Ask the Expert: Matt Heinz on how to sell your heart out

MattHeinzDo you think Sales is a four-letter word? Well, Matt Heinz can help you break it down into something manageable, repeatable and effective. I sat down recently to grill him on his new book, Successful Selling: How to Attract, Manage, Close & Keep More Business in a Buyer-Centric World, The book answers questions like: What are the secrets to unlocking more sales at a lower cost? How do you match your sales strategy with the way your customers want to buy? Where do you spend your time to build the biggest-possible sales pipeline? How do you close more business when your buyer is in control?

Matt is a sales pro, bringing more than 12 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations, vertical industries and company sizes. His focus has been on delivering measurable results for clients in the way of greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty.

Check out his blog, Matt on Marketing, or follow him on Twitter.

We talked about sales, productivity and the challenges of moving beyond just the founder’s networks when doing business. And I realized how much of what I teach clients about branding applies to selling effectively – which is ultimately what good branding is all about: making more sales.

RS: Do you think company size matters when it comes to who faces sales challenges?

MH: Actually, companies of different sizes, industries and stages often have the same three fundamental problems when executing their sales & marketing efforts. 

One, most often, there’s not enough customer focus.  The sales process is created and driven by how the company wants to manage sales, not based on how the customer buys

Two, many companies also don’t have a consistent sales process they’re following across the organization.  Without consistency, it’s impossible to predict future revenue and scale those efforts to new markets.

Third, few companies evolve their sales & marketing enough as their customers, markets and competition change the playing field.  The best sales & marketing organizations in the world (at companies big and small) are constantly testing, evolving and measuring what they’re doing.

RS: Adaptation seems to be everyone’s weakest link, doesn’t it?! Let’s move on to productivity: You talk about quite time-saving tools in your book. Do you feel time management is the biggest barrier to effective selling?

MH: No, but it’s an important part of reaching your optimum velocity.  Whether you make 40 calls or 80 calls a day isn’t necessarily going to help you sell more if your message doesn’t hit the mark with your target customer.   The biggest outcome of productivity focus is eliminating the constant distractions that surround us every day.  Know what you need to do, focus on it, and eliminate the majority of things that would otherwise take your time.  If you effectively measure the impact and outcome of your activities, you can then predict the impact of doing more of that activity on sales and revenue.  And that expected outcome can become a motivator to stay focused (yourself and your team) moving forward.

RS: Having worked both in both B2B and B2C, I hear conflicting opinions about who “has it easier.” Do you feel B2B vs. B2C companies need to nurture leads differently?

MH: The tactics may be different – B2B companies can often afford to spend more based on the average sales price per customer, for example – but the fundamentals are the same.  Whether you’re selling to a business or an individual (and in both cases, you’re really selling to people anyway), the vast majority of qualified prospects will not be ready to buy.  Right person, right company, not ready.  If you assume they’re going to be in the market eventually, your primary job is to be in front of them at the right time.  A good nurture program builds value with the prospective buyer so that they want to continue hearing from you.  This increases your overall awareness, allows you to continue a frequent line of communication, and will significantly increase your ability to win the business when the prospect is finally ready to make a move.

RS: If someone reading this is starting from a standstill and has absolutely no sales process or standard tools whatsoever, what do you recommend their actual first step be?

MH: Two things, both related.

First, identify your target customer.  Get specific, and narrow.  Get to know them inside and out – who they are, where they are, what background or motivations or needs bring them to the market, who and what influences them, etc. 

Second, use that knowledge to map your sales & marketing strategy specifically to how your customers want to buy.  The best marketers today are simply walking alongside their customers as they navigate their own path to purchase – providing advice and value, building reputation and trust and credibility along the way.

You can use this customer understanding and practical purchase-path knowledge to build the tactics, tools and processes necessary to effectively serve the customer, and scale your ability to do it with more and more customers moving forward.

RS: What advice do you have for companies that rely on the founder’s reputation and networks for new business and want to move to a more scalable, repeatable sales model?

MH: Figure out what it is that makes the founder’s system so effective, and systematize it. Build it into the DNA of the organization.  Document it, measure it, and moving forward iterate on it to improve it.  Michael Gerber talks about treating every small business as the prototype of a franchise.  Even if you’re not planning on opening dozens of branch offices, assume that you will.  How do you replicate and scale what worked in the beginning so that 1) you can scale, and 2) you can (as a founder) separate yourself directly from the ongoing success of the business?

**Full Disclosure: The link to Matt’s book is through my Amazon Affiliate Program.  But wouldn’t recommend the book if I didn’t love it and believe you will get incredible value from it.

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