So much of B2B sales practice has been focused on quickly delivering the proposal, as if that is what encourages the prospect to buy. But this ignores the complex decision making process a buyer actually goes through. Steve Marx, CEO of the Center for Sales Strategy and author of the book "Close Like the Pros," describes how the philosophy behind interactive selling strategies addresses this very weakness of the classic hand-off selling approach.
Interactive sales techniques effectively fit with the new B2B sales landscape. With ubiquitous information already available to the prospect through the internet, the focus of the seller must now shift to tailoring his solutions to the prospect's unique needs. Interactive sales addresses this through active engagement between seller and prospect, including lots of back and forth, give and take, questions and answers, tweaking and modifying of the deal.
Interactive selling techniques are especially valuable for sellers hoping to have long-term or expanded relationships with their prospects, whereas hand-off selling promotes the short-sighted one-shot sale. To build this relationship the seller actually creates homework, not just for himself, but also for the prospect. Homework on both sides not only contributes to the progress of the proposal, but also acts as a litmus test to see if both sides are comfortable with both the speed and direction of the deal's creation.
Using interactive sales strategies the prospect improves the proposal, and the proposal actually improves the prospect. It works by weeding out the less likely to buy, helping the prospect become invested in the proposal, and creating a proposal truly improved by the prospect's contribution, getting you to your goal of closing the sale.
Steve Marx has been selling, helping salespeople, and consulting on the development of sales organizations for nearly his entire career. He conceived and established The Center for Sales Strategy (CSS) in 1983 and has led its growth from a one-man shop to today’s roster of nearly 30 full-time career staff, building CSS into the media industry’s preeminent sales and management consulting and training organization worldwide.
Before he founded CSS, Marx was VP/general manager of WAAF/WFTQ in Worcester, MA, for seven years. As a result of his innovation and leadership, the stations reversed their downward trends in audience, service, and reputation, multiplied their revenues nearly tenfold, and moved from red ink to cash cow. He was also a director of the $1.6 billion BankWorcester Corporation and its subsidiary, Worcester County Institution for Savings, and served as a member of its loan workout committee.
Marx received a B.S. in organizational behavior in 1969 from Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., where he is involved today in guiding and mentoring the young executives at the University’s student-owned-and-operated radio station, WVBR. He has long been active in industry and community affairs. He was a director and vice president of the Massachusetts Broadcasters Association and a member of the Radio Effectiveness Subcommittee of the Advertising Research Foundation. He was a director of the Worcester Area Chamber of Commerce and served on the city manager’s Special Airport Task Force. He has served as a trustee and a vice president at Congregation Schaarai Zedek in Tampa and is an active supporter and volunteer for Academy Prep Center of Tampa, a school expressly for at-risk inner-city kids of middle-school age. But there’s still time for fun: Marx is a solo-rated Porsche Club driver at Sebring International Raceway and also enjoys getting his center-console boat up on plane on Tampa Bay.
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