Like most salespeople, you probably started out making relatively small sales. You worked hard learning about your products or services and how to sell them. You worked on yourself and achieved significant success. But you now want to make larger sales.
You also want to manage one or more of your company’s key accounts. These are valuable, not just because of the revenue they produce, but because of the prestige, testimonials and references they provide for your company.
The drawback is that when you move into larger sales, the usual small-ticket selling skills are no longer sufficient. The larger sale is more complex. You are expected to quantify your proposals. You go from single to multiple decision makers, most of the selling takes place when you’re not there, you make more calls on the account, the sale takes more time, and risk and competitive issues take on more significance.
To succeed in this arena there are additional more advanced sales techniques that must be mastered. A great starting point is to have the mindset – bring more to the table than just a sale. Look energetically for ways to be a resource to the customer. What can you offer in addition to your product or service to help the customer run their business more effectively?
The Key Skill – Sell Business Improvement
You will almost certainly have heard the phrase ‘sell the sizzle not the steak’. However, if you want to sell a truckload of steak, you must sell the financial performance, the return on investment (ROI), of buying that truckload.
Moving from small sales to major sales requires a shift in emphasis. You are no longer a salesperson selling products and services. You must talk business. You must talk the language of the boardroom: money, profits, the big picture. Especially when speaking with senior management.
In any large sale you will usually meet decision influencers at every level in the organisation and your message must be positioned to suit each level. The three main levels are:
Level 1: Top Management
The larger sale usually involves top management. These people buy business performance, return on investment (ROI). They are concerned with profit. They have their eyes on the big picture. To sell here you must see yourself as a salesperson selling solutions with a good ROI.
Whatever you do, don’t waste your time selling features and benefits in the boardroom. What would happen if we spoke to your managing director about the nuts-and-bolts features of a major training programme? Their eyes would probably glaze over. To sell effectively at this level, you must talk about the financial performance of investing in training.
The mindset for major sales is business improvement not products. Every successful key account salesperson sells the same thing: improved business performance.
Think carefully about what you sell and decide whether you want to position your solution as a cost reducer or a revenue enhancer – or both. Business improvement is the ultimate benefit.
Level 2: Business Function Manager/Department Head
Moving down the organisation we come to middle managers. These are the business function managers or department heads. They buy solutions to problems. Function managers are surrounded by problems, concerning people, productivity, manufacturing, quality, inventory, IT, sales or image. They want relief from their problems. They want their costs reduced and they want greater opportunities for more sales and greater productivity. When you meet them tailor your conversation accordingly.
Level 3: The Buyer/Purchaser or User
You will also meet the buyer or user of your product/service. What do these people buy? They buy products and services, they are interested in features and benefits, and price versus performance comparisons. Again when you meet them tailor your conversation to meet their requirements.
The key learning point is that to make larger sales you must move profits, not just products and services, to your customer.
Learn more about LDL sales and negotiation training.
Check out the Key Account Management programme and The New Rules of Selling online course.