- Research Interviews
Strategy, Listening and Learning – 3 Keys to Effective Selling: An Interview with Derek Lampert
At SalesGym, we’re always on the lookout for sales executives that have interesting and timeless insights into top performers, coaching, and building better sales teams. In a recent interview with Derek Lampert, SVP/GM, Global Business, Homecare & Mobility at Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare, he shared some thoughts into how sales teams can generate better results. His insights included:
- The stereotypical salesperson - the approach that doesn’t work anymore
- Successful salespeople have a strategic plan
- Why the sales process and sequence of selling steps matters
- Asking, learning > bringing value … the right sales approach
- Better sales team meetings build better sales teams
Early in the interview, Derek summarized well that selling is more about listening and learning …
“The traditional salesperson that you’re hiring has the gift of gab, can sell ice to Eskimos, and usually doesn’t shut their mouth and that just doesn’t work. The highly curious, better listener that asks strategic questions that are well pointed and well planned and knows how to stop talking and listen, will keep the customer talking. Collecting all that information up front makes them dangerous in a good way when it comes to closing the sale. That’s a skill that should be hired for and then through training and coaching should be expanded on as much as possible.”
Success begins with a strategic plan
Over the last 30 years, we’ve interviewed, trained and worked with thousands of salespeople and one thing that nearly all top performers have in common is the ability to think strategically and create a workable plan they can execute. Derek explains…
“The best salespeople will have a very strategic plan, they will go in and have a conversation with this customer with the two or three things that they have to find out in order to move the ball forward. They know what they have to learn about the customer in order to have enough of a case built to close the deal. When they’re sitting listening to the customer, they’re ready to ask that next probing, curious question because they have prepared in advance.”
One of the things we work with salespeople on in the SalesGym is breaking out of the mentality of “how can I sell you something” and moving into the perspective of “how can I be helpful to you and help you get what you want most?” When a decision maker or influencer really senses your intentions are to be genuinely helpful and that you’re not there to just spin your product or service to make it more appealing, then they are much more likely to lower their resistance and be open and honest with you so you can figure out how to build a solution that will resonate.
Derek shared with us how important it is to bring helpful ideas and information into the conversations we have with our customers …
“When you’re in the parking lot you should be asking yourself, ‘What am I going to teach this customer today?’ So that the customer is saying, ‘I need them back. I learned so much, I need them back in here.’”
We could write an entire book on planning, but let’s focus just on one key element … prepare for your sales calls in a way that you are always bringing helpful ideas, suggestions and information that will cause everyone you meet with to be refreshingly surprised and eager to meet with you again. That’s a winning strategy.
Derek explains how his sales team strategically approaches customer relationships and value,
You want customers to be asking, 'When are we doing our annual Business Review? We learned so much from it, when are you getting in here?' That's value! - Derek Lampert, SVP/GM, Global Business, Homecare & Mobility at Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare Click To Tweet
“We wanted to stand out in the crowd, but not just to be different, but in a way where we defined value as the customer’s business would be better off with us in it and worse off with us out of it. The kind of value where they would say my business actually suffers when I take this salesforce away from it. Salespeople need to help customers make smart decisions that impact their business in a positive way. That’s why they’re going to want you to come back in and that’s why you will get the sale. You want customers to be asking, ‘When are we doing our annual Business Review? We learned so much from it, when are you getting in here?’ That’s value!”
Your sales process matters a lot!
Even with more seasoned and experienced salespeople, one of the most common mistakes on sales calls is simply selling or talking about your solution too early in the process. For whatever reason, a lot of salespeople feel pressure to talk about their products and services and when this happens before we have spent enough time listening and learning, we create additional resistance and objections into the equation. Derek explains,
Order in sales is as important as process. - Derek Lampert, SVP/GM, Global Business, Homecare & Mobility at Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare Click To Tweet
“Like a recipe, the sauce comes out very different if you put the ingredients in the wrong order. So often, order is neglected in sales. A salesperson will do some discovery, then have to identify the decision-makers. But, if you present products to the wrong people you could have a mess on your hands. Then if you don’t do a perception analysis after you present the product and go to quote a price, you’re quoting a price before you even know what they think about it. Order in sales is as important as process.”
Regardless of whatever sales process your company has put together, there are some core fundamentals that are true 90% of the time that include:
- You must start with an effective agenda that communicates your interest in being helpful
- You must ask, listen and understand before you start selling or presenting solutions
- Early in the sales process, emphasize broader competitive advantages
- You’ll need to confirm you understand the situation before you build and present your solution
- Often, you’ll need input from other decision makers and influencers before you present your solution
- Get feedback on the general approach of your solution before you get into pricing and logistics specifics
Asking, listening and learning is key to better selling results
Typically, top performing sellers ask better questions and are more patient in the discovery process, meaning they listen with curiosity and do not overreact to what they hear, even when they hear a response that opens up an immediate selling opportunity.
“Top sellers have competence and confidence,” Derek explains. “They know their business and industry and products. They are so practiced, that when they are asked a question, their minds are not scrambling to go to the next thing they want to say. They can actually sit there and listen.”
What can happen, is that anxiety and lack of practice can cause sellers to think more about what they’re going to say and respond to than what they’re going to ask as Derek explains,
“The biggest fault in sales is when salespeople don’t have that competence and confidence and are in a fight or flight mode in front of the customer. They’re nervous and planning the next thing they’re going to say or they’re worried about where the conversation is going because they might get stumped or maybe they already are, then they’re trying to just say a bunch of words to get out of it. The salespeople that know their content inside and out, they can be thinking about the next strategic pointed question to elicit the sentence from the customer.”
Plan and execute better sales team meetings
Sales Managers are going to get better results if they plan and execute better team meetings just as salespeople need to plan better sales calls. Derek explains the right balance,
Sales meetings should be equal parts education, inspiration and celebration. - Derek Lampert, SVP/GM, Global Business, Homecare & Mobility at Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare Click To Tweet
“Sales meetings should be equal parts education, inspiration and celebration. Recognition, shoulder to shoulder, with their peers, receive their sales awards and tell the war stories. We see a spike in sales after the national sales meeting and it’s purely due to the positive momentum we get from getting together. We give our team clarity of vision and show them where we’re going and how to get there. Showing them what’s over the next hill and how to climb the hill are two different things.”
Effective agenda ideas for better sales team meetings
- Begin with good news … every salesperson shares a 90-second (max) report of something positive that happened in the last week
- Highlight the key successes that have happened in the last 30-days … sales that were made and how they happened. Dissect success and make it visible so it can be learned
- Training drills … everyone in the room responds, in 60-seconds or less, to what makes your company better or different from the competition … vote for the best examples and analyze them … record them
- Agenda drills … have salespeople select an important meeting they have coming up soon and have them communicate the exact agenda they will use to start that meeting … analyze and suggest improvements
- End with positive cross team feedback … ask team members to give positive feedback to other team members for help they have gotten or significant contributions … end on a positive note
SalesGym is a research, consulting, and training company that works with and learns from sales teams all over the world and has refined a coaching and training process that trains sales teams the way elite athletes are trained. More insights and articles from us can be found on our RESOURCES PAGE.
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