5 Steps to Premeditated Selling

Excerpt from “A Premeditated Selling Process” by Steve Gielda and Kevin Jones (ASTD, September 2012).

By Steve Gielda and Kevin Jones

In “A Premeditated Selling Process,” we will show you how to develop a sales plan for each unique opportunity inside your accounts, using a five-step process that has proven itself successful. This process evaluates a sales opportunity from various angles, providing you insight into your situation and ideas for moving forward. Each step provides tools to help you analyze an opportunity and gather the information you need to make your next move. The five steps of the Premeditated Selling Process are:

  1. Understanding the buying factors
  2. Leveraging the key players
  3. Optimizing the buying environment
  4. Influencing the competitive landscape
  5. Quantifying the value of your solution

Step 1: Understanding the buying factors: This refers to the analysis of the buying process your customer will use for making their purchasing decision. By understanding how your customer will actually make their decision, you can modify the speed with which you act, the resources you use, and the strengths you present. In Chapter 2, we’ll challenge you to think about the answers to questions such as:

  • How has the buying process for similar products gone in the past? Is it a consistent process?
  • What is the sense of urgency driving your customer’s buying process?
  • Is there a need for consensus among the decision-makers or is diversity of opinion okay?

In today’s market, we must be able to answer these questions, plus many others regarding our customers’ buying factors.

Step 2: Leveraging the key players: This refers to the analysis of the individuals involved in the buying process—their influence and their perceptions of potential solution providers. By gaining insight into your advocates and adversaries, including who they support and why, you can develop a plan of action to capitalize on your positive relationships while minimizing potential threats. In Chapter 3, we’re going to take a deeper dive and provide you with a tool that will help you better analyze the key influencers in every sales opportunity. We’ll challenge you to think about the answers to questions such as:

  • What’s been said or done to make you believe your advocate is really your advocate?
  • Is there a way to leverage your advocates to neutralize your adversaries? If so, how can that be done?
  • Who are your competitors’ advocates? Are they the same as yours?

We’ll help you better analyze all the key influencers involved in your opportunity so you can develop a smart strategy to leverage advocate support.

Step 3: Optimizing the buying environment: This refers tothe analysis of the trends in your customer’s industry and how they affect your customer, specifically the executives inside your customer’s organization. By evaluating what’s happening in your customer’s world, you can anticipate unique challenges and prepare yourself to address needs that your competitors may not have considered. In Chapter 4, we’ll introduce you to a model that will help you think about how a single trend in the market affects the customers in your territory, and more importantly, how it changes the way your customer makes purchasing decisions.

We’re going to challenge you to think about:

  • Which market trends are having the greatest impact on this customer? How will they affect your sales efforts?
  • What new initiatives has this account taken to leverage or combat these new trends?
  • What responsibility do these stakeholders have to help their company take advantage of or combat the trends in the market?

This chapter contains two case studies that reveal best practices for reacting to your customer’s buying environment, and show you how to avoid the common traps salespeople often fall into in this part of the sales planning process.

Step 4: Influencing the competitive landscape: This refers tothe analysis of your competitive position through an understanding of what selection criteria your customer will use and how they compare you to the competitive alternatives. By thinking broadly about the criteria a customer will use to make a decision and knowing your strengths and weaknesses against those criteria, you can develop a strategy to capitalize on your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. In Chapter 5, we’re going to challenge you to reassess your understanding of your customer’s decision criteria. You’ll be prompted to consider questions such as:

  • Who have you spoken with to confirm the customer’s selection criteria?
  • If there are multiple decision-makers, do they all agree on the same selection criteria? Whose selection criteria matters most and why?
  • How does the customer perceive your ability to meet their needs?

Step 5: Quantifying the value of your solution: This refer to the analysis of your solution’s “value,” which enables you to position your solution effectively.

By using the classic value equation, you can develop a strategy to build economic value, either through actual or conceptual benefits. In Chapter 6, we’re going to stretch your thinking around how your customer measures value. We’re going to push you to think about:

  • What are the most important business outcomes your customer will receive by implementing your solution?
  • How will your customer measure your solution’s value?
  • What metrics have you chosen to measure the value impact of the outcomes?

All too often salespeople underestimate the importance of quantifying the value of their solution. They assume the customer can make the connection between their solution and the impact it can have on the customer’s metrics. Unfortunately, these kinds of assumptions can make the difference between winning or losing the opportunity.

Excerpt from “A Premeditated Selling Process” by Steve Gielda and Kevin Jones (ASTD, September 2012). For more information, visit http://store.astd.org/Default.aspx?tabid=164&q=Premeditated+Selling

For more than 20 years, Steve Gielda has been helping companies throughout the world improve their sales performance and meet their business goals. He started his career at Lanier Worldwide, pounding the pavement and knocking on doors, before moving into the positions of district manager and region sales director. Gielda’s success comes from his persistence and willingness to forge strong client relationships. He understands the importance of building smart sales strategies that are linked to driving his clients’ business goals. Gielda began his career in sales training in 1997 when he joined Huthwaite, Inc. He later established his own practice as partner with the Advantage Performance Group, then later as a principal with Sales Momentum. In 2010, Gielda and Kevin Jones joined together to form Ignite Selling, Inc.

For more than 15 years, Kevin Jones has been designing and delivering training solutions that impact people’s lives. His goal is to create a learning environment where participants can thrive and where lessons learned can be translated to the field. Jones has worked in finance, sales, and sales training. He received a Bachelor’s degree in business from North Carolina State University, and a Master’s in business administration from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Jones uses his academic exposure and real-world experience to develop training solutions that drive business results. His work has enabled him to influence hundreds of companies in more than 30 countries worldwide.

Lorri Freifeld
Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training APEX Awards and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 30 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.