Dave Kurlan is a top-rated keynote speaker, best-selling author, sales thought leader and expert on all things sales and selling.
If you were on vacation the past two weeks, this is what we were discussing:
The following article first appeared in the July Issue of TopSales Magazine.
I’m a baseball lover, die-hard Red Sox fan, and proud father of a 12-year-old baseball star. Having founded Kurlan & Associates in 1985 and Objective Management Group in 1990, the only surprise should be that it took so long to combine the two passions and write Baseline Selling – How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball, in 2005.
Companies have terrific results when they implement Baseline Selling, and last week a well-known expert asked, “What is the big secret that makes Baseline Selling so powerful?” He thought it would make for a great article discussion, so let’s attempt to answer that question by starting with a few questions of my own.
Is it the sales process that makes it so powerful? The big difference between the sales process in Baseline Selling and other sales processes is that rather than having outcome-based steps, time-based steps or task-oriented steps, it has customizable milestone-centric steps. You might think that a step is a step, but there are huge differences. With time-based steps, you may have achieved a certain number of calls or meetings, but you may not have actually achieved the desired outcomes. With task-oriented steps, you may have completed the tasks, but you may not know whether you are any closer to having a new customer or client. With outcome-based steps, you may have achieved the desired outcomes, but as with time and task-based steps, you may not know what will actually happen next. With a milestone-centric process, the sequence of steps is extremely important because the steps build off of each other, and as each milestone is achieved, a salesperson gains more evidence, thus leverage and confidence that they are closer to the sale.
Is it the methodology that makes it so powerful? Nothing is more important in today’s selling than the conversation that takes place between the salesperson and the prospect. While other methodologies are based on relationship-building, strategy or tactics, the Baseline Selling methodology is based on the conversation that continues across each stage. Milestones are known only to the salesperson, achieved within the conversation, and invisible to prospects. The methodology then, is consistent with the conversation that moves the process from step to step and stage to stage.
Is it because of uncovering compelling reasons to buy? Unlike needs-based, buyer-journey, or pain-based approaches, the compelling reasons as to why a prospect would move their business to you, or buy this product, service or program in the first place, provides the salesperson with leverage. It allows the salesperson to build a case using the prospect’s reasons, and helps the salesperson to position the solution in such a way that resonates with what is most important to the prospect. On the other hand, a need may not be reason enough to change. The buyer journey includes the salesperson at a point where it is difficult to move backward to gather the necessary information, and pain only works when there is a known problem and a desire to fix it. While pain could be the source of a compelling reason, the desire to take advantage of an opportunity could just as often be compelling enough for a prospect. In that scenario, the salesperson seeking to find pain would conclude that in the absence of pain, the prospect should be disqualified.
Is it the concept of SOB Quality? Before we can discuss SOB Quality, you really need to know how that concept was developed, what it refers to in baseball, and how it translates to selling. Watch this impromptu 3-minute video for my complete explanation of SOB Quality.
Now you should understand just how accomplishing SOB allows salespeople to differentiate themselves from their competitors, internal adversaries, and become trusted advisors. SOB does not exist in other processes, methodologies, sales strategies or tactics. The closest anyone has come, since this was introduced in 2005, is The Challenger Sale; however, that describes a certain type of salesperson, whereas in Baseline Selling, achieving SOB Quality is simply a milestone that any type of salesperson can achieve.
So what is the big secret that powers Baseline Selling? While all four of these concepts are important to Baseline Selling, SOB brings selling to a whole new level. It causes prospects to think, “We need to work with Dave. He gets it better than anyone else, he asked great questions, he got us on the right track, he helped us realize that we were approaching this the wrong way and we’ve never had a conversation like before that with anyone else!”
There are hundreds of experts offering dozens of processes, methodologies, approaches, strategies, styles and advice. It’s all good. All you have to do is choose one that meets the following 10 criteria:
- It resonates with you.
- It’s easy to understand, teach and learn.
- It’s easy to customize and apply.
- It works today and will work tomorrow.
- It’s time-tested and proven.
- The methodology was designed for the process.
- The process is intended to be integrated into your CRM or pipeline management application.
- The process and methodology are rich enough to offer layered or stepped learning and application.
- The trainer has lived and breathed the process and methodology.
- The trainer understands your goto market strategy.
Most of the executives, who reach out to us for help, tend to incorrectly believe two things:
- They already have a sales process – They have some steps, but steps don’t make an effective sales process. It’s effective when it’s predictive of outcomes, every salesperson follows it, and every sales manager coaches to it.
- They have good salespeople, but just need some tips – They may have some good salespeople and some of them can be coached up. A company has good salespeople when they all overachieve stretch goals.
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