In the beginning of February, we launched a successful kick-off event for an EMEA program deployment with 30 teams. Our aim: to bring the customer to the heart of the organization.

During the event, we worked with the customer to get up to speed with proactive selling. 6 Perpetos people on stage, a high-energy event, and an exceptionally motivated audience. We’re grateful for having realized another success.

Implementation & results

Since COVID, Perpetos has proven to be a global boutique for implementing commercial excellence. Yet, we are humble and grateful for being able to co-pilot critical programs for international and global organizations. Our boutique size, our proven methodology, and our team of field experts formed the winning combination of this event.

Implementation is key in everything we do. Supported by tools and technology, we implement change at a speed that allows our participants to pick up the message fast and make it their second nature. On top of that, we value authenticity, and respect cultural differences, while still ensuring our one way of selling.

Pascal Persyn, CEO of Perpetos comments:

We always want to bridge the gap between our advisory position – providing knowledge – and the practicalities of implementation. In other words: we want to see results too.

Motivation is key

According to Pascal Persyn, the willingness to change and the motivation to overcome the inevitable hurdles are critical.

The question is not whether we can prevent these hurdles, but whether we are ready to deal with them when they occur. That’s one of the reasons why experience in the field is a must.

Stay tuned for more!

All together, we experienced a vibrant kick-off event and we are ready to meet more teams all over EMEA. No doubt, sales and implementing commercial excellence are team sports. 

In our next blog post, we will go more in depth on how we brought 30 teams up to speed with the art of proactive selling.

Today, investing in learning and development is a must. But does it actually pay off? Far too often, training is just a box-ticking exercise and knowledge is quickly forgotten. So, how do you build an effective learning journey, one that embeds knowledge into your organization, and that drives a change in behavior and mindset?

2 rules of thumb before you start

When we map out an effective learning journey, we always consider the following rules of thumb:

  1. The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve: up to 90% of new tools and concepts get forgotten after a workshop or training.
  2. The 70-20-10 rule, or the balance between the different modes of learning:
    • 70% = on-the-job learning
    • 20% = social learning by working together, coaching and mentoring
    • 10% = learning from courses and workshops

3 stages in a learning journey

1. Train

Trainings and workshops are only one stage of the learning journey. For optimal effect, we work with various techniques in this stage, such as breakout sessions, self-paced learning and role-playing. These techniques make knowledge more digestible.

2. Transfer

In the next stage, we apply that knowledge to the workplace. Again, we deploy a mix of techniques and formats, such as working with assignments or incorporating learning nuggets.

3. Sustain

The most important thing, of course, is that learning not only leads to one-time knowledge accumulation, but also to long-term impact. Through coaching or peer-learning, for example, you not only embed knowledge, but you can also achieve a change in behavior and mindset.

From our experience in designing learning journeys that really pay off, we’d like to offer some tips & tricks:

Value selling means selling a product or service while focusing on the added value you create for the customer. But how exactly do you do that? And how does value selling affect your experience with the customer?

Selling starts with understanding your customer’s end goal. The classic example that everyone knows by now is the story of the drill and the hole. Customers are not looking for products, they are looking for solutions, right? Okay, but what about the adhesive strip? Yes, there is that too, and this is where added value really comes into play.

Here’s what we mean. Your customer wants to hang a painting, so she needs a hole, not a drill. Right? Wrong: She wants to hang something, display something. But what does she want to hang? Is it something heavy? Does she want to change the content or place from time to time? If so, the adhesive strip is the right solution. After all, it leaves no marks and you can reposition your painting without damaging your wall. 3M understood this very well at the time.

Do you understand your customer?

How often do you really know what your customer wants? How often do you know their end goal? Probably not always, maybe even rarely. Sales & marketing professionals don’t always dare to ask what they think they should have already known. So they remain silent.

Never assume, it makes an ASS out of U and ME. My boss used to tell me that, ad nauseam. But he was right, unfortunately.

If you understand the conceivable impact of your offering, if you understand its capabilities or competencies for the customer, then you can really add value to your conversation.

What is your value?

In a B2B context, you can reduce the impact of almost any product or service to one (or more) of these:

  • Time savings and thus cost savings
  • Increase in sales (i.e. by selling more or more expensive products)
  • Increase in margin

For many solutions you will have to make a considerable bridge between the strengths of your offering and its impact on your customer. Making that translation is value selling.

Now take a look at your website, sales presentations and other sales & marketing materials. How often do you talk about “we and us”? How often do you talk about “you and your company”? If you do mostly the former, then addressing your value proposition is an important first step.

3 important aspects of value selling

1. Know your customer and relevant stakeholders

Each stakeholder has their own experiences, intentions and goals. Understand the context in which your customer operates. Try to gain insight into their underlying motivations. This way you can later influence them to your own advantage. Engage in conversation and dare to ask the right questions.

2. Make a bridge between your solution and the (personal) impact for all stakeholders.

Make it concrete using examples, tangible evidence and/or customer testimonials. Calculate the return on investment (ROI) for the client so that the impact becomes even more tangible.

