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Tangent Knowledge Systems
Tangent Knowledge Systems

Our Philosophy

We promote a neutral, nonselling posture that requires the salesperson to have a deep and thorough understanding of the customer's business, problems and compelling reasons to change.

 

Our step-by-step change acceleration process has the salesperson asking thought-provoking questions that allow the customer the independence and freedom to make their own decisions and draw their own conclusions, independent of the salesperson's personal agenda. Because this discovery process empowers and honors the customer, it is a natural way to build trust, rapport and relationships.

 

The change acceleration process allows sales organizations to maximize their leverage of time, resources and information to quickly identify where they have the highest probability of success and greatest return on investment.

 

Problem-Centric

  • All problems from your prospect are equal until proven otherwise. Don't go off running to the races to solve a prospect's problem until you've done your due diligence to understand whether that problem has consequences and is actionable.
  • Even if you know in advance 100% of the problems of your prospect, you must allow them to verbalize their own version and rendition. If the salesperson has not taken the time to patiently let the prospect verbalize their pain, the salesperson won't gain the trust to solve it.
  • All problems are universal. No matter what industry you are in, regardless of your product or service, all prospects change because of fear, insecurity, and dissatisfaction.
  • Since pleasure, gain, and opportunity represent a momentary painless state, then even the pursuit of gain is an attempt to escape problems. All motives are driven by problems in some form or another, so always sell to your customer's problems.
  • Any problem, when fully discovered, defined and explored by a salesperson, contains its own answers, solutions, and course of action for your prospect. No problem can be properly resolved by your prospect, until you help them find and address its causes from within.
  • A good salesperson knows that unless their prospect is communicating their emotional problems, it not only ceases to exist, it also won't be acted upon.
  • Rarely do your customers bring the real problem to the table. Frequently, they bring symptoms and the salesperson enthusiastically too often runs off to fix the wrong problem.
  • More often than not, to get problems, you must extend problems. Clients are more inclined to share information when you prompt them with questions that are designed to create or elicit problems. Some customers are more inclined to admit to imperfection before they will admit to problems. Effective salespeople will specifically detail all the positive things they know their customer isn't experiencing and let the customer decide for themselves if they are willing to see and admit the large gap between perception and reality. We call this strategy-positive prompters.
  • If your customer is unwilling to put the past behind them and they do not use the past as a bellweather for the future, you probably are not going to get them to admit to their problems.

 

Self-Esteem

  • Your salespeople will consistently and predictably perform in the field in direct proportion to how they feel about themselves.
  • Salespeople proactively protect their self-esteem and rate of rejection by being very discriminating and discerning as to when and under what conditions they will make offerings. They avoid making premature offerings in situations where they have a high likelihood of losing.
  • Salespeople put their self-esteem at risk when they are overly emotional in the outcome of the sale. This is why enthusiastic, positive selling has fatal flaws.
  • Salespeople who take 100% responsibility in how they feel about themselves and how others treat them will greatly increase their ability to stay mentally tough.
  • When a salesperson has a high need for approval, they will always seek, but not find approval and validation from others. However, no one can give us approval or validation except ourselves.
  • When boasting about your product's superiority or when putting all the focus of attention on your product, the only things that stand out are your own insecurity and irrelevance.
  • The #1 reason for feelings of rejection is salespeople take events and things that are not personal…personally.
  • If salespeople took on a nonselling posture, where they had nothing to prove, nothing to defend, were expectation-free, they would greatly reduce their feelings of rejection.
  • If your customer is unwilling to put the past behind them and they does not use the past as a bellwether for the future, you probably are not going to get them to admit to their pain.

 

Price Depreciation/Margin Erosion

  • The way you buy is the way you'll sell. If you personally buy on price  you'll tend to be vulnerable to prospects who buy on price.
  • The way you win business is the way you'll lose business. If you were rewarded the business because of low price, you'll eventually lose it because of price.
  • Price is never the real issue. The real issue is, clients don't believe you are worth the price and sometimes you aren’t, according to their standards.
  • The job of good salespeople is to realize who is willing to pay more knowing they could get it for less elsewhere. One of the greatest contributors to commoditization and price depreciation is traditional value proposition selling (features and benefits). This archaic methodology of selling will have you looking and sounding like all of your competitors, resulting in lower margins and depreciation of your market prices.

