Author Topic: Ask the Author Series: Featuring Gary Walker, Author of The CustomerCentric Sell  (Read 2269 times)

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Ask the Author Series: Featuring Gary Walker, Author of The CustomerCentric Selling? Field Guide to Prospecting and Business Development (Part 1 of 2)
by Brian Bachofner


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In our last Ask the Author post, we asked Joanne Black how technology has changed the way we sell today. Describing the Sales Person as the ultimate sales technology, Joanne makes a strong call to just pick up the phone and have real interactions with our customers, current and potential.

So how do we get people on the phone?  Joanne outlines Referrals as a key way to engage with clients.  But what about those instances where you don?t have a referral?  To help answer that question,  we?re excited to have Gary Walker as our next author in the Ask the Author Series. Gary is the co-founder and EVP of Channel Sales and Operations for CustomerCentric Selling.  In addition to his role at CCS, Gary has written The CustomerCentic Selling Field Guide to Prospecting and Business Development this year to focus on ways to drive engagement with potential clients through relevant, timely conversations.

Q: Gary, prospecting is as old as selling.  Why write a book now in 2013?

A: By the way you?ve asked that question, you?ve indicated to me that you recognize prospecting, while closely related to selling, is different.  Prospecting requires a different and distinct set of skills. I think that you would also agree that prospecting leads to selling.  It?s the work that has to be done by a salesperson to get a prospective client to first engage, before the sales process can even begin.

In working with hundreds of companies and the sales people they employ, I?ve concluded that prospecting is something most salespeople just don?t like to do, and when they attempt to try to in response to management pressure or a weak pipeline, they are marginally effective at best.  When you ask salespeople and their management about ?prospecting? they immediately begin talking about cold calling. Salespeople detest making cold calls almost as much as senior executives detest receiving them.  As a matter of fact, surveys of senior executives indicate it is the least effective means of engaging with them.

Rather than help their salespeople become better prospectors, many companies have kicked the ?unable to prospect? can down the road and have added the expense of establishing an inside sales organization, lead generation staffs, and professional appointment setters to generate leads for their salespeople.

A salesperson that knows how to prospect has the ability to control his/her own destiny, make quota, attend President?s Club, and determine how much money they will earn in any given year. This book is my first step towards helping salespeople and their managers understand what, when, why, and how to prospect and develop new business.

Q: In your view, is prospecting a critical skill for all sellers?  What if you?re an organization that concentrates on ?farmers? through Account Management?

A: Yes, prospecting is a critical skill for all sellers. The title ?Account Management? implies to me that the customer/vendor relationship already exists.  Account Managers typically are responsible for making sure that the relationship is nurtured and that opportunities for new products and services are recognized, developed, and acted upon.  It?s much easier to sell an existing customer additional products and services than it is to unseat an incumbent vendor. Failing to prospect within an existing client organization, where the client/vendor relationship already exists, can be a major mistake.  The process and tactics that I introduce in the CCS? Field Guide to Prospecting and Business Development can, and should, be used with existing clients.

Q: How has technology changed the way we prospect?

A: There was a time when if you wanted to find out information about a potential prospect, learn who you need to be speaking with to get your offering sold, and uncover goals, problems, and needs, etc., you had to rely on what you could gather from someone within the organization that would agree to speak with you and/or the somewhat limited and dated information that could be found in the company?s annual report (if they were a publicly traded company). You could also access similar information by researching the Directory of Corporate Affiliations at your local public library.  It was laborious, time consuming, and the information was old.

There has been a quantum leap in the amount of information that is available and the way it can be accessed! With the introduction of the Internet, all of the information that was once only available periodically and in print is now relatively current and available electronically with the click of a mouse.  Sales intelligence applications like InsideView can serve up that information, monitor the key players, notify the seller of triggering events that represent the ideal time to engage with the prospect, and increase the salesperson?s productivity.

Don't forget to stay tuned for Part Two of this fascinating Interview with Gary Walker.

To purchase a copy of Gary Walker's book: The CustomerCentric Selling? Field Guide

To find out more about CustomerCentric Selling you can go to customercentricselling.com or call Gary Walker at 800-993-1228 ext 702.

About Gary Walker

As Co-founder, EVP of Channel Sales & Operations, and Co-author of the CustomerCentric Selling? (CCS?) sales methodology, Gary Walker is responsible for working with the global sales channel and developing new products to improve the sales performance of CustomerCentric Selling? clients. In addition, he helps drive the overall direction and strategy for CustomerCentric Systems, LLC. His ability to identify trends and changes in the sales environment has helped change the dynamic of interaction between sellers and buyers through the development of CustomerCentric Selling?, Sales Ready Messaging?, Sales Process Management?, CustomerCentric Strategies?, and Prospecting and Business Development?. Walker's vision has helped propel CustomerCentric Systems, LLC to one of the preeminent providers of sales process consulting, sales training and Sales Ready Messaging?. He continues to work with companies such as CCCI Europe, L-3 Commercial Infrared, Firestar Diamonds, Knowlagent, Mapquest, Knovel, Recondo Technology, and Vertafore, to name just a few.