If you work with a sales director, please surgically remove his/her iPhone or BlackBerry and place this article under their ubiquitous device of preference.

If you are a sales director, please close your spreadsheet on head count, stop sweating the forecast and read on:

Here are my top 4 tactics for winning ICT sales in uncertain markets.

1 Talk it up.
There are a number of people of position who seem determined to dampen the mood more than Julia Gillard at a press conference. Yes, we know you have to cover your backside at forecast time, but there ARE sales to be won out there and your team needs you to be positive, direct and encouraging. They are watching how you respond to the situation and will follow accordingly.

2. Turbo Performance Management
Not the little blue pills on the bedside table …..of your CFO! I mean real performance management of your sales team. Re-visit territories, re-jig quotas, get rid of the perennial underachievers you’ve been hedging on for a while and do the analytics.Situational & Behavioral Interviewing for the Sales Profession

3. Avoid going to the wrong Wel
Everyone loves going to the same accounts in the same verticals because it’s kind of comfy and we know they like that we just won the cricket against India and their preference is coffee with two sugars.

However they may not be the clients with the budget or the need any more

This is the time to totally re-assess who needs you right now, who needs your system that reduces Capex by 30%, your new integrated software or new tools that cut client head count by 20%. They may be clients you’ve never dealt with before, and a fresh look from the clients perspective in the current climate may uncover totally new avenues and channels of revenue.

4. Lead. Lead. Lead
There are opportunities to lead from the front now – that is drive the sales cycle on more than a couple of real deals. In the past few months, here are some of the reasons I’ve overheard as to why sales directors couldn’t do this.

‘I’m too busy working on strategy and getting the forecast right.’
‘I have to work on managing up right now.’
‘I am working on getting my average performers over the line.’
‘I’m a big believer in empowerment and don’t want to come in over the top of my sales manager/team leader on these deals.’
In my experience, sales directors in the ICT industry are some of the most skilled, professional dealmakers in the country and yet, for these and other reasons they may be held back from using their vast expertise to drive sales. 2012 is the perfect opportunity to be spending a significant chunk of time truly leading, not directing.

Elliot Epstein – CEO | Salient Communication
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          Author Profile

Elliot Epstein - CEO at Salient CommunicationElliot Epstein

Elliot Epstein is the CEO of Salient Communication. Elliot has trained and coached over 3000 people throughout the Asia Pacific Region and is a sought after keynote speaker on Sales, Negotiation, Leadership and Presentations. Elliot has an impressive list of testimonials from the likes of Computershare, MYOB, HP, CBA and Ericsson and has spoken at over 300 conferences and conducted over 450 programs. -view Elliot’s posts

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Elliot EpsteinNew to the HG Sales Leadership Blog, we welcome Elliot Epstein, CEO of Salient Communication; a specialist coaching and training consultancy.
 
Elliot’s company has a strong presence in the IT sector throughout the Asia Pacific Region, coaching senior sales executives in Sales, Negotiation, Leadership and Presentations.
 
In today’s post, Elliot shares some of his client’s high stakes ICT selling experiences and asks:

 

 

“Where has all the creativity gone in presenting and selling ICT solutions?”

 

Given the economic turmoil surrounding us, there appears to have been such focus on the rational measurement of business such as head count, expenses, cost of sale, salaries etc that this spreadsheet mentality has crept by osmosis into sales teams, stripping them of much needed creativity.

When all you hear is ‘where’s your forecast, your pipeline is narrow and by the way there is no bonus and commissions are halved for next year’, it is understandable that the vibrant, creative gene that lives in every ICT BDM, Sales Manager and Channel Manager lays dormant.

It is now time to wake it up.

In research conducted on ICT decision makers, they actually want creative solutions, not the robotic quotes and PowerPoint prattle.

Here are some creative examples of themes and ideas we’ve used with clients to help them win the attention of clients.

Bedroom Poster Treatment

We all had giant posters in our bedrooms of Shane Warne or Johnny Depp or Brad Pitt, Halle Berry, U2 or AstroBoy/Ben 10 (insert gender/age preference here)

We connected with that image and its visual power over us.

One pitch theme is to plaster the walls of the presentation room with a combination of large AO or A1 size visuals including:

• Testimonials from clients with photos
• Key outcomes of your solution in the client’s language, not yours eg Reduce Help Desk Head Count, Increase Storage Capacity by 30% for Zero Cost, Transfer our expertise to your staff in 3 months.
• Theme Visual eg Ferrari for speed to market, Huge photo of a Judge for governance/compliance

Now, some of you are thinking ‘gimmick’. If it is a single image, then you’re right because it looks like a cheap afterthought. If it’s an entire room –it’s a powerful visual image that definitely resonates with clients when they leave.

Make it Real

We worked with a company pitching retail oriented technology.

We actually borrowed a guy who used to work at Bunnings for the presentation. He came suitably attired with overalls, beard and paint stains to present how easy it was for him to use this technology and how customers responded favourably. Of course a site visit can have a similar result, but it’s still not as impactful as a live person in the room at the pointy end of the sales cycle.

Interactive Presentation

Pick up your PowerPoint presentation, kiss it gently goodbye, say ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ and dump it!

One of the most successful pitches I’ve seen recently for $2.1M in professional services was where the sales team stood up after 3 months of diagnostic research and wrote on the white board ‘ Current State and Future State’.

They spent just 7 minutes facilitating and checking they had the right information and understanding of the client’s current position and desired outcomes and then without a slide in sight started dialogue about how best to get there. This included having the courage to resist pushing a methodology and asking the client to step up to the white board with pen in hand and write down their preferred way of using these professional services. The client shared ideas that hadn’t previously been uncovered and they sold themselves on how best to engage that company.

It was interactive, engaging, real, persuasive and all the vendor had to do was say ‘yes, we can do your preferred way’

It is so easy to just ramp up the laptop, go through the motions and hope it still works, but it’s time now to re-activate the creativity gene and differentiate your bid.

In the words of George Bernard Shaw ‘You see things; and you say, “Why?” But I dream things that never were; and I say, “Why not?”

If you would like to share your stories of how creative pitching has helped you succeed, please comment below.

Elliot Epstein – CEO | Salient Communication

          Author Profile

Elliot Epstein - CEO at Salient CommunicationElliot Epstein

Elliot Epstein is the CEO of Salient Communication. Elliot has trained and coached over 3000 people throughout the Asia Pacific Region and is a sought after keynote speaker on Sales, Negotiation, Leadership and Presentations. Elliot has an impressive list of testimonials from the likes of Computershare, MYOB, HP, CBA and Ericsson and has spoken at over 300 conferences and conducted over 450 programs. -view Elliot’s posts

P.S. – For more sales insights, SUBSCRIBE for email updates.

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