Master salesman Thomas Freese has changed his perspective on selling. Although he has previously written two popular books about selling - Secrets of Question Based Selling™ and It Only Takes 1% to Have a Competitive Edge in Sales - the sales techniques he has professed in the past have evolved. In The New Era of Salesmanship, Freese focuses on the larger opportunity of "culturizing" the Question Based Selling Methodology described in his first books across the entire sales organization.
Freese explains that the fundamentals of selling remain the same: Uncover needs to provide solutions, help customers cost-justify a purchase so they can move forward with a decision, build relationships, etc. But, he writes, "the nuances of the strategic sale have changed dramatically and differentiating yourself from the competition is now the key." To help salespeople merge the Question Based Selling philosophy with an implementation strategy that provides maximum productivity, Freese presents a dozen methods they can use to increase sales.
Freese writes that teaching salespeople to be increasingly more aggressive is a formula for failure. So is sending salespeople to a class to learn what they already know. For salespeople to create a competitive advantage, they must do something to differentiate themselves from the "noise" in the marketplace because potential buyers are more cautious and judicious than ever before. Freese explains that learning from top performers and implementing a standardized sales process are not the keys to a competitive advantage. Instead, the answer lies in developing new skills. These skills are often the "softer" skills that help people share their thoughts, feelings and concerns.
Soft skills are the intangible parts of sales activities such as rapport building; establishing credibility; piquing a prospect's curiosity; leveraging relationships; and differentiating the value proposition of your product, service or company. These are the skills that can differentiate a salesperson in a competitive market, but they are hard to measure.
Freese writes that the best way for an organization to maximize its return on invested sales effort is to make sure everyone on the sales team is on the same page relative to managing the strategic sale. This includes establishing a high standard for performance, execution and professional consistency throughout the sales organization. The key to consistently performing at the highest levels of excellence in sales is having a system that is repeatable - a methodology that can be introduced, implemented and then culturized across the whole sales organization "as a de facto standard."
For the salesperson, Freese writes, working smarter means increasing the quality of sales conversations to widen the sales funnel, so more opportunities entering the sales process flow through and emerge as forecastable and closable revenue transactions. Conveying value to customers is the way a salesperson becomes more effective, and understanding customers' needs, issues, concerns and challenges allows the salesperson to offer more valuable solutions. Expanding the needs development conversation into a broader list of issues and implications creates more opportunities to provide value.
Other strategies Freese offers include: calculating the cost of not moving forward with a decision; enlisting strong internal advocates who can champion a proposed solution; and bringing a sales manager or executive, who has been primed beforehand, into the deal to help "shake loose any lingering concerns or outstanding issues."
Why We Like This Book
Freese updates his previous sales methods with new strategies that offer salespeople more ways to be effective. By highlighting the crucial soft skills necessary to help customers perceive the salesperson as an important source of valuable information, he presents a strategic approach to selling that helps salespeople differentiate themselves in the marketplace and gain competitive advantage. Copyright © 2005 Soundview Executive Book Summaries