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Does Your Discovery Phase Deliver Value to Your Customers?

As a former “buy side” C-level executive, I believe one of the primary goals of the discovery phase of a sales process should be to deliver value to the buyer.  Unfortunately, many sales people believe discovery phase conversations are all about probing and asking questions and learning.  In other words, the discovery phase is designed to benefit the sales person.  This disconnect during the early sales stage will likely manifest itself in longer sales cycles or worse yet, stalled deals.

The Customer's "Discovery Phase"

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Make the Customer of Your Customer Your "Sales Purpose"

Except for young children and occasionally teenagers, nothing keeps the CEO of a B2B company awake at night more than worrying about customers and the customers of customers.  Why?  Because an enlightened CEO knows his/her company’s customer loyalty is ultimately driven by the passion and purpose of employees to positively impact the loyalty of the customers’ customers.

For example, the CEO of a technology company selling branch systems to community banks worries about the commercial customers of the banks and whether their experience with cash collections is positively impacted by the expanded capabilities of the new branch system.  The technology CEO wants her company’s purpose-driven culture to be focused on helping commercial banking customers improve their cash flow and elevate their loyalty to the banks.  If the technology company can penetrate the customer-to-customer value chain, they will be rewarded with high levels of loyalty from their banking customers and the customer lifetime value that accompanies it.

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The Challenger Conundrum: What If Marketing Isn't Up to the Challenge?

You want to become a Challenger Rep®, but your company’s marketing organization is not supporting your personal aspiration.  Houston, we have a problem.

Reading between the lines of the The Challenger Sale (authored by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson of Corporate Executive Board or CEB), a sales rep acting alone faces almost insurmountable odds of becoming a Challenger Rep.  Marketing’s strong support is an essential prerequisite for transitioning a sales rep into a fully-credentialed Challenger Rep.  According to CEB, “Challenger Reps are made, not born”. “Challenging is about organizational capability, not just rep skills."  To reinforce the “organizational capabilities” messaging theme, CEB walks the talk and offers a provocative insight directed squarely at the marketing organization.  “It’s one thing to tell reps ‘Be a Challenger’.  It’s another thing altogether to tell them exactly what you want them to do.”

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Hello? Are C-Level Executives Listening?

Recently a technology sales manager posted a series of interesting questions on 'Selling to Executives', a LinkedIn discussion group I moderate.  His company is a leading provider of pricing optimization and management software.

I wanted to share his questions (and how I responded in the group discussion) because I consistently see the “access” issue as a major focus of sales reps trying to develop executive-level relationships.

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Three Reasons Why B2B Sales People MUST Engage Executives

Today, the new sales reality is that the buying process is more convoluted and confusing than it has been in the past. This “buy-side” complexity manifests itself in a number of dimensions: More stakeholders, greater caution, higher levels of scrutiny, and numerous signature approvals.

Most of the B2B sales professionals I work with in sales training engagements report longer customer sales cycles and growing levels of personal frustration.

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