The New Strategic Selling – Book Review

B2B Selling

Introduction

The book “The New Strategic Selling” has been written by Robert B. Miller, Stephen E. Heiman, and Tad Tujela. The book is targeting people and companies who are trying to sell products and services to some other corporations. So, if you offer products or services only to individuals, this book will not accrue you any particular benefit. To dive in, imagine you are selling raw materials, machinery, software services, and managerial consultants this book will help you to hone your skills and improve the probability of your sales success. Otherwise, if you are selling insurance to people or cookies in the supermarket, it would be better to contemplate a gazillion of other books to help you.

What is the difference between these two types of selling? The answer is that selling to a corporate is much more complicated rather than selling to a person. Imagine you are selling a suit to a gentleman. When he is single, the selling process is easy, because he is going to decide lonely, but what will happen if he is in a relationship? In this case, two people should decide and the selling process gets much more complicated. So what will happen if you are selling something in which the decision-makers are a group of people including technical people and managers? That’s taught, you should rejoice a deluge of individuals simultaneously. This is a major difference.

 

Why this Book is Beneficial?

The mean streak of the book is that it is focusing on a paramount concept “strategy”. In many selling training books and courses, we see that their content is focusing on the tactics for selling like how to persuade people, how to listen to the customer, how to use body language. But success is not content with only tactics, you need the strategy as well. The book is showing us how to have a strategy in our selling processes.

The book defines strategy as: “a series of processes that you use to position yourself with the customer before the sales call”. The strategy is the ability to opt for doing or not doing things. It is about decision making and taking care of any step. You can exploit your wisdom to make hay of any opportunity you will deal with. So you need the strategy before starting your sales process and tactics when you are with the customer and selling. Never undermine the importance of tactics or strategies in your sales, they are both important.

Introspect in your former selling processes. Did you have a Strategy? How it was? If you need to know more about it, here is the book “The New Strategic Selling” to Help.

What does the Book Cover?

The book starts by diving into the concept of the strategy which is taken from military actions. In different wars, one thing was important and that was “Position”. Position in selling means what is your status towards the prospect. Are you in a position that makes you successful or not? After being familiar with the concepts of the strategy and position, the book will guide you to answer the following question:

1- How to position yourself with the real decision-makers and avoid those without approval power?

2- How to spot the two key customer attitudes that can make a sale, and the two that usually break it?

3- How to get not only the order but a satisfied customer, repeat sales, and enthusiastic referrals?

4- How to increase sales penetration in your current accounts?

5- How to minimize the uncertainties of a cold call?

6- How to free up a stuck order?

7. How to avoid selling business you don’t want?

8. How to identify and deal with the four different buying influences present in every sale?

9. How to prevent sales from being sabotaged by an anti-sponsor?

10. How to recognize signals that indicate when a sale is in jeopardy?

11. How to avoid dry months by allocating time wisely to four critical selling tasks?

12. How to track account progress and forecast future revenue?

As you start reading the remaining of the book, you will set out a journey to figure out the answers. First of all, you need to know your position, next you need to know which roles people are playing in the client’s company? Next, you ought to figure out what impedes you in your selling process, afterward you need to subject your customer’s attitude to your proposal to scrutiny and finally, you need to help the people you are interacting with them feel they had won the game.

The other positive point of the book is that it provides you various practices to identify your answers.

[Relevant Topic: 7 Ways to sell more by Fostering your Charisma]

Buying influences

Buying influence is anyone who can influence the outcome of your sale. It does not matter what is that person’s title on his/her door, the influence is important.

Generally, there are 4 roles in a company that you need to know how to find them, deal with them and make them feel they are winning with your purchase. These roles are:

The Economic buyer

This is the role that reveals money for purchase and gives the final confirmation. This role is usually played with the people in high levels of the corporation like CEOs and other Chief Officers. In some cases, this role is played with a board like a Committee or executive board. People in this role are very important and you may need to contact them all as well.

What is important for the people in this role is to know what is the overall benefit of your proposal for their firm. They usually don’t ask you about the technical details. You should provide them a general presentation of how you will help them to improve something in their firm. They may have broad knowledge but it is better to conceive them as generalists, not specialists.

Most of the time, it is hard for a salesperson to contact the economic buyer. This is because the salesperson may have not enough confidence and see the economic buyer as a very high person. In some other cases, the salesperson is blocked by another role like a technical buyer. The sales representative should take the helm and find ways to cope with such challenges to contact the economic buyer. How to do so, is elaborated in the book. One piece of advice is that it is necessary to know that the economic buyers are also humans like other people and you should not fret when you meet them.

The Technical buyer

This role has the responsibility to confirm the proposal technically. The people in this role are made to say “No” and they are too stubborn to fall back. Indeed, they don’t decide who wins, but they do decide who is going to play. All they want to know is how well it meets their screening tests. To deal with technical buyers easier, it is better to know all facets of your products and services. If you see your proposal is weak and does not fulfill the customer’s requirements, it is better to ask your marketing department for product development.

The User buyer

This role is played with people in a company who are using your product. For example, if you are selling computers for employees to a company, the employees are the user buyers, not the CEO or Technical Manager. The task of people in this role is to make judgments about the impact of that product or service on the job to be done.

Product reliability, service record, downtime record, maintenance, safety, and potential impact are important for user buyers. You have to please user buyers because they use your product directly affects how that product is viewed and even more important how it is implemented.

The Coach

The role of a coach is to guide you in the sale by giving you information that you need in order to manage it to a satisfactory close that guarantees you not only the order, but also satisfied customers, solid references, and repeated business. Coach is someone who will give you directions to succeed.

Pay attention that the coach is not someone who is going to do the sale in lieu of you. You just take some guidelines from him/her. Any complex sale needs a coach.

