by Jill Konrath
Jill Konrath, world reknown author on selling strategies shares with us practical tips on Agile Selling.
Jill’s passion for sales was ignited at Xerox Corporation where she was frequently recognized for superior performance as both an account executive and regional sales manager. She then moved into computer sales and immediately became the International Rookie of the Year and a consistent top performer.
Her joy in selling, combined with an innate ability to teach, led her to present countless training programs for colleagues, create a myriad of sales tools, coach dozens of trainees and to work on new product launches – in addition to her sales job! This was the impetus for starting her own business.
In 1987, she launched Leapfrog Strategies, Inc., a sales effectiveness consultancy, that focused on helping companies shorten time to revenue on new product introductions. Using her unique strategies that closed the gap between Sales & Marketing, her clients were able to launch faster, capture their window of opportunity and gain significant market share.
Everything was going great till 2000, when her two biggest clients came under pressure from Wall Street to deliver better results. All consulting contracts were stopped mid-stream, effectively putting her out of business. This trigger event caused her to rethink how she wanted to use her talent and passion to make a significant impact in the next decade.
Twelve years ago, Jill was a quiet, unknown consultant who did great work for her clients. Today, she is an internationally recognized expert who is known for her fresh sales strategies and game-changing approaches.
Watch this exclusive 29 minute video by Jill Konrath now.
Man: It is now my pleasure to introduce my friend and colleague, Ms. Jill Konrath. Jill is the author of "Agile Selling", "Snap Selling", and "Selling to Big Companies". She's a frequent speaker at industry events, sales conferences, and kickoffs and her clients include a who's who of corporate enterprises from IBM to Hilton, Staples, Microsoft, Accenture, and many, many more. Jill publishes a weekly newsletter read by over 110,000 sales people globally. Her expertise has been featured on ABC, Fortune, Forbes, Fox News, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Please join me in providing a warm welcome for Jill Konrath.
Jill: Thanks for the nice introduction and thank you for joining us today. I'm going to focus on how to outwit your biggest nemesis. By that, I mean the obstacle that stands in your way from achieving your goals on a regular basis. My hope is that you'll get some really good ideas that you can use and certainly that you'll start thinking differently about this nemesis and what you can do to defeat this dastardly demon who prevents you from reaching those goals. That's exactly what your nemesis is. Your nemesis is like the Wicked Witch of the West who prevents Dorothy from getting home to Kansas. Your nemesis is also like the Joker from Batman, a serial killer, a serial sales killer time and time again. And your nemesis is also like Lord Voldemort, Harry Potter's archenemy, also known as He Who Shall Not Be Named. And the reason I say that is because when I ask sales people, who is your biggest nemesis, they don't talk about what I'm going to talk about today. For the most part they'll tell me who their biggest competitors are but that's not who your biggest nemesis is. Before I name that biggest nemesis I'm going to show you a statistic though that's revealing. From Sales Benchmark Index recently came out, and they say based on their research of tons of sales deals, that 60% of all forecast deals are lost to no decision.
For God's saks, you're losing more to no decision that all of your competitors combined. You know we might think, "Well, that's just the way it is." But the truth of the matter is 60% is an average. Some people are closing 60% of their deals. I mean, even just think if you could bump up your close rate a little bit more and close a little bit more of these forecasted deals, the impact it could have in your compensation and your overall success. And it can be done if you get real serious and understand that your biggest competitor, your biggest nemesis is the status quo. By far and away, your customers, your prospects are defaulting to the status quo instead of going ahead with you or your competitors. They are sitting put, 60% of them, people who said that they are good prospects, people you said were going to close are sitting with the status quo. They're choosing not to change. That's not good. And it's also a tremendous opportunity for those of us who say, "I want to change that dynamic. I hate losing to the status quo. I hate spending all this time with the prospect working with I'm building a relationship and demoing them and writing proposals and doing all sorts of discovery and then having nothing happened. It's a colossal waste of time." I mean you can go prospecting again but wouldn't you rather figure out how to take this time investment and maximize it so these people decide to do business with you?
Your status quo is your nemesis. You got to learn to fight this thing differently. You can't just accept it as normal. It's not normal to lose to the status quo. Maybe it's normal for normal people but if you want to be really good at this, it isn't normal. So let's take a look at some of the issues that you're facing. Because if you know what the issues are then you can find out what the solutions are. Now the first big issue that I see sales people dealing with all the time relates to having a weak business case. You know kind of like that 90 pound weakling. If you don't have a good reason for your prospects to make the change, they're not going to do it. I mean making them change is hard. It takes up a whole lot of time and if you're not the only decision maker, you have to justify this decision and you don't have good metrics on why somebody should change. It's really hard to get the ball rolling in an organization. And just because somebody likes it is not enough today in many organizations to get the change to happen. There's got to be a valid business reason. There's got to be metrics that are related to efficiencies, productivities, increased revenue, decreased cost. I mean these are the things that your clients want to hear and so you need to take a look at what you have and say, "What is it that we really bring to the table?"
And when I talk to sales organizations I have to tell you very honestly that the root cause of this problem I see all the time is that the sales people don't know enough about the current status quo. What are the prospects doing today without their product and service? And this is the baseline that you actually need in order to put together the business case. It's what you need to understand where the issues and challenges are. I mean if you don't know where they might be struggling, if you don't know where the bottlenecks are, if you don't know the inefficiencies, if you don't know the true cost of how they're operating then honestly, there's no way that you could know anything different. So it's crucial that we really dig in and understand our prospects in a whole different level, a really deep level. Now some of you come from companies that have some really good information on this and some of you come from companies that there's no information. And some of you just work for yourself and have to figure this information out yourself. So let me give you a few tips that I think are really helpful to you that will help you understand how to develop a better business case. It all really, really truly starts with researching. The more time you can spend in research and understanding the status quo the better off you'll be. And a lot of people say, "Well, what kind of research should we be doing?"
