By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® –

sales training companiesAs another year comes to a close, many take the opportunity to review the events of the last 12 months before trying to anticipate what the new year will bring. The business climate has and will continue to be a strange combination of hope and fear. Watching our politicians’ awkward dance in approaching the “financial cliff” can’t give businesses a warm feeling that consensus can be reached on a solid path forward. If by some strange series of events our politicians reach agreement, the health of the world economy looms.

Adding to the uncertainty for sales organizations are the well-documented changes in buying behavior that the Internet and social networking have fueled. There seem to be far more evaluations initiated and controlled by mid to low level buyers than sales cycles. Along with that trend, transactions are more competitive as buyers identify all competitors in a given space and invite many of them to compete for their business.

Most vendors are seeing a trend of shorter product cycles. The prospects for enjoying long-term competitive advantages are a distant memory. Vendors are having less success in developing offerings in a vacuum and bringing them to market hoping for acceptance. Purchases without strong cost vs. benefits will be difficult to get approved.

The concept of being “customer-centric” has more relevance than ever before. That said, merely saying an organization is customer-centric doesn’t make it so. Companies that want to get serious may want to take a hard look at the status of their current sales process. Do you continue to spend time and resources inundating your salespeople with product training that requires them to condense all that knowledge into coherent messages for the senior executives you want them to call on? When is the last time you looked at the sales ready messaging® that has been created to support sellers in calling on Key Players?

Make a New Years resolution to leverage a valuable untapped resource: your client base. Choose titles that are involved in making buying decisions. Have sellers interview them by asking their opinions about the menus of goals you have created for each title. After reviewing them with the buyer, have sellers ask:

1. Are the goals valid in today’s environment?
2. What, if any goals are missing?
3. For each goal, can the buyer quantify what benefits they’ve realized?
4. What business challenges are they facing that your company may be able to develop offerings to address?

One of the best ways to energize your salespeople to spread the word to prospects is by leveraging customer results. By doing these interviews you can have buyers realize what value they’ve achieved and update/enhance your library of Success Stories using measureable results.

With all the uncertainties, one of the few variables you can control is the way your salespeople approach the marketplace. Leveraging results achieved by executives within your customer base is a great way to start buying cycles with prospects. Your prospects for the New Year will improve if you build pipeline by proactively approaching Key Players rather than waiting for inbound visitors to your Website. Make the way you approach prospects a competitive advantage.

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