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Selling for the Long Run: Build Lasting Customer Relationships for Breakthrough Results

Selling for the Long Run: Build Lasting Customer Relationships for Breakthrough Results

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by Wendy Foegen Reed

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"Selling for the Long Run stands head and shoulders above the run-of-the-mill sales books. If you're in the business of selling complex products or solutions, it's a blueprint for business success. Don't just read this book—use its principles and strategies every day, and it will



"Selling for the Long Run stands head and shoulders above the run-of-the-mill sales books. If you're in the business of selling complex products or solutions, it's a blueprint for business success. Don't just read this book—use its principles and strategies every day, and it will fundamentally improve the results you achieve." — Donal Daly, CEO, The TAS Group

"This book provides a fresh, unique, and contemporary perspective on the welldocumented subject of selling in a complex business-to-business world. Wendy Reed gives the reader a contemporary road map for the modern-day, buyer-centric sales philosophy. Read it and learn an approach that most certainly enables sales success." — Richard E. Eldh, Co-President, SiriusDecisions, Inc.

"The fact that buying behavior has changed dramatically is clear to all sales professionals; how to change the way you sell in response is not. Selling for the Long Run offers new insights into how to develop and enrich relationships with clients to not only close more business this year but become the partner of choice going forward as well." — Jim Dickie, Managing Partner, CSO Insights

"Selling for the Long Run provides an easy-to-follow road map to the kind of customer collaboration that can dramatically change the relationship between buyer and seller and lead to deeper, more successful, and enduring partnerships." — John Golden, CEO, Huthwaite

"Until more universities offer degree programs in sales effectiveness, this book is required reading for anyone carrying a quota." — Peter Ostrow, Research Director, Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Co.


Selling for the Long Run provides the key principles for acquiring and maintaining satisfied, repeat-buying customers. How is this achieved? One word: relationships. At first glance, the answer seems simple—but is any relationship simple?

Wendy Reed, CEO of the global sales training firm InfoMentis, helps you make the transformation from an average salesperson who simply presents products to a great salesperson who serves as a collaborative partner with the customer. It's the best sales approach for good economic times, and it's the only one that works when times are tough.

When the buyer perceives you as an advocate for his or her needs, trust is created—and great things follow. Outlining a strategic plan for building customer focus and collaboration into every stage of the sales cycle, Reed provides an insider's perspective to help you:

  • View the sales process from the customer's point of view
  • Align your offering with the buyer's needs
  • Perform proper due diligence before creating your strategy
  • Gain clearer vision into revenue pipelines and forecasts
  • Deliver on all promises made—both explicit and implicit

Selling for the Long Run is a blueprint for reenvisioning and retooling your sales cycle to seize the competitive advantage—and keep it. Like any customer in any industry, your prospective buyer's number-one concern is value—bottom line. In the end, he or she wants to make a purchase from a trustworthy partner—which is why you have to stop looking for that one magical "sales technique" and start building the kind of relationships that generate results. Take your first step with Selling for the Long Run.

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McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
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9.56(w) x 11.44(h) x 0.84(d)

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The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Copyright © 2011InfoMentis Goup LLC
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-07-174855-1



The Silver Bullet and the Buyer's Perspective

"I found out that if you are going to win the game, you had better be ready to adapt."

—Scotty Bowman, most winning coach in NHL history

The key to avoiding the silver bullet is to acknowledge that the buyer has the money and the seller does not. Hence, the buyers make decisions about you and your solution, and they are in control of the sales process.

Therefore, no world-class sales process exists, only a world-class buying process. The silver bullet is nothing more than superstition. In fact, the term sales process is misleading. The sales team does not drive the process—the buyer does. The key to mastering this process—to taming the tornado that often ensues upon embarking on a new sales process—is to learn how to align your sales process with the buyer's process. This starts by your understanding the buyer's perspective.

Unfortunately, salespeople and teams have a tough reputation to overcome. We often hear the following complaints about sales teams:

* "The sales team was arrogant. They kept telling us what they wanted to tell us, not what we needed to know."

* "The sales reps are always talking. They talk nonstop about themselves, their company, and their solutions. They talk, talk, talk, but they never listen, which means they do not understand our business."

* "Every time we ask them a question, we get a slightly different answer, which makes it hard to know the truth and trust the sales team."

This reputation stems from a central assumption: as sellers, we often assume that because we want to develop strategic relationships with buyers, the buyers want to develop strategic relationships with us. We are so besotted with our awesome solutions and the sexy features that we believe the benefits are intuitively obvious to all of our buyers. As a result, instead of helping our buyers understand how the solution will solve their problem, we jump straight into what vendors think is cool and ignore the buyers' perspective.

