The Sales Success Stories Book – 60 Stories from 20 Top 1% Sales Professionals was published October 16, 2018. Learn more: http://top1.fm/book
In between the regular interview episodes, we’ll continue to release sample stories from the book like this one. You can either listen to the episode and hear AJ read his story, or read the full text below.
I Love Sales
By: Phil Terrill
In my previous story, I introduced the 4F model that helped me transform a dormant customer into a net new win for Microsoft. However, I left out the story of the journey effort and long back and forth discussion about digital transformation within an industry that was on the brink of severe disruption. Think of this as the Amazon effect in which anything that was brick and mortar business needed to rethink how they plan to go to market in the future. At that time, one of my retail customers was really looking at how to evolve their company to master frictionless way Amazon was targeting their customers. In reality, my customer was trying to figure out how to stay relevant enough for survival that approached me at revamping their approach to investing in technology. Before I go too far, pay close attention to how I detail out this year long engagement that developed with a really well known global retailer in southern California.
When I met this customer, they were moving down from a higher tier segment within the company and required significant investment where they perceive this as required treatment based on their IT manager’s previous purchase in the region at another global retailer. However, this was my first meeting with the customer and it took a while to get it on the calendar. Let me give you a quick tip, account transitioning from the new fiscal year to the next appears seamless, but it is often the very opposite. In other words, prepare to be surprised by slow processes. Once the account was transitioned, I quickly realized the influence the previous account manager had on the customer. My stakeholder was impressed with my ability to get a meeting put together so quickly given name recognition was part of my territory optimization plan. On the podcast, I referenced being able to humanize the relationship with technology and that my first conversations with customers, we’re hardly ever about just tech.
My approach was to engage the new contact right where he was because we actually started at our respective companies around the same time. Doing critical research on your stakeholders is vital to the long-term success of any seller or person trying to make inroads with a new customer, leverage social media and other platforms, understand your buyer, establish a persona and feed those interests to ensure you are learning about the person behind the decision maker. When I realized his interest, we connected at varying levels and this allowed me the opportunity to build a genuine connection, our mutual interest in dog, sports, good whiskey, and the sun we’re always talking points. Just imagine if I could talk about Lebron going to the Lakers at that time. After the connection was developed, I started to focus on providing valuable insights into the industry, access to in market events, technical resources and information on new technology that can improve their bottom line for IT and beyond.
The first step was getting the relationship and now the focus became influenced. The better their resource and timeliness of that value, the better off our discussions were about looking at other technology. I was able to steer the conversation towards a full portfolio review leading to a conversation about how to optimize their investments so us to receive the same functionality. At this point, it was critical to know my product or solution in order to present immediate value or advice that the customer could review to take action. This moment was critical because I knew that influence was established. We discussed areas they could divest or remove because the investment in a consolidated approach was extremely favorable to the company. In addition, we could reimagine how the company operationalize their retail footprint around the world. To help the customer reach this destination, my first step was learning about the person who is going to make the decision.
Every demo or proof of concept was a bricklayer to help us get to the right foundation. My customer had tangible experiences and data at their fingertips to see the possibilities of a revamped technology roadmap. This included closing a three-year net new deal in debt close to 1.8 million in total value to the customer. While a portion of that value was retired in quota, the impact and helping a customer achieve digital transformation was widely appreciated. The deployment against our roadmap and started making this a huge milestone for my initial stakeholder. Even with the success, I am sure you are still wondering how this was really completed in the end. Well, some of that story of is left out because the details might not be cool with Microsoft legal team.
However, I did want you to know what the S.A.L.E.S acronym is all about as these were the lessons, I learned from collaborating with this retailer as their account executive. Scale, no one person alone can win the war. Identify who is better than you and utilize their intelligence, expertise, and resources to help your customers. Agility, create a service level agreement or SLA with your customers that is realistic. Customers demand a lot which you have to set expectations based on what you can actually deliver on time and at scale. There’s a partnership that has to be established and time is a finite resource. Treat yours and theirs as such. Leverage, my greatest successes in business, whether sales or not, directly correlate to leveraging the incredible work in towns of others to create progress. Progress is defined by business value solutions, straightforward results, and an undeniable appetite for excellence. The team won with our customers because of leveraging each other and our best ways to be successful. Experience, the best teacher of them all. The only way to get results is they have skin in the game and just go for it. Otherwise, you might as well go do something else with your time. Michael Jordan said, “I can accept failure, but I can not accept not trying”, and that is an excellent perspective from arguably the greatest to ever do it in any sport. Sacrifice, success is about failing so fast that your next success makes you forget you ever failed in the first place. You have to be willing to go beyond the status quo for your customers. Bring them on the journey with you and it will be a different experience. Show them you are willing and able, but do it in a manner that exudes excellence. Be healthy and balanced in the process. No sale is worth dying over. Trust me on that one. Make that one extra call or type that one last email to a customer in order to increase the chances. The best are great because they do that little bit more than the others. Greatness is a state of mind and not just the destination.
The sales acronym is a framework that I still consider my actions as it provides key objectives or skills that I should constantly be driving towards with customers and partners. I hope you are able to utilize the stories to help you reach the 1% of performers. See you at the top.
Want more from Phil Terrill? He was the star of episode 39: Microsoft‘s #1 Inside Sales Corporate Account Manager – Phil Terrill