prior to picking up the phone to make a call?
  3. Am I prospecting 3 to 6 months out?
  4. Am I making cold calls weekly?
  5. Am I leaving compelling voice mails and talking the decision maker’s language?
  6. Am I asking probing questions when talking to decision makers to complete a full needs analysis?
  7. How am I handling objections?
  8. What new categories of business have I discovered?
  9. Am I seeing a pattern in the type of business I am closing?

I am sure I could fill up the whole page with more, but let’s start here. Based on your answers to the above questions, you will either give yourself a big high five or decide to adjust accordingly. If you need to adjust, apply the power of three to jump start success and avoid getting overwhelmed.

What is the power of three? The power of three is a simple strategy to implement when you don’t know where to begin. It allows you to choose three things to work on and as each task becomes a habit, or part of your daily routine, you take that one off and add one to the list, so at all times you are diligently focused on three things.   Let’s look at an example:

Question: Am I doing good research prior to picking up the phone to make a call?

Answer: Sometimes, it depends on my day and how much time I have.

To apply the power of three, commit yourself to the following tasks before each and every call.

  1. Check company website
  2. Landscape to find three contacts to call for potential monies — sales, marketing and communications
  3. Based on the info gathered, develop three questions and an idea starter for a compelling conversation

This principal has helped me tremendously over the years and I look forward to hearing feedback from those that apply it. It will change the way you work and it will bear fruit.