ProActive Selling: Control the Process--Win the Sale

ProActive Selling: Control the Process--Win the Sale

by William Miller

Paperback(Second Edition)

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ProActive Selling gives sales professionals the tools they need to adapt their approach and maintain control at every stage of a sale. Featuring dozens of enlightening examples and the author's 17 exclusive, practical selling tools, this book gives sales professionals the edge they need to exceed their goals with any company, in any industry.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780814431924
Publisher: AMACOM
Publication date: 08/07/2012
Edition description: Second Edition
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 426,463
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

WILLIAM "SKIP" MILLER is president of M3 Learning, a leading sales development firm whose clients include Apple, Google, Cisco, Oracle, Teva, Tableau, UGG, and other top companies. He is the author of ProActive Selling, and ProActive Sales Management.

Read an Excerpt


SELLING. WHAT A PROFESSION. Why do so many people love selling so much, whereas others hate even the thought of selling something? What is it about the topic of selling that causes so many mixed emotions? Better yet, why are some people so good at it, and others are always trying to get it right?

They say successful salespeople can sell anything. They’re right.

They say successful salespeople are born, not made. They’re wrong.

Successful salespeople have five things in common:

1. They think like a customer.

2. They are proactive and always think one step ahead, and therefore they pull to control the Buy/Sell process.

3. They have a natural curiosity. They ask. Great salespeople do not have great answers . . . they have great questions.

4. They qualify from a buyer’s perspective early and often. Yeses are great, nos are great . . . maybes will kill you.

5. They use the right tool at the right time at the point of attack:

the sales call.

This is the second edition of ProActive Selling. The tools presented in the first edition have stood the test of time. We’ve trained hundreds of companies and tens of thousands of salespeople in all in-dustries and all disciplines. The principles in this book apply to all companies, whether the company had a $500 30-minute sales cycle or whether the average sale was more than $1,000,000 and took one to two years to complete. Companies in any domain or industry—hardware a solutions, shoes, software, SaaS, cloud, products, HVAC, services a and so forth—all have something in common: Salespeople who qualify and control the Buy/Sell process usually win the deal.

In the years we’ve been doing sales and sales management training a we’ve observed over and over again qualities in sales professionals and the sales tools they use during a sales call that consistently set them apart from the rest of the pack. ProActive Selling clearly identifies the tools that successful salespeople use on a daily basis and presents them for salespeople to use to add value in the way they are currently selling.

ProActive Selling is not another “sales process” book, nor is it about

“strategizing a sale.” There are too many books out there that define a

“new way of selling” or a “new sales methodology.” A salesperson will likely get better results using his or her current, “ineffective” way than by using those books.

Believe it or not, there is no one right way to sell. There are many different approaches you can take to selling, and they are each very successful in their own right.

However, what we need is a way to improve how we sell on each and every sales call. You need to improve your sales skills and increase the number of tools you use. ProActive Selling provides sales tools for the your toolbox so that at the point of attack (i.e., the sales call), you can feel you are fully armed, not just carrying a couple of bullets.

ProActive Selling describes what is going on in the buyer’s mind and how you can use this information ProActively. It shows you how to use the right tool at the right time so you can sell more effectively every time you engage with a potential customer.

How Salespeople Sell the Right and the Wrong Way

There is a motto for ProActive salespeople, and it is: Tactics before strategies within a process. It’s that simple. Successful salespeople sell in a process. Within that process they should use tactics and then combine them with a sales strategy, rather than strategize an account and then implement tactics. It’s important to put the pieces of the process in the right order, tactics before strategies, to be ProActive.

Otherwise, the customer controls the sale, and the salesperson is forced into a reactive posture. Putting strategies first makes salespeople reactive. Because their tactics are poor, they are getting poor information in the development of their strategies. Putting tactics first allows the salesperson to gather quality information during a sales call so the strategy part of the sale has complete and competent information.

The number one reason salespeople lose an account is that they are out of control of the sales process. Period. That’s worth saying again.

The number one reason a sale is lost is because the salesperson is not in control of the Buy/Sell process. Salespeople will always claim the reason they won a deal is because they were so smart, and that the reason they lost a deal could be one of a host of other reasons, none of which are in the salesperson’s control, of course.

What these salespeople don’t realize is that control of the Buy/Sell cycle is the number one factor in determining whether a sale will be won or lost, even above best fit of product or solution. In addition, this control is totally the responsibility of the salesperson. Salespeople must learn the tactics of how to control a sales process to increase their chances for success

As a salesperson, you should feel free to combine the tactics and tools of ProActive Selling with any of the strategic sales methodologies you like to round out your selling experience. If you have only a strategic piece of the sales puzzle, and then try to figure out the tactics to go along with it, you may stumble at the point of attack. If you are armed with tactics and the Buy/Sell process along with your own sales strategy a you’ll increase your chance of success, dramatically.

In discussions we have had with senior sales management, we found they all want the same things.

