Archives For consultative selling

My personal copy!

I was shocked this morning as I reviewed last nights blog traffic on my site – one of the searches read, “Mack Hanan’s Obituary!  Almost a year after his death, and I am just now catching up….however, even if I am 11 months behind, it’s important to remember him for his contribution to our industry….

Mack, author of the well known book, Consultative Selling was an icon in the sales world, having written about ROI, value selling, and consultative selling long before his contemporaries – back in 1072 he published this book, and it remains in print today, having been updated at least 7 times, an 8th now in process.

I was fortunate enough to quote Mack in a workshop I conducted several years ago in New York, to which one of my attendees, Tom from Cisco Systems replied, “Do you know Mack?”  Only by his writings I replied.  I was then invited to join Tom for dinner along with Mack that evening!  We dined on the upper east side at Vagabondo, a unique restaurant featuring its own bocce ball court!  Mac was more than willing to share his insights on selling, review my materials, and provided excellent insights into what I was working on.  In the end he greatly encouraged me to pursue my work with enthusiasm.  If that wasn’t enough, Mack insisted on paying, asking me to keep in touch.

Mack was always responsive if I emailed him; he was dedicated to helping others and bringing new ideas to the sales community.  Even at 85 he continued to produce new ideas and updates to his initial concepts on consultative selling.  We’ll miss him!  Take this opportunity to pick up Mack’s book and read it, remembering the contribution he has made to our industry.

© 2011, David Stelzl


The Movie-Star Experience

January 17, 2011 — 3 Comments

Growing up, I thought like many young boys, that being a movie star meant they actually experienced what we see in movies.  In case you still think that, it’s far from true.  On my recent trip to Australia, I had another opportunity to watch a motion picture in the making.  If you’ve never done this, it’s incredibly boring.  The same simple scenes are shot over and over.  I was on my way to the harbor area when I stopped to watch a scene depicting two businessmen greeting each other in front of an office building.  An entire crew of extras sat on the sidewalks waiting for the producer’s call to action.  Once called, the “stars” would walk toward each other and shake hands while dozens of extras crossed the brick patio in a seemly-unarranged pattern.  But everything was choreographed, and it had to be perfect.  I stood there well over forty-five minutes as they executed the same steps over and over.  It all looked the same to me, but somehow it just wasn’t right.  After moving on, I returned to that same area over an hour later and guess what?  You’ve got it…they were still working on the same scene.  I didn’t bother hanging around this time.

The director knew what he was looking for, and when the film hits the theatres it must be perfect.  They only have one shot at profitability.  Presentations are similar; you often get just one shot at the top players.  If it’s not great, you won’t see a profit either.  So why are so many presentations thrown together at the last minute, or prepared in a vacuum by a marketing department that has no selling experience?  Busy slides are delivered to the sales team, and then brought to stage without any real critic or practice.  This is not the way to reach predictable success.

© 2011, David Stelzl

Vendor to Adviser

December 13, 2010 — Leave a comment

This week we have our final teleseminar – Moving from Vendor to Adviser, Friday at 11:30 EST.  There are many things to cover here…

1. People don’t just decide to become “Trusted Advisors” – everyone thinks they are, but only the client knows for sure.  Buyers choose their advisers.

2. Product sales can be made online – with it comes the stripping of all value add.  The VAR is dead…but consultative selling is far from dead.  Do you know the difference?

3. Fees should be commensurate with value, but few are charging correctly.  I covered much of this last month, but will bring out some key concepts this week that pertain to advisers.

ALSO:  I just have 5 seats left in the January Virtual Training: Making Money with Security.  There are 19 confirmed attendees coming in from all parts of the world.  Don’t miss this!  It’s a game changer for 2011 and central to the strategy needed to grow in this market.

Find out more and register here:

P.S. – I had some great NY Pizza last night at 36th and Broadway!

© 2010, David Stelzl

There are only 8 seats left in my January Virtual Workshop – don’t miss this!

We’ll be covering the materials from my most popular workshop, Making Money with Security….all through an Interactive Webex format…

[Click for more info and registration]

1. Security provides the most effective means of attracting executive level clients and the primary means of creating new business.

2. Security trends are changing, and while the economy is still not great, security providers who understand these concepts are still growing at rates of 50%, 100%, and greater – I’ll have specific examples of this and how they do it!

3. Urgency is key in a slow economy, and every company has urgent issues – I’ll put you in the center of this!

4. Armed with the right message, focused on the most urgent issues, and equipped to create justification, you’re opportunity for success is much higher in 2011.

5. Creating justification is an essential part of the sales process…there is a prescription for doing this.

6. Assessments are profitable, central to developing larger profit rich projects, and recurring revenue.  We’ll dive into this in a way that will get you headed in the right direction.

