Sales & Marketing

Four Strategies to Maximize Potential for Software Sales

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In today’s software world where new competitors emerge quickly and focus on customers’ success has a strong hold on purchasing decisions, software sales and marketing teams grapple with finding the best techniques and strategies to tip sales into their buckets. Here are four proven, “oldies but goodies” strategies from several SandHill contributors. 

1. How small companies can compete against a gorilla 

Create an internal “tipping point.” After Informix won a $28 million deal against Oracle in 1992, every employee, more than 1,300 at the time, from receptionist to vice president, was given a check for $1,000. The gesture electrified the entire company, created an esprit de corps, and fostered a new “anything is possible” culture within Informix. It was Informix’s internal tipping point and the company took off. A company’s most powerful competitive weapon is its employees’ energy and enthusiasm. 

(From Steve W. Martin, founder, Heavy Hitter Sales Training; read article) 

2. Make the purchase decision easy via “add on” 

Your prospects already use something or someone to address their needs. You can make it a whole lot easier for them to get buy-in for your product or service by positioning it as an “add on” to an existing program, process, or technology. For example, when I talk to VPs of Sales, I always stress that my workshops on selling to crazy-busy buyers or cracking into new accounts complement their existing sales training initiatives. I even assure them that I’ll tie my strategies in with their current methodology. 

By coexisting with the status quo, you can get your foot in the door without encountering a major battle. Once you’re in, you can work to expand your relationship and win additional business. 

Sometimes your “competitors” are internal staff whose number one concern is job loss. I knew this was going to be a major obstacle recently when I proposed a new idea to a prospect. So I dealt with it head on. First, I showed them how we could bring much-needed services to an underserved customer demographic. They loved it. Then, I talked about leveraging outside resources to “jump-start” the new program. And I clearly stated that the ultimate goal was to turn it over to their IT as soon as possible. Not only did I avoid an insurrection, but I quickly got their support because it provided them with more job security. 

(From Jill Konrath, author of “SNAP Selling” and “Selling to Big Companies;” read article)  

3. Focus sales team on performance-based behaviors 

Each organization has a unique Success DNA. This DNA is the blend of skills, competencies, and behaviors that exist among the peak performers in your company. … Technology companies often make the mistake of hiring stars from other teams. If an individual contributor does well at SAP, will that person do equally as well at Oracle? Can a software company hire a storage company sales director and expect similar success? The Success DNA at one company is rarely identical to that of another. If you knew your Success DNA, then you could hire much more effectively. … 

This process is especially important for “B” and “C” players in a sales organization. By focusing on the performance-based behaviors that are critical for success, sales managers can help these players perform more like the “A”-level sellers. This is where real ROI can be achieved – performance-based coaching. Firing and rehiring is too expensive. Utilizing performance coaching to boost results from sagging players is far less expensive. 

(From Rick Peterson, peak-performance expert and former pitching coach for the New York Mets and Oakland A’s; read article) 

4. Sell like Ronald Reagan 

The creators of almost all of the hundreds of presentations I have reviewed over the past couple of years come not from sales but from marketing departments. Unfortunately, these people usually have had little interaction with customers and no direct sales experience. They assume that customers think like they do and that the selection process is completely unbiased. Therefore, their presentation is a point-by-point list of reasons why a customer should select their product. As a result, the corporate sales presentation provides little mental imagery. The presentations are slide after slide of boring bullet points of information, with very few graphics to break up the monotony. This is the true definition of “death by PowerPoint.” 

You can’t tell customers you’re unique, different and one of a kind. You must demonstrate it to them, starting with the imagery of the corporate presentation. Reagan naturally employed mental imagery to psychologically engage his audience.

  • “It’s nightfall in a strange town a long way from home. I’m watching the lights come on from my hotel room window on the 35th floor. I’m afraid you are in for a little bit of philosophizing if you don’t mind. Some of these broadcasts have to be put together while I’m out on the road traveling what I call the mashed potato circuit.” 

The words, “nightfall,” “strange town,” “long way from home,” provide the mental imagery that enable the listeners to be quickly transported to Reagan’s place and mood (in an unfamiliar place a long way from home). … The mental imagery forces the listeners to adjust their viewpoints…. 

Too many sales presentations are built upon black or white, all-or-nothing statements. These statements force the customer to either completely accept or reject the premise or argument being made. In reality, customers reject far more statements than they accept and this lessens rapport. Therefore, the best sales presentations incorporate softeners to lessen the likelihood of rejection. For example, instead of listing “We provide the most state-of-the-art technology” on a bullet point, you should use “Our technology offers these advantages.” 

(From Steve W. Martin, founder, Heavy Hitter Sales Training; read article)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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