1. Shorter sales cycles: Shorten the sales process so more transactions can be made per salesperson.

2. Better forecasts: Better quality and quantity of deals in the pipeline—the ideal is 90+ percent accuracy in the 90-day forecast, rather than the 50 to 60 percent accuracy they deal with today.

3. Elimination of “maybe” or bad deals early in the cycle.

4. Control of the sale throughout the sales process, so value can be sold instead of price.

5. Lower cost of sales while increasing the average selling price (ASP) per order.

6. Implement a sales communication process into the sales organization and the rest of the company.

7. Constantly increase the competencies in the sales team to take the A players to A-plus status.

If you are a sales manager wrestling with these strategic issues day in and day out, and want to help your staff understand how easily they can be dealt with if they focus on the right things, then this is a book for you as well. Instead of spending hours with a salesperson behind the scenes dabbling in account strategies, you now have a better option.

Instead of working out the strategy before you get face to face with the customer, you can have a major impact in all of the above issues if you focus on the tactics of selling and help your sales staff focus on the rule of putting tactics before strategies; it’s that straightforward.

ProActive Selling has twenty-seven tools for the salesperson to use during the sales call in order to maintain control of the process. A sales manager can use these same tools to make sure the salesperson is really in control of the sale, at the point of attack, the sales call.

The Two-Dimensional Process of Selling

Most salespeople do not have a sales process. They think they do, but try to have them describe it for you. Most salespeople can’t. Without a defined sales process, salespeople can react only passively to customers.

Such reactive salespeople base their approach on:

Customer selling: The customer leads the sales process and the salesperson follows.

Experience selling: This is the process of hoping that past experience will lead to future success.

Catch-up selling: The competition directs the sale and then you have to play catch-up all the time.

Bad sales manager selling: The sales manager enforces the

“do it like I did” methodology.

Situational selling: Every sales call is “on a wing and a prayer.”

There’s a process of selling that’s more successful than most socalled selling processes. It is two-dimensional; it not only has the selling process covered, but also addresses the buying process. As you will find out in Chapter 1, there is a very specific process in how people buy.

Salespeople are drilled on controlling the sales cycle, but without the added dimension of understanding the buying cycle and matching the salesperson’s selling process to the buyer’s buying process, they will not be in control of the overall sales process.

Traditional Tactics Are Not Enough

Salespeople are given sales tactics early on in their careers. These tactics may have included open probes/close probes, elevator speeches, and closing techniques. These are all good skills, but they’re much too elementary for today’s sales environment—and are one-dimensional. They can’t be combined and leveraged with other skills throughout the life of a sale. Most, if not all, sales efforts today put strategies before tactics.

Develop the strategic side of the sale, regardless of what the buyer wants to do, and then push the customer through a one-dimensional sales process. The heck with what the buyer wants to do; push that sales process. This can be a successful approach, but it is very reactionary and is missing the two-dimensional part of selling. It forgets about what the customer wants to do. You can argue that all the homework (strategy) a salesperson does is selling-centric. It focuses on how a salesperson plans for a sales process, regardless of the selling tactics required to accomplish the strategy and align with a buyer/seller sales cycle.

Putting tactics before strategies within a process implies that the salesperson is thinking what is needed for the next step in the buyer/seller relationship, and then fitting the tactics into a buyer’s strategy, which after all is what the buyer is following. What tactics are needed to keep control of the sale and convince the buyer that he or she should follow the salesperson in an atmosphere of mutual discovery, which of course salespeople need to lead? This buying-centric nature of selling, this nonreactionary sales approach, and this buyer-first approach is the core of ProActive Selling, since it is all about Buy/Sell tactics that fit into a process.

Finally, ProActive Selling works even better the higher up you go in a buying organization. We all know the “trick” of calling high in a customer’s organization.

But calling high is not the trick. Anyone can do that. The trick is when you’re there, what do you say?

What do you say to have the senior-level executive (CEO, CIO, CFO,

COO, etc.) treat the salesperson as a value-add asset and to have the executive stay engaged? How can you avoid the C-level executive sending you down into the bowels of the organization from which it is nearly impossible to get back up?

ProActive Selling addresses not only what salespeople have to say at the CXO (Chief X-fill in the blank Officer) level, but gets them comfortable in calling high and staying high, as well as being a value-add to the senior-level executive. ProActive Selling is so good at the CXO level that salespeople frequently find the senior executives of the account calling them and asking the salesperson what they should do next.

Tactics before strategies in a two-dimensional selling model is what

ProActive Selling is all about. It’s what makes successful salespeople great.

That is, their attitude of:

Focusing on how people buy, not how you want to sell.

Focusing on the Buy/Sell process, not just the sales process.

Looking at the sale as a series of buyer-related steps.

Qualifying early in the process and then deciding if you want to spend time with an account, rather than hoping the buyer wants to spend time with you.

Taking control and having the buyer follow your lead.