The difference between the Coach role and other roles is that you need to develop a coach but other roles are already existing. You may develop a coach from the customer’s company or someone out of that company.

A coach has 3 substantial criteria: 1- You have credibility with that person 2- The coach has credibility with the buying influences for your single sales objectives 3- The coach wants your solution.

The coach is different from a friend, mentor or information giver. You may have a friend in the customer’s company but he does not have the criteria mentioned above. Also, a mentor is someone who wants you to succeed in your sales job but he/she may not have credibility with the prospect. And a person who gives you information may give you unuseful information. So always check to have the right coach.

A coach may inform you about the people who are playing the buying influence roles and their importance.

A note about Buying Influences

Ignoring one of the people in one of the roles may culminate in a fiasco for your sales process. There are a plethora of cases in which the sales representative neglected a person in which they had thought that the person has a trivial role, but that guy had power and influence and because he/she was neglected, he marred the sales process.

Red Flags/leverage from Strength

After reading former parts of the book, you will know the buyer influences in the company, but before contacting them you need to pause and monitor your status. The concept of Red Flags in this book is a sign of your weaknesses in your sales process. Red flags show the things that threaten your sales process. They could be a piece of missing information like not knowing who is a technical buyer, or uncertainty about information. For example, you are not sure about an economic buyer.

An important red flag is an uncontacted buying influence. As it was mentioned above, neglecting one key person can easily harm you. Finally, Reorganization is also a red flag because a lot of things are changing in the prospect’s firm and if you don’t consider them, they may bewilder you.

To cope with red flags, you need to leverage your strength like using your network of coaches or differentiate your position. Knowing your red flags and eliminating them, increase your success rate.

Response modes

Response modes inform you if you should dedicate your time and energy to a customer or not? After you know your position, buying influences and red flags, you will start your selling process. To continue the process, you should be aware that if the customer worth putting time. Take note that people buy when, and only when, they perceive a discrepancy between reality and their desired results. After you start selling and propose to the customer, your customer will perceive in one of the following modes:

1- Growth Mode

In this situation, your customer needs growth and see that your proposal can help her. In this case, the probability of success is high.

2- Trouble Mode

Here your customer has a problem and is pleading you to solve their problem. You have the chance here to close the deal.

3- Even Keel Mode

The customer is satisfied with the status quo and doesn’t care about your proposal. It does not matter for her what you are offering. She says to you that I know your product is good, but I don’t need any change.

In these situations, you don’t have really a chance to win. But you may use a coach or negotiate more to show the discrepancy between their right now status and what will happen if they will use your product.

4- Over Confident Mode

There is almost no chance for you to win and it is better to forget the customer because they see that they are in a condition much better that you propose.

You need to know the response mode for all of the buying influences.

Win-Results

The results are not important for buying influences. Any decision-maker in the prospect’s company needs to win not to only have results. For instance, an economic buyer may win when she feels that she is seen or a technical buyer will win if he is going to be maintained in his position. So, please rejoice the buying influences by making them win.

Any product (or service) provides the tools and knowledge needed to improve a process. The process, in turn, produces the results through which a person wins. What you always have to do, therefore, is to focus first on results and then ask, “given the results I can offer, how can this buyer win?

Pay attention that your buying influence wins when his or her self-interest is served. That’s why winning is important and why you need to understand how your buyers win in order to sell them. People buy because they perceive a relationship between your sales proposal and their individual self-interest. The art of selling is in demonstrating the connection between your proposal and their self-interset.

It’s often difficult to ask someone how he or she wins. Therefore, focus first on the person’s results and then ask how the person will win with those results. Coaching can help you to understand the winning objectives.

Serving your customers’ self-interest is ultimately the best way of serving your own. Therefore, the only acceptable conclusion to a buy-sell encounter is a win-win outcome.

Competition

For defining competition, the book gives details about why competition exists and why it is becoming harder and harder. After that, there is a very good analogy for competition. The book benefits from sports. It says that in sports like soccer, there is a face to face competition, but in sports like swimming and racing, there is a target and the winner is someone who reaches the target sooner, this kind of competition is a “side” competition.

In the selling, you should also compete in “side” not in “face”, which means you should focus to provide better products and services to the customer and satisfy him, not by focusing on the competitor and see what the competitor is doing. If you focus a lot on the competitor, you will never be a leader at your market and will always follow your competitor. Moreover, you are saying that your products are not good enough.

Competition is tough because we make it tough. Rather than remembering the reality that no one is invincible, we construct an image of the competition as a combination of Albert Einstein and the Terminator- infinity smarter and ready to eat us for lunch.

Don’t concentrate on the competitor. Concentrate on your customer. If you concentrate a lot on competitor, you allow the competition to write the rules of the game. When you compare yourself to the high and mighty “them”, you tacitly say to the customer, “they are the standard. It’s their pace, their achievements, their agenda, that we’ve got to match.” It advertises your weaknesses, invites price slashing, makes you look stupid, deflects attention from the customer’s concerns.

If you try to beat out the competition by stressing how much better your product is than theirs, you are falling into the old comparison trap and shifting the focus, again, back to them. In addition, you’re running the risk of praising a product in which a given buying influence may have no honesty you do it.

The vantage point in which the book sees the competition is invaluable for a salesperson.

Resource Management

The denouement of the book talks about how to manage your time, resources by using some concepts like sales funnel and ideal customer. I do not go to the details of the remaining. But don’t forget that strategy is the art of opting out doing some affairs and this is the essence of the remaining parts of the book.

Where to buy the Book?

You can buy the book from Amazon. Click Below.

Final Note

The book is very versatile and this review does not supersede reading it. Here you just know a very short extract of the book which is mixed with my mindset. So if you had found it useful, it is better to study the whole book utterly.

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