You Don’t Say…

For more than 30 years I was a sales executive, selling strategic solutions.  During that time I worked primarily for the same company.  So, I had limited exposure to how our solutions compared to others in the marketplace.  Today I am a managing partner in the consulting firm Alleon Group.  We concentrate mostly on business process optimization, which sometimes includes outsourcing.  And, now I have a different perspective on the messaging sales executives provide during the selling process.

"the goal is to find a partner that can provide a solution to fulfill a need."

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"now i have a different perspective on the messaging sales executives provide during the selling process."

Here are some of my favorite cliché lines I hear – many of which I probably used in my past life.  And, here is how I respond now that I am on the other side of the table.

  • We want to earn your business!
    • What Exactly does that mean? Leaving this meeting, what will you do to change the rules of the game such that you can earn my business?
  • Let’s start tomorrow!
    • Start What?
  • There are no hidden costs.
    • Are you suggesting that anything not identified in your proposal is free? From now on until we terminate your agreement?
  • We have a nearly flawless production model.
    • Are you willing to guarantee that with financial penalties?
  • Our implementations are seamless!
    • How do you define that? Name three clients I can speak with who would use the term “seamless” in describing your implementation. (I ran implementation services for a large company for five years. We never had a seamless implementation.)
  • We have the most senior implementation team in the industry.
    • So, they are really old. Are they any good?
  • You have the highest level of executive support from our company!

    • Where are they?
  • We are experts! We do this day in and day out.
    • Does that mean you do it well? Or, you just do it every day?
  • We always save money for our clients.
    • How do you quantify that? Willing to go to contract on that point? If ok, I’d like to be the gate keeper who measures the success.
  • We are industry experts.
    • What industries?
  • We can absolutely do that!
    • Can you get someone from your technical team to agree to what you just said?
  • Nobody else can do what we do.
    • Then maybe we don’t need it.
  • Ask any of our clients!
    • We tried, but you told us you have NDAs with them that prevent such conversations.

The reality is I have a great deal of respect for providers of strategic solutions in the marketplace.  Although we ask some tough (and sometimes funny) questions, the goal is to find a partner that can provide a solution to fulfill  a need.  Partners in the marketplace provide that conduit to ensure businesses can focus on what matters most in growing their revenue while reducing operating costs.  Hats off providers!

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Todd Leonard

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Strategically sourcing a need, particularly a challenging or complex one, can be an intimidating process. Where do you start? When do you use a “strategic sourcing” approach versus “buying?” How do you find the right pool of potential partners and then narrow down to the optimal partner who will solve your need?