Closing at the beginning of the process, not at the end. There is no such thing as a great closer, or “great closing skills.”

Having the right tools at the right time for the right call.

By successfully reading and implementing the tactics and processes in ProActive Selling, you will be able to:

Accomplish more in less time.

Be ProActive and anticipate the next sales step.

Motivate yourself to call successfully at all levels in the organization.

Control the sales process. The salesperson who controls the sales process . . . wins.

Get rid of maybes in your sales funnel.

Learn where to hunt and use your time most effectively.

Plan and utilize homework on the sales call.

Lower the overall cost of sales.

Increase the average selling price per order.

Create a powerful sales introduction on every sales call.

End every sales call and stay in complete control of the sale.

Understand the buyer’s motivational direction.

Master the seven qualification questions to call on the right accounts all the time.

Speak the right language to the right level of buyer.

Change a maybe to a decision easily and effectively. (“Yes” is best, but even “no” sure beats “maybe.”)

On a final note, we use the term prospect in this book rather freely.

When we refer to a “prospect,” we mean an individual or a group of individuals who are chartered to make a purchase decision. It could be anyone from an individual buying a new computer to a major corporation working through a committee to make a decision on a new infrastructure automation system. There are many differences at the strategic level between these examples, but the buy process and the tools a salesperson uses during the sales call are easily transferable.

For the most part, selling is selling, so ProActive Selling works if you are selling a product, service, or tangible or intangible item. It works when selling over the phone, over the Internet, face to face, or through channels. The examples in the book are simple and easy, but you shouldn’t think that ProActive Selling is effective only for simple sales situations.

The strategies of a sale can and do change based on what you are selling, usually based on the size of the order and length of the sales cycle.

The tactics and process of a sale rarely change, regardless of the sale size or length of a sale, since it all involves sales calls, which is what

ProActive Selling is here to make you better at. Good luck, and learn how to better your sales skills. . . . ProActively.

Table of Contents







Chapter 1: ProActive Selling: Having the Right Tools at the Right Time to Be a Step Ahead

Tool-Based ProActive Selling

The Customer’s Perspective

What Is a Buy/Sell Process?


Matching the Sell Process to the Buy Process

The Length of a Sales Cycle

Why Follow a Process?


Chapter 2: The Buy/Sell Cycle Differences

Feature/Benefit/Value Selling vs. Feature/Benefit Selling


The Split



Chapter 3: The Language of Value

Speak the Right Language

Three LanguagesTool

The Five Ways of Creating Value




Chapter 4: Initiate

Goals of Initiate

Homework Before the Sale

Initial Sales Calls: Overcoming the Fear of Prospecting

The Prospector’s Perspective

The Prospect’s Perspective—Something to Keep in Mind


Chapter 5: How to Begin and End Every Sales Call

Goal 1: Introduce Yourself—The Beginning

The 30-Second SpeechTool


Goal 2: Introduce Your Product/Service—The Middle

Goal 3: Do We Continue on Through a Buy/Sell Process?—The End

Summarize, Bridge, and PullTool


Chapter 6: Additional Sales Call Introductions

Voice Mail

20-Second Help SpeechTool

20-Second Pattern Interrupt SpeechTool


Beyond the First Call

30-Second Speech: Second Call and BeyondTool


Chapter 7: Control the Middle and the End

Turn Sales Education into ProActive Sales Presentations

Ask ’em/Tell ’em/Ask ’emTool

It’s All About ME!

The Danger in the Unspoken Feature

The Right Order

GAP ChartTool

Road Map to the Deal



Chapter 8: Educate the Customer Using

Two-Way Learning

Creating Value Early

Getting Their Attention

Selling Solutions and Finding Trains

Solution BoxTool

Finding TrainsTool


Chapter 9: Qualify: Not a Phase but a Process

Qualification and Disqualification Skills

How You Should Spend Your Time

Qualifying Goals

MMM: The Qualification Process

The Seven Questions

Implementation DateTool

BBB—Buyers Buy BackwardsTool


Three Levels of WhyTool

MMM: The Seven Questions Reviewed


Chapter 10: Validate

The ProActive Initiation of Transfer of Ownership

It’s Validation, Not Education!

Let the Buyer Drive: ProActively Inducing the Transfer of Ownership


Homework Assignments



Chapter 11: Justify

Reasons for Justification: Institutional and Individual

Helping the Customer Justify

The Implementation PlanTool

The Drop/Push/PullTool


STT—Short-Term TransferTool


Chapter 12: The Skill of Closing the Deal

What Is a Close?

Defining the Process

Use the Tools

The Real Art of Closing Is in the Definition: Think Like a Buyer

Celebrate Success


Chapter 13: Using Technology to Sell

Sales Touches

Social Media: Getting Involved

Technology Trends


Chapter 14: Applying the ProActive Selling Process

Implementing the New Rules

The Three Languages

The Final Word


Appendix: ProActive Selling Tools



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