What Slice of Pizza Do You Need?

February 1st, 2016

What Kind of Pizza Do You Need?

It seems every year brings new challenges, yet what I find is successful partners focus on improving certain areas within their business each year. It’s like pizza, you can see the entire pie, but the only way to finish it, is to take one slice at a time. During our business planning sessions we recommend to our clients to identify key success factors that need attention and to attack them one at time, rather than focusing on many different actions simultaneously and not refining or fixing the issue completely.  During the last 6 months we have surveyed hundreds of partners, the number one topic that came up was: prospecting, or building pipeline values so let’s focus on that!

I have listed a few slices to chew on in 2016:

  1. Prospective clients have done their homework as to their issues and potential solutions via the internet or other relationships.  This has caused the salesperson to alter their traditional sales approach.  We have found the salespeople who have not adapted to this change are struggling, as they have been use to “telling” their story vs “selling” themselves and their solutions.   The idea that magical mental stimulation must occur in selling is more important than ever before, knowing people, understanding the 5 business challenges business people face and connecting the dots between the person, the problem and your solution is a critical success factor. Work on role playing the “discovery” process, the art of asking questions, probing for information and building trust and confidence is critical. Once the prospect knows, that you know their issues and can fully discuss with them solutions that address their business strategies your win/lost ratios will improve. Sell to the business outcomes-not the technology.

HINT: your goal is to create an 18-24 month IT solution roadmap that aligns with the prospects business strategies.

  1. Acumen Power Networking or “6 degrees of Ken Thoreson… The use of LinkedIn and other online databases can now allowed salespeople to evaluate their top 20  best clients and determine who they are linked too, past employments,  what association’s they  are involved in, and their personal interests. Once this is completed, a salesperson can determine who know within their personal connected networks. Once your best clients are mapped, you can then work with your clients to connect with key net new prospects.  By first mapping your clients, then power mapping your prospects, the odds of connecting existing clients and your top prospects will increase. You can then leverage your clients during your prospecting and sales process. This methodology is certainly being used by top performers and we certainly see it as a continuing trend. 
  1. Get started fast in 2016! The first action salespeople need to do is reach out to every one if their existing clients, in a physical meeting if possible, and discuss with them their use/satisfaction and impact of the salespersons product/services on their company.  This will reinforce, hopefully, in the kinds of benefits in the products/services that are delivered-this builds belief in the company and belief by a salesperson is the most important emotion they must carry with them each day. It’s the inner desire to serve clients that separates the average performer from the top producer and if the salesperson truly believes in their product/services -they will go the extra mile to win the order.

The second action, during this client meeting is to discus with the clients “their strategic objectives over the next 24 months”. This will help the salesperson plan a strategic sales roadmap as to how their products/services can potentially be used to assist the client in achieving their goals.

The third action, with this client is to work them through an Account Plan. One portion of the entire plan is based upon mapping the current utilization of the existing product/services used by the client. Next the salesperson would walk the client through a Cross Sell/Up Sell program, showing them additional benefits of new offerings they have not taken advantage and how these additional products/services will leverage the clients existing products/services and bring new benefits.   NOTE: this takes planning prior to the scheduled meeting.

These 3 actions will help the salesperson get off to a fast start-by working with and selling existing clients where they have trusted relationships and proven solutions. Immediate revenues, larger pipelines and increased levels of belief along with better customer relationships is a positive way to start the year.

HINT: during these conversations the salesperson should also ask for one to three referrals from their existing clients.

Each salesperson must attend 2 networking events per month, the goal is expand relationships and awareness within the marketplace.  Check out the Microsoft Community Connection program to really find out how to grow your pipeline: www.MSCommunityConnections.com

  1. Each partner must develop 5 “Business Eco-System partners”, these are organizations/salespeople that sell non-competitive but related products/services into the same marketplace. Moving into the cloud partners must increase pipeline values, increase marketing programs and increase leverage in their business. Business eco-system partners may know of new opportunities, they may know selected people within certain accounts and they may provide solutions to your existing clients-making a salesperson a business resource for their clients. Effectively working this approach will bring in the equivalent of one salesperson’s quota per year without hiring additional people!
5. We believe in 2016 the focal points will be on velocity and execution; increasing the speed of the sales cycle and number of orders received. Based upon our Partner Cloud Acceleration experience we have found this is a critical success factor. While there has always been talk about “trusted business advisor”, we believe you achieve this through Business Guidance selling.  This is a phrase we use to describe not a new sales methodology but a concept that can be implemented within any sales framework.  Generally with any sales offering a salesperson either is increasing productivity, reducing costs or providing a certain benefit.

In Business Guidance selling, the salesperson during the proposal or closing stage, as they are selling their solution and the associated benefits, they link those benefits to a dollar value and then make a Business Guidance recommendation to the prospect.  The salesperson recommends they use those benefits/savings to impact a specific perceived need within the prospects company. These Business Guidance recommendations could range from: improving the web site, providing adding customer service training, etc… None of these recommendations are related to additional products/services from the salesperson’s firm.

This increases the need for a quality Discovery Stage within your sales process.

By acting in this way and providing this kind of insight you can separate yourself from your competition and not be perceived as simply another salesperson.  In 2016 and beyond clients are expecting more from their vendor relationships.


Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 16 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for organizations throughout the world.

He was recently ranked for the third year in a row by Top Sales World magazine as one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers for 2015.

Ken has written 5 books, his latest book is: SLAMMED! For First Time Sales Managers, Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com



This entry was posted on Monday, February 1st, 2016 at 10:52 am and is filed under Sales Kick Off Meeting. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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