3. Understand your customer’s propensity to buy.

Before customers make a final buying decision, they go through several mental phases. Some customers go through those phases quickly, while others need a little more time. Depending on how prepared your customer is to buy, they will focus on different things. That in turn determines what your customer will actively listen to and what messages he is open to. Adjust your communication accordingly. Packaging your sales messages according to Why Change, Why Us, Why Stay will result in increased margin and win-rates.

Practical tips for value selling

  1. Share new insights or information that your customer does not have (easy) access to.
  2. Show new perspectives or suggest a new way of working that your client may not have considered.
  3. Navigate by providing knowledge. Help your customer make the right decisions.
  4. Help your client dodge the minefield by avoiding bad decisions.
  5. Help to sell to peers or upper management decision makers.
  6. Justify the purchase by quantifying the added value.

You can learn how to value-sell

Value selling means not being afraid to engage in conversation and ask the right questions. To my great surprise, in my experience with sales teams, therein lies the biggest challenge for sales professionals. It’s about conversation techniques, above and beyond questioning techniques. How do you formulate the right questions? How do you encourage the customer to tell you much more? How do you start a dialogue, instead of an interrogation?

The good news? Value selling can be learned. Even more, we can help you do it.

In our next blog post, we’ll take a closer look at why value selling is a good idea, and we’ll discuss the impact value selling has on your sales success.

We have never faced so many unpredictable parameters changing at the same time:

  • Market pivoting from avoiding supply chain risk to price decrease
  • Buyers are confronted with suppliers (having/still) passing on price increases
  • Some material indices are currently going down (eg. due to the oil price)
  • The supply chain starting to normalize but still volatile depending on region and business
  • Increased pressure from customers’ top management for procurement to “lower cost”
  • Increasing need to defend value which require moving from cost-plus to value-based pricing models

All of above leading to customer conversations being tougher than ever before.

The challenge for sales teams can be divided in 3 large buckets:

1. Doing the right things at the wrong time leading to poor impact

  • Trying to influence the customer perceived value during the negotiation
  • Accepting concessions while there are still unsolved obstacles
  • Lack of preparation needed to have a good A/B win strategy

2. Wrong or no assessment of the Balance of Power

  • Mis-reading the level of power you have over the customer
  • Not having access to key influencers and allow purchasing to keep you from talking to the business leaders
  • Lacking strong ‘why stay’ messaging to defend and increase the share of wallet

3. Taking negotiations tactics too seriously

  • Techniques such as good cop/bad cop, pencil sharpening, red herring and selective memory are no more than tactics to get discount
  • Discount does not exist. It should be an exchange of value
  • Lack of confidence in the offering, services and pricing as if the competitors don’t have their own problems. A reality easily forgotten during the negotiation game

The most important insight to gaining rapid impact on upcoming negotiations is acknowledging that Negotiation is no more than a game with lot’s of activities before and after. In other words, detect and change selling tactics depending on being ‘in’ or ‘out’ of the game as shown on the customer journey image below.

Sellers spend way too little time in the Why Change phase which is the only time to sell value as explained in our blog “How to get started with value selling

Negotiation, like the game of chess, is a matter of making a move and anticipating the next move of your customer.

Most sellers believe the balance of power lies with the customer. As a consequence, they often make unnecessary price concessions to win the business. Recent research shows that less than 25% of professional buyers award contracts to the lowest bidders. Clearly price isn’t the only issue buyers are concerned about. Power is critical to any negotiation. Having the upper hand on the balance of power allows you to control the endgame

The balance of power in any negotiation is in the minds of both the buyer and the seller and comes from several sources:

Conducting an analysis of our strengths, and the risks the customer faces, may reveal we have more power than we think

Negotiation is the process of coming to an agreement. Remember the quote from Benjamin Franklin:

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail

Interested in improving your negotiation skills?

Book a meeting with one of our negotiation specialists

Times have never been more uncertain. Unpredictable events have become the norm, and effectively responding to disruption could be the difference between success and failure in 2023.

The number of crises, and the frequency of these events, make it ever more important to be prepared to respond.

In a recent survey (source: Alix Partners Disruption Index) 85% of the CEO’s interviewed agree it is becoming increasingly challenging to know which disruptive challenges to prioritize.

Here are 4 take-aways to help you navigate through uncertain times:

1. Align with your customers long term strategic vision or better yet, help them create it

Make sure you truly understand the issues of your customers. Be aware that content is a significant driver in the buying decision. Value contribution has to be the #1 focus, and it takes deep relationships to understand your customers and to help them become more successful.

2. Broaden your buying center relationships since more people are involved in the buying process

Depending on the research source and business complexity , between 6,8 and 19 people are involved in B2B buying decisions. The length of the sales cycle increased by 22% since 2010. Make sure you are communicating with everyone involved, and connecting on a personal level with internal and external people that influence the buying process.

