Editor’s note: Charlotte Beat is a regular feature on Wednesdays.

CHARLOTTE … If you are about to buy something, you go through a psychological buying process that a sales person needs to understand to be highly successful, says sales expert Keith Eades,

Eades’ book for McGraw Hill, “New Solution Selling,” dissects that process, explaining how to use it to increase sales. The book has sold 17,000 copies since Christmas, with 20,000 expected by fall, according to a McGraw Hill executive, very good numbers for a book of this type.

Eades tells Local Tech Wire that understanding where a buyer is in the psychological steps he takes before making a purchase is crucial to closing a sale. “If you’re buying a house,” he explains, “you first determine your needs, one bedroom, three. You determine a budget, how much you can spend. Then you go look at some houses trying to match them with your previous specifications.”

However, at some point in the process, the buyer is not price resistant and thinks, “If I spend a little more money, I can get what I really want.” Eades cautions against loading the buyer up with extras at this step, because in the next step, the buyer considers risk and price resistance returns.

“You have to be careful not to upsell them too much while their resistance to price is low because it comes back to haunt you in the end,” Eades explains.

Know your customer

Eades says a sales person’s knowledge of his customer’s business is another crucial success factor. “Buyers are interested in dealing with people who really understand their business,” Eades explains. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a silver-tongued devil. They want to know, do you understand our business?” So another thing SPI does is help companies build an industry specific business acumen, he says.

Eades, 49, founded his 50-employee company, Sales Performance International (SPI) and Solution Selling Inc., in 1988 to train sales organizations how to use the process to their advantage. The company sold to a publicly traded Boston company, Provant in 1999. In 2001, Eades bought it back with approximately $20 million from Merit Capital Partners in Chicago and his own investment. The company occupies the second floor of a large office building at 6230 Fairview Road.

The company Web site features a page of specific examples in which companies, several of them tech firms, increased sales significantly using SPI’s methods. Eades says the selling solution is customer oriented because that’s what builds sales. These miniature white-papers outline SPI’s process, which includes identifying where sales problems are, developing solutions to solve them, and implementing the solutions, generally with substantial sales increases.

SPI’s consulting fees range from $1,500 to $5,000 a day, while its training programs run from $500 to $2,500 a person, depending on the types and lengths of programs, Eades says. But he adds that SPI produces measurable results.

Within Microsoft, for instance, Eades says that a control group using his solution selling process in 2004 exceeded a noncontrol group not using the process by 44 percent in customer satisfaction. In the group using the process, 69 percent made their sales quotas, while only 51 percent did in the other group, he says.

A new division

Eades tells LTW that SPI is launching a new consulting division that will compete with major sales and marketing players such as Accenture. “Our first client for the new practice is Heineken,” Eades says.

Until now, SPI specialized in sales performance training and helping companies with their overall sales effectiveness. But its current client list includes a wide range of top names in a variety of industries. They include Bank of America, JP Morgan/American Century, PNC Capital Markets, Lion Bioscience, US Oncology, Pitney Bowes, and Telefonica.

Technology companies were early adopters of Eades methods and clients include IBM, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, VisonAir, StorageTek, and others. The companies glowing testimonials come from such folks as Kevin Johnson, executive vice president of Microsoft international sales and marketing and Hugh McColl, former chairman of Bank of America.

Optinfo works with Wachovia

Wachovia’s decision to use Optinfo’s exception management software in its securities operations, the nation’s third largest brokerage, with six million accounts in March, is something to crow about for the 20-person software company.

“Wachovia securities could have gone with any company in the world,” says Optinfo director of marketing Julie Cochran Nance.

Exception management tracks and documents all changes in transactions, recognizing any disparities and automatically correcting whatever needs to be reconciled. In this time of Sarbanes-Oxley, the software is particularly attractive because everything is documented, which helps meet compliance requirements. But the software also increases efficiency and dramtically reduces financial risk due to errors, Nance says.

Nance tells LTW that large institutions such as Wachovia have not used exception management software before because earlier products “were not flexible enough to work across the entire Enterprise.” Large companies often use a variety of sometimes incompatible hardware and software products that make integrating across lines of business difficult. This is a problem the latest Optinfo release solves, Nance says.

Optinfo, privately held, was founded in 1989.

SPI: www.spisales.com

Optinfo: www.optinfo.com