 

Listening

  • Salespeople who struggle to be good listeners generally are spending too much time listening too intently to their own internal dialogue. Their focus is too much about their own needs.
  • The art of listening is a selfless act when done properly. That's why it is so difficult for most salespeople.
  • To be a good listener, one should be in the moment and always be aware of their client's situation. If you are not distracted by the coming attractions of an impending sale, or by lost opportunities in the past, then rarely will you miss what's important. What's important is what your customer is thinking, feeling, and saying; this is the main event at hand.
  • It isn't that salespeople are bad listeners, it is rather that they aren't good at asking compelling questions that will elicit answers that are worth listening to. Generally, when you ask compelling questions, you get compelling and revealing answers.
  • The only time it is appropriate to be overly aggressive is when you are aggressively listening.
  • Curiosity is the embryo of interest. The only time you really have your customer's undivided attention is when you are listening.
  • The first and most important sale in the selling event is to get your customer comfortable in sharing important and potentially sensitive information.
  • It is difficult to be a good listener if you are emotionally vested in the outcome of your client's answers.

 

Relationships

  • People buy from people they like... period... end of story. This used to be the prevailing tenet in the past. Today, the new tenet is people buy from people they like, but more importantly, they buy from people they believe have taken the time, have the patience, the expertise, and care enough to really learn about their business, their vision, and their problems in a way few others could.
  • Lasting relationships are built on one's ability to add value by being an advisor, a business strategist, a consultant, and a confidante and not through the process of selling and delivering your offering.
  • As long as your customer perceives your salesperson as wanting something or being partial, you will never fully be trusted or seem authentic. Only when you want nothing from the customer can you be totally honest, impartial, genuine and trustworthy. This is what customers are willing to pay a premium for.
  • You must first give trust to get trust. Generally, an initial gesture of good faith at the start of a sales call will be necessary to gain your customer's trust.
    For example: "I'm not sure if we can specifically help you or if what we have is right for you. I'm sure after we both have had a chance to ask each other some questions, we'll be able to determine what, if anything, should be the next step or whether or not we are a good fit for your company."
  • The best way to initially build a long term relationship with a new prospect is to be willing to gracefully let your prospect "go" when there is no longer a mutually beneficial reason to continue or if you are no longer getting a fair return for your efforts.

 

Time Utilization

  • Time kills all deals. The longer deals sit out there, the greater the likelihood they will go south and the higher your costs of sales will be.
  • The customer you sell and do business with will always pay in resources and time for those prospects you don't do business with.
  • When you let your customers make their own decisions, independent of your own agenda, you free them of self-imposed limitations and they return the favor by making decisions much quicker. By operating this way, you save yourself and your company an enormous amount of time.
  • Why do customers not respect your salespeople's time? Because salespeople don't respect their own time and customers return the favor.
  • Salespeople chase, badger, over inform and they don't take the time to understand what is most important to the customer.
  • Time is the single most important asset salespeople have. They need to guard it and protect and be very discriminating as to who qualifies for it.
  • Time management is an oxymoron. You can't manage time, you can only prioritize it. However, salespeople too often organize and manage their time very effectively with prospects who don't have problems, (money budget), political clout, will and decision authority. They get an "A" for organization and a "F" for effective time utilization.
  • Salespeople should view their time as an inventory control system. The key characteristics of an effective inventory control system are time and money. The longer the inventory sits on the plant floor, the more it is going to cost you money. Therefore, the goal is to turn and flip that inventory as quickly as possible. In the world of sales, what is a salesperson's inventory? It is their active pipeline of deals they are seeking closure on. If a salesperson viewed themselves as the CEO of their own enterprise, what would their goal be? To turn and flip their accounts as fast as possible, while at the same time keeping their customer and themselves comfortable.

 

Closure

  • Closing is a nonevent. The real event is opening. Opening is where 90% of all sales are won or lost.
  • To gain leverage and control, salespeople should avoid closing the sale at all costs and have the customer close themselves.
  • What is more valuable and realistic than closing is seeking the truth. The truth will help you decide if closure is realistic.
  • Too many salespeople are trying to close customers Moses couldn't close.
  • The more space and freedom you give your clients the opportunity to say, "no", the less inclined they are to use it as a response.
  • Seeking closure is a far more powerful closing tool than closing. The former is collaborative. The latter is manipulative.
  • Closing infers being open to only one response... "yes." Closure infers being open to the full range of possible responses. The goal of closure is to get customers to make decisions.
  • If a salesperson isn't decisive about getting closure on their own decisions, they will tend to attract clients who act in the same way. Like attracts like.
  • Too often salespeople's closing tactics only get them very committed wafflers - "It is a definite maybe. A realistic possibility, that down the road in the near future, if everything remains the same and nothing changes, barring any unforeseen circumstances, we are going to form a special committee that will convene a special advisory board that will consult with a review board and a blue ribbon commission.f Then we'll do a preliminary field test, a beta test, a 360 degree capability study and a proof of concept evaluation. And with that we’ll get a quick nod from upstairs to run this up the flag pole to the executive suite to get a quick sign off from the CEO, CIO, CMO, CTO, and COO and we’ll definitely get back to you." Too many salespeople at this stage, with irrational exuberance, react by calling corporate and demanding they order the steel for this phantom deal they haven’t secured.

