"How salespeople can avoid the dreaded 'no decision'" - A discussion by John Smibert.
How often has your proposal gone nowhere? You have invested weeks into an opportunity that seems like it should be a sure thing - the customer value proposition is outstanding - yet there is no decision.
The fact is your customer's decision making unit could not reach consensus. Why?
Chances are you did not identify the 'Mobilizer' and assist her to lead the customer team to a decision. This is according to Brent Adamson, Matthew Dixon, Nick Toman, and Pat Spenner from CEB in their book, 'The Challenger Customer'.
So today I asked leading sales author and strategist, Tony Hughes how to identify and assist the mobilizer.
Tony emphasised that it is vital that we identify, and build a relationship with, the mobilizer.
He said; "The most difficult people to get to are typically the ones that we need to get to, and often the mobilizer will be in the background and they'll have other people doing things".
"So the way that you get to the mobilizer is to approach them with a narrative that earns that conversation. You need to talk the language of business, which is about delivering results, managing risk and the business case behind it all. That's really what leaders care about, what results you're going to deliver, and are you going to manage my risk in actually doing it and help work with me with the business case".
Tony went on to explain how this can be done - view the full interview below to learn how.
Tony is a leading author and keynote speaker in the world of B2B sales and sales leadership. He is well known for his strategic selling book "The Joshua Principle" and for the RSVPselling methodology.
See more of the 'TALKING SALES' series here
John: Hello! I've got Tony Hughes with me again - welcome back, Tony!
Tony: Hi, John!
John: Hey Tony, we've both read The Challenger Sale and The Challenger Customer - for those that haven't seen them, these books here - and there's some fascinating insight, particularly the research that's been done by CEB to come up with the conclusions they've made in these books.
John: I know one of them in particular, in The Challenger Customer, they talk about how we need to get decisions made within the customer, and they talk about getting to the mobiliser and supporting the mobiliser in mobilising that decision in an organisation.
John: Have you got advice on how we make that happen?
Tony: Yes. So, certainly Brent Adamson, and obviously there was a team of people with them with all of the research and putting the books together, but they did a brilliant job with both of these books. The thing that's interesting in The Challenger Customer is it really addresses the issue that wasn't fully covered in The Challenger Sale, which is how do you help the customer change state. The biggest problem we face today is that many organisations will go through the process of buying something but end up just doing nothing and staying with the status quo.
John: The decision's too hard to make.
Tony: Yes, yes. What we need to do today is we need to find the person that can affect change within the organisation. And they brand that person the 'mobilizer' as a persona.
John: And it's not necessarily the CEO or any particular position; it's a person with that skill and capability to mobilise.
Tony: That's right, and they have the role and the authority as well. The term on the other side of the fence, in the selling organisation, that the Corporate Executive Board came up with was the 'challengers'. You want the 'challenger' in the selling organisation finding the 'mobiliser' in the buying organisation; they can work together to get something done and get it over the line and implement it successfully.
Tony: But the question is how do you get to the mobilizer? Because here's the interesting thing. In sales the people most willing to meet with us are normally the wrong people for us to go and have meetings with.
Tony: The most difficult people to get to are typically the ones that we need to get to, and often the mobilizer will be in the background and they'll have other people doing things. So the way that you get to the mobiliser is you've got to be able to have a narrative that earns that conversation. You need to talk the language of business, which is about delivering results, managing risk and the business case behind it all. That's really what leaders care about, what results you're going to deliver, and are you going to manage my risk in actually doing it and help work with me with the business case.
John: Okay, that's getting to the mobiliser. Once you're to the mobiliser, what do you need to focus on?
Tony: Well, they need that conversation to earn the meeting. I've seen salespeople get the meeting but then they don't know how to have the conversation, but you're not going to get the meeting today unless you can show you're worth meeting with.
John: Okay. So, you've got to the mobiliser, you've gone through, you've shown some insight, you've really made them sit up and think that there's some value here. How are you going to help the mobiliser now mobilise in the organisation, or do you just stand back and let that person do it?
Tony: Well, we've sort of glossed over "you've given them some insight." That's not an easy thing to do, that's where most organisations fall down; what they think are the insights they're taking to clients aren't really insights at all. What we need to do is understand what other organisations like the potential client have gone through already previously. If they're our clients that's great, then we can use our best customers to go and help us sell and bring them on to the team. So then typically once we get to that person, the whole conversation is around working with them as a partner to deliver their project and manage all their risk. So that's really what it's about.
John: And showing them how you're going to do that, and giving them confidence that if they go out and mobilise their organisation they're not going to be let down.
Tony: Yes. And the very best sellers are actually quite open, that it's not their technology, product, service or solution that's going to make it successful; it's really the way the customer implements, and the relationship they've got with their supplier in doing so. They change the focus of the conversation around to implementation methodology, the quality of the people, cultural alignment. They're the sort of things that a leader wants to talk about, and a mobiliser can use those things to get consensus internally. Because they're facing a massive uphill battle to get all of the different stakeholders internally across the line with going ahead.
John: And as the Challenger research shows, the selling organisation really is not in a position to make that happen; they've got to have the mobiliser internally to make it happen.
John: I think it's great advice and good insight from you - thank you Tony. I look forward to the next time we talk!
Tony: Thanks, John!
More interviews with Tony Hughes:
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