We neglect to understand what the buyer perceives or believes to be true.

Critical to the ability to develop a relationship is our ability to put ourselves in the buyers' shoes, culture, and business. In doing so, we can begin to understand the buyers' perspective.

The Two Critical Questions

When sellers identify opportunities, they immediately begin obsessing about budgets and deadlines, busying themselves by worrying about closing sales and moving on to the next big deal. Though the seller might see the obvious connection between her solution and the buyer's challenge, the seller's mentality does little to assuage the buyer's fear that the proposed solution will not address his specific need.

Instead, the salesperson inadvertently sends a loud message to the buyer: I'm going to love you and leave you by the side of the road.

The seller can begin to rectify this by asking two critical questions. The first question is directed to the buyer.

"What Happened in Your Business That Triggered Your Need for a Solution?"

This question not only helps the buyer feel understood, but answers to this simple question reveal the buyer's needs and goals.

Surprisingly, most sales professionals cannot name their top three buyers' business goals. Can you? If you were given the challenge of listing the business objectives of your top three buyers, would this information be ingrained in your mind, or would you struggle to come up with one of their goals, much less three?

Next comes the second critical question, which you—the salesperson—must be able to answer.

"What Do My Prospects, Buyers, and Customers Think About My Solution, My Company, and Me?"

At the end of the day, your own opinion of your solution and company does not matter. Your competitors' and colleagues' opinions do not matter. Your prospects are the ones who will decide to spend money with you, or not. Your buyers are the people who will share opinions with prospects and create your reputation. Your customers are the people who will validate or dispute information about your solution and your customer service skills.

Such opinions are crucially important. Yet an astounding number of sales professionals lack insight into how they are perceived by these most important people.

The Buyer's Perspective of Salespeople

The second critical question requires the salesperson to consider not only the buyers' perception of his personality, competence, reliability, and the like but also the perception of his sophistication as a sales professional.

As sales representatives grow personally and within their organization, they evolve from communicating product solutions to business solutions to strategic solutions to the buyer.

As indicated in the pyramid, the majority of sales professionals are perceived as product solution representatives. Most sales professionals start out in this category because they need time to evolve their business knowledge and grow their abilities. Here are some characteristics of product solution professionals:

Categorizing Sales Professionals

The Buyer's View

• They can intelligently discuss and represent the products and services they sell.

• They have some awareness of other customers who have used their products and services.

• They can articulate some basic business and financial benefits and points of impact offered by their product or service.

Product solution representatives are typically good communicators who professionally present and demonstrate their product and services. They have basic organization skills, are decent with follow-up tasks and communication, and bond well with buyers. If they are to do business with solution representatives, buyers expect them to be knowledgeable and professional.

As you can see, the perception of product solution representatives is not negative. The downside is that once a sales professional is pigeonholed as a product solution representative, the professional has a difficult time convincing buyers that he can be more strategic. As well, a product solution representative will not have much success meeting with executives on the buying team. Instead, executives will delegate the meeting to someone lower on the totem pole.

The next category of sales professional—the perceived business solution professional—is more valuable to the buyer and is considered a problem solver. A business solution professional is more focused on value for the buyer. The differences in perception of the business solution professional over the product solution representative include the following:

• They have a clear understanding of how buyers and businesses use their solutions.

• They are credible when it comes to business discussions, and they exhibit strong business acumen.

• They can help the buyers craft a business case for their solution.

As far as communication abilities, business solution professionals not only have an awareness of presentation skills and organization, but they also practice these in every exchange and communication with the buyer. They share information and can differentiate their solution; provide alternatives; and listen, align, and personalize business benefits and advantages of their solution. Business solution professionals might have potential access to a buying executive, but they will not be see

Excerpted from SELLING FOR THE LONG RUN by WENDY FOEGEN REED. Copyright © 2011 by InfoMentis Goup LLC. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

WENDY REED is founder and CEO of InfoMentis, a training fi rm representing a global client base including Oracle, HP, LinkedIn, Fiserv, L'Oreal, and PNC. Reed's company has been repeatedly recognized as one of the Top
20 Sales Methodology Training Companies by Training Industry, Inc., and has also been named to Inc.'s list of America's fastest-growing companies. Reed was the 2006 recipient of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for the services industry. Visit InfoMentis at: www.infomentis.com

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Selling for the Long Run: Build Lasting Customer Relationships for Breakthrough Results 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The approach described in this book is strategic yet most practical. A clear, definitive way of thinking about each and every sales cycle, milestone and most importantly, verifiable outcomes. How many years have we sold without knowing exactly if the sale is truly progressing in the client's view? This is not a silver bullet but more of a formula.