Blog

Ken Evans
Jun 26, 2014

We just facilitated a session for one of my favorite clients, CalTech.  They are a vibrant IT services company that has doubled in size over the last few years.  I believe they would say that we were a part of that growth trajectory.

This session was about growing their business by using an intentional referral program. And why not?

Their growth rate has been terrific.  They're good at what they do as evidenced by a 99% retention rate.  Their new logo growth is a result of referrals, too.  In 2012, 66 percent of their new clients came from referrals.  In 2013, it was 63%.

The session we did for them was designed to get their customer-facing team comfortable with when and how to ask for a referral and the back-end process for following up.

They're a great sales team that sets goals, develops a plan, executes, and refines along the way.
 

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Ken Evans
May 29, 2014

Critical Path Strategies recently facilitated a Strategic Account Management (SAM) session for Fluor in Amsterdam. We have been working with Fluor for over ten years and have conducted nearly 100 similar sessions. Our SAM process and methodology is the foundation for how they manage and internally communicate progress about their most important customers. In the past few months we have worked with them to integrate the process into their CRM system, Connect to Win, which is a Salesforce.com-based system.

Two observations:

  • In half the room were delivery managers.  At Fluor, as you might imagine, they are project managers. They took to this like ducks to water. Many of the tools they found to be spot on and helpful in managing relationships and communications in the life of a project.
  • The account management tool integration into their CRM system was well received. Many of these customers have global operations and, in turn, Fluor has global coverage. The ability to inform others, both actively and passively, about customer selling and management progress will be a big plus.

These two observations remind me that selling to large clients is a team sport. Success is a result of a great deal of collaboration and communications. 

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Jeanne Buchanan
Feb 18, 2014

You thought the deal was done a long time ago. But while your sponsor says the deal is yours, he hasn’t been able to get on the senior executive’s calendar to discuss it. And now Procurement is involved.  With that old adage, “Time kills deals,” playing in your head, it’s time to regroup.

These six steps will help you develop a strategy that reenergizes the sales cycle.

  1. Reconstruct your messaging to regain momentum.  Buyers focus on those issues that directly impact their business.  Replay why your customer wanted your solution in the first place—what problem were they trying to solve?  What benefit would they realize (personally and professionally) by solving this issue?  Articulate the value of your solution and its ability to solve your customer’s problem in the same quantitative terms they use.
  2. Get out the org map.  Redraw your lines of influence to be sure you’ve covered all decision authority routes.  Craft and deliver a message of urgency to each of them that addresses their specific individual interest, and collectively builds consensus among the decision-making team about how you, your product, and your company solve problems and provide value to them.  What is the cost of them doing nothing? Now that Procurement is involved, assess and include the appropriate Procurement team member as part of your selling strategy. Where are they on the org map? What message needs to be delivered so they view you and your offerings positively, not just for the business, but for them?
  3. To most effectively deliver your message, broker a meeting with Procurement and your sponsors.  To be successful, you need to view Procurement as an opportunity waiting to be exploited and an audience waiting to be taught.  Acknowledge that Procurement has a job to do, often having to deliver on mandates from the CFO to drive validated savings. Demonstrate how you, your processes, and your solutions can help them.  Educate them about what you and your sponsors have done to date to reach a buying conclusion, taking into consideration factors like risk, strategic fit, and compliance.  At the same time, learn about the aspects of the competitive tender process.
  4. Share your business case and review the project/implementation plan with Procurement to facilitate the deal getting through the purchasing process.  With your sponsor and Procurement aligned to get the deal done sooner versus later, Procurement becomes part of the solution rather than just providing compliance oversight.
  5. Update your Decision Maker and Approver on the expected project/implementation kickoff and steps you and Procurement have agreed to.  This keeps them “in the boat” and Procurement is on record.  At the same time, agreement from your customer’s control point of spending greases the skids for others on the decision-making team to line up behind the deal.
  6. Assumptive closes will create urgency:
  • Have draft communications to launch the project/implementation ready for their review.  “Do they fit the bill?”
  • Ask to calendar the kickoff for the project/implementation team.  “Do any of these dates work for you?”
  • Ask to schedule a thank you for the business meeting “Top to Top.”  “What dates are you available?”

Enabling win-win-win through effective relationship building with Procurement and communication of value with all members of the decision-making team is the secret to unstalling your deal.  It is knowing what that value is and communicating it like your deal depends on it…because it does.

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