Steve’s Blog

Steve’s Blog

Helping the Sale–Technology and Transparency


In this blog, I would like to continue the discussion of how technology can play a much greater role in actually facilitating the right conversations between buyers and sellers.  Previously, we explored collaboration and in this blog we’ll explore the second of three attributes essential to any software and technology solution and that is facilitating transparency between the buyer and the seller.

Transparency: From the English / Oxford Dictionary

trans·par·en·cy

ˌtranˈsperənsē/

noun

  1. the condition of clearness (synonym – clarity).

In researching the definition, I was surprised to find that the usage of “transparency” has more than tripled in the past 25 years relative to the previous 200 years and I am left wondering why.  Given the above definition, just what exactly should both sides work on to produce clearness or clarity? I believe there are three key opportunities for transparency during the sale: creating the potential for value, capturing that value in the right deal, and finally delivering the value after the sale.

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Steve’s Blog

HELPING THE SALE – TECHNOLOGY AND COLLABORATION


In this blog, I would like to continue the discussion of how technology can play a much greater role in actually facilitating the right conversations between buyers and sellers.  Let’s explore the first of three attributes essential to any software and technology solution—facilitating collaboration between the buyer and the seller.

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Steve’s Blog

WHAT CAN TECHNOLOGY PROVIDE TO ACTUALLY HELP THE SALE?


In this blog, I would like to continue the discussion of how technology can play a much greater role in actually facilitating the right conversations between buyers and sellers.  Let’s start with identifying three attributes essential to any B2B technology solution and in future blogs I’ll explore each of these attributes in more detail.  At the risk of being redundant, I am also confining my discussions to situations where a long term business relationship is desired.

Collaboration:  The state of technology today is that most platforms are designed to serve the needs of one party or the other. Sellers and buyers both have ERP Systems but other than sometimes providing for the processing of purchase orders, invoicing and payments, there is very little sharing between the two parties.  Yes I’m aware of systems that reach into proprietary data such as inventory for both parties, but again are these actually facilitating the initial sale?  I would argue no, they simply facilitate reordering after a business agreement is reached.

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DOES TECHNOLOGY REALLY HELP THE SALE?


I have been struggling with this question for some time.  At first blush, you might answer yes.  For the buyer, it is now much easier to research products and services and comparison shop before speaking to a sales rep.  However, this now means that a rep can’t rely on being a “two legged talking brochure” to make the sale.  I submit that has made most reps’ jobs much more difficult.  In fact you might argue the rep provides no value if that is their primary selling tactic (and buyers often echo that same sentiment to me).

For the seller, there are now CRM systems that capture lots of data (often of dubious value).  I believe it provides some value to the selling organization in terms of auditing the sales process and perhaps even mining some of the data (however, I wonder if the actual value of the data is suspect simply because it is secondhand data entered by the rep).  Unfortunately, most sales reps will counter that it has not helped them sell as it has created a mandatory administrative workload that takes them away from selling (reps often lament this is the case).

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A Holiday Post for You


‘Twas the January after Christmas, and we were feeling the loss

There was wailing and crying—especially the boss

We’d lost Santa’s business the year before

The resulting financials were quite the eyesore

 

Our arch-nemesis had beaten us, we couldn’t believe

Apparently, they had some new tricks up their sleeve

We had offered deep discounts, we offered services for free

We believed the business was still ours, we popped champagne corks with glee

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THE DANGER OF SELLING VALUE… WHEN YOU ARE NOT PREPARED TO DELIVER IT


In my opinion, the term “Value Selling” is in very real danger of taking on the moniker of the latest fad in B2B selling.  And therefore is at risk of simply becoming another in a long line of sales buzzwords such as “partners”, “what keeps you up at night”, etc.  This is really unfortunate, for I believe selling and delivering value is the only true differentiator. Sadly, this is not just my view as I’ve heard it stated a number of times by my buying clients.

The basic issue is that the salesperson will clearly state during the sale that they are there to provide “value” to the customer and, in many cases, will go through the steps with the customer to try and understand what is of value to them. Less often, the proposal from the salesperson will also propose delivering value to the customer (versus a laundry list of products, services and pricing). When well positioned, this will most likely lead to a sale. You are probably thinking “so far, so good… what’s the problem here?”  Winning deals is not such a bad outcome. And you are certainly correct – at least for the short term.

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