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“Being able to flex your sales approach with customers can lead to a significant performance improvement – increases of up to 20% are not unusual,” claims Phil Purver of Engaging Behaviour, the Customer Engagement Behavioural Analysis Specialists who support individuals, teams and organisations in adapting their behaviour with customers to achieve mutually successful outcomes.
It seems obvious. Consider the deciding factor last time your organisation made a significant purchase, and chances are that part of your decision to buy was influenced by the behaviour of the sales person. If they cannot align their behaviour to your values, they’re unlikely to be as successful. In fact, you’re more likely to be put off from buying from them at all, due to not feeling your particular needs have been met.
And yet, the evidence suggests few salespeople pay enough attention to the importance of developing the behavioural flexibility to what their customers respond best to. Why, when with the right focus you can adapt your behaviours to appeal to what your customer values most?
Only by matching the behaviour of the customer facing people with the corresponding values of your customers will you see a significant positive difference in your sales performance. This is not difficult, as sales behaviour can be measured, as can the values of your customers, using Customer Engagement Behavioural Analysis, known as CEBA.
CEBA is a powerful diagnostic tool, initially developed in 2003 by Dr David West, that enables you to identify your current behavioural approach and compare it to what your customer values most. CEBA provides objective information so you can have a meaningful discussion about how individuals, teams and organisations can adapt their approach to meet the values of their customer(s). It has recently been refined and updated in to the product that it is today, and has been used with impressive results in organisations both large and small.
With 37 years of experience in the world of sales, Phil knows first-hand the importance of maximising sales potential. Having worked with the tool since 2004 and achieved such positive results, he rebuilt and relaunched the product in 2018.
“Performance is measured by motivation x ability. The latter comprises three key components; skills, knowledge and behaviour,” he explains.
“Skills development is where the bulk of the sales training market focuses, such as how to open and close sales, to present and negotiate. Knowledge development, including a company’s products or services, the competition, and market intelligence, is typically provided internally.
“The third area, behaviour, is all too often ignored, and yet has a huge impact. In this increasingly competitive world, to not have the emotional flexibility to spot the values with which a person or organisation wants to engage with you, can cost you millions when aggregated across sales teams.
“I often ask companies how account managers are allocated to their respective accounts. Very often it is because the last person left. That can often lead to a mismatch between the preferred behavior of the individual leading that account, and the values of the client.
“CEBA is a powerful way of shining a spotlight on where potential mismatches are between sales people and their potential customers or clients. It shows you, as an individual, team or organisation, how to look critically at your current customer facing behaviour, recognise what you need to do differently and identify how you can consciously flex that behaviour to meet the values of your customers.”
So, how does it work? Initially, it requires members of an organisation to complete a questionnaire which identifies their current preferred behavioural approach to selling. Their customers then complete a different questionnaire to identify the values with which they want to engage with the organisation. This objective information enables you to identify if there is an alignment or a mis-match. Data can be presented on an individual, team or organisational level. Phil explains further:
“There are four main cardinal sales values, which can be aligned using the points on a compass. Due north is relationships, which is where a product is sold on reputation and trust, such as a management consultancy.
“Due east is partnerships, which very often comes down to joint problem solving and understanding business strategy at a senior level.
“Due south is product, which is where the customer wants to know the features and advantages of a particular product.
“Finally, due west is reliability. Take, for example, if you buy a Rolex. You don’t expect the seller to focus on reliability because it’s a Rolex; that’s a given. Your quality of service, however, is critical, as are your support lines, should there ever be an issue.
“Completing CEBA identifies your preferred approach and that which your customer values most. If you and your customer are not aligned, it is unlikely your customer will buy.
“What often happens in a sales cycle is when you open a new account, the customer will buy a product or service from you, test it through the reliability of your service, and that very often leads to the north compass line, relationships,” Phil hastens to add.
It certainly makes sense, and the validity of CEBA is demonstrated by numerous success stories from individuals and organisations that have used it. Roger, who works for an insurance company, has one such story which speaks for itself. Phil explains:
“Roger was having a difficult time and was falling behind expectations by the mid-point of the year. He was asked to complete CEBA and was given a new approach to try during the feedback sessions he had. The results were almost instant.
“His second half sales figures saw him pull back some of the losses of the early months and he ended the year in a mid-table position. By the end of the year, his sales figures had hit an all-time high, and he was named ‘Salesperson of the Year’.
“CEBA was also rolled out across the organisation, and together the team improved their overall figures by 20% year on year, with the majority hitting their targets well in advance.”
As ever, it comes down to the bottom line. CEBA’s real power and success lies in the recommendations generated by the CEBA output report and the action taken afterwards.
“You can’t make a difference just by completing CEBA, you have to be prepared to change. CEBA throws a spotlight on why you might be missing a sales number either as an individual, team or across an organisation, it is then up to you and or the team to take ownership for making that change.
“If you go through the process that we suggest, engage in the rules of a change agenda and have individual and/or teams taking ownership, you will see a remarkable improvement, as the evidence has demonstrated. Just consider multiplying Roger’s end-of-year figures out over the organisation. The potential return-on-investment is huge.
“CEBA offers a big opportunity to broaden your insight and correlate your current behaviour to the most successful sales behaviour which matches with what your customers value most. This is where CEBA can make a marked difference,” Phil concludes.
To find out more CEBA, visit www.durhamlane.com/ceba
This article was originally posted in The Leap magazine.