Andy Olen, Senior VP of North America Laboratory Diagnostics at Siemens Healthineers, and author of The Trilogy of Yes, has over 20 years of sales, marketing, general management, and entrepreneurial leadership experience from start ups to Fortune 500 companies. We sat down with Olen to pick his brain on his book, the Life Sciences industry, and how technology can help build relationships.
Here’s what we learned.
Deploy the valuable skills you built in life and apply them to winning in sales
Andy Olen described The Trilogy of Yes to us as “a winning approach for sales people and business leaders to help overcome the initial challenges involved in forming a new relationship with a customer.” The “trilogy” of skills that Olen refers to in his book are communication, connection, and cooperation. When we spoke with him, he discussed and shared with us how we translate these everyday skills into effective strategies that create lasting customer and business relationships.
Olen applies the sales skills of communication, connection, and cooperation into a three-stage sales process that he and his sales teams have effectively used around the globe. Again, the elegance of the sales process parallels real-life relationship building:
- “Dating phase” – During the dating phase, the salesperson learns about the customer, seeks out their needs and establishes common ground with them, or as Olen would say, “it’s important to find the equal signs of what you and the customer have in common – this is where trust begins to form” Olen walked us through easy-to-use tips and tricks on how to eliminate the anxiety of a first meeting with a customer and begin to establish the foundation of a new relationship.
- “Trading phase” – The trading phase is where the negotiation happens and the deal is closed. During this phase, the salesperson and customer “work together in a positive way to eliminate conflict and cooperate as a team. When done well, a skilled-salesperson using the Trilogy of Yes skills is able to motivate the customer to happily add more to the purchase. Again, Olen guides us through how to effectively navigate a tense negotiation into a winning outcome for all parties.
- “Partnering phase” – The partnering phase is the opportunity for the salesperson to build long-term customer equity and loyalty. Rotating the skills of communication, connection, and cooperation into the Partnering Phase creates lasting customer relationships, loyalty, and repeat sales opportunities.
The mastery of these trilogy of skills enables salespeople to break the ice, develop trust, and create a valued partnership with the customer.
Don’t just let your product sell itself
So what does it look like when salespeople don’t focus on relationship building? After attending a large software conference, a couple of years back, Olen was excited to see the ways software companies, ones that target sales and marketing organizations, would sell to sales leaders like him. He expected that vendors selling sales products would have to be on top of their game selling to “savvy customers who know all the sales tricks in the book.” Ironically, Olen recalls “I was blown away by how underdeveloped the relationship selling skills of some of the companies were.” He thought to himself, with so many great products here, why are these companies missing such an easy opportunity to connect new customers to their technologies? It was clear to Olen that the companies who were able to combine great software products with exceptional sales skills would differentiate themselves in the market.
“Don’t let great software stand on its own. Rather, compliment it with effective sales communication, unique ways to connect, and form a cooperative team with your customer. Companies that develop these skills across inside sales calls, face to face meetings, and after the software is deployed will create an advantage. If you do these things well with an unbelievably cool piece of software, you will lap 8 out of 10 companies I met with at this conference. Sales skills, plus a great product, are what enable market share leaders.”
Software is a vehicle to enable your sales skills and impact
We also dug into how technology fits into the sales process – what helps and hinders in building relationships? Some technologies take out the human element of an interaction (think, an impersonal email blast). Sales Enablement technology can empower sellers to engage more effectively and deeply with prospects, allowing them to build a true partnership. It is as simple as having the content you, or the prospect, need in the moment. Being able to provide insight and digital leave-behinds that directly map to the interaction with the prospect helps the salesperson “find the equal signs” faster and easier. With that trust established upfront, the Trading and Partnering phase will be much more profitable.
Olen used an example of a medical device company that is in the process of launching a new product. As a seasoned professional in the industry, he explained, “healthcare customers require a high-level of trust and confidence in the product before they even consider buying because they will be using it on their patients.” He expands, “with Bigtincan, the salespeople go into the meeting with all of the relevant resources they need to build that trust with the customer. Maybe it’s another hospital that the company just closed, you get a real-time update, and turn that update into a valuable reference site for the customer you are looking to win over. By association, your prospect is more interested in talking with you if her peer group are already using your product.” Trust is key, and when technology can aid salespeople in building relationships, magic is made.
When it comes down to it, sales really is an art. With the right mindset and skills – communication, connection, and cooperation – and a little help from a smart technology, the sky is the limit for salespeople.