You get the idea.  Your 2011 approach will be strengthened, your confidence will greatly increase as you approach executives, and you’ll have solid justification for getting new/larger budgets approved.  I recommend this for anyone serious about selling or marketing in the high-tech space this coming year.

[For more info and registration – click here]

© 2010, David Stelzl

Photo by Hannah Stelzl

Companies choose whom they do business with. Executives choose their advisers while IT has theirs.

Who will the IT person choose to do business with?  Someone they enjoy eating lunch with, someone they can control, or perhaps someone who becomes a source of sound education.  Who in your organization can meet the last demand?

How about executives?  They have more at stake.  They require unique insight, people who understand the big picture, who can look beyond their current product set and offer ways to move the business forward.  They come up with creative alternatives, build on insights they’ve gained from competitive accounts or like industry leaders.  These are the people who offer greater value than just the product feature set and who will earn the long-term trust of those they sell to.

© 2010, David Stelzl

When the guy comes by to cut my lawn, he’s a vendor.  If he suddenly becomes an expert on soil conditions, timing of treatments, pros and cons of various products (including organic options that build the soil over time), he’s on his way to a bigger payday; he’s becoming an advisor.  A few years ago I contracted with a national lawn care company.  My lawn was a disaster.  Full of weeds, large patches of dirt, erosion on the hill beside my driveway, and generally out of control.  Now, I don’t mind telling you, I am not big on outdoor landscaping projects.  There are other things I’d rather spend my time on, and between homeschooling seven children alongside my wife and running a business, I don’t have much free time.  But for some reason, the lawn care company wasn’t making the kinds of improvements I would expect.  When I had questions, they were short on answers.

Then one day I received a call from a guy who used to work for a lawn care company, but now runs his own.  He was familiar with my lawn and recommended I take a different course.  He claimed the company I was using only uses chemicals and by continuing with my current program I would never actually improve my yard, I would just keep pouring in chemicals to make up for the bad soil conditions.   Instead, he recommended a series of treatments that would over  time, create looser soil, build nutrients back into the soil, and hold water so that the grass would have a chance to get established before the hot summer weather roles in.  Lawn care companies that act like vendors are selling seed, fertilizer, weed killer, and other soil products.  The advisor is selling me a green lawn.  Which do you sell?

© 2010, David Stelzl

Old School Selling

Product knowledge used to be a key part of the sales role.  “Tell me what you have, how it works, features, benefits, etc.”  Google has changed all of that.  Today the purchase starts with Google.  Since most high-tech sales are done by referral and lead follow-up, the prospects tend to be people who are already in the research process.  They are Googling to learn what they can about technologies under consideration, and given the technical bent of the IT people doing the shopping, they likely spend more time reading and researching the bits and bytes than you do.   Sales has become a commodity, and the basic sales person is no longer worth their wages.  An electronic chat person online does almost as good, and the prices online can’t be beat.  So what’s the answer?

Reaching back to the 70’s

In the 1970’s Mack Hanan wrote “Consultative Selling.” He describes a process of measuring return on investment over various clients, creating a database of norms from which the sales person can now draw justification based on ROI, and predict hurdle rates to sell the product.  While I tend to steer away from ROI with most sales (given our inability to face CFOs with confidence), I do whole wholeheartedly embrace the idea of focusing on value (in this case, financial justification) to improve the client’s position.  Every budget has business purposes behind it.  The sales person must become enough of a consultant to figure out what these are and then demonstrate a connection between the proposed sale and the client’s business needs.  If you want to beat the online e-tailors, you’ll have to change your value proposition; you’ll have to become a consultant.

So What is a Consultant?

The first thing people think of here is billing time, but that doesn’t do it for me.  When I hear someone say, “I’m a doctor”, I get it, same for insurance rep, teacher, police officer, etc.  But when I hear consultant, I have no idea what they really mean.  They might be anything from a PWC partner to unemployed…I’d rather hear what they do than what they call themselves.  “I work with manufacturing companies, helping them improve efficiencies in the widget manufacturing process.”  This works for me.  It’s an improvement in the client’s situation, taking them from current to future state, with improvement, cost reduction, efficiency gains, or risk reduction (you can fill in yours), in mind.  They provide the analysis/discovery, make recommendations, and point them in the right direction with practical, specific information.  In the end, it may be a product sale, but the real sale is in helping the client acheive something specific.  Note: the later you are in the sales cycle, the less likely it is that you actually do this.

This doesn’t mean that every consultant bills time.  Some make their money through the sale of products or other services.  But they consult with the client to bring this value, delivering it through the product or people they then sell, others will do the follow-through work themselves with an associated fee.  So in 2011, consider this; what problems do you specialize in solving, what business benefits or gains do you specialize in giving?  Can the value you bring be provided through Google and e-tailors, or are you unique in some way that requires you be there?  Is your value worth the additional price of the product or is the client better off buying it from a major distributor?  This is the question we all need to be asking as Google grows.

© 2010, David Stelzl