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Book Review: Sales Shift by Frank Belzer

Posted by Carole Mahoney on 4/28/13 8:03 AM

How inbound marketing has turned sales upside down making it more difficult and more lucrative at the same time.

Why I read it

I first met Frank Belzer when he and Rick Roberge did the first Sales Development Course for Hubspot Partners. I was in the first group, and by the end of it, I had visions of my BHAG and they were among the first ones I shared my dreams with.

Since then, every time I have interacted with Frank- whether it was sharing a booth at Inbound, sitting next to him at a luncheon or back and forth on social media- I have gained new and valuable perspectives. How could I not read his book?

What I highlighted and learned

"The salesperson of the twenty-first century was going to fill a different need than the salesperson of the past. The consumer was going to want human interaction but was going to have different expectations as to what that would look and feel like."

If this is true, and it most certainly is, how are you preparing sales, marketing and service teams to understand the different expectations? What will their expectations look like and how should they respond?

"Choice is the responsibility and right of the chooser (buyer) and therefore not of the seller."

Information is power, and the Internet gives that power to the buyer, but it can also give it to the seller. With great power comes great responsibility. 

"It's only when we look at the definite reality of what we're doing, not our own perception, that we see the actual impact of what we doing. When we actually see how it looks to others or how it sounds to others, we finally get the point."

"Seek to understand before seeking to be understood."

The ability to step outside of yourself and truly understand what is happening from someone else's perspective brings clarity, collaboration, and alignment.

"Inbound has fundamentally changed not only how prospects come to us but the psychology of the buyer."

"Sales people need to add more value to the conversation than the website does."

"Sales 2.0 is when sales people can contribute to and provide content for inbound marketing strategy."

"The trick to consultative selling is to pretend that you're at an intersection at a red light and you can't go forward until the light is green."

If your approach is always that the light is red with the assumption that there is no interest, it prompts you to always be seeking permission to move forward. Assume the no, never the yes. 

"Sales people struggle with sounding genuine thinking long-term and big picture and conducting meaningful business conversations with prospects."

Could it be the problem lies with the fact that they're trying to sound genuine rather than actually be genuine?

Frank talks about "just right" as the sales person who is not too soft and not too hard.  He asked the question many do "How do you get it just right?" Again he offers the suggestion of a sales assessment to understand how your team is posturing themselves. 

Although this is important, the mistake that some might make is evaluating yourself and not figuring out what the buyer thinks is too hard and too soft. Isn't it the buyer who decides, not the salesperson? Like dating, you have to know yourself and the preferences of your mate to make a match. 

Sales assessments are a tool for the salesperson to figure out what their true strengths are and achieve a balance. But it is when you know what your "true north" is, what you will do not or say to get the sale, that is when your passion, character and integrity comes through and that the right prospect will find just right for them. Don't try to pretend to be something you are not- you are not fooling anyone except yourself. Not everyone will like you, but the right people for you will.

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."~ Maya Angelou 

More now than ever people buy based on emotion. Despite the fact that all this information is available to us, we still make our decision based on how we feel about it. But it is still important to remember that as buyers we may need to feel we have all the facts to make a decision. The reality is you can never have all the facts, especially at the rapid pace that happens today. This is why being a trusted adviser is crucial. And to be a trusted adviser means to be genuine and really looking out for what is best for the buyer, consumer, customer or client.  

Sales Shift also describes what sales and marketing can learn from each other. Frank describes marketing as having a broad and long term market focus versus an individual, right-now prospect focus that sales does. It is the synergy between the two perspectives that needs to happen in sales and marketing alignment, or smarketing.

If sales learned how to get value every conversation instead of worrying about whether or not the other person is really a good prospect or the actual decision-maker, they could learn something deeper about their market from that person and then carry that information back to marketing. How would that effect your inbound strategy and your business growth? It's always about what you can learn and apply!

Same goes for marketing, they can make the mass market approach more personalized to their ideal individual prospects and customers.  

And here's the next shift – tying it into customer service and development. As you consider your customer's experience and engagement with your business, don't forget the feedback loop from sales and marketing to service and from service to development -whether this means the development of new services or new product features. This is how you become the Steve Jobs of your industry.

One last point I was reminded of from Sales Shift- sales people are taught to overcome objections, like a bypassing of the issue. However this just causes later buyers remorse and churn. Addressing objections, validating or dispelling them is what helps you to eliminate them and creates the customer evangelists and advocates that turn into lifelong referrals. It is also what makes you eligible for trusted adviser status.

What I am doing about it (and you should to)

First, I am telling all my clients to read it. This is what we are trying to do after all. Get a sales assessment test, get coaching if you want to be the 21st century smarketing person that Frank describes. 

Second, you may see some excerpts from "Sales Shift" in "Ingagements". (With Frank's permission of course.) 

Third, if you are a sales or marketing person and you want to develop deeper relationships that turn into lifelong referrals, invest in yourself. Don't wait for your boss to agree to pay for it. 

"A winner is someone who recognizes his God-given talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills, and uses the skills to accomplish his goals." ~ Larry Bird 

Topics: inbound marketing, book review, inbound sales, Ingagements