Conference 2017: the best story, told the best, will always win

Tim Riesterer, Conversations that Win conference with Corporate Visions and APS

June 6, 2017: “The best story, told the best, will always win.” These were the closing words at today’s Conversations That Win conference, which provided a masterclass in how salespeople can tell the best story at the three critical moments in the sales process.

Presented jointly by the Association of Professional Sales (APS) and Corporate Visions, Conversations That Win (#CTW17) offered the latest scientific research on how to persuade, combined with compelling real life examples from IBM, Ciena, UPS, Ericsson and other household name companies who have put the science into practice – to great effect.

Andrew Hough, chief executive officer of the APS, also announced exciting new initiatives that the APS will be launching this month to assist members. These include a new Sales Experience Metric that will measure customer experience at the point of sale – responsible for 53 per cent of the impetus to buy.

The APS CEO outlined an inspiring vision for the future of the sales industry. “We want sales to be chartered, to put sales in the same place as all the other professions like accounting and engineering,” said Andrew Hough.

Andrew Hough, APS CEO at the Conversations That Win conference / photographer Sam Pearce,

Andrew Hough, APS CEO at the Conversations That Win conference / photographer Sam Pearce,

Conference host Tim Riesterer, the chief strategy officer of Corporate Visions, guided the audience of sales leaders at the Mermaid Theatre, London, through the different skills needed at three critical moments in the sales process: the moments when value is created, elevated and captured.

First, said Riesterer, value needed to be created through an initial conversation between salesperson and client. Second, value needed to be elevated, by persuading the board of the client company of the business case and all round desirability of the sale. Third, value needed to be captured, in the haggling over price where sales people had to have an unerring sense of how much to give away and how to guard the profitability of the sale.

Conference heard an inspiring presentation on creating value by Keri Gilder, Ciena’s vice president and general manager EMEA. She recounted a gripping anecdote of the white-knuckle moment when – minutes before a critical first meeting with major prospect Vodafone – she ordered her lead salesperson to throw away his carefully curated PowerPoint creation because it was too much about Ciena and not enough about Vodafone.

In the last morning session Dave Jenkins, the global program owner of IBM’s financial selling portfolio, described how IBM had focused on elevating value, creating an academy to coach its most skilled salespeople in how to talk the language of chief financial officers and other C-suite executives.

And in the afternoon session on capturing value, George Pastidis, Ericsson’s regional learning and development consultant for 25 countries, educated the audience in the art of spotting and leveraging “elegant negotiables” – extra services that cost little or nothing for a sales company to offer, but which a client may value very highly.

The day concluded with Riesterer and Erik Peterson, chief customer officer of Corporate Visions, describing how science had identified the single sales technique that worked best in winning new business – but had also since proved that when it comes to customer retention and renewals, salespeople were best advised to do the exact opposite.

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