4 lessons from a salesman on selling Business Process Management (BPM) to your organization
They’re the type of people that everyone loves to hate, but being a truly good salesman is not about offering glib solutions or bamboozling people into buying something that they don’t need, but rather helping to match a problem with a solution.
If you’re finding that people in your company are running in the opposite direction each time you mention the word Business Process Management (BPM), then it might be time to learn a few techniques from master salesmen.
Here are four lessons:
Lesson #1: Focus on your customer’s problems first, your solution second
It’s about them, not you
Good salesmen don't bamboozle you....
A good salesman always starts out by figuring out what your problems are and what you think you’re looking for. They’ll get you talking about all the things you’d like to see and before you know it you’ll start feeling good – maybe even amazing - that somebody is actually taking the time to listen to what you want. Then, they’ll look at how they can bridge the gap between what your problems are and how their solution/product/service can solve it. Before you know it, you’ve walked out with a pink thinga-mazoo that you didn’t even know you needed but is exactly what you were looking for.
Business Process Management (BPM) is no different. Make sure you understand the problems that your audience is experiencing. What are the big challenges that they face in their jobs right now? How will Business Process Management help them overcome those problems? The first benefit of listening to and understand your audience is that they feel that their concerns are actually being heard. The second is that you have powerful information that you need to make sure that you’re translating the benefits of BPM in ways that your audience can relate to. Relate how BPM will help them overcome the challenges they are currently encountering.
Top sales quote: "Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important.’ Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life." - Mary Kay Ash
Lesson #2: Find out who the decision makers & influencers are
Top salespeople know that you need to make sure that you’re trying to sell to the right people: the decision makers and their influencers. The decision-maker is the person that is going to make or break the sale while the influencers will have a say in the final outcome and could help tip the balance from a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’.
In organizational terms, your decision makers are more likely to be your senior leadership. They’re the ones who can say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to BPM and who can also pull the plug on the whole experience. Meanwhile, your middle management will be your influencers - both over the decision maker as well as well as over the manager's direct reports. Middle management is often where process initiatives live or die. If these highly influential people within the organization don’t believe in BPM, their direct reports won’t either and you’ll quickly find that you’ve lost the battle for hearts and minds. Make sure that a concerted part of your sales campaign and efforts focus on these two groups – especially the influencers - and the rest should follow.
Top sales quote: "The key is not to call the decision maker. The key is to have the decision maker call you." - Jeffrey Gitomer
Lesson #3: Speak in the language your audience understands
When in doubt use plain English
A good car salesman will judge the experience level of the person who is interested in buying a car and adjust their language accordingly. A car enthusiast, for example, might be really happy to talk about catalytic converters, piston heads, stability traction control systems and the merits of an Independent Rear Suspension (I/R/S). This type of customer would expect a salesman to know the ins and outs of these features and might even try to out-jargon them. However, a good majority of people purchasing cars are more likely to want to know that the car will get them from point A to point B, reliably, safely and with reasonable fuel-efficiency.
Chances are that most of your audience are like the non-expert car buyer; they are not experts in Business Process Management (BPM). And just like the car industry has terms that can sound like incomprehensible jargon to the uninitiated, Business Process Management can also come across as abstract and obtuse. The key is to focus on explaining in plain English how BPM will get them from point A to point B – drop the technical and process jargon unless you’re speaking to a fellow enthusiast.
Top sales quote: "Don’t sell life insurance. Sell what life insurance can do." - Ben Feldman
Lesson #4: Close the deal but don’t forget to build a relationship
Make sure they know what you need them to do next
The most important part of being a salesman is actually closing the deal. In a profession where commissions rule – no sale means no bonus! To convert a ‘maybe’ into a ‘yes’ top salesmen will usually employ a series of tactics (some benign, some a little more devious – although for the sake of this article we’ll look at the benign!) that help to create a sense of urgency in the customer and help lead the customer to say yes.
They might ask "What’s preventing the customer from saying ‘yes’ right now?". For Business Process Management (BPM) what’s stopping your audience from using these approaches right now? (Too little time? Fearful for their jobs? Too much firefighting? Misaligned metrics?). Figure out what the blockages are and help your customer overcome them.
Top salespeople also rarely leave little to chance in terms of next steps – will there be a follow up phone call? What’s the expected outcome at that phone call? Who needs to be involved? What does the prospect need to do between now and then? With Business Process Management (BPM) you want also to make sure that everyone is clear on exactly what you need them to do next. If you leave it vague, chances are that it will just get shoved under a pile of papers and left there.
And finally, the truly best salespeople know that closing a sale is not the end of it but rather the beginning of a relationship. These are the salespeople who will be there to support and follow through to ensure that the customer is happy with what they’ve been sold. Satisfied customers mean repeat business as well as becoming the advocates who will recommend your products and services to others. Consider it the same with BPM – if you work hard to make your customers happy, the word will spread and you’ll soon have different parts of the business banging down the door for a little piece of the Business Process Management pie. At least that's the theory.
Top sales quote: "The sale begins when the customer says yes."- Harvey MacKay
But what do you think? What have you found to be the most effective ways to sell Business Process Management to your organization? Let us know by leaving a comment.