As far as effective sales practices go, Alice Heiman knows her stuff. After working with Miller Heiman, a company renowned for their successful sales strategies, Alice began working with other companies to share her expertise and streamline their processes. Since then, she has worked with hundreds of businesses at all phases in their growth. CEOs benefit greatly from her assessment of their situation and advice on strategy. When carried out, her advice impacts everyone in the company because it gets them focused on the customer experience which changes the way they work. With Alice’s advice, CEOs can gain useful strategies to close more complex sales.
Advice from the strategist
Equip the sales reps
According to Alice Heiman’s blog “Why These Complexities are Stalling your Deals,” Complex sales have multiple definitions and variables. Upon further research, Alice concludes that a complex sale will include each of the following: a long sales cycle, high dollar stakes, multiple buying influences, perceived risk, multiple solutions, technical and integration complexities, multiple influencers on the seller’s team, and other aspects that may be sale or company specific. Because of the numerous factors involved, companies hoping to become more effective at closing complex sales need a prepared sales team. Having prepared employees begins with the hiring process and continues with employee training. CEOs need to pay close attention to the sales team applicants to recruit the best team possible. It also may be helpful to use outside help from a recruiter or a job board to help you screen potential candidates.
Once you have hired a capable team, training to hone and develop their skills still needs to be a priority. Many complex sales are further complicated because the sales team is not trained to understand how to get the information that it needs. They need to be equipped with how to work with multiple variables of the sale and to convey direct information about the next steps in the sales process. Without taking certain steps, the deal may not close and the company’s time is wasted.
An additional component of their training needs to help the team establish relationships with the buyers, whether there are one or several involved in a specific sale. So often, sales team training involves knowledge about the products and offerings. However, the sales members may then lose sight of the most important component to sales: the buyers. On her website, Alice notes that CEOs need to, “Spend time teaching your salespeople everything they need to know about the buyers they will sell to and what matters most to them. Have them research the company, their competitors, the industry and everyone involved in making the decision.”
Be sure to train your team to know the buyers’ needs and goals. They need to understand their timeline for implementation, other solutions they are considering, and how the decision will be made. With relationships established, it will be easier to track why a complex sale may be stuck, and how to get it moving forward again.
The selling team needs to go into every meeting prepared to not only ask the tough questions but to bring insights and advice. They need to map the decision making process with the buying team. With this information the sales representatives will be better prepared and positioned to move a deal forward.
Once you and your sales leaders have a trained, competent sales team complete with objectives and buyer insight, CEOs need to ensure that the sales efforts are aligned with their brand and vision. To do this, Alice Heiman recommends that CEOs listen.
“Sales leaders, and even the CEOs of companies, need to be listening to their salespeople’s calls, zoom sessions, or demos. They also need to be monitoring their written communication with clients.”
Sales training needs to be a consistent occurrence within your business. You need to be sure the sales team is equipped to deal with the challenge before you let them go off into the world, representing your name and company. Alice says that CEOs need to listen and watch sales calls and emails not depending solely on sales leadership to do so. She notes that they may be shocked at what is heard and seen.
“I recently sent a CEO an email I received from one of his salespeople. He was appalled. Your people may be just as guilty. So, watch and listen to make sure they are not!” Hearing your team’s real performances will help you to spot holes in their current strategy and training, and then you can take steps to remedy them.
Being attentive as a CEO can help you prevent business faux pas like the emails forwarded above, while also finding employees who are performing exceptionally. The sales team members who have got it right can be a helpful asset in helping to train others; you and your leaders just need to be listening for the talent.
It’s your name, your company, and your business. It’s important that you continue to guide and work with your team so that they represent your brand accurately.
Look in the mirror
As the CEO and leader of the company, the successes and failures of your sales team and complex sales can be traced back to you and your leadership. Alice recommends that each day, you ask yourself how you are helping your team reach success. Being a leader often means accepting responsibility if things aren’t right, and assigning the task to someone who can resolve the problem. CEOs are just as involved in the company sales numbers as the sales team itself. It’s important that each member of a business knows their contribution to the success of the whole and does their part.
It’s important to be present, supportive, and aware of what’s happening within your company, while being the leader that you yourself would like to sell for.
Closing complex sales is essential to the growth and success of a business. Alice Heiman’s strategies of training your sales leaders and team, being present and active in your team’s efforts, and reflecting on your own leadership and contribution to the complex sales will help your company close more complex sales than ever before.
To learn more about Alice Heiman’s renowned business strategies, visit her website today!