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Category Archives for Selling & Negotiation

Getting Beyond Browsing

How can I help you? I am just browsing!

We advise and train customers all over the world. And they all share the same experience. Ask someone “Is there something I can help you find?”, and 99,9% responded that the answer would be: “No thanks, I’m just browsing.” 

But are we really? And why do we still respond this way, when we actually DO need help finding something? And how can sellers break through this barrier with strategic or power questions?

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Blueprint’s Top 5 Account Management Tips

Being an Account Manager is an extremely rewarding job, but it is far from being an easy one. Here are our Top 5 Tips to help you stay on top of your game.

1. Build a comprehensive knowledge platform. Our tool, the 7 C’s of Knowledge is useful here. 7 things that you need to know about all beginning with C. For the Account Manager the 7 C’s are critically important:  

Country: Keep up to date with the big changes in the commercial world around you, this will help you to plan better, handle objections and seek out the opportunities.                       

Company:  Spend time seeking to understand how your own company works, who makes the decisions, and how all of the departments integrate together. As an Account Manager, half of your time will probably be spent influencing your colleagues in order to seize the opportunities. The more you can network internally to good effect, the better.            

Customer:   Internally you must be the ‘Customer Champion’, you must be the font of all knowledge on how this company works, what their aspirations are, and what their more immediate plans are. But in front of the customer too, you have to demonstrate an intimate knowledge of how the customer works. My challenge to any Account Manager is to know the customer better than your buyer does.

Competitor : A healthy knowledge and understanding of the competitor will help you handle objections, negotiate better, absorb the pressure of the role  and to raise your own bar.

Channel:    Be an expert in channel dynamics and knowledge. Take an active interest in becoming an expert in this, whether the channel is Retail, Food Service, Brokers, e-Commerce. Be the go to person for all info on the channel.  

Category:   You will probably have colleagues who work in the Category Management department, but don’t rely on them to do the whole job. Will they always be at your side when the Buyer floats that interesting question on Category dynamics across the desk? Keep up to date with what is going on in the category to allow you to grasp the opportunity or diminish the threat as soon as it is presented to you.     

Consumer:    The same goes for your consumer/shopper knowledge, don’t leave it all up to your marketing department. Take an active interest in the Consumer yourself.

2. Be Organised:   The devil is in the detail, and there will be a lot of detail to manage. Don’t try to just commit things to memory, you will forget. Keep detailed notes of your meetings, emails, agreements, price files and opportunities. Even years after the event this detail can be very important in commercial deals.

3. Adopt a phenomenal work ethic: Yes of course have a good work life balance, that is extremely important, but when  you are at work, work hard. The job is too important to wing it. Build your external and internal networks, get around your customers estate, keep your finger on the pulse of what is happening.

4. Sharpen your Skill Set: Ensure you constantly update your skills, particularly your influencing/selling skills and your negotiation skills. When was the last time you had some formal / refresher training on this? The best Account Managers practice these important skills diligently and frequently.

5. Conduct yourself professionally: Be balanced in your judgement, listen and think before you speak, be mindful of your body language particularly during times of stress or negotiation. Deliver the principles and values set by your company.

Let us know what you think of our Top 5 List

Stop Selling

Buyers want to buy, not to be sold upon

In my selling workshops, I always ask delegates: "If you are going to a shop, and the salesperson asks you if he or she could be of help, how many of you reply by saying: Thanks but I am just looking?"

Generally they all reply in a similar way. Now explain this. These salespeople in my workshop, who are convinced they are doing a great job helping their customers, they themselves don't want the help of a fellow salesperson!?

The simple explanation is that no one wants to 'be sold upon'! We all want to believe that it was us, who bought, instead of being sold to.

It isn't different with our buyers, if you give them the feeling you're here to sell to them, they will put up that wall of defence, which will be very hard to tear down afterwards. Instead, give them the feeling they are still in charge of their own decision process and you may have a smoother journey to the closure of the deal.