 

Qualifying/Disqualifying

  • To qualify effectively, you must address the full reality of your customer's situation. You need to know what are the competing initiatives, where should their time be best spent based on their key priorities, where and who are the potential deal spoilers, do they have the flexibility to roll out something new, do they have the personnel to support it, is the timing right and will the culture of the company be able to embrace and integrate the change? Once you understand all the variables necessary to consider changing, you can help lead your customer in the direction that makes most sense for their priorities.
  • Any salesperson can qualify an opportunity. The real pros are very good at disqualifying opportunities.
  • Anyone can sell. However, it is more important to know who, when, where and under what circumstances not to sell.
  • The salesperson with the best understanding of the customer's problems will consistently outsell the salesperson with the best solution.
  • One should be only as committed to sell as one’s customer is to change. If you aren't getting reciprocal effort in exchange for your own effort, it is a waste of your time.
  • In any competitive sales situation, there are always two winners. The first winner is the salesperson who is awarded the deal. The second winner is the salesperson who lost quickly, effortlessly, and with minimal allotment of time, energy, and resources.
  • Sales is just as much about being efficient as it about being effective.

 

Selling Strategies

  • What most salespeople think of consultative selling is just a poor excuse for it. Usually, it is just transactional selling (a few safe questions) all dressed up with nowhere to go.
  • All tangible products should be positioned and sold as intangibles. Products sold as a concept have a much better chance of upholding margins and building a strong foundation for strategic relationships.
  • Salespeople should treat their very best clients as if they were prospects, because the longer you are with a client, the less you know about their critical success factors, since you are more focused on servicing, maintaining, growing and protecting and not strategically learning about their ever-changing initiatives and priorities. When you are too close to the trees, you can't see the forest.
  • Sales organizations need to cease being seduced by low hanging fruit (quick and easy transactional deals) and seek first to build long term business relationships that will position themselves as strategic partners. Once you get stuck in the role of a transactional supplier, it is very hard to move up the food chain
  • Most sales organizations are finding themselves in the inevitable position of being very good at a game no longer being played. Their sales strategies would fit very well into a charming and quaint Norman Rockwell painting
  • In real estate, it is location, location, location. In sales, it is timing, timing, timing. That means being at the right place, at the right time, with the right person, and under the right circumstances. However, most sales organizations operate and behave under the notion that sales is all about product,product,product
  • The harder you sell the harder it is to sell, find pain and a motive to change.
  • Customers don't so much resist change, rather they resist and resent being changed. Taking a nonselling, change agent posture minimizes this hurdle.
  • The best salesperson at the selling event is always the customer. By allowing them to first sell themselves, they are far more willing to believe and act upon their own ideas. Few customers resist their own ideas.

 

Questions

  • You are paid and rewarded for your questions, not your answers.
  • The act of questioning, probing, and discovery is done more for the benefit of your customer than for yourself.
  • The best way to be heard, get attention, and make your case is to ask thought-provoking questions.
  • When you ask stupid questions, you get stupid answers. Questions that are biased toward eliciting favorable and hopeful answers generally get inane, superficial, and untruthful answers.
  • Curiosity and inquisitiveness is to sales today as persuading, convincing, and cajoling was to the past.
  • Natural curiosity, being genuinely interested, and being inquisitive, represents the new power of persuasion for the future.
  • Asking "What" questions gets you only a small piece of the equation: What are your looking for, what is important, what are your specifications and requirements, and what is your criteria for choosing a vendor?
    Instead, spend more time asking "Why" questions: Why is that important to you, why do you want to consider changing now, and why would you consider switching from a supplier that you are happy with?
    "What" questions tend to focus on what is important to the salesperson to get closer to the sale. Whereas "Why" questions get to the real motivations and compelling reasons why customers buy and what is at stake if they don't buy.