Tim Riesterer- Who You Know or What You Know in Sales?


Kevin Price, Host of the Price of Business on Business Talk 1110 AM KTEK (on Bloomberg’s home in Houston) recently interviewed Tim Riesterer.
About the interviewee

Tim Riesterer has dedicated his career to improving the conversations salespeople have with prospects and customers. He is the co-author of two books on the subject – “Customer Message Management” and “Conversations That Win the Complex Sale” – and has consulted and trained the top companies in the world. As Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer for Corporate Visions, he sets the direction and develops products for this leading marketing and sales messaging, tools and training company.

Tell me about your firm (number of employees, location, type of companies you work with, etc.).

Headquartered in Larkspur, California, Corporate Visions is a leading marketing and sales messaging, tools and training company. With 105 employees, the company helps global B2B organizations create more sales opportunities, win more deals and increase sales profitability by improving the conversations salespeople have with customers. Specifically, companies engage Corporate Visions to help in three key areas:
Developing compelling messages to break through the status quo barrier, differentiate their solution, justify a purchase decision and protect margins;
Deploying that message through tools and visual stories to enable salespeople to engage multiple decision makers across the buying cycle; and
Delivering sales skills training that helps salespeople confidently use these messages and tools to create, elevate and capture more value in their customer conversations.

What type and size of companies do you have as clients?

Corporate Visions helps large enterprise companies such as ADP, Motorola, Philips, UPS, Cisco and others align marketing and sales with a repeatable approach for developing and delivering winning customer conversations.

What comes to mind when you see this topic (successfully pitching products/services to large enterprises)?
Successfully selling your products and services is not about pitching or even problem-solving. Selling today is actually about “change management.” The knowledge, concepts and skills that salespeople need to succeed are more about how to be change agents and apply change management disciplines. Today, the majority of qualified sales opportunities end up sticking with the status quo (making no decision) – in fact, this happens 60-90 percent of the time, depending on the industry. Dislodging the status quo is more about the psychology of overcoming inertia and risk aversion than it is about sharpening traditional sales skills around pitching and differentiating from classic competition. Salespeople would benefit most, and sharpen their skills, by studying and applying the findings from decision-making sciences around changing behaviors, including neuroscience, social psychology and behavioral economics.

What are the best practices/techniques when it comes to pitching products/services to large enterprises?

You need to offer a distinct point of view – not just a value proposition – in response to a customer’s stated needs. This means getting beyond the customer’s identified needs and specified capabilities they want from you and introducing unconsidered needs that create a sense of urgency around change and also lead to your unspecified strengths. Today’s approach to diagnostic questions about the customer’s known pains leads to commoditized messaging between competitors, as well as a lack of urgency on the part of the customer. This occurs because the known needs haven’t “killed them yet” while a change to a new solution might put them at serious risk. Your “pitch” has to surprise them with issues they hadn’t considered in order to help them see that the pain of staying the same is actually bigger than the potential pain of change.

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