Redirecting the Sales Hunt—tweaking your approach in today’s market

This week’s blog comes to us from Steve Waterhouse, CEO of Predictive Results.

In this market, you need aggressive hunters and loving farmers. The rules have intensified for the farmers, but changed completely for the hunters.

In the her March 12 interview with Dave Stein, Naviga CEO Kathleen Steffey commented that she was currently seeing growth from existing clients more than from new clients in this tough economy. In other words, the farmers are doing their job of maintaining and growing the existing business, but the hunters are missing their mark and failing to bring in the new business.

Here is what hunters need to do differently to win in this market:

  • Sell to the CEO – In tough markets, lower level people lose their buying power and only the top people can make decisions to spend. If you are hearing “we just aren’t spending now,” you are probably selling too low.
  • Sell fast, high, certain ROI – Every CEO will spend a dime to get a dollar. In tough times, all that changes is that they want a better return, they want it faster, and they want it guaranteed.
  • Work from referrals – As people become afraid of risk, use referrals to get beyond it. A referral gives the buyer the “guarantee” that it worked for a friend and it should work for them. Closing ratios on referral business are twice as high as standard leads.

What makes these changes tough is that you may not have people in place who have the strong personality and C-Level skills to pull off these strategies. Now is the time to take a close look at your sales team to ensure that you have the people you need to get the job done.

The good news is that there have never been more qualified people on the market than there are today.

4 thoughts on “Redirecting the Sales Hunt—tweaking your approach in today’s market”

  1. You are correct, most sales people are not able to do this. I’d also submit that most sales training / coaching systems do not help build this expertise either. Furthermore, most often, this approach is not a “one person” job. There is more to this than simply finding “the right SALES people”.

    Organizations need to change thier methods of operation. Even if you find the “Right Sales People”, they will not pay any attention to you if you’ve not got the right environment for them to be successful because they know it’s not all about them.

    Before you look outside, look inside.

  2. Great Blog Post Steve!

    I think you’re right on the money with going straight to C-Level. I know that in my business (Sales & Management Recruiting), I’m switching up my strategy from targeting HR Managers, Hiring Managers, and Sales Managers, and going straight to the VPs and C-level Executives to get the buy-in. They are the most affected by these decisions, and they need to know that they’re making the right decision every step of the way.

    For those out there who might be afraid or nervous to call someone at that level, just remember that they were once in your shoes, and they’re just people. Your approach will say everything. Go in as a problem solver – because then you will be speaking their language. They don’t have time to waste on could be/would be great one day…they need results NOW.

    Book recommendations:
    Selling to VITO – Anthony Parinello
    SPIN Selling – Neil Rackham
    Anything by Jeffrey Gitomer

    Good Luck!

    Jeff Friend

  3. Referrals referrals referrals… Top priority for me. If you’re making any cold calls your doing things the hard way.
    Pete Ekstrom
    President & CEO

  4. The focus on C level engagement and ROI is on the money (excuse the pun).

    The hidden challenge is “how” do you prepare the sales team to execute consistently and assertively.

    Co-incidentally, I was involved in a sales strategy workshop a few weeks back for a prospective client and we independently had these very points as part of our conclusion (although we got there by evaluating the first principles of sales strategy).

    This is also a very similar to the provocative selling article “In a Downturn, Provoke Your Customers” recently published by Harvard. It’s worth a look.

    My take-away – get your sales team up to speed before your competitors wake up and do it first. Snooze you lose.

    Dave Dodds

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