His blog was recently voted one of the Top 50 Sales Blogs in the world for the fourth year running, by Top Sales World Magazine and his book one of the Top 50 Sales Books in the world for 2019. With a 20-year track record in the B2B sales industry, including senior leadership roles with several the world’s leading technology companies, Cian Mcloughlin is a proponent of an ethical and honest approach to sales.
You must change your approach in COVID19; the sales professional cannot do cold outreach or call the customer and not mention that fact that their business might be struggling or that the customer might have stopped buying. Lead with empathy and authenticity and be just people and have a conversation and try to add some short term immediate value. Cain said to focus on what you have that can help their urgent problem. If you do not have anything to improve your customer in the current climate, then now is the time to focus on relationship building, to sew the seed which will reap the rewards down the track. Being tone-deaf to how the current climate is affecting the client will stop you getting the sale but also ruin your relationship in the long term.
Talking about why salespeople need to become great storytellers. Cian offers that people are hardwired to learn through stories. Stories make information easier to retain and then to tell that information to others. The light-up different parts of your brain and this is an essential part of interacting with people. People buy with their hearts and justify with their heads. As an industry, we appeal to the head and forget about the heart.
We recognise when people are authentic and when they are communicating with authenticity, and that causes others to reciprocate to authenticity and honesty as well. Cian says we are hardwired to respond to the treatment we get so if I feel you are listening that you care and you are focused on me, there is a higher probability that you will reciprocate which makes a better relationship.
Author of “Rebirth of the Salesman” which became an Amazon bestseller and was voted one of the top 50 sales books in the world by Top Sales World Magazine. Cian says he originally set out to write a book about win-loss analysis. The process and mechanics of how he takes the client on the to win, lose or draw process to extract value from their cost of sale. Cian says that there is a tremendous amount of value in finding out in a candid and specific way, why they were (or were not) selected.
What Cian actually wrote was a book about what he was hearing from the customer about how they love to interact and what the customer cared about, and what frustrated then and what the implications were for the sales professionals so they can stay relevant. What surprised Cian was that they thought the customer would talk and out product and price and what the talked about was people and purpose.
Product and price get you on the shortlist but when you are there, says Cian. It is the quality of your people, level of trust and reliability, who else you have worked with that we trust and know, so it is all the emotional intelligence or EQ driven rather than intellectual or IQ driven.
Cian conducted a buyer’s survey in 2019 to gain the option of 200 B2B procurement professionals and when asked – if you could say one thing to salespeople to improve what they do, what would it be? The answer was listening and understand stop showing up and throwing up.
Cian advises sellers to make a better discovery, and Cian goes into more detail in the discovery questions. Too often, he says, salespeople through the verbal mud at the wall to see what sticks.
B2B decisions are complex; I love Cian’s point that sellers are structure with hunters and farmer and SDR’s based on what makes sense of the vendor rather than what is the experience that they want the customer to have. I completely agree that we must map our buyer’s journey and design our sales process to the experience we want the customer to have.
Another great point by Cian, that salespeople will act the way they are incentivised to work so if we want to change we must look at the compensation structure and sale cadence to stop the short-term mindset of focusing on the closing. Because Cian says, we think of customers as deals in the forecast, and this drives a terrible culture.
The move to the cloud and SaaS has changed the focus as now customer retention and adoption is the focus rather than the up-front deal. SaaS customers vote with their feet if the service is unsatisfactory. NPS and retention are the metric rather than quota attainment.
Sellers are leaving a mountain of gold behind by not asking for feedback whether they have won or lost the deal advises Cian. To scale their sales seller must have a process in place to listen to customer gather the data, mine the information and take action based on the feedback they have received and improve and test and get better and learn from their wins and their losses.