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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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Resolve to Boost Your Competence (and Career) in 2012

This is a guest blog post from Karen Dean, CEO and co-founder of FASTpartners LLC, a sales training firm that specializes in helping sales professionals improve their business/financial competence and executive selling skills.

I’m not a big fan of the proverbial New Year’s resolutions.  That said, I do take an opportunity at year-end to assess what I need to do in the new year to make progress on personal and professional goals.   Whether you’re making resolutions or just planning ahead to better yourself in 2012, now is the time to start that process.  It’s much more fun going into the holidays with a clear mind and a solid plan to execute in the new year.

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Financial Competence is the Key to Successful Selling at the Executive Level

In his book The Speed of Trust, Stephen Covey says trust is not built solely on integrity, but on competence as well.  For sales people wanting to become trusted advisors to customer executives, I believe business competence is an essential personal capability.  In my view, business competence is more important than “softer” communication/negotiation skills or detailed product knowledge.  I also believe that financial acumen skills, knowledge, and capabilities are the foundation of business competence and that most sales people underestimate the importance of financial competence in building trust with senior decision-makers. 

According to Wikipedia, “Financial literacy is an important tenet of business acumen, but is not a synonym.  Ram Charan, the influential author and consultant, suggests that financial knowledge is the foundation of business acumen, and has described business acumen as, "…the art of linking an insightful assessment of the external business landscape with the keen awareness of how money can be made — and then executing the strategy to deliver the desired results.””

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Are Your Customer Success Stories “Executive Sticky”?

Customer testimonials are a widely used prospecting tool by most of you who sell technology solutions.   I’ll let you in on a little secret … most of your customer success stories aren’t “executive sticky”.  They don’t provide sufficient business value insights or compelling financial reasons to dig deeper into your solution.  They don’t act as a catalyst to make your executive engagements, well, more “engaging”.

Today’s executives know a lot about your company before they ever agree to talk with you.  As a buy-sideexecutive, I did my homework to get ready to meet prospecting B2B sales professionals.  If they piqued my interest enough to get on my calendar, I intended to get a ROI on the meeting.

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Generic Industry Knowledge Won’t Pass the “Smell Test” with Customer Executives

If you are a B2B sales professional who aspires to achieve trusted advisor status with your customer, gaining industry insight is a critical success factor.

But a surface layer of generic industry knowledge won’t be nearly enough to establish relevance with a sophisticated decision-maker who is looking to gain competitive advantage in the marketplace.

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