Chief Executive of Accelerant, creator of its methodologies, and best-selling author of ACCELERANTS, Michael Boylan has delivered general session keynote addresses for some of the most respected Fortune 1000 companies in America, for annual sales meetings, quarterly events, and regional meetings.
Boylan founded Accelerant in 1997, serving the senior management, business development, sales, marketing, and strategic growth organizations of Fortune 1000 companies interested in driving more growth, compressing their “time-to-a-deal,” and reducing their cost of sales levels across the business units, through embracing and customizing the Accelerant Principles he writes about in his best-selling book ACCELERANTS, to the unique characteristics of each business unit’s objectives.
Boylan’s strategies to “sell faster, close deals faster, and grow your business faster” couldn’t be better timed, considering the challenges faced by sales teams in the current economic climate. Boylan shared some of these strategies at the February 23rd “Eat the Book” event, as part of the CO2 Minneapolis CEO Leadership Series. The following interview recaptures and continues the discussion with Boylan.
John LeTourneau: What is the core philosophy behind the Accelerants?
Michael Boylan: To create urgency on the prospect or client’s part to look at your offerings and move ahead, when, in essence, there is none. The urgency is created by the adoption and use of the Accelerant Process.
John LeTourneau: Is there a mental model that you had in mind when you developed Accelerants? If so, how do you transfer that model to others?
Michael Boylan: The mental model is one of an “umbrella” over-arching business process or initiative. The process is made up of 12-point solutions, each one focused on a particular area that the client may have an issue with. The beauty is that, used in harmony as a business process, it becomes imbedded as routine thinking across the company over time, whereby this Accelerant Mindset helps business owners become much smarter and more aggressive about pursuing new business.
John LeTourneau: Why do organizations have such a hard time accelerating the “time to sale”?
Michael Boylan: Companies in any sector are always looking for ways to get business on the books faster, for less cost. It’s the never-ending search for greater efficiencies across the marketing and selling landscape. But multi-national, mid-sized, and small firms ALL essentially “go to market” in amazingly similar ways, not ever learning from the past or calibrating their process to the nuances of the environment around them.
To explain further, they essentially all:
1) Search to locate “the person” responsible for buying their stuff;
2) Attempt to garner a meeting with that person using the net benefits of their offer (which rarely have any TEETH, meaning metrics as to how their product could financially help) as the sole justification for why the prospect ought to grant the meeting or call;
3) Rarely know much about the company or execs they are meeting with prior to gaining an appointment or call;
4) Use the initial meeting or call to learn about the company, the people they’re meeting with, and the potential opportunity;
5) Try to locate “the pain” the prospect is experiencing and assess how strong the prospect’s desire is to relieve that pain;
6) Locate an internal sponsor or advocate to help them navigate through the selling process;
7) Let the prospect dictate the length of their sales process (even though the prospect rarely has any urgency to move quickly);
8 ) Get quite frustrated with how long the process takes, because they’re not dealing with all the key people who have a hand in the decision process.
In 15 years of working with sales and marketing organizations of all sizes, in a wide range of industries, I see this same approach again and again. It’s what prompted me to write Accelerants.
John LeTourneau: Are these challenges the same today as they were five to ten years ago?
Michael Boylan: These were the same challenges that existed years ago, however, because of the financial pain many firms are suffering due to the recession and other factors, they might be more compelled to find a better selling methodology. The Accelerants process has proven to deliver exceptional financial results in the field now for over 12 years; it’s been tested and used by some very sophisticated and seasoned selling organizations. So, if it’s good enough for them, then perhaps the management of smaller firms (in particular) will wise up—especially if their business is on the brink.
John LeTourneau: You speak of 12 common constraints that have a serious negative impact on most businesses. What are they?
Michael Boylan: Each of the 12 constraints can slow down or outright prevent a deal from closing. Some constraints are management-focused, some sales-related, and some marketing-related. They are all intertwined, though, since each one chips away at a company’s effectiveness.
Some of these constraints are:
- Entering much too low within the enterprise
- Not having any financial metrics in your value proposition
- Not knowing how to present to senior executives
- Using a classic power-point that literally drives senior executives nuts
- Approaching only one person upon entry into the company
- Not listening to the people in the field about what they think the constraints to more sales are.
To see all 12 constraints, readers should go to the website at www.AccelerantInternational.com and click on The Constraints Assessment.
John LeTourneau: Are all twelve constraints always present?
Michael Boylan: Each firm—again, regardless of size or number of employees—typically has at least 6-9 of the 12 constraints going on and doesn’t know it. This is a serious deal, since it’s directly blocking more revenue growth. It’s like having significant blockage in a person’s arteries, increasing the risk of stroke or heart attack.
The Constraints Assessment provides a 360-degree view of the particular constraints impeding an organization’s growth. These impediments can then be removed using the Accelerant Process Initiative.
Michael Boylan: Yes, many smaller firms actually don’t have a well-defined sales, marketing, or go-to-market approach. The Accelerant Process does, in fact, become their entire marketing, sales, and go-to-market approach. It’s simple to understand, use, and deploy, and it can be customized to each business unit’s unique situations and nuances.
John LeTourneau: Can you cite an example of a client who adopted Accelerants as a sales process?
Michael Boylan: Yes, a small software company in Denver who’d burned through several million in venture capital over 5-plus years without showing a profit over that period of time, then installed the Accelerant Process, and within 18 months, not only totally turned around the sales and marketing engines’ effectiveness, but also closed enough larger-scale deals to gain the attention of ORACLE Corporation. They were recently purchased by Oracle as a solution provider.
John LeTourneau: If I believe my current sales process is working, how can Accelerants help me?
Michael Boylan: The Accelerant Process can out-perform any currently installed process, if used methodically by the customer. It is that powerful and that real. Net-net, it can essentially speed any firm’s time-to-a-deal by 25 percent or more.
John LeTourneau: Could Accelerants be viewed as a leadership style?
Yes, as it’s a methodology that’s particularly attractive to those who view themselves as outside-the-box, progressive thinkers who always want better results faster. They typically love this process and what it can do for their businesses.
Michael Boylan: Do you need more business at a faster clip, and do you need to get much more strategic/smarter about how you go after and garner more business? If the answers are yes, then these leaders ought to seriously contact us and schedule a phone interview, so that we can listen to them share what they want, what they THINK needs to be fixed, and by when, and then we can shape an Accelerant Process Proposal for them to consider moving ahead with.
They may contact us at www.AccelerantInternational.com and request to schedule an interview with one of our Accelerant Principles.