Optimizing the Sales Process: Before, During & After [Q&A with Authors Dave Stein and Steve Andersen]
Did you know customers only spend about 2% of their time actually buying from a salesperson? That’s why Beyond the Sales Process authors Dave Stein and Steve Andersen recommend building a strong relationship not only during – but also before and after.
“Winning one sales opportunity but failing to capture customer loyalty so you aren’t replaced next time the customer buys, is the difference between long-term success and failure,” says Stein.
The book is chock-full of instructional case studies from companies including Hilton Worldwide, Merck and Siemens. It’s also a deep-dive into 12 strategies, broken into three stages of the sales process. Here's a look at our conversation:
Q: What is the main challenge you’re seeing with sales team strategies in 2016?
We see pretty much the same approaches that have been used for decades, that is, focusing on the immediate opportunity. In Beyond the Sales Process, Steve and I talk about a new approach, taking into consideration what salespeople and account managers need to do before, during, and after the sale.
Q: As an industry, we talk about being able to communicate with today’s well-informed buyers. Are there some general marching orders that salespeople need to keep in mind?
Absolutely. We know that following four strategies during the “Before the Sale” phase makes all the difference in the world to set up the salesperson for success during the sale, and we can get into some detail during the webinar:
- Researching the organization
- Exploring possibilities and giving them a reason to engage
- Visualizing future potential value
- Defining and pursuing targets
Q: From your perspective, what’s the most frequently-seen mistake reps make in their attempts to win business?
Salespeople talk about their products, services, companies, solutions, successes – and themselves – without ever understanding the customer’s world. This is so common that buyers have little need for salespeople in their quest to find products and services that will support achievement of their business goals.
Another mistake is only investing time with the customer when that person is actively buying. Reps who do that invariably wind up having to play catch-up, since most often, one of their competitors is in the account first and has grabbed customer mind-share. Once that happens the “late” sales rep winds up in a losing situation and will often depend on desperate and tactical discounting to try to win the deal.
Q: When we talk about “growth,” we’re not just talking about growing new business, but also growing business from current customers. Is this too often overlooked in the sales process?
Yes! The model many companies employ is to use “hunters” to close new business, and then throw the customer over the wall to the “post sales team.” In this process, there’s little regard to maintaining relationships, delivering on commitments and promises, assisting the customer who bought FROM YOU, on a personal level, and helping them achieve what’s in it for them… perhaps a promotion, a raise, a new assignment, or a pat on the back.
In our “After the Sale” phase, we talk about these four strategies:
Realize the Value - So the deal is signed and off to work with the customer. Objective? Deliver the value that the customer is expecting, has been promised, and has paid for!
Validate the impact - Measuring success with the customer from the customer's perspective. We literally need to quantify the success the customer achieved. It needs to be documented.
Adapt the approach - Applying lessons learned with your customer.
Expand the relationship - Leveraging your past-proven value. Once we’ve delivered that value for the customer, we need use it for that next opportunity within the customer organization.
Q: The webinar focuses on 12 strategies – some days, do you feel like it could be 100? How can salespeople successfully act on these strategies without overwhelming their teams with all-new approaches?
No, the 12 work exceedingly well. The book has nine case studies. (Note: Three highlight “Before the Sale” strategies, three “During” and three “After.”) Once a reader has consumed the strategies and read how some of the world’s top-performing companies employ these strategies, they’ll easily see this is the proven and successful model.