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The Famous 5 E’s Selling Structure

The Blueprint Selling Model

Used daily by hundreds of successful sales people around the world, here is the famous Blueprint 5 E's Selling Structure:

  • Explore the Needs: Understand fully want your customer is looking for

  • Establish the interest: A check step to ensure that you have the correct needs

  • Explain the Deal: Showcase your offer

  • Emphasize the Key Benefits: By highlighting how the customers needs can be fulfilled

  • Execute the Next Steps: Go for the close.

  • Explore the Needs: Understand fully want your customer is looking for

  • Establish the interest:
    A check step to ensure that you have the correct needs

  • Explain the Deal: Showcase your offer

  • Emphasize the Key Benefits: By highlighting how the customers needs can be fulfilled

  • Execute the Next Steps:
    Go for the close.

A great many people have told us that once learned the 5 E's provide the best structure for success. For more information please contact us via the contacts tab on this website.

A Negotiation blueprint: Top 5 Planning Tips

At blueprint, we believe that success can be planned, that winning is by design, and that you are the architect of your outcomes. Here are 5 tips to help unleash your potential the next time you are at the table:

  1. Value the Proposition: Work to understand exactly what it is that you want to achieve and be crystal clear about this. Understand the numbers, sure, but also understand the softer things that you may achieve, and try to put a value on them (e.g. the improvement in relationship, freezing out a competitor, future opportunity for growth etc.). Now comes the real trick... do the same for the person you are dealing with... intimately try to determine what exactly is in it for them. What will they get out of the deal if it goes through as planned? In our experience, good businesses are pretty good at working out what’s in it for themselves; the real trick is to equally seek to understand what is in it for the other party. It's the balance of what is in it for you AND what is in it for them that can determine who wants the deal more and what concessions should be tabled.
  2. Determine the Balance of Power: Produce a 'power analysis'... What things are giving you power in the lead up to this deal? What things are giving the other party power? Who holds the balance of power? Is it 50%-50% or 80%-20% or 30%-70%. Seek to understand this balance and then, importantly, try to produce a plan that will alter the balance of power more in your favour prior to the meeting taking place. This may mean that you have to do something (e.g. check out competitor pricing or check your supply chain logistics model, check specifications of product etc.). Whatever it is that you determine could give you more power, try to do it before the meeting date.
  3. Build your 'Shopping List': This is such an important step. We believe that the success of your next negotiation will almost certainly lie in the length and quality of your shopping list. What is it that you could ask for in order to make the deal work for yourself. Make a list of things that you want from the other party, don't be afraid to ask for them, and never run out of things to ask for.
  4. Build your 'Currency list': There is no such thing as a free lunch, in negotiation you have to be prepared to make concessions, at Blueprint we call these concessions 'Currencies' and you will literally swap shopping list items for currencies. Just as you would go to a supermarket with a shopping list in your hand and currency in your wallet, you take a tin of beans off the shelf because it is on your shopping list, when you get to the checkout you pay for it with the currency in your wallet. Negotiation is no different, be prepared to ask for what you want from your shopping list, but recognise that you may have to offer a 'currency' to pay for it. What things are you prepared to concede in order to make this deal work? Think about it and prepare your list of currencies. Remember that it is not weak to 'give' in negotiation, the trick is to ensure that you don't start a precedent and to ensure that you get something of at least equal value back in return.Recognize also that all shopping list items have value, and all                                       currencies have cost associated with them. It is wise and prudent to conduct a full cost-benefit analysis at this stage of your planning to ensure that the deal works commercially for you.
  5. Plan Your Tactics: There are so many things to consider here so, at this planning stage, give sufficient time to think about them (e.g. are you going into a hostile or a friendly environment? Will the deal be done at their office or yours? Who will be present on both sides? What will your opening gambit be? What do you anticipate theirs will be? What will be your first shopping list request and currency offer? What is your walk away position?). Remember to give equal consideration to the tactics the other party may employ and you counter-tactics.