Apr 15, 2019
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[00:21] Opening / Introduction
[01:09] Tell us about your background.
- I grew up in Southern Michigan about 1 hour from Detroit,
- I graduated from Albion College (MI) with a degree in
economics. Then, I got an MBA from Wayne State.
[01:40] What was your first adult job?
- When I got my MBA, I hoped to land a top job, instead I found
myself selling printing services door-to-door, which was a great
way to learn about sales.
- Next, I went to work for an industrial manufacturing /
distribution company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
- Eventually, I owned and operated a retained executive search
company that focused on automotive and industrial clients.
- After joining a friend’s company to grow the business, I ran 5
businesses as CEO, COO and GM.
- Today, I own a consulting business where I help companies grow
[03:20] Why is the buying process different from the sales
process and why is it so important for salespeople to
- The buyer controls the buying process and as sellers, our job
is to understand and influence it.
- The sales process is created in response to the buying the
[04:56] Talk about the differences between strategic sales and
- A purchase is strategic based depending on it’s importance to
- Transactional sales are less important and typically have
- If senior management or a large cross-functional involved in
the decision making, then the sales is most likely strategic.
- If you want to understand whether a buying process is strategic
or transactional, watch the buyer’s behavior (who is involved,
questions ask, how in-depth, etc.)
[09:14] What kinds of risks are these people trying to protect
- There’s financial risk, such as paying too much.
- There’s performance risk, such as a late or damaged
- The buyers are trying to satisfy themselves that the risks are
minimal and under control.
[10:33] Do you usually try to map out what the buying process
- I like to map out the buying process if possible.
- Generally, the same kind of sale will be made time and time
again. Therefore, mapping is useful.
- Mapping the buying process deepens understanding, improves
internal collaboration and ideally improves sales performance.
[11:43] Every once in a while, you’ll go somewhere and the
owner says they need X amount of sales by the end of the year. Then
you dig into the buying process and discover the sales goal is not
achievable because the buying process is too long.
- That’s a huge issue. It’s indicative of an executive or a
company that hasn’t taken the steps to understanding the buying
- When leadership doesn’t understand the buying process, it leads
to management mistakes and bad decisions.
[13:46] When you’re working with companies do you try to nail
down how long the buying process takes?
- Yes, and not just in a sales growth environment. I also do it
in an environment where the company needs some help.
- These companies will typically have existing customers, and
when these customers place an order, it’s much quicker than when a
new customer does so.
- When you go for a new customer, many questions that only need
to be asked and answered once are presented.
[16:08] Is there a way for us to make the buying process go
- We as sellers add time to the process by responding slowly,
responding with incomplete answers, etc.
- Prospective customers will judge how they will be treated as a
customer based on how they are treated in the buying process.
- Three things that can be done as a sales manager are:
- Increase the number of opportunities you have available to
- Shorten the amount of time that it takes to get to a
- Improve the rate of success at which you can close.
[20:50] The buying process begins online now, but so often,
salespeople think that the sales process begins when they pick up
- It’s a disconnect and a particularly nasty problem. If you’re
not in a mindset of thinking about where the process really
started, you’ll miss it completely.
- The dwell time of an online resource is far greater than a
phone call or an email. It’s always there.
- If I call someone, I’m unknown, and that’s the greatest risk of
all. If you put out content online where people can engage with
you, they begin to know you and that’s a huge advantage.
[27:08] If you can answer prospective customers’ question
before even engaging, you’ve got a head start.
- The process that they use to get those answers, and how they
use those answers in their decision to do business with you, is the
Steve Elwell’s LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/selwell