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The Language of Greeks

Man on the edge of cliff
Man on the edge of cliff

Consider this.... you turn up to drive your car, but before you get in you have to be blindfolded. I give you no map but just a destination and only enough fuel to get you there. Oh, just before you set off, I have a couple more tricks up my sleeve! Unfortunately for you, you are also up against several competitors, none of whom have any of the limitations you face, but are all in a race to make it to the finish line first or you could end up loosing your job.

Welcome to the world of SALES!

So, let's systematically review the scenario. Over the last 20years I must have interviewed 000’s of applicants all looking for a career in sales or a step up from small, medium to enterprise markets. Including both direct and indirect roles, or from being an individual contributor to that of a Sales Leader. I can say without hesitation, that at least 90% struggled to demonstrate the following;

  • STRUCTURE - A sales methodology/process of any note and an awareness of how buyers buy.

  • PLAN - An understanding of how to get to target

  • BUSINESS ACUMEN - the knowledge and understanding of the operational functions within an organisation and its Markets.

So here’s a self-awareness check! You may be reading this thinking I have all of those attributes, then well done. However, just before you run off to count your commission, was that your King speaking or your Magician?

Point 1 - Structure - You see many of us think we have a process. We’ve read a book or two and even been on some company sales training. However, It’s only when you flip ones paradigm from that of a pupil to that of a teacher, you get to see how much of the knowledge (Know what to do) has really stuck.

Stephen Covey once said, “ for one to be truly committed to the material, you have to teach it to another within the first 24/48 hours”.

And before you ask, what’s the best sales process or methodology out there? It’s first more a question of do I have one (Knowledge)? If not, I urge you to get one fast! Or learn to adopt the one used by your current company. The more standardised an organisation is, the better the communication, understanding and management of information there will be.

Personally, I like to follow Pro-active selling by Skip Miller as its buyer centric. Meaning you put the buyer at the centre of your strategy to help them buy.

  • Yes’s are GREAT,

  • No’s are GOOD,

  • but Maybe’s will KILL you.

Point 2 - Plan - So assuming you have a structure and process to follow, how do I get to exceed target, (reach my destination), and what’s the best track to run on? Well, this depends on the target markets your value proposition fits and your employed business model. It could be one of several, for example, SaaS (Software as a Service), SMB, Transactional or Enterprise. Typically, the higher the selling price, the bigger the buying coalition, the more complex the sale and the longer the sales cycle.

So here’s a quick and easy 2 step formula to help you stay ahead of the competition, keep you focused and most importantly on the right track.

  • Formula: Target ÷ ASP (Average Selling Price) ÷ CR (Close Rate) = #Opportunities Required


  • Step 1: £10k (target) ÷ £1k (ASP) = 10 deals to hit target

  • Step 2: 10 deals to hit target ÷ by a 30% (CR) = 33 Opps required

For those of you working alongside Marketing on Demand Gen activities, you may want to apply a ‘Lead to Opps’ ratio to establish how many leads and or demarcation of responsibility.

Example might be (5:1) 5 Leads required for every 1 opportunity generated. Therefore, one would need 165 Leads to hit the required Opps target of 33.

Point of note – How many of you actually know your close rate, average selling price or even average sales cycle? If not, a couple of simple reports from your CRM/Salesforce might help. Or go one better and ask your BI Team to create a set of dynamic reports for you. Finally,

Point 3 - Business Acumen. Very few sales people are aware of the operational language used within the enterprise as well as how business functions fit together, let alone have ever tried to start a business of ones own. You truly want to empathise with a buyer or a business owner and its strategy, have a go!

You see, if you understand 3 simple organisational-buying languages and add it to a very effective business model framework, I’m confident you will not only expedite your results, you will be more confident and more valuable to both your own business and that of your customers.

3 Simple organisations languages – for this I’m going to use a Metaphor, Spanish, Russian and Greek.

  1. Spanish… This is the organisational language of FEATURE, FUNCTION. Typical roles within an org will be the USERs. In IT, we would recognise these guys as the Sys-Admins/Managers. These guys want to continuously make comparisons between one product and another. Is it faster, easier to use… does it have blue lights instead of red.

  2. Russian… This is the organisational language of BENEFIT. Typical roles are Heads Of, Department Lead, even as high up as Directors and VP’s. These guys are looking for efficiency, effectiveness, benefits and ROI, (return on investment).

  3. Greeks… This is the organisational language of VALUE. Typical roles are Owners and CEOs. These guys are only interested in how big is the pie, how much do I have, how can I get more with less, mitigate risk, improve my brand and can I gain as much leverage as possible. These guys don’t speak Spanish! So if you manage to find yourself with an audience of Greeks, make sure you are speaking their language. If not, you will find yourself very quickly being passed to a Russian and thus missed your opportunity.

So take a moment and ask yourself, who am I speaking to on my current deal(s)/accounts and can/am I talking the language of GREEKS.

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