#2: Bruno Desmet - From hating sales to a 30-year career in sales
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In this second episode of the Revenue Discussion podcast, Bruno tells us about his story in sales. You’ll learn how he went from hating sales to having a 30-year career in sales. As the managing director of The House of Sales he come in contact with sales people on a daily basis. One of the many things he’ll explain is why only 5% of sales people have the right to call themselves real sales professionals and what makes a good sales professional. Enjoy the episode!
No time to watch the full episode? Below you can find the key take aways.
1. By 2030 most corporates will be replaced by start-ups
If corporates want to stay competitive and keep up with the start-ups of today they will have to re-invent, re-build and in that way re-accelerate their business.
Nowadays there are too much processes and barriers between marketing, sales and customer success within the organisation. Because of that the company moves too slow and can’t keep up with the start-ups that are growing at a rapid pace. The first step in this process is for the corporates to break-down these silos that were build in the company over time and move back to one revenue team.
Next, the corporate have to create a consistent sales process with consistent messaging so they can acquire customers faster. You have to make your company’s portfolio of products and services simple, so that the revenue team is able to acquire customers in a consistent way.
Once the agile structure is in place and there is a consistent sales process with consistent messaging, the corporate will be able to re-accelerate their business.
2. Once a founder stops selling their baby, problems occur
Like the corporate, the start-ups also experience problems in their sales approach. The sales of a start-up will thrive, up until the moment the company is turning into a scale-up and the founders stop being responsible for the sales. When newly recruited sales have to go sell the product, problems start to occur due to a lack of consistency.
To solve this problem a consistent sales process with consistent messages has to be put into place. This means that if you as a client go through a buying process with two sales representatives of this company, that you twice get the same messaging and that they take you through the same process. Subsequently this creates resonance in the market, people will know who you are and in the end potential client will come to you and start buying from you.
3. You have to choose your customers
Under the pressure of making your targets and bringing in a certain amount of revenue, sales people sign-up as many business as possible. In the short run this might seem as a great idea, but in the long run this can cause a lot of headaches. If they don’t fit with your ideal customer you can end up with very difficult relationships, because expectations are misaligned. Therefor you need to choose the customers you work with and walk away from the ones that don’t fit you.
First of all you have to do a good segmentation of your ideal customer(s) you want to work with. Once you found these customers you have to go in conversation with them and feel mutual interest during these conversations. Moreover, you have to feel that they really want to work with you and move forwards with the relationship.
If an ideal customer is eager to work with you, you’ll experience great relationships with them and start to have fun in sales.
4. What sets the 5% legit sales professionals apart from the other sales people
Only 5% of the people in sales can call themselves sales professionals. The question you can now ask yourself is: what sets these professionals apart from the other people in sales? According to Bruno there are four characteristics.
First of all, a sales professional is always in control, both in your sales process as in the decision making process of your customer. To gain the control over this process you first have to create trust from the customer. In the second step you prove you can contribute to the business of the customer by improving their revenue, lowering their costs, mitigate risks or offer benefits to their internal or external customers. If you can complete these two steps your customer will allow you to take control over their buying process.
Furthermore a sales professional is an expert in the business of their customer. This is the reason you have to be selective in the customers you work with and make sure they are lookalikes. This makes it easier to become an expert in the business of the customer and, know the trends, opportunities and threats in the industry. If you show the customer you have the knowledge, you’ll want to work with you.
The 5% of sales professionals is next to task oriented also people oriented. They ask the stakeholders in the project what their interest is in the project.
The last characteristic might seem strange but real sales professionals dare to say no to the customer. For example in the segmentation phase, when you notice that their profile is not aligned with the ideal customer profile you can say that the customer is not the ideal partner to work with. Also when the customer asks for the price way too early, you have to say no because you don’t have all the information to make a accurate price. The last moment is when you feel that your chances of winning are too low, you have to walk away from the deal. Real sales professionals win more, lose early.
5. A change of environment caused Bruno’s first aha-moment
In 1990 Bruno made the switch from HP to IBM, one of his former competitors gave him a presentation. Here Bruno noticed that the presentation was exactly the same as the one he gave at HP, only the logo on the slides made the difference. This made Bruno realize that you shouldn’t present to potential customers, but go into conversations with them about their business.
During his career Bruno had many aha-moments and even to this day he keeps learning. According to Bruno you have to fail, make mistakes, be able to take a step back, analyse what you did wrong and only by doing this you can improve yourself and the way you work.