And the first thing I'd say is, "Go talk to your existing customers." Your existing customer base, especially those who have bought your product or service, started working with you in the past six months. They really have some good information for you. They can actually tell you what it was like before and they can compare life before to life now which really means they can document a lot of the statistics. They can give you some metrics, they can give you some round numbers, but you have something to work with when you talk to your customers. The other thing you can do is you can actually go talk to your colleagues if you have them and find out what they know. What are their benefits of their customers are getting? What problems are their customer is having that were solved by the status quo? That's what you want to find out. And how can you explode that into something bigger so that it's more important and your prospects realize that they will get value. You need to explode what you learned into an annual cost or a three year cost so the problem gets big enough to get resolved. But that's really where you need to start. You need to invest time researching, that's the first thing that you really do. Know that status quo so you could understand what the business case is. Now, another big issue that people are facing is when their decisions are simply too complex.
And this is really a show stopper because its hard for people to make a change. And nowadays, like average sale I think has five to seven decision makers. I mean can you imagine shepherding all those cats around trying to get people to agree. That's why it's so hard, it's complex, they've got systems that are already built around working with the status quo. It's the way we know and the beast that we know is better than the one that we don't know. So complexity, when people are overwhelmed, and by the way, your decision is not the only thing on their plate. When they're overwhelmed they often times will default to doing nothing just because it's easier. It's simpler. They just don't have the mental bandwidth in order to continue and move the situation forward. Now, there are some answers to that that really do make a difference and you have to get inside it. But the true answer that's underneath it all is that you honestly need to be a sales guide, a leader of the sales process. And it's not a typical role that we, in sales possess. It's kind of like being more of a project manager. But if sitting down with your prospects people who are interested in what you're doing. These are forecasted prospects for God's sake. They're not new customers that you're just meeting. But in sitting down with them and rolling out what has to come next and showing them that here's where we start and here's what we do next and then we need to involve and engage these people in our organization and we have to bring them in.
And when we do that, then we do this and we have to establish criteria and take a look at the ROI but it's working with them and moving them along in the process you've been through it a hundred times, they haven't. And you can really help them out by being a project manager of the sales process. This is not what we know but honestly it makes a huge difference today. Now the other thing that's interesting too is that another reason that sales don't progress is because of lack of excitement. And I'm not talking about you getting up and becoming a real cheerleader for your product and doing lot of rah-rah-rah because that's like really stupid, stupid, stupid. But what we want though for you to do is learn how to create excitement with your prospects and that comes by creating a vision of the future. Like a vision of what's possible and our prospects are so stuck sometimes in the mundane, the day to day job. They don't have a chance to look at what's out there. They don't talk to anybody else and so if you can come in and show them what's possible and how they might achieve this vision of the future that they can only dream about right now, you have a really good chance of getting momentum going in the organization. This is another statistic I think you really do need to pay attention to.
Forrester Research shows the first viable vendor to reach a decision maker and set the buying vision has a 74% average close rate. So beforehand I just told you that the average sales person is losing 60% of all forecasted deals. This is a total flip flop. I mean, it's even better, 74% average close rate. This means that you need to get in and paint a picture of what's possible and how life can be that much better. You have to be a viable vendor, meaning you can do it. But if you get in there, you reach a decision maker, imagine having a 74% close rate but that's what happens when you can set the vision for the future. So those are just three things that you can right out of the bat to change the dynamic and close more business. There's a whole lot more. I mean these are other obstacles that you run into. Low priority, too risky, lack of buy-in, and all these things are true. These are obstacles to you achieving your goals. These are part of the nemesis, of the status quo and you have to address them. But the truth is you don't have to address everyone all at the same time. What you need to do is tackle one of these. I mean take a look at any one of these and say, "What is the issue that I'm facing? Do they not think it's a good enough business case to move ahead or is it just too complex?" I mean of these there's got to be something I can focus in on and tackle right now because that is what makes a difference.
You got to pick something and get better at it. Get better at one thing first, that's all it is. And I want to warn you of one other thing. In sales, most of us suffer from the shiny object syndrome and that's really normal. That is what neuroscience shows that our brain is honestly programmed that way, that we need to see new things happening and it's actually evolutionary and it protected us in the old days when the tiger emerged on the scene and we have to quickly get out of there. But we do tend to divert our energies and so rather than accepting that this huge loss rate is normal, we really should be digging in and not going after the new prospects. I mean, that's what we mostly do. The new prospect is like, "Oh, well that didn't work. I got to go find somebody new." But then we have to start the whole thing over again. We have to rebuild a relationship. We have to prove business value. We have to spend all this time hopefully getting them to the point where they'll say yes. Where, if we possibly had invested more time learning about the status quo, understanding the part of building a better case, learning how to be a guide, we would close more deals with less effort. I mean guys, get the picture? Your biggest nemesis is this sitting duck, the status quo. We've got to focus on how to get it out of there. And we can't just keep running to new prospects, that's a waste of our time. We want to focus in and do what's right. We want to beat that status quo.
So here's your challenge, think about it. How can you release the grip of the status quo? Because your status quo has your prospect in a huge grip. There are a lot of ways. What are you going to pick? Seriously, what are you going to pick? What's the one thing you can do different? What do you want to learn more about so you can be more successful? That is your challenge. The status quo releasing its grip. It's your biggest nemesis. You want to get rid of it. You want it to be over and done with. It's up to you. You all have the capability to do it. I hope you'll accept this challenge and if you'd like. . .