3. Be sure to get involved with the customer buying journey early enough to enrich their vision of a better future state

The following illustration outlines the customer journey. Getting involved early when the customer is investigating root causes of challenges, ways to solve and establishing decision criteria is really the only time to influence the path the customer will ultimately take when selecting a solution and a supplier. If you can help shape that vision you are more likely to be the supplier your customer chooses.

Remember selling is all about ‘earning the right the influence’.

4. Start from the customer’s point of view and embrace their perception of their current situation

Put yourself in the shoes of your customer by “taking your shoes off” so you can put your own needs aside and act in the best interest of your customer.

It’s not about what your service or product can do, but about its value to the customer. Knowing how your solution impacts their organisation and how you can help them achieve the results they desire is at the heart of helping customers in their buying journey.

We at Perpetos strive to support our customers in continuous improvement and help them navigate through uncertain times.

360° Buyer Alignment - Building Trust

Article 360° Buyer Alignment

Selling through building trust

How can you create and build trust, aligned to each step in the buying cycles of those involved?

The name of the game: provide relevant and value-adding messaging in every customer contact moment.

It almost sounds like a slogan but today, even more than before, it is the challenge for sales people.

How do you create trust during brief, and especially during digital, contact moments?

Building trust

You can approach trust from many angles. Trust that you deliver what you promise, trust in your competences, or in you as a person or the team, …

This quickly brings us to the personal connection one makes during (customer) interactions. Why do certain people manage to gain trust faster than others? Or why do you make a personal connection with certain people more easily or more quickly?

There are various models that provide a framework for gaining insights into someone’s (preferred) behavior and for adapting your behavior and communication to the people you are in contact with (Insights, Social Styles, MBTI, DISC,…). Maximizing trust in today’s market means combining authenticity with the right message at the right time, to accelerate the effect of a good personal connection.

Over the past decades, neuroscience has explored how to map the parts of the brain that play a role in decision making, which parts light up when different emotions are felt and what connections can be made with trust. It is a fascinating and still evolving scientific discipline.

One thing we know for sure is that the salesperson who works primarily on the relational aspect is coming under increasing pressure. Time pressure, conflicting priorities and more choice are creating a dynamic where the purely relational is no longer enough to ‘spend time with a salesperson’.

Sales people who can detect the willingness to buy of the various stakeholders during the buying cycle can add the right relevance and are able to build trust more quickly. They ask themselves questions such as:

  • How do I create trust among all those involved, taking into account the diversity of roles, expectations, personalities, buying cycle phases, etc.?
  • How do I align my interactions, tailor my sales messages and bring value so that stakeholders recognize me as the first person to contact for genuine and relevant answers to their questions.

Building trust with each stakeholder in a buying cycle is only possible if you can add the right relevance and adapt this to the different personalities and the willingness to buy.

Reading Tip
Stephen M.R. Covey’s book “The speed of Trust” is a great book to deepen your understanding of how to build trust quickly.

Buyer alignment – buyer center coverage

In the previous sections, we talked about building trust through personal connection and relevance, tailored to the people involved. One of the challenges that every sales person experiences, regardless of whether you work in project-based sales or more recurring sales, is broadening your network with your customers.

A lot of opportunities are lost or stagnate because of lack of contact with and insight into all the parties involved who influence the decision. Because people now inform themselves more and more via digital means, a large part of the influencing of decisions happens outside the reach of the sales person. This is a major risk if the sales person continues to sell via a ‘sponsor’ instead of managing and developing as many relationships as possible in parallel.

Let’s take a side step:

LinkedIn published an article at the end of October 2021: “The Great Reshuffle is Making Selling Hard. Here’s How to Best Adjust.”

The article indicates that we are in the midst of the “Great Reshuffle” of talent. Globally, job rotations have increased by 28% in the last three months. Corporate director-level job turnover – i.e. the mass of B2B buyers – has risen by 31% globally over the last three months.

No wonder a recent survey found that 80% of salespeople have delayed or lost a deal because of a change in function within an account. It is difficult to sell to a moving target.

The blog also rightly highlights the positive side of function or job changes of buyers: this can also be your entry point into a new customer if you had built up a good relationship with the buyer in question.

When a new buyer comes in, LinkedIn states that the salesperson must align the solution with the customers’ strategic initiatives and demonstrate its value.

The following paragraphs from the blog reinforce this:

If you are doing this well, then you can be an asset to a new executive sponsor and help them get up to speed on the critical initiatives your solution supports.

In this environment, the gap between strategic partners and expendable vendors is growing. The difference is value delivered at the right level and time.

It also means giving them the tools and training to be effective in virtual selling. After all, nothing builds morale quicker than success. And the right tools and training play a big part in that.

The LinkedIn article nicely illustrates how job rotation can have a huge impact on the buying process both within sales teams and with buyers. In addition, the blog points to the importance of broadening relationships within a customer to accommodate this and why you can be successful when the right value is delivered at the right time.