Sales Manager Explains: No ROI, No Buy-In

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    Barry Braunstein, the current Regional Sales Manager at A2E Technologies, is a leader in embedded systems design services.

    He has over 30 years of sales, sales management, and marketing management experience in technical sales to both OEM’s and end-users for both large and smaller (start-up) companies such as Intel, Tektronix, Mentor Graphics, Wind River, and Digital Equipment Corporation. He can be contacted at

    Q. What book has influenced the way you approach sales?

    I’ve taken over 15 sales training courses in my career (and have taught some as well), and have read a number of sales and marketing books. There are many excellent books out there that can provide different perspectives on successful selling strategies and techniques, so I would recommend that interested readers seek out more than just one. Having said that, one of the best books I’ve found is Mastering the Complex Sale by Jeff Thull.

    Q. Were there any key “takeaways” that inspired your personal approach to sales?

    I read Jeff’s book when it first came out, and have subsequently came back to review some chapters. One of the most significant takeaways of the book is the concept of customer perceived value.

    Many salespeople feel the need to show up to a customer and talk about how wonderful their product is and why they should buy it. Jeff’s theme is that, as sales people, we need to spend the time understanding the customer’s issues or problems you are trying to solve.  Once that is clarified, we then work to build a joint understanding of the value of the solution you’re selling in terms of solving the customer’s problem or issue. Along with that, the “value” will most likely be different to different groups within the customer’s organization.  In order to have a successful campaign, it’s important to understand and agree upon these differing values and needs.

    If you think about it, the concept is simple – but in today’s economy in particular, customers are only buying if they perceive the value (and an ROI) of what you’re selling.

    Q. With sales being a cross-disciplinary skill, how would this book help non-sales-professionals improve their professional effectiveness?

    Other parts of your organization (e.g. marketing) can also benefit by understanding and using the concepts Jeff discusses in this book in developing their marketing and/or positioning strategies. Customer facing literature, presentations, and overall messaging should also be highlighting the value to the customer of your offering (vs. “speeds and feeds”). Overall, understanding this method to selling can help marketing better align their strategies and programs with their sales force, providing a unified approach to the customer.

    Q. Imagine a situation where you’re trying to sell upper management on a new initiative. Upper management has little knowledge in this area, but you want to sell them on it anyway because you know that your initiative will have a tremendously positive impact on your organization. Drawing from the book you recommended, what would you do to close the “sale?”

    I would try to first educate upper management on the specific area in question with facts gathered from similar companies along with as much data as I could draw from their company. At the same time, I would work to find/develop a “champion,” (e.g. someone at a lower level who has access to upper management) who buys into this new initiative and sees it as important to the company’s future. I would then develop a strategy with this champion to educate upper management on the problems that this initiative would solve, the ROI, and how it would be implemented. The ROI is key, because if there is no ROI – it